Welcome to Leadership from the Balcony. My name is Shawn Griesemer with my co-host Justin Dorroh.
And each week, we bring you a new leadership concept to inspire your growth and effectiveness as a leader in every area of your life.
To scale your leadership was always a counterintuitive move from what comes naturally to you. Give somebody else on your team who has an expertise in the area that you're working in 51% of the authority and you as the bottom line leader actually come under them.
On today's episode, we're talking about scaling your leadership. Every organization's growth is limited by their level of leadership and their ability to handle their increased complexity. Scaling your leadership will not only increase your leadership effectiveness, it will become a competitive advantage, but it has to start with you. Thanks for joining us on the Balcony. We hope you enjoy peering over the railing to gain an expanded leadership perspective.
I think if I look backwards on the last 20 years, I think what easily gets defined as leadership is who's the loudest person in the room or has the most magnetic personality, charismatic personality, and all of a sudden they're dubbed a leader. And I think in all of the reading, the work, the development that you and I have done, the end of the day, that's like a very small slice, I think, of effective leadership, being able to influence people, etc., and how you communicate. But there's so many skills about how do you allow the talent to grow around you and put the right pieces in their hands so that they grow and they develop and they get experience and they grow in confidence. It's not an opportunity to get everyone to do what you think is the best idea. It's not just about giving marching orders that people then follow. To truly lead is as much about an accomplishment of something as it is to be doing it in a relationship with people, to be doing it with a perspective of investing in people. And it's about being a team. Leader takes team, and team is more than just me. That's right. I think I've always been fascinated with leadership that isn't dependent upon one person, but can rotate based on somebody's expertise or a specific competency that's necessary or required. And there's more satisfaction when more team members are getting to take leadership opportunities and grow and develop than just to feel like you step in, like you said, command, control, here we're going. Maybe we hit the outcome every time. The thing I always think about is the downside of that. The downside of that is now every person in that room that you're leading needs you to think. Yes, that's right. You're not developing their strategic thinking or their ability to problem solve, you're doing it. So now you create these dependencies on yourself, which actually creates a pretty fragile system. Because if you go down, now what happens? You know, and I don't mean like something catastrophic. I just mean, maybe you're out of town on vacation, maybe you're getting phone calls now because they can't problem solve without you. And so how do you not just answer people's questions, but develop people's potential? Like you just said, go down. Go down may mean truly they do end up in the hospital, they end up in some catastrophic event. It can also mean that they are overwhelmed. There are too many projects they're working on. It could mean they're called away because something needs their specific focus attention, whether it's personal in nature or it's based on the work that they're doing. But if they are the sole source, then things are very fragile. I like the way you put that. When you have this sense of leadership being around an individual, that organization, that team and that leadership is very fragile. Right. Well, the other thing that comes to mind is I know when we were first learning about the leadership circle and some of the competencies that that tool defines. One of the unique insights in their books, Mastering Leadership and Scaling Leadership, you'll have to remind me of the people's names who wrote those books. Adams and Anderson. What was so fascinating is to scale your leadership was always a counterintuitive move from what comes naturally to you. Yes, that's right. So if you're really good at driving results and seeing the big picture and that strategic Learning how to mentor and develop others is the necessary path for you to scale your leadership because if you keep doing that, you actually start to diminish the impact of your leadership because it will become overly autocratic and controlling. And so many times people say things like, you know, great leadership is, you know, great leaders are born, not made, blah, blah, blah. And I think the data that that tool, that is supported by that tool would suggest that leadership at a scale that you're not used to is typically going to be counterintuitive and not intuitive. That's right. Yes, for sure. Yeah. And it's the being purposeful and visionary, being strategically focused, being decisive. Those are all tremendous markers and competencies for leadership effectiveness. And they are on an achieving side of the competencies that are needed. But if you don't also have the relational side, if you don't have people who are developing, the people around them, they're not engaging in team and collaboration, then just like you said, that strategic focus becomes drivenness. If you don't have the relationship side, it becomes autocratic. And now it's no longer effective in its leadership. You may be getting something done, you may be achieving results, but it's no longer leadership. It's command and control. And there's a combination of the achieving side and the strategic side matching up with the relational side. The thing I love about this is it takes what comes naturally. Like you said, you might naturally be that strategic focus and that visionary type of person. And that's fine for your own life personally. But when you lead, you can't just do what comes naturally. And for those people who fall on that strategic and the decisive side, they need to actually get a little uncomfortable by pressing into the relational side in order to scale. So if leadership really is about the relational and the achieving side coming together, to scale your leadership now takes a whole new level of serving other people, of investing in other people, and not just being the genius in the room, but being a genius maker in the room. You know, the other thing I think of is the term scale. I think my guess would be a lot of naturally intuitive, big picture thinkers who find themselves in leadership roles, but a new landscape of thinking about how do I scale this business or scale this operation, whatever it might be. The natural thought is we need more people doing things that help us get there. And it's that kind of fuzzy in terms of clarity. And I think in the work we've done, it's like scalable typically has process that's clear, defined, measurable. There's a cadence to the accountability around it. There's typically systems that undergird it, whether that's applications, you know, systems that are digital or a system that's still manual. But there's some kind of underlying system that supports that process happening. And then it's all connected from end to end from the generation of a lead to the sending of an invoice. That entire production system from end to end is all connected with each person that understands their part of the role and then how they interconnect with those on the edges next to them. And somebody's got to step back and see the whole picture to start to recognize maybe they don't have the solutions, but they can at least surface the issues. That's right. And hopefully get good expertise from the team members that are embedded in those processes that can help problem solve and improve operation systems. Yeah, that's the thing that I've seen with unilateral leadership. When you have these situations where a leader continues to grow their organization and more is focused on looking to them as the leader, as opposed to them empowering and scaling the leaders around them, you run into this situation where only one person, there's one person at the top who has to see all those systems to become aware of and escalate the issues like you're talking about, both for alignment purposes, as well as the knowledge of the whole. But then they also have to be the person to go in and manage them and fix them. And it's overwhelming. Right. So what may have been, we talked in one of our earlier podcasts about complexity growing in your organization as your organization grows. Well, it's going to get to the place where you can't be the one who both sees everything and can be the one to have your hands in everything, or you're going to become the log jam. And then take that now and think in terms of, there's a great book on how to scale leadership called Multipliers by Lisa Wiseman. Liz Wiseman. Liz Wiseman. That's it. And it's about when you have a room full of leaders, and even if you could measure leadership knowledge, you look at the people in the room are genius knowledge, and you say that everybody, all the other leaders in your room have 50 units of leader knowledge, and you have 80. You as the main leader have 80. You're the smartest, you're the genius in the room, and everybody else has a much lower level, but you're sitting there with six leaders. Well their sum total is 300 units of genius, and yours is 80 units of genius. Well if you continue to talk, and you shut down all the other leaders from talking, you just shut out 300 units of genius, you actually made the room less smart in that process. So when all of these things are flowing into one unilateral leader, all of a sudden the creativity stops, and the innovation stops, and actually the drive by all the other leaders to go do and do at a higher level because they want to goes away, you're actually creating more problems within your organization. That's exactly right. And you know, in a previous episode we talked about feedback, and feedback creates awareness, and so much of scaling your leadership begins with an awareness of yourself. What are your strengths? What are your gaps? What are your places of development? And then building awareness based on everybody on your team so that you, you referenced it earlier, the genius maker, you recognize someone's specific skill set that makes them a huge asset to the team. How do you really maximize that? Not to take advantage of them, but to let them really shine in a particular area that they've built incredible competence in. And so I think to scale or to develop your leadership, it really is a process of recognizing what you do well, what other members of your team do well, and then how do you set them up to win? And there's going to be specific exercises or activities that you'll need to deploy as a leader to stretch them, to teach them how to think cross cross-functionally, to teach them how to take a position that would be the opposite of what they're used to. Because in so many ways, you're trying to develop their ability to see the whole organization like you do, so that you have more leaders to help you look over that balcony and see the systems that are at play across the entire organization. That's good. So we've talked about starting place for developing other leaders and scaling is to be proactive in developing yourself. If you can't develop you, you don't have the skills, the tools, and the practices, the disciplines to really help other people develop. So you've got to start with yourself. And then you have to be able to recognize who are the leaders around you and what do they need and where do they need to grow. I love what you were just talking about, starting with you, but then really take stock. So you grow in your own self-awareness and then you help those around you grow in their self-awareness while you're becoming more aware of them. Now you're starting to get a greater understanding of what's your gap, what's their gap, where do you need to grow. Be honest with everybody else and tell the rest of your team, here's where I'm growing. We've always talked about if you want to really catalyze your growth, let other people in on where you're trying to grow because they will become great sources of feedback to speak into that growth. Start with you, then go into them. And now as a team, you can really start to grow and develop together individually and together. And now you can really catalyze that by the scaling of leadership comes in the empowering of those people. I don't remember if it was in multipliers, we were reading this, but the concept of give somebody else on your team who has an expertise in the area that you're working in, 51% of the authority and you as the bottom line leader actually come under them. And you say, I'm going to follow your lead. You have 51% of the authority. And now you will enable that leader to find out what they have, what they don't have and don't bail them out. Really let them ride it out. That's exactly right. And maybe as a practical example of what is a growing self-awareness look like, I think specifically about an instance that just happened recently, there's a member of our team that we've given that 51% vote to, to help facilitate some marketing work on behalf of our team. And in a meeting recently, we were having a conversation and I could see what we needed to do. I stood up, went to the whiteboard, I started erasing. And as I'm erasing, I'm thinking, I'm taking over the meeting. What am I doing right now? I took the markers and I put them back in this team member's hands and I go, okay, it's ready for you. And they looked at me and they said, I would rather you just ride it. Okay, great. So I go up to the whiteboard and I go, so what are we writing? Even though I knew what we needed to talk about in the midst of my mistake, I'm trying to say, how do I keep this person with that 51% vote? And they're directing us in this moment. And I didn't just take the baton. Now I don't think this person would have been frustrated or irritated with me, but my self-awareness is up and I'm watching myself do it. And I'm trying to real-time make adjustments. That's so good. And it was helpful because next time I will think differently because now I have an experience to back up this concept. Yes. And tell the story, you were at a conference and somebody was up teaching and their mentor was sitting in the audience and went and corrected them and his response to his own actions. Yeah. So it was, this guy was training a particular colleague of his. The guy was getting some information wrong up front. And it was still like a summit of people. Yeah, it was a large group of people, leaders specifically, kind of in a global setting in terms of who they represented. The guy I know gets up there, basically prevents it from derailing, keeps everything on track. Nobody in the meeting knew. But what he said privately to me was he goes, I lost, I killed that guy's confidence and it took two years to recover it. And he said if I could do it over again, I would have let it go off the rails. We would have unpacked it, debriefed it, and then given him the ball again to try again. Because now he's got a whole new set of experiences that will help him execute that task at a higher level. But he said me stepping in and fixing it killed his confidence again for a two year period. And I just remember that stuck with me deeply. I don't know that I've always applied that really well. But what it has reminded me of is we just have to navigate. When we truly empower someone, that means their hands are on the wheel. That means they could turn it left or right and we need to go straight. We've got to do it with an awareness of, hey, there might be some messes to clean up on the back end of this. You know what, this is how leaders are made. They're developed by giving them opportunity to take the wheel and lead the team. That relates back to when we talked about feedback, learning coming from failure. What's your relationship with failure? And in this situation, had he allowed him to fail, yeah, it may have had some ramifications. They probably wouldn't have been near as big as he had made them up to be in his mind. But to use that failure not as a, you've done bad and wrong, but it's exposed a place of learning and growth would have not set him back two years. It may have propelled him forward. That's right. But that was now lost because the, oh, I have to get up and I have to control the situation. I have to not allow it to go off to the right a few degrees when the few degrees could have been corrected later with great learning. That's right. That's exactly right. And ultimately as a leader, taking the time to develop your team members, even if they're entry level, let them lead a part of the meeting. They may not lead the whole thing, but let them prepare, let them have the opportunity to facilitate something. Safe experiments. That's right. And then give them feedback and more opportunities to come. Because ultimately the whole reason of trying to scale your leadership is to build a leadership team that together is much more effective than any summation of the parts. And there's a term that we use a lot, and I think we got it from scaling leadership, the leadership circle specifically, is collective leadership. And what's helpful for people to know is collective leadership is not consensus leadership. This isn't we all need to agree before we move forward. It's we're all bringing expertise in something, again, assuming there's a developmental culture that's happening and people are getting feedback and learning and growing and developing. But when our team needs a certain expertise, we pivot who's leading us to the person who's bringing that expertise to that team. And therefore, no one person has to be a subject matter expert on everything. But our team has the subject matter expertise baked in, or we've got consultants, advisors, etc. that we lean on. But the whole idea is to realize no one person can know it all. I heard somebody say one time, focus your energy on extracting the brilliance of those that are around you, not on lobbying for your brilliance to be heard and to be accepted. Can you take the time and energy and emotional resources within you when you're sitting in a room of other leaders and say, how do I actually get their brilliance out, not how do I exert my brilliance on them? That is, that's the mental shift that has to happen in every leader to go from a place of unilateral leadership to really being able to scale the leadership within the organization, which will take you far. What is it? Every organization is hindered by the capacity of their leadership. The only way to grow that leadership is to scale it out by releasing more of you and empowering and scaling more of them. And the way to have the comfort level as a leader of scaling out your leadership is developing your people. Yes. Builds trust. Yes. It builds trust. It builds their competence. It builds their confidence. Absolutely. And those things now give you broad shoulders to move forward with and not just one person that we're all depending on. Yes.
So as our encouragement for leaders in this coming week, can you take a situation where you are willing to pause, assess the situation, stop and listen to the rest of your team, and how can you ask questions and extract or solicit the brilliance of the people around you more than interject your own thinking into the situation? You might be surprised what great answers you get and what great dialogue it creates, or you might find out people are shocked and aren't even willing to respond. But we would say, take some time, assess your own willingness to engage in other people's brilliance and not just your own. And if that's something that's uncomfortable for you, that's the first thing you need to really grapple with and work through. But then see how you can include more voices into the problems that you're trying to address and the situations that you're trying to bring solutions to.
We appreciate you tuning in and hope you enjoyed the show. One quick favor before you take off, please subscribe and it would mean a lot to us if you would leave a review on Apple Podcasts. If you tried our leadership experiment, comment below and let us know how it goes. We look forward to seeing you again on the balcony.