Are your followers holding you back?
As a leader, pushing forward to make things happen, are you sometimes mired in managing too many people?
What could you do if you were liberated to lead?
The choice to do so is your own to make. You can easily reduce the number of followers you have and make yourself -- and your team -- more effective by doing so.
How? Well, the secret lies in the realization that leaders don't aim to gather more followers. Instead, leaders build more leaders.
If you are measuring your own status by the number of direct reports you have or the number of people there are in the department(s) you oversee, then you're not thinking like a leader. The masses aren't a valid measure of your effectiveness. In fact, the more people in your chain of command, the less effective you may be if you are trying to manage instead of leading them.
There are three signs you may be going about this all wrong.
1. You are working hard to create or maintain an image. You want the admiration, respect and confidence of your team members. Their adulation and devotion matters a lot to you. This attention to being what they want, to building their confidence in you make you a good leader. But, as Eleanor Roosevelt said "A good leader inspires people have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves." What if you were spending that time and attention to make sure they felt good about themselves instead of (or in addition to!) feeling good about you?
2. You are continually staffing up, adding head count to handle more work. There are two ways to expand work capacity. You may be over-relying on this approach which, as you know or will eventually learn, has its own downsides. As you add people, you change the team dynamics and culture. You create more work for managers and team members who train and mentor the new employees. You may over tax resources and cause some to feel neglected in your rush to expand. Consider balancing this approach with another way to expand your team's capacity: develop and equip current team members for doing more or different work. Automate, offload or eliminate work they don't actually need to do. Cross-train them and give them stretch assignments. Help them to grow in their capacity and in their careers.
3. You are focused on today's work product instead of focusing on tomorrow's potential. What have you built? The bottom line? The new product or process? The brand? Congratulations, but every one of these resume enhancers is fleeting. There is only one way to build a lasting legacy, and that is by building the people. When you become a people builder, others will build the bottom line, the new products, the brand and so much more. In turn, they will build more people. Sustained people development is a hallmark of the highest performing teams.
Consider reducing your number of followers. Turn your followers into leaders if you want to truly boost your own effectiveness and that of your team.
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