Yes, I said tush.
More importantly, I said “squelch.” Our topic for #LeadershipChat this week can be boiled down into this one word. It’s the essence of what happens when an emerging leader with energy and ideas and drive and maybe even bold vision collides with a resistant leadership team, organization or culture.
I really struggled with writing about this topic because, having experienced it at one point in my career, it brings back the feeling of the enormous amount of toxicity and drain that I felt. At the same time, I was incredibly fortunate to experience the exact opposite at many points in my career – working with a leadership team, and specific leaders, who let me step forward and enabled me to soar.
I thought I’d look at this topic from the latter perspective, including 3 steps to ensure you’re not squelching an emerging leader – purposefully, indirectly or subconsciously.
1. Celebrate the fit
One of the areas I worked hard on when I had direct reports was ensuring that my team members were given responsibility for which they were a great fit. It’s not always easy.
When you have an emerging leader in a role from which an effusive amount of energy, ideas and vision are being born then it’s time to celebrate the great fit and nurture it with clear direction.
2. Recognize when you’re feeling threatened, or when ego is at play and re-focus on the win-win
We have all seen this. When leaders feel threatened, and when ego is at work, “the squelch” begins in an effort to draw clear lines about roles, visibility and even ”credit” for success. Generally, a tremendous amount of negative energy begins to ripple through the team and sometimes an organization. Everyone knows what’s going on and it makes the leader look small. It brings to mind this quote by Mark Twain:
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
So, what to do when you are feeling threatened or you do recognize that your ego is at play? Look for the win-win.
How do you do this?
Reevaluate your own personal vision and re-focus on it
Recognize that the only thing standing in the way of you achieving your vision is you, and this emerging leader may actually help you achieve it
Look for ways to partner with this emerging leader more directly – it’s very likely you could both benefit in ways you might not imagine
The positive energy created from working together, from letting go of the feelings of threat or the control your ego seeks, will bring great value to both leaders and to the team and organization as a whole
3. Take the final, bold step – empower the emerging leader
Empowering the emerging leader to take risks and pursue their ideas in a strategically appropriate manner, including providing the necessary resources (people, $, technology) to equip them for success, is the final step in kicking the squelch in the tush. It can also lead to great wins for your company.
Not taking these steps is very likely to lead to that emerging leader being recruited by your competitor. And then they win. Which do you prefer?
Please share your thoughts in the comments – I learn so much from all of you!
AND PLEASE JOIN Steve Woodruff and me Tuesday night, December 7th at 8:00 pm Eastern Time on Twitter for #LeadershipChat where we’ll discuss the impact of stifling leadership. Bring your insights and please don’t be afraid to share – we learn so much from each other every Tuesday evening!
Photo is Flying Sidekick by Kaibara 87.