“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)
As leaders, what prevents us from letting go and empowering our organizations?
In my earlier post “The Road to Agility” I encouraged teams to begin their Agile journey by proving themselves trustworthy. The idea was that we cannot expect leaders to empower a team when that team has not proven itself ready to be trusted.
Well what about our leaders? These folks need to have some skin in the game as well, right? What might be a good first step for a leader that wants to build an empowered, self-directed team? I suggest that as leaders, the first step is to challenge our motivations and learn to control our ego.
As leaders we are ultimately accountable for the performance of our organizations. As such, a poor performing team is a reflection of our ability to do our job. It is our duty to make sure the team is performing well because we will be held accountable. To take it one step further, a poor performing team will make us look bad.
How we see ourselves as people can make a big differences in how we choose to respond. How well we keep our egos in check can make all the difference.
If we allow our self-worth to be tied to the performance of our team, we will be inclined to get performance at all costs. With a team that is struggling, the leader is likely to create a rules based system that measures performance based on process rather than results. Any bump in the road is an attack, any deviation from plan a threat to us personally. When the team does well, the leader is likely to take the credit and share little of the glory.
The team becomes a vehicle for validating us as individuals.
Separating our self-worth from team performance allows us the freedom to operate as a mentor and coach. We seek out opportunities for the team to develop and gain new experiences. We create structures that allow them to be successful. We look for ways to recognize members for their contribution. We desire to serve rather than be served, support rather than command, and empower rather than control.
We as individuals become the vehicle for validating the team.
As leaders, we are always going to be accountable for the performance of our teams. How we respond to that challenge will make all the difference in our ability to embrace Agility. Challenge your motives and ask yourself what you desire as a leader. Ironically, the less you can make it about your success, and more about the success of the team, the more successful you will be in the end.
What you bring as a person, what road you choose, will make all the difference.