16 Jan Win the Leadership Race with This Plan
It’s been more than 18 months since my last half marathon. I spent 2017 focused on hiking to get ready for the Inca Trail climb, so running took a back seat. Although I run at the gym during my workouts, it’s been a long time since I’ve run outside. There are seven weeks until my next half marathon, so Sundays are now “long” run days. Last Sunday was five miles and this week was six miles. I will add a mile per week until the race. I run with only my thoughts for company, which means I have lots of time to think. Whether or not you are a runner, this article is for everyone as a leader.
My musings Sunday morning were not about the solitary runner (many leaders are more comfortable in that single space). No, today was about how do I, as a leader, get my whole team across the finish line? Face it, you are not a lone wolf. You work with a team, you have a team at home, or you hang out with a team. They are all part of the equation.
Let’s do one of my favorite things and connect some dots. As a leader, the more dots you connect, the more self-aware you become, and the more success you will experience. Let’s say the team has a revenue outcome for the month. That’s the finish line for our team of runners (work team). Let’s look at some touchpoints to help the team cross the finish line.
SIGN UP FOR THE RACE
The first step is for everyone to actually sign up for the race. As the leader, it would make sense for you to GO FIRST. Then tell your team about the race and get their commitment to run it with you. Is everyone on your team working toward the same outcome? Are they clear what it is? Have you gained their buy-in enough to at least sign-up?
SCHEDULE PRACTICE RUNS
It’s not enough to sign-up though. Now it’s time to train! Schedule the practice runs to make sure everyone understands the plan. Provide all of the necessary tools to be successful. In the case of a runner that would include proper shoes, nutrition and stretching techniques. Are you making sure your team has all of the tools they need to get to your outcome? Have you verified that they know how to use the tools and have the confidence to use them? Have you confirmed the schedule with them?
Bonus Thought: Have you ever believed what you were asking them to do is outside their comfort zone? Oh, I hear you now – “I hired them to do this job.” Remember when you were lacing up your your running shoes for the first time?
SHOW UP FOR THE PRACTICE RUNS
Practice Run #1: Everyone knows the outcome, the schedule is set, and it’s time for the first practice run. Now, this first practice run should happen very quickly while everyone is still excited about the outcome. They all have their new running shoes and are ready to test them. Recognize that for some of your team this could be their first time in running shoes, while others lace them up daily. It will require some thought and effort on your part to keep them all motivated and moving in the same direction. Are you just spending time with the team members who are most like you? What are you doing to inspire and motivate everyone on your team? Who will you learn the most from – those exactly like you or those not like you at all?
You’ll learn so much from Practice Run #1.
- You’ll learn who this is easy for, and if they are only in it for themselves or are looking out for their team.
- You’ll learn who is challenged by the process, and yet, will power through it. They might not be as fast. However, they are steady, and you know, without a doubt, they will be there for every practice and do the work in between the practice sessions.
- You’ll learn who this is challenging for, and while they want to believe, they have a hard time imagining actually getting across the finish line. This running thing is new for them, and some are even embarrassed with how slow they run. In some of them, you see the absolute commitment to see this through no matter what it takes. Yet for others, you realize you might need to step back and put together a different running schedule to help them build their belief.
- Then there will be those who didn’t show up at all for practice. This includes people who are already runners and feel they don’t need to practice as well as those who told you that running “just isn’t my thing”.
As a leader, you will have so many different types of people on your team. Are you slowing down enough to get to know who they are, or are you the one who just took off running and wondered where everyone was when you finished? This is something to be aware of with your children too – those who are just like you and those who you can’t figure out which planet they came from. Again, who will teach you the most? Stay focused on your outcome. You will only get the optimal result when everyone is running towards the same finish line!
Practice Run #2: Take note of who comes back for the next practice. Are they developing consistent behaviors focused on success? What additional support do they need? This is the time to find out what the team needs from you and not only after they’ve missed multiple practice sessions. Who on your team needs your attention today? Are you looking around to see what’s happening, or are you burying your head in the sand? The answers are there if you look for them.
Practice Run #3: This is sometimes where the honeymoon stage ends, and the reality that it’s harder than they thought it would be sets in. Have you been giving out the High5’s and catching them doing things right? Do they feel like they are part of something big and special? Have you told them how important they are to the outcome?
Bonus Thought: A leader’s job doesn’t end with the motivational keynote speech to the team at the beginning of the year. That’s when you roll up your sleeves and demonstrate they can trust you to be there for them. When the team believes that, they will show up for you. YOU GO FIRST!
Practice Run #4 and subsequent: Consistency is key and it starts with you! You’re busy and may be tempted to skip this practice run. DON’T! Hold yourself accountable first. If you are part of the “Do as I say, not as I do” club, take a look at how that’s worked for you. Are you recognizing those that continue to show up and do the work? Are you staying focused on the outcomes you set, or has some other shiny object gotten your attention? You can only ask your team for their commitment if you are committed.
IT’S RACE DAY
WOOHOO! IT’S RACE DAY! Look around to see all of those smiling faces that surround you. Notice the trust on their faces because you’ve earned it. They’ve seen you show up, fall down, get up and keep going. They believe in you and are honored that you’ve invited them to be on this journey with you. You all line up at the start line doing your team cheer. You know that you’ve already won because you’ve done the work to get here.
You have fun during the race. You are there cheering each person on as they give their best. Sure, it doesn’t look like yours, however, you recognize that you learned valuable lessons from each one of these courageous folks. You generously dole out High5’s and focus on gratitude for each team member’s contribution. You are sure to thank each of them for being there. As the last team member crosses the finish line, the entire team cheers for them!
THE DAY AFTER
The next day you all gather in the conference room, and while bodies are aching, the energy is through the roof. When you finally get everyone’s attention, you ask them if they want to do it again this month except better. Their response is deafening! It rivals a rock concert. You smile to yourself and think … we are #justgettingstarted.
At High5 Leadership we show you, not just tell you, how to build your own high-performing, conscious culture at work and at home. For more information on how to speed up your team’s transformation, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website at www.high5leadership.com.