Leadership is a complex phenomenon. It takes on many shapes and definitions. There are also many practitioners. One well-known business strategist, Peter Drucker touched on a very critical facet of leadership: we often spend a lot of time training leaders in the "how to" but never spend any time teaching them what to stop doing.
I was privileged to participate in Scott Eblin's “Next Level Leadership” program. How he framed this concept was more like this: we need to learn "what new skills to pick up and what skills to leave behind." There is so much truth to this statement; let me share some examples.
Have you ever found yourself in a new role because of the good work you did, only to be frustrated? What about a promotion and a chance to manage a team, only to find that what you did before won't work now? What do you do?
As anyone who’s been there before knows, leadership requires knowing when to help, how to listen effectively, and when to guide someone instead of "doing it for them." If you've recently promoted someone, take the time to show them how to learn new skills, such as managing through others, effectively delegating and developing team members; then listen instead of directing. But also help them learn how to leave skills they won't be using behind. For instance, being more strategic versus tactical--leave the tactical job skill behind--this is now the responsibility of your direct reports.
For those in a new individual contributor role, you too have a leadership responsibility: learning your job will be a top priority. But what would you need to leave behind? Skills required in your previous role that won't add value to your new position. What do you pick up? Learn how to Manage Up to your new leadership's expectations, fly "Above the Radar Screen," Share your successes and your shortcomings, to name a few. Asking for Help is a sign that you’re willing to learn and this may inspire others around you to do the same.
Interested in more information on communications in the workplace? Take a look at our free eBook, Communications at Work.
Continually initiate communication with your teams as a leader and keep your leadership in the know as an individual contributor. These are all best practices of good leaders, regardless of your role.
“The Next Level” What Insiders Know About Executive Success, by Scott Eblin, Davies-Black Publishing. Copyright 2006