[vimeo id="166977068"]No position makes you a leader. It may give you authority over others, but it doesn’t make you a leader. A leader must earn the trust and respect of those they lead over time.
When it comes to leadership, it’s easy in American Culture to think about mythic figures like John Wayne or Superman. They are strong, tough, and independent. They don’t need anyone. Rather, others need them.
Sometimes leaders do need to act independent of others, and it’s true that leaders need to be tough. The world is a hard, cold place. If you’re going to endure to the end, you must be strong. However, if you want to create lasting change, you can’t expect to do it alone. True change becomes possible when you leverage the strength of others.
EFFECTIVE LEADERS RECOGNIZE THEIR LIMITS.
I’m an Apple fan. I love the “Genius Bar” concept. Their motto is, “I may not have the answer, but WE do.” What I really like about that is it sets the expectation that a collective knowledge base is better than just one perspective or point of reference. It’s a constant reminder that any one person has limits, even if they seem limitless. LET ME OFFER YOU SEVEN REASONS WHY THIS IS TRUE:
1. You are just one person. You can’t be everything, know everything, or do everything. If you think you can, your vision isn’t big enough or you’re just fooling yourself.
2. You have a limited perspective—yours. Sometimes another point of view will open up new possibilities you hadn’t considered before.
3. You need rest. You can’t be “on” all the time. If you do, you’ll burn up or burn out.
4. You alone can’t sustain anything forever. Getting an initiative started is hard. And sometimes a leader must take the first step. But if you’re going to create true change, it must be sustained over time by a broad base of support.
5. You need to keep learning. Input from others, especially those who are completely enrolled in fulfilling your vision, is vital. Everyone can learn something from someone else. You are in dangerous territory if you think you know everything.
6. You need to grow others. If you do everything yourself, no one else gets an opportunity to grow in their own personal leadership. As you progress in an organization, your job becomes less and less about what you produce. Instead, you are measured on how well you can organize others to produce something no one person could do on their own.
7. You need to protect yourself from yourself. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re invincible. Surrounding yourself with a great team will keep you from losing touch with reality and becoming enchanted with your own ideas, interests, and abilities.
YOU WERE CREATED WITH LIMITS.
There are limits to your knowledge, energy, and stamina. The key is to recognize those limits and embrace them; don’t resist them.
It is not a sign of weakness to admit you can’t do it all. Weakness is not the absence of needing others. Weakness is thinking you can do it all without anyone else. The leaders you admire the most are those who know their limits and use them to their advantage.
Reflect: Are you trying to lead all by yourself? If so, what changes do you need to make? If not, how can you ensure you don’t fall into that trap?