Finding YOUR Voice

I love the book ‘What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There‘ by Marshall Goldsmith.  Our CEO introduced it to me/our organization a year or so ago.  As I see Administrators in Training (AITs) learn, grow, lead I see some of them not understanding a similar truth: ‘What got THEM THERE, Won’t Get You There.’  There are certainly lessons to learn from more experienced leaders that new leaders would be wise to not repeat the hard way.

However, the very essence of leadership is wonderfully defined by Warren Bennis in his classic, ‘On Becoming a Leader.’  He says …

“…no leader sets out to be a leader per se, but rather to express himself freely and fully.  That is, leaders have no interest in proving themselves, but an abiding interest in expressing themselves.  The difference is crucial, for it’s the difference between being driven, as too many people are today, and leading, as too few people do.” On Becoming A Leader,” pg. 5

On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis
On Becoming a Leader, Warren Bennis

A friend of mine who is in his second semester of his first year in the school of hard knocks shared this with me and it rang true as I talk to new leaders who are trying to duplicate the ‘voice’ or the ‘vision’ or the ‘religion’ of other leaders before them.

My advice for the new Executive Director is to …

  1. Take the time to earn CREDIBILITY with your team/employees.  How?  Using the 3 Signs of  Miserable Job framework, spend the first couple months with each of your direct reports to get to know them deeply (Anonymous), helping them see the importance of their job (Relevance), and deciding together how to best measure their performance (Measurement).  This shows them how much you care for them and their success.  It builds trust.  It lays the foundation for loyalty.  Which prepares you to establish, with them, the WHAT/VISION.
  2. Instead of using someone else’s vision (unless your passion for it matches or surpasses its creator), empower your team to create a shared vision or direction for your operation.  This process usually takes a couple months if done right.  The creative/participatory process earns the vision/direction immediate buy-in that force-fed vision/direction lacks.

Taking the time to establish the credibility and forming the relationships of trust is the lubricant that allows the establishment of a successful, shared vision of the future.