How to Create a Team of Leaders by Shifting Inward

inpowered

Step Back

It may be counterintuitive, but according to Barry Kaplan and Jeff Manchester — who have decades of experience as entrepreneurs and advisers to hundreds of companies — the the best way to lead is to step back.  The more that you as a leader open your heart, reveal your fears and show your authentic self, the deeper the connections among your team members will be, and the more the team will achieve.

Partners at Shift180, Barry and Jeff present their unique approach to maximizing performance in their new book, The Power of Vulnerability: How to Create a Team of Leaders by Shifting Inward.  I recently spoke with them after reading the book, to talk about their views on leadership culture and vulnerability.

 

Understand the Power of Vulnerability

Why is vulnerability misunderstood?

We are taught and then hard-wired to believe that showing vulnerability is a weakness. The fear, of course, is that if we demonstrate vulnerability, others will be able to take advantage of us.  This, however, is far from the truth.  The reality is that, by sharing our vulnerability, we lay the groundwork for truly connecting with others – which is incredibly powerful.  We need to relearn that vulnerability is gateway to authenticity, connection and ultimately power.

 

When is it wrong to be vulnerable and can you be too vulnerable?

Despite the power vulnerability can bring, if you’re not in a safe environment where you can leverage its power, exhibiting vulnerability may be a mistake. Safety is a necessary predicate to being able to open up, show up and co-create trust.

 

In what ways can a leader create an environment of safety to allow team members to be vulnerable?

Leaders play a key role in creating this safe space, particularly by role modeling. As a leader, it is up to you to step in first. Show up with your real story that will disrupt the typical pattern of hiding behind the veil. By taking action, you are giving your team a real case-study of how — and more importantly, why — it works.

 

“The HEIGHT of a team’s performance compared to its potential is directly related to the DEPTH of connection among its members.”

Asking for Help is a Sign of Strength

Leadership Skill: Asking for Help

I don’t even recall how the argument started.

Somehow a simple text message morphed from a few sentences to an arrow that found its mark, spearing into an area that was still inflamed from other hits.

You know how that happens. A few words conjure up deeply-held emotions, past hurts, yet unspoken pain.

We worked it out, my friend and I, and our friendship survived and deepened because of it.

At the end of one difficult conversation, he said something that stuck with me: “Skip, you may think you’re fully transparent, and I guess in some ways you are. But,” his voice trailed off.

I waited, wondering what the next words would be.

“But, you’re not really good at asking for help.”

For many years, I’ve told the people who work for me that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

There is truth to Richard Bach’s quote, “We teach best what we most need to learn.”

 

“We teach best what we most need to learn.” -Richard Bach

 

My Request for Help

Keep reading to see my personal request for help. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am for the assistance.

 

Learn to Ask for Help

I prefer to give—to be someone who serves. When I was a teenager, I worked in a restaurant and just felt better when I was the one pouring a drink rather than sitting there getting served. It just makes me comfortable. I’d rather host a party than attend one.

Pride can stop us from asking others. But so can humility. Pride says, “I have no need of anyone because I can do anything.” Humility says, “My needs are not worthy enough to bother anyone.”

So you can’t judge the “why” behind someone not asking.

Learning to ask for help just seems harder for some people than for others. When others ask in a polite manner for something, I’m in awe. It impresses me. I guess because it’s hard for me to do. And it’s a crucially important leadership skill.

Keep reading to the bottom and see what I’m asking.

 

Asking for help:

Shows vulnerability.

Brene Brown teaches the power of vulnerability. She says that, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

 

Increases our connectedness.

Nadeem Aslam writes, “Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world.” As I ask you to help me, I’m increasing that attachment to you and to others.

5 Choices to Make In Order to Live the Future, Strong

5 Tough Choices

What are the toughest choices you face as you lead yourself and others into the future?

That question was the focus of new, original research by Bill Jensen and his team. The research shows that certain choices will make you stronger and give you a brighter future. Bill has spent over twenty-five years learning how work gets done. In his latest book, Future Strong: How to Work Unleashed, Lead Boldly, and Live Life Your Way, he outlines these five choices and how the answers will shape your future.

 

Only 29% said they can achieve their dreams where they currently work.

 

Choice One: The Heartbeat of the Past

Let’s talk about the past. You ask, “Will you hear the heartbeat of your past choices?” How do we effectively learn from our past in the Future Strong way?

I’ve spent my whole life asking questions that nobody was asking.

There are already lots of people hyperventilating about how disruptive technologies — wearables, deep analytics, Internet of everything, artificial intelligence, robotics — are going to create futures that are amazingly different from today.

But no one was talking about the choices each of us must make to create our own future in the midst of all that. So my team and I interviewed and surveyed over seven thousand people across the globe, asking each person deeply personal questions about building personal futures.

One of those questions was, “What makes you, you?”

Bill JensenWe uncovered what leadership guru Warren Bennis once attributed to all great leaders — people who are Future Strong leverage their past as a tool to leap into their future. They call upon crucible moments from their past: experiences that forged or tested how they view the world. We found that most everyone who leaps into unknown futures, and boldly goes where they have not gone before, does so by calling upon the courage and wisdom from those crucible moments.

One e-learning pioneer learned how to be creative from her childhood friend Albert Einstein. One venture capitalist, who practices servant leadership, drew upon the kindness he received from strangers when he fled his war-torn country as a child. A media and technology leader learned fast decision-making from his teenage successes and crashes as a semi-pro skateboarder. Me…I call upon my mom’s death to truly appreciate how precious life is. Each of us has one or two or three life-altering moments we can call upon.

To effectively leverage those moments in our lives, we each must truly understand our own hero’s journey — moments from our past when change was thrusted upon us. Initially, most of us deny or resist the new truths; then there’s a moment — the crucible moment — where we embrace how to make that change part of who we are.

So hearing the heartbeat of your past choices is about truly knowing yourself well enough (by the way, about 80% of us think we know ourselves, but really don’t) to call upon deeper courage and wisdom than you thought you had.

 

“Focus on the only thing, past, present and future, within your control.” -Bill Jensen

 

Choice Two: Who To Become

What Some Birds Taught Me About Friendship

Image courtesy of Joy Prichard Studios

Unexpected Friendship

My wife does an amazing job decorating our home.  Maybe too good of a job.  She changes colors and decorations with each holiday or season.  Admittedly, I’m often clueless about the passing months and her changes remind me just where we are in the year.

 

“A friend is someone who will sacrifice for you even when you don’t know it.” -Skip Prichard

 

This past spring she changed the wreaths on our front doors.  I suppose some birds took a look and thought they were inviting enough to build a nest.  When we opened the door one day, the mother bird flew off.  We realized there was a nest in the wreath and that changed everything.

Until those eggs hatched and the new birds were safely flying on their own, we would not use the front door.  For any reason.  Deliveries?  We’d just walk the packages around the house.  Visiting us?  “You can’t enter the front door,” we shout from a window, “Come through the garage!”  The air-conditioning repairmen who came to replace a faulty unit?  Well, they had to take some extra steps.

We were careful to watch the birds’ progress, but not disturb them.  We didn’t want to scare the mother bird off.  All through the spring we took pictures and waited.  Finally, one day they were all gone.

They never even knew we were there.

They didn’t know that we were going through all these inconveniences for their benefit.