How we are perceived by our teams can have a dramatic effect on how engaged, empowered and inspired they become. 

For years I was a very well-respected project manager always trusted to be successful even in the most difficult circumstances.  

I was a lead from the front, with let's get it done together type of leader. I was very happy with my abilities and felt that I was on track to achieving my full potential.

If I am honest, though, I would say I loved the role of being the hero, coming in and saving the day, and getting the plaudits.

But in reality, it was that being a hero that was holding me back and was stopping me from reaching my full potential.

I realized this on a project I was brought in to lead where I didn't have any experience of the product we were implementing or the business sector that I was working in.

I had told the company that it was my leadership skills that had allowed me to be successful and that I could do that in any environment.  

They were desperate, so they agreed and hired me.

But in this particular role, I realized pretty quickly that I didn't know enough to be the hero, and my lead from the front style wasn't going to work. 

I needed a different approach. So instead of trying to be the hero, I decided to work on making the people in the team the heroes, it was my only choice as they were the experts in the product and the business sector we were working in not me. 

I just need to step back give them the opportunity to thrive.

The transformation was unbelievable.  

Once I started to show people that I believed in them, that I saw them as heroes who can get the job done, they became much more engaged and empowered, and productivity just soared. 

This was eye-opening for me, and it was a perspective that I don't believe I would have arrived at had it not been forced upon me, or at least it wouldn't have been something that I embraced as strongly. 

Since that project this has been my leadership modus operandi, to try and make everyone who works with me feel like they are the hero.

This was the change that catapulted my career. 

There were many benefits, not only was I able to achieve great results, but I was also able to lead much larger teams and take on bigger opportunities as I was no longer a limiting factor. 

It also made me a much more attractive leader. People wanted to come and work for me because they could see the opportunities and personal growth they could experience, and companies wanted me to work with because of the great results that were being achieved,

The change from being the hero to making others the hero can be a difficult path to take.  It requires us to step back, to give others the opportunity, and to share our power, and I have seen many leaders who were reluctant to do it.

But if you want to achieve your full potential, then you need to give up the need to be the hero and look to cultivate the hero in everyone who works for you.

Alexander the Great said, "I'm not afraid of an Army of Lions led by a Sheep; I'm afraid of an Army of Sheep led by a Lion." 

While I understand his sentiment, I am sure he would have been more afraid of an Army of Lions led by a Lion!

 

 

Published on: Jul 18, 2016
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