It’s Not About You

Published by Andrew Nauenburg on

My leadership and coaching experience span a little over a decade. 

I don’t know it all. I’ve learned a lot. And it seems that I learn quite a bit more with each day, client, or engagement.

I wouldn’t go as far and say I thought I knew it all ten years ago, but I would like to knock the old me upside the head and scream “It’s not about you!”

Success by itself doesn’t make a leader.

A leader should be mostly invisible. The employees and team put on the show, and the leader stands in the background. The problem is that the leader often becomes a sideshow.

I learn from other leaders, coaches, and mentors — both the good and the bad. I see where I can improve. And as a byproduct, I observe the behavior I absolutely don’t want to do.

Sometimes I’ll shake my head at a leader’s reaction to an employee. Then I wonder: Is it possible that I’m perceived the same way sometimes?

It’s no secret – anyone who has worked with me in any capacity knows that I’m an intense leader and coach. I have high expectations of myself, my team, and my clients.

Yet, I don’t have it all figured out. I’m still learning. But here are four things I use to guide me to make sure my teams and clients are having a positive, rewarding, and productive experience…

1. Make Sure Everyone is Prepared (Even You)

Provide the foundation and structure for your team to succeed. Give them the tools and insight to understand your vision and situation.

Don’t just tell them to do something. Ask questions. Encourage everyone to ask questions. Discovering the right answer as a team is one of the best things you can do as a leader. 

2. Allow Everyone to Make Mistakes

You remember me saying that thing about me being intense? I’ve got to be proactive in the way I control my emotions – it’s possible you can catch me in a bad moment. 

Not every mistake requires discipline. Mental errors happen due to a lack of preparation and that’s on the leader to help people be equipped to be prepared. 

Mistakes are teaching moments. Allow them to happen. Quickly correct them and make everyone aware so next time they are faced with a similar situation they are prepared to handle it correctly. 

3. Create a Positive Environment

You know it when you see it – a team that’s firing on all cylinders because the environment in which they work is positive. Employees love where they work and what they are doing. 

It’s also just as easy to spot a team that works in a negative environment. Like teams that are constantly being attacked for their mistakes or where leaders set bad examples by reacting negatively to adversity. 

A positive environment starts and stops with the leader. The model you create an example you set is up to you. 

4. Limit Control

Yep. You read that right. This one is such a struggle for so many people.

You have to provide your team with the tools and information so they are equipped to execute without your constant input and telling them what to do. 

Again, provide the structure so your team can operate with autonomy and make informed decisions. 

Don’t hog the spotlight. If you do, you’re doing yourself and your team a disservice.


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