Kermit isn’t the only one who has problems being green…
Sure, many of us are gunning for the big promotion, the title, the new office, the bigger paycheck, etc. We’re out to be noticed, to (certainly) not get bypassed, to be given the opportunity to prove ourselves, and the chance to lead others to do the same.
And should we finally hit the motherload with the promotion, we should feel proud, psyched, pumped, right? After all, we’ve proven ourselves. We were seen by our higher ups as smart, trustworthy, and capable. Skills have been mastered. Deliverables have been met. We’ve got the goods, no?
I certainly didn’t. Before becoming an HGC coach, I worked in the fashion industry. Between my work ethic and ability to deliver on whatever task was asked of me, I had moved, within a few years, from manager to senior manager to director to vice president. With each promotion, my salary, capacity, and responsibility increased and my ability to be effective in my own job decreased.
Yes, you read that correctly: decreased.
You see, I was really good at MY job. Yes, period. No matter what position I rose to, I kept my focus primarily (read: only) on doing my job well and focused little (read: not at all) on leading the team to do their jobs well. I winged it most of the time and even assumed everyone should like me. I read books and blogs on leadership. I listened to audiobooks. I took seminars. And, as far as I knew, my winging it was working as my department was meeting our goals. So, naturally, when my company was selected to be a part of a 360 review pilot program, I was excited.
That is, until I got my report back.
Here’s a taste (salty?) what my direct reports, colleagues, and superiors had to say about my leadership style and ability to lead my team:
She doesn’t know what the bigger goals are and she’s not connected to the vision.
She looks overwhelmed and scattered.
I like her but I need more support and she’s hard to pin down.
She needs to empower the team more.
I need her to be able to lead through influence not by doing.
She has to be more visible and connect more with upper management.
Yup. (Though not the easiest to swallow, I hear crow is a good source of protein). After having read MY report, are you left wondering what your people would say was missing in your leadership skills (or better yet, your pantry)?
In my own evolution as a leader and in our work with clients at HG, we’ve found that there are seven key ingredients you need to be a successful leader of any and of many. Unfortunately, at the time I received that 360 assessment, I didn’t know them and I lacked a lot of these ingredients. The good news? The ingredients listed below are developable. The bad news? It took me a lot of work.
Ingredient #1: Clarity
You have a clear vision. It’s locked in your gut. You understand that your dreams are your compass. You love and keep them as your directive.
[Clearly, at the time of my 360, I was a tad near and far sighted.]
Ingredient #2: Integrity
The difference between being true to yourself and being a fraud lives right here. As a leader, you must both like and respect yourself. You must walk the walk.
[Certainly, in the beginning, I was a bit too busy doing to notice how I was being.]
You can’t stop talking about your mission and want to flip everyone you meet. You not only love the topic, you love who needs it.
[Does manic count?]
You need to love and want to impact your area of artistry. You are inspired by it, proud of it, and love what it provides. No matter what it is. There is something you want to bring into the world that is an expression of yourself. It’s what makes you, YOU.
[Lucky for me, I did have passion about what I did. However, what didn’t work about me was that my vision was only about me and had nothing to do with the collective.]
You take risks. You even chase risks. You put your ordinary-ness through hell to be extraordinary. You can walk up to anyone and feel totally comfortable. You are charming and charismatic. You’re not afraid to ask for anything. Better yet, you can easily and happily get a yes or a no. You like either. Because, first and foremost, you like the truth.
[Truth be told, I preferred easy yeses over difficult conversations and I was too scared to make myself available to everyone. ]
You understand that you need your head under new management. You are clear that you often don’t.
[This was a big one. The fact that I got nailed in my 360 for constantly changing my mind looking scattered, and failing to empower my team pointed to the work I needed to do in the arena of true self-awareness.]
You understand that your support structure is critical. You surround yourself with people that love and support you. And you love and support them. You have no naysayers in your community, INCLUDING the ones in your head. And, if anyone isn’t clapping for you, you handle them with care.
[Sure, I was liked, but the jury was out (and back) re: my ability to know and support others.]
Even though I indeed said seven, let’s just call this last eighth ingredient optional, even if it’s one of our favorites at HGC:
Transparency is when people are allowed to TRULY know you. There’s no private you and public you.
[Lucky for me, this last ingredient was optional. But, I’m trusting this far into the blog you can tell how far I’ve come with this ingredient and how much I’m willing to tell on myself and use my learning for yours.]
So many times, people fail not because they weren’t willing to do the work to become a great leader but because they didn’t know what work to do. It’s no one’s fault, because no one has been teaching this. And at HGC, we don’t sugarcoat it. We work on your emotional (feelings), spiritual (thoughts) and physical (actions) integrity. We know it’s not easy being green. But a great company/greenhouse, even if heated at times, is a perfect place to grow into the leader you want to be, now that we’ve planted the seeds.
Need some support? A harness? Find me. It’s should no longer be so hard. I don’t just (read: only) care about my job, I care about yours too.
Chrisa Zindros (Executive Coach)