Having the right mindset is the beginning of the success journey
Regardless of a person’s position, title, job description, or reputation within the organisation, a highly effective leader will always listen to them, with objective that they can learn something from them. Especially if the person is one of their own teammates.
We can learn anything from anyone, no matter who they are. That is how a highly effective leader gets their insights. This is not just in the workplace either, they are willing to learn from anybody in all walks of life they come across.
1. Leaders Don’t Know Everything
Every member of your team will know something you don’t know, and you know something that they don’t know too. So everybody has a wealth of knowledge that can help each teammate. The key is to have curiosity about what each of your teammates know, and what their outlook on certain situations are.
Being curious is how we involve the whole team when there’s a problem we need to solve. The closest team member to a certain problem, will know more about the problem than anyone else. So, they will be able to give us the most information about it that will help solve the problem.
A highly effective leader will listen to them first, and then involve the rest of the team when they need to find out more information that will improve things.
Highly effective leaders are educated through school, college, maybe university, just like everyone else does. However, they don’t stop their education there. They believe that they need a lifetime education that will span 60 to 70 years, and they need to keep learning every single day of their lives.
If they don’t do this then they believe that they are missing out on something, and it will irritate them. Personal growth is constant to a highly effective leader, and never stops.
The more a highly effective leader learns, the more aware they are of the things in their life that they don’t know about. So, the more a highly effective leader knows, the more they realise what they don’t know.
A low performing leader relies on what they have learned either in school, college, university or from their last jobs. They don’t believe that they should continue educating themselves. For a low performing leader, education stopped when they no longer had to visit the classrooms and listen to teachers or professors.
2. We Must Educate Ourselves
The average person, and this used to include me, believe that an education is school, college, or university. They believe that when school, college, or university is over that our education is over. However, this is not true. To be a real student, and to be a highly effective leader, you have to ‘educate yourself’ every day of your life.
All a school, college, or university can do for a person is to lay the foundations for an education. It is then up to the student to work on themselves every day to keep learning. A student loan, or a sponsorship from an organisation or industry cannot get you educated.
It is really just the building blocks to start a person off on their daily learning journey. An education requires hard work, and it is not completed after the usual four years of a college or university. It is a lifelong journey, and the more you realise that now, then the better it will be for you.
Highly effective leaders are aware of this, and they work on themselves, and educate themselves everyday by constantly learning. No matter what the source of learning is. It can be from their leader, a teammate, a book, a website, a family member, it doesn’t matter. All that is important is that you are constantly learning.
We have spoken at length about having humility as one the important traits that a highly effective leader must have. To be constantly learning, by having humility will keep you grounded, and allow you to have the right attitude to learning.
Humility is a thread that goes through most of the traits required to be a highly effective leader, especially when you are learning something new. Without humility, it won’t be possible for you to become a highly effective leader.
Low performing leaders who have an attitude of, “I don’t need to learn anything new, I know everything I need to know already” are arrogant and have a huge ego. The things that they don’t know, they will try to disguise to people to make them think that they do know those things.
That is what they want everyone to think. A low performing leader will not listen to anyone else who is trying to share information about a problem, or something important. They think that listening to other teammates, or others within the organisation is a waste of their time.
They already know everything, so why would they listen to others right? I have worked with many low performing leaders who had this attitude, and I’ve even experienced them saying to me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
When I was working in Scotland as a production manager, I was advising one of the other production managers about an issue with a train engine. He was more experienced than I was, but I knew more about the problem with the engine.
I told him, “We need to isolate this engine because it had a chance of failing when going back into service.” He replied, “Tom, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The engine will be fine, I am not having it isolated, or otherwise we will get a kicking from the boss.”
So, I let him get on with it. I could have argued the case, but I let him make his decision. What happened next? The engine failed in service. So the lesson there is, listen to the person who has the most information about the problem.
The reason I believe that as a highly effective leader, we must be learning every day is, it allows our teammates, and others to be responsible in helping you. By them helping you, you are helping them increase their confidence in sharing information and communicating with others.
4. Helping Others
Especially if what they are sharing helps you and the team in becoming successful, or achieving a great result. So, it is a win/win situation for both, as you both teaching, and you are both learning at the same time. You may already know how to help your teammate build their confidence, or a new teammate with no experience.
But, allowing them to teach is the perfect way to allow them to feel responsible, with in turn will build confidence in them.
Another reason is by allowing your teammates to teach you or share information with you will help you build a relationship with them. A great trait for a highly effective leader to have is to listen. Even if you know what your teammate is talking about, still listening to them will make them feel good.
Which will help you both in building your relationship with each other. When building a relationship, you are building trust. So, by building trust, you are both more likely to share more, even more important information with each other in the future.
If you do not listen to your teammate then that will create distrust, and will be disrespectful which will break the relationship.
Highly effective leaders have a personal mission to be a role model for their teammates, and part of that is to help the team develop and grow. When their teammates are teaching and sharing information with them, they are being humble and role modelling other leadership traits.
When the team sees this, they want to do the same and follow the behaviours of the highly effective leader. When this happens, the team are all becoming highly effective leaders.
It is a snowball effect because the other teams in the engineering department will also see this, and want to model them in the same way. Highly effective leaders always remember that it starts with them, but it is not about them.
A highly effective leader will never question themselves of whether they are a role model or not. They know they are a role model, because they know they are being watched by almost everybody. The real question is, “What kind of role model am I?”
So, what kind of role model are you?
By knowing how much we don’t know, it will give us the urge to find out.
I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.
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All the best,