As coaches, we often hear stories of team members looking to their bosses for inspiration, guidance, and knowledge. An employee’s success, the decisions they make, and the career path they follow is often shaped by the person they’re learning from.
Some of the very best managers have been heavily influenced by great leaders themselves and have spent years observing and emulating behaviours. We’ve noticed a trend when it comes to leaders avoiding real conversations, so today we’re going to be talking about the importance of stretching yourself as a leader in order to get the most out of your team.
Practice what you preach
At some stage in our working lives, we’ve all received feedback from someone who wants us to change, improve, adapt, or grow. If you’re being mentored by a great leader, it’s likely that you’ll want to action this straight away and you may feel motivated to make improvements. As a team member, you’ll look at your leader for inspiration and guidance on how to achieve this. If you’re working for a leader who doesn’t show any interest in improving themselves, you may feel less inclined to want to take their feedback on board.
What does this mean for your team?
If you spend a lot of time with somebody that has high expectations, but doesn’t stretch themselves, you begin to look for inspiration elsewhere. It could be that your relationship is strained, or you don’t respect that person enough. Feedback from a leader that doesn’t stretch themselves can feel meaningless. Why would you want to adapt or make changes to suit their standards? Why should you do something that your boss wouldn’t? This lack of self-improvement as a leader can make your team feel unmotivated, disinterested, and uninspired in the workplace. Over time, you may discover your hardest-working employees begin to slow down, and the overall motivation levels could begin to dip.
What does this mean for me as an employer?
First of all, try not to score an own goal by asking somebody to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. If you know your weaknesses, this is your opportunity to be open about them. Your team will find you much more relatable, approachable, and trustworthy if you’re honest about what you’re working on and how you’re trying to improve.
Ultimately your team are unlikely to grow beyond the limits of your self-development efforts, so if you don’t spend time reading helpful materials and books, listening to podcasts, or watching videos, you’re unlikely to set a good example or give them the space and time to do this within work hours.
It’s key that you foster a culture of learning by getting everyone in the team to share what they’re working on with each other. Once you’ve started this, make it safe for your team to give you feedback. Make sure to ask regularly and update them on your progress. This will encourage them to do the same.
Our challenge to you this year is to set some challenges for yourself. Do something – both personally and professionally – that challenges you. That stretch you. That make you grow.
Ask yourself: What are you working on now that’s slightly beyond your current abilities?
If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of personal development or simply want to be a better leader, you can book a call with us today. Alternatively, you can find out more about our leadership courses here.