Often in interviews, I’m asked what I “do”. I found myself over the years summarizing my response to “As a leader, my focus is on creating an environment that challenges and supports people to exceed expectations”. Obviously this entire blog is centered on giving tidbits on how this is done but one aspect that I really want to call attention to: how much time are you dedicating to training, coaching, or mentoring others?
No one is surprised by this statement: To successfully train, mentor and coach you need experience and mastery for each craft.
What about this one: To successfully train, mentor and coach you need to have time to train, mentor and coach.
Pretty straightforward too yet how many people have leaders with no time available? How did the thing so frequently that gets reprioritized off a leader’s list is the proactive challenging/supporting of people? You’re success as a leader is not by what you get done in a day but what others are able to get done.
There are many ways this situation occurs despite great intentions. Let’s hit on a couple of the common ones that I’ve experienced:
- Promotion without training on these crafts. Have you been to a training on what it means to coach? I know I didn’t learn this in college and I’m still learning today! Is your manager giving you feedback on your coaching? Have you had training on training? If not, you should definitely check out this course I’m giving 🙂
- Promotion without backfill. Hey, good job. We now want you to have direct reports and help them succeed like you have but could you still do your current job too? This is going to happen; recruiting alone can take time. I’ll start working through a transition plan. I’ll prioritize with my manager on what gets deferred. I’ve even asked for the promotion to be delayed a few weeks vs immediately. How you start off leading sets a tone and an example, make it a good one!
- Expectation: this is what my manager did. We learn from others and you may have really respected and liked your manager – so you repeat. Only you are not that person and your report is not you, chances that you get different results are high. Conversely, maybe you hated it and feel if you dealt with it, now they can do the same. However, this is not an initiation that everyone has to experience. Be open to learning different ways to lead. Be open to experimentating.
- Accountability: I know, I know…you can’t let any balls drop. Except the ball that you do drop is the one focused on growing your team. Isn’t that the ball that will eventually make the rest of them drop too? Why are we able to sacrifice our people…I assure you the cost is just as high as unhappy customers? Why is this not an opportunity to reduce WIP – to practice what we advocate regarding multi-tasking? Are you not accountable to lead people?
No two days are ever the same. However, if you are not finding that a good percentage of your time is spent proactively and reactively training, mentoring and coaching…are you a leader?
How do you ensure you have time for others?