You Can’t Do it Alone
“No mommy, I do it myself!” In her earliest days of learning to talk and discovering new words, this phrase very quickly became my young toddler’s mantra. “Do you want mommy to read the book to you?” I would ask. “Let’s sit and do this puzzle or play with dolls together”, I would offer, but her response was always that same declaration of independence, “No Mommy, I do it myself!” Her insistence was often accompanied by animated gestures of tiny hands planted firmly upon her hips and a defiant stamp of her little foot. To this day, my now grown daughter refuses to let anyone or anything stand in the way of anything she sets out to accomplish.
There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” While being independent and self-sufficient is very appealing, the ‘do it myself’ approach isn’t a great leadership principle. Wise leaders understand that going far cannot be accomplished by going alone. They recognize that in order to succeed over the long haul, they need to be supported by others. The best leaders understand that the path to success is a group endeavour not a personal one.
So how do you let others in? Here are four important insights:
Surround yourself with smart, talented people
Be humble and remember that success is largely a factor of the people you involve in your journey. Seek out those who are smarter than you and can fill in where you lack knowledge or experience. Be willing to let others challenge you and give you new perspectives.
Ask for help
Recognize your shortcomings and identify what you need help with. One of the biggest mistakes leaders can make is believing they can be successful on their own. You cannot excel at everything so embrace your shortcomings, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. This builds trust and encourages team members to keep growing and developing.
Give away responsibility
Leaders need not try to do it all. This places a heavy burden on the leader and causes team members to feel alienated and underutilized. Leadership means helping others reach their full potential, so make use of the talent around you and offer them your ongoing guidance and support.
Focus on building deep, long term relationships
Support a culture of engagement with one another. Strong communication is an essential component of relationship building, and leaders can set the tone by being interested, available and involved with their people both professionally and personally. Don’t forget that careful listening is crucial to effective communication. Regularly interacting with team members shows a genuine interest in their well-being resulting in strengthened relationships, strong unity and a high level of commitment.
My daughter and I often laugh together as I tell her stories of her younger defiant self. While still very independent, she has learned over the years that going far down the path to success involves bringing others in as much as possible.
By working together we can achieve more. How are you implementing these principles in your leadership? We’d love to hear from you.