I am a first-generation American, and grateful to have “inherited” some wonderfully noteworthy instilled traditional traits from my really fantastic German parents…hard-work ethic, integrity, courage, forthrightness, quality, and…well…self-reliance. I hesitate. This last trait/mindset has mostly worked in my favor…mostly. In my family “pot-luck” was a dirty word…”Heidi, you don’t invite people into your home and then have them bring their own food!”. In theory Mom was right. What was intended as “serving others” (literally!) for me, turned into a “do it on your own” message…equating self-reliance with capability, service, pride, stamina, and even worthiness (ugh!).
I see this trait show up in my leadership clients, so I know I’m not the only one! Maybe you? Are you overboard on “self-reliance”? How are you at delegation? Do you feel some moral code to “do it all yourself”? Delegation is definitely multi-layered (distrust, wanting it done a certain way, losing control, feeling guilty, etc. etc.), so let’s focus on the I-can-do-it-better-on-my-own-loner part of self-reliance. When Mom chose to forego help in favor of making the entire elaborate spread on her own, yes, everything was delicious and fantastic but at what cost? Exhausted hostess, and an aversion to big family gatherings. It was just too much. Not sustainable. Last night I had an experience that showed me how non-leverage-able and non-greatness-oriented this mindset has been. It was an excellent lesson in how to harness the power of many.
I joined 100+ women in a charitable-giving effort called 100 Women Who Care. (btw, there are chapters popping up all over the place, this one was here in MI). Simple concept with a BIG impact and built on not doing it on your own! Imagine the (minimal) impact of your many random $50 donations. THEN imagine the impact of 100+ women simultaneously writing $100 checks for the same charity!!! Voila, $10,000! It’s a quarterly effort of two hours (minimal effort), and $100 individually to raise $10,000+/quarter! Genius, right? Now that is leverage!
It might seem like a stretch but I can’t help but apply this concept to leadership. Essentially we are asking our teams to do the same thing…to leverage the team vs. the individual performances. Subtle but different. Leading your team members to plug into the bigger overarching goal and collecting as a team to make big things happen versus handing in individual performances that hopefully connect at the top is an art. Coming together emotionally and driving toward the bigger goal. Connect as a team first, then connect to the bigger goal. Whatever is preventing you/your team from truly leveraging the team dynamic, inspire around it. Get emotionally rallied. Aristotle’s famous words “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” has taken on a whole new meaning.