One of the best ways to improve your leadership is to reflect on how it feels to be led.
I’ve had some amazing bosses over the years who taught me a great deal through their words.
But mostly by their actions.
I’m sure you have too.
And yes, I’ve had my share of managers I’d rather forget.
But I don’t.
Because you can learn as much from a bad boss as a good one.
Of course, every now and then I say a little prayer, those jerks will tune in to what I’m putting down 🙂
But that’s not really the point, is it?
We’re working on OUR leadership.
A Simple Technique to Improve Your Leadership
If you’re like me, you’re probably finding yourself a bit more introspective these days.
I’ve been spending a good bit of time deliberately thinking about where I learned what I know about leadership, and where my beliefs about what great leadership is, came from.
And, I’ve been taking it a step further and reaching out to some of my old managers (meaning managers from a long time ago, not saying they’re old, but you know…), and sharing what I learned from them and how I learned it.
AND, here’s where the bonus learning comes in.
I ask them to reflect on what they were trying to teach me and WHY.
Some stories they remember.
Some, not so much–an important reminder that people are always picking up more than we may think we are putting down.
So here’s my challenge to you.
- Make a list of your previous managers—the good, the great, and the ugly. (If you’ve had a long career, it can even be helpful to go to LinkedIn and see all your past roles and picture who you worked for at the time. BTW, if we’re not yet connected on Linkedin, let’s do!)
- Write down what you learned working with them.
- Reflect on how that influenced your leadership.
- Bonus: find them and invite them into a conversation (this really is the fun part).
My Conversation With Ray Davidson (One of My Good Bosses 😉
So this is one journey back. I asked Ray for a perspective about “how he grew me.” Classic Ray, he went meta.
- “Every person comes to the table with a level of potential. And as leaders, you never know how you impact that individual and how you can navigate and walk down the path with them so they can realize the potential they didn’t even realize they had.”
- “And I think some of that is being agile enough in your leadership so you can tell stories because everyone doesn’t receive things the same way. Also to be there from a listening perspective and to realize you may be making an impact you don’t even realize you’re making.”
- “But if you are sincere about being willing to cultivate the seeds of potential in others in general. Never write anyone off from the potential of what they can be.”
- Learn what the movie Men in Black has to do with leadership at 2:45
- And if you’ve heard us talk about an “emotional check for understanding” in one of our leadership programs, here’s the origin story at 4:18.
- We conclude with an important and powerful, diversity, and inclusion conversation.
Thanks, Ray. So appreciate you.