Many leaders stop growing because they’re getting great reviews from their boss and strong feedback from their people.
Unfortunately, they don’t realize they’re still only in the first phase of their leadership journey.
Perhaps you’re getting results from your team that bolster your company’s bottom line. Your people respect you and look to you for direction. You know you’re an effective leader – maybe you’d even rate yourself as, say, an 8 out of 10.
However, you might be using a scale made for people with more modest ambition.
It’s time to recalibrate that scale to reveal the tremendous opportunities for growth--and to inspire yourself to reach for greater heights.
How Coca-Cola recalibrated its idea of what was possible
Look at how Coca Cola recalibrated its concept of what it had the ability to achieve. The company had already cornered over 65% of the international soft drink market – the height of success, one might say. However, instead of just patting themselves on the back for a job well done, executives realised they’d only cornered a small portion of the total drink market.
Meanwhile, Pepsi dominated 77% of the sports drink market and 88% of coffee drinks. Now, Coca Cola too is focused on becoming a “total beverage company” that dominates in many different categories of drinks where it has boundless room for growth.
The lesson: Don’t just luxuriate – and languish – in your success, and
Take a look at what the height of success can look like for these three key areas of leadership--influence, inspiring leadership in others, and visionary leadership--and expand your idea of what it’s possible for you to achieve.
Growth Area 1: Inspiring leadership in others
You might see yourself as a supportive leader who helps your people step outside of their comfort zone. But for world-class inspirational leadership, let’s look at the example of Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit.
Smith catalyses leadership in his 7,900+ employees by encouraging them to take risks, find new solutions to problems, and overcome their fear of failure. Instead of leadership flowing from the top down, it flows in all directions.
The company’s business model resembles an assortment of startups rather than a centralized corporation, giving leaders across the organisation plenty of room to soar.
When you re-calibrate your idea of what inspiring leadership in others looks like using Smith’s example, where do you sit on that scale?
Inspiring leadership scale
ACTION POINT: Encourage your people to push their own limits. Invite criticism and solutions to both small and large problems from people at all levels of the organisation, fostering a new business model that rewards innovative thinking.
Growth Area 2. Exerting influence
You might have no trouble getting your team revved up about your ideas, which may lead you to think of yourself as a great influencer. But what does world-class influence look like?
Mary Barra of General Motors is an excellent example of an influencer. She’s guiding not just the success of her company, but the direction of the whole auto industry. She’s implemented bold strategic moves like pulling Chevy out of Europe and investing in self-driving-car technology, getting buy-in from major stakeholders for her often controversial ideas. The first woman to serve as CEO of a major auto producer, she’s also quickly becoming the most influential CEO in GM’s history.
Like Barra, great influencers can persuade people to take actions that at first might seem counterintuitive. They spearhead radical change that keeps their company cornering new markets and constantly increases their own sphere of influence.
When you re-calibrate your idea of what the height of influence looks like using Barra’s example, where do you sit?
ACTION POINT: Want to grow your influence? Start finding reasons to chat up the influencers in your organisation. Make yourself a regular part of their lives, and your influence with them will grow.
Growth Area 3: Cultivating and sharing long-term vision
You may have a strong understanding of your company’s vision and use it to inform your team’s initiatives. However, you probably still have a long way to go in terms of becoming a visionary leader.
Take the example of Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, whose vision has radiated not only through the tech sector but throughout the world. Rolling Stone has called him “the architect of tomorrow.”
Musk’s wildly visionary ideas like creating a world with carbon-free energy and enabling human beings to live on Mars, don’t always come to fruition immediately. Rather, he’s a master of the long-game, working to achieve revolutionary--perhaps seemingly impossible--ideas step by step.
Every Monday, his staff holds a brainstorming session on "Mars colonial transport architecture," and Space X has been steadily improving cutting-edge rocket technology for years.
In comparison to Musk’s example, where would you place yourself on the re-calibrated visionary leadership scale?
ACTION POINT: Make a point to refer to your company’s vision in team meetings on a regular basis, tying team performance, strategy, and goals into it. Make time each week to brainstorm on visionary ideas so you’ll always have something in your back pocket when you run into that executive in the elevator.
Check out these three ways to kick start your personal growth---influence, inspiring leadership in others, and visionary leadership.
The power of re-calibrating your leadership goals
As you re-calibrate your leadership goals, you might be realizing you’re only 20% of the way on a much longer journey than you realised. But whether you work at a large company in the tech sector or a small advertising agency, hone these areas of growth to unleash your true potential.
You’ll be on your way to becoming the leader you aspire to be, and team performance will skyrocket as a result.