My leadership journey has not been a straight line.
I have meandered down multiple paths, many of which led to dead ends.
But each path, successful or not, had lessons that are integral to my story.
One of those lessons is tied directly to my strengths and, probably more aptly stated, my weaknesses as a leader.
I have come to realize that I am very good, excellent even, at very few things.
In fact, it may be a singular area that I genuinely excel as a leader.
That realization was both humbling and surprisingly freeing.
I experienced freedom from:
- The sense that somehow what I created rose and fell only on my limited abilities.
- Having to accept mediocrity in any area of my business.
And freedom to:
- Empower my team.
- Focus on where I create the highest value for my team.
- Be available.
And being available has been the single greatest thing I have ever done for White Law Office, Co.
Before accepting that I needed others that were more talented than me, in their areas, to accomplish my vision, I fell into the trap that I had to do everything, and it was all on me to make my vision a reality.
I stripped power from the people around me by insisting that:
- I had to do it.
- It would take too long to train someone else.
- Even more foolishly, no one could do it as well as I could.
What an insecure fool.
And insecurity is exactly what I was operating out of.
Insecurity manifests itself in many forms.
And one way it can manifest in leaders is the myth of self-sufficiency.
It is also known as bootstrapping.
"I can lift myself up under my own efforts and power."
Self-sufficiency is easier than team building.
You have to risk less in being emotionally intelligent about yourself and others.
You have to invest less in building strong and healthy relationships.
You don't have to take time to have a well-defined and defended culture and values that guide global decision making.
But you also can't ever move beyond your strengths and weaknesses.
And your business is limited to only what you are focusing on and cannot be expanding in multiple directions at the same time.
The toxicity of the self-sufficiency manifestation of insecurity is that it sounds like you should be able to do it.
But the reality is that no one can pull hard enough on their own bootstraps to lift themselves off the ground.
Recently I released a book based on this very topic.
Bootsville is a story that explores the frustration and limitations of the mentality of self-sufficiency, and conversely, the satisfaction of belonging in a team where your strengths are deployed in the best direction possible.
When I was able to confront my insecurity and empower my team, I was able to focus on where I generated the greatest return on investment for White Law Office.
And in the new paradigm for generating ROI for my team, I needed to be, first and foremost, available to them.
Before, I was present with them but taking power from them by trying to control everything.
Now, I am available to them and empowering them to grow their areas of responsibility.
Being available has allowed my team to step into new areas knowing that I have their back and am there to support them - success or failure.
Before, they were led in areas where I could not train them beyond my level of mediocrity.
Now, they are free to grow beyond my experience and knowledge base.
Sometimes the most significant thing a leader can do to empower their team is getting out of the way.
Focus on where your strength amplifies your organization's vision, mission, and purpose and recruit people better than you to round out what is needed.
As your focus narrows, your impact will become more powerful.
By finding your place inside the team and empowering your team to function in their strengths, you will accomplish more, with less time, energy, and effort, than you ever accomplished exerting all that effort trying to pick yourself up by your bootstraps.
Confront your insecurity.
Define your strength.
Find your team.
Empower each other.
Lead and be led from a place of strength.
There is a better way.
Christopher (Chris) White is based in Millersburg, Ohio and is the Managing Partner and Owner of White Law Office, Co., Author of "Bootsville: A Story for Visionaries, Organizers, and Implementors," Speaker, Teacher, Storyteller, Playwright, Director, Nerd, Husband, and Dad.
Contact or follow Chris and his team at:
Twitter: @j3eight or @wlotweets
Instagram: j3eight_insta or whitelawoffice
Facebook: @j3eighttribe or @Thewhitelawoffice
Website: j3eight.com or thewhitelawoffice.com