Most leaders would acknowledge the importance of populating their teams with people smarter than they are and then getting out of their way. But few have the real ego strength to overcome their own smallness and actually follow through. High performers need runway and headroom to apply their considerable capabilities to complex challenges. What can you do to get out of your own way and let strong people make their contribution to your mission?
When I was getting to know my new bride twenty-five years ago, she had a number of very attractive traits: humble, strong, practical, reliable and, above all, super intelligent. She finished all three of her degrees with distinction and has deep knowledge in a large variety of domains that I lack, particularly in the areas of behavioral science and human performance training.
Tania has been working as an occupational therapist for the past thirty years. With all the changes in the healthcare system in the past year, she got a new boss who didn't fully appreciate the massive tribal knowledge she possesses and she is now retiring from the healthcare system altogether. It's been a tough year for her but his loss is my gain as she is finally bringing all that skill, strength, talent and experience to our business this fall as we build out and launch our training business together. The next stage of our great adventure has just begun.
Leaders need to be secure enough to hire the best people.
Our business is now poised to support not only the senior supporting leaders of private equity firms and the growth-oriented firms they invest in but the front-line leaders who manage the teams charged with executing new innovations and new initiatives.
(In the video below, Terry Bendera from Prostar Energy services and Jeff Belford from Triwest Capital partners discuss the challenges of diversity and alignment.)
A diverse team requires great conflict management skills.
With increasing diversity comes increasing conflict. People who think differently bring different perspectives and experience to the problem of crafting a working strategy and those differences can pile up as inflammation in the team. In time, areas where people are simply not yet aligned can fester into more toxic misalignments. Strong leaders work their teams through a process of alignment by creating a safe environment for people to disagree.
Front-line leaders and their teams are the key to execution.
We have come to the conclusion that the best way to develop the leadership abilities of leaders at the front is to teach coaching skills. Mediating conflict and creating strong workable agreements in a team is a coaching skill available to front-line leaders. As they master and apply this skillset they create environments that their people can really shine.