The Best Leaders Know It's Not About Them

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One of the best pieces of feedback I ever received was, “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” It came when I was rehearsing for a workshop.  During my preparation, I was laser-focused on my performance – what I was doing and how it would be perceived. Was I making my points clearly enough? Was my body language right to emphasize key points? Was I coming across as an expert on the topic?

Unfortunately, my mindset and focus were all wrong.  In the practice run debrief, my coach reminded me that I could give the perfect presentation but completely miss the critical outcome: helping the participants learn and succeed!  I needed to put myself in their shoes, and if I did, my success as a presenter would naturally follow. She said simply, “Remember, it’s not about you. it’s about them.”
 
Over the years we at Archos Advisors have seen leaders fall into the same trap.  When it happens, leaders start to focus on their own attributes and how people view them in their role.  How do I come across? What do people think of me? What do I need to do next? How can I make sure people respect me?  While these things can be important, shifting the mindset and looking at leadership from a different point of view can enhance how leaders personally improve – in these areas and many more.  Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about your people.

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 In his book The Score Takes Care of Itself, Bill Walsh, former coach for the San Francisco 49ers, shares how wins come from daily steps and processes.  He also reinforces that leadership actions are an essential.  Walsh states, “Others follow you based on the quality of your actions rather than the magnitude of your declarations.”  To be the best leader, the focus should be on the quality of actions related to employees. Some of those include:

  • Ensuring employees have a line of sight and connection to the purpose and mission of the organization.
  • Helping employees understand expectations and navigate priorities.
  • Making sure employees know you care about them as individuals and recognize the unique value they bring.
  • Ensuring employees feel connected and part of the team.
  • Meeting employee needs for growth and development.
  • Removing barriers and knowing that if the team succeeds, you succeed!

What’s your mindset?  Is it people first? As leaders, each of us can be short-sided in our own growth if we don’t first value our people.  Putting a focus and priority on meeting their needs will naturally lead to being a better leader and success!