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Monday, March 21, 2011

Either move out of the way as a leader or surround yourself with those who can make things happen...

Some more thoughts from Marcus Aurelius...

"Is my understanding sufficient for this or not? If it is sufficient, I use it for the work as an instrument given by the universal nature. But if it is not sufficient, then either I retire from the work and give way to him who is able to do it better, unless there be some reason why I ought not to do so; or I do it as well as I can, taking to help me the man who with the aid of my ruling principle can do what is now fit and useful for the general good. For whatsoever either by myself or with another I can do, ought to be directed to this only, to that which is useful and well suited to society."

"Be not ashamed to be helped; for it is thy business to do thy duty like a soldier in the assault on a town. How then, if being lame thou canst not mount up on the battlements alone, but with the help of another it is possible?"

Don't get caught up in the translation, what Marcus Aurelius is reminding us of as leaders is to know when it is our time to move on or vacate our position of leadership, or ask for help. When it is still within our ability to accomplish the things asked of us by all means we should do so. However, when I am no longer able to fulfill my duties I need to be honest with myself and others and either move on from that place of leadership, or if this is not an option I need to be smart enough to surround myself with people who can help accomplish those duties.

Now, I tend to believe that the latter is the best route. Leadership experience is too valuable to lose, especially when strong leaders can admit their weaknesses and have the ability to surround themselves with quality, qualified people who can make up for the leaders shortcomings. As a leader you simply cannot know everything there is to know about everything.

Unfortunately too many leaders live on past successes for so long that they really create their own oblivion which they fade away into. Success is fleeting and is not meant to create mantles on which we stand for the length of our careers. Successes are meant to propel us on the the next success. Hopefully, taking on new challenges and opportunities which require us to honestly evaluate ourselves, recognize our weaknesses, and surround ourselves with those who compensate for those weaknesses. And in turn we compensate for theirs as well. Sounds like team building, doesn't it?

Remember, as a leader you should not expect yourself, or be expected of by others, to know everything. Leadership is not about being omniscient, it is about building strong teams that together can accomplish what might otherwise be impossible for you alone.

So, as Marcus Aurelius reminds us; be honest with yourself. Move out of the way if it is time, or be strong enough to surround yourself with those who can make you stronger yet and who you can build up as well.

This may be especially true for those of us who are responsible for hiring new people, or who are thinking of re-entering the job market. Am I asking too much of those I am interviewing? Forsaking their incredible talents for the minute gifts they don't possess? When being interviewed myself, am I finding myself hanging on to past success for fear of admitting my lack of knowledge in certain areas of the job description? Rather, maybe I should point out my ability to admit weakness and surround myself with strong people or to be one of those strong people another leader can feel comfortable surrounding themselves with.

Just some more to think about.

Lead Strong...


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