One of the pre-eminent leadership authors of the last several decades, John Maxwell, famously said, “the speed of the leader is the speed of the team.” While that’s undoubtedly true, during a Q & A session at an event a couple of weeks ago, a much broader version of the principle came to mind:
“The ________ of the leader is the _________ of the team?”
“The _Maturity_ of the leader is the _Maturity_ of the team.”
“The _Hunger_ of the leader is the _Hunger_ of the team.”
“The _Intentionality_ of the leader is the _Intentionality_ of the team.”
This concept is about the broader culture the leader cultivates and does not reference every team member or situation. Even the most remarkable leader will have outlier circumstances. A high integrity leader can still hire someone who proves to be dishonest, or an ambitious leader can still have someone who doesn’t bring their best. This isn’t a reference to a rare team member or situation but rather the broader essence of the team.
In other words, if we were to spend time with the team, we would take note of the evident characteristics across the team that are a mirror image of the leader’s beliefs, approach, and actions. Again, not every time but often enough that these behaviors, attitudes, and actions are seen as “the norm” or commonplace.
Interestingly, most leaders and/or cultures will repel the behaviors and ultimately team members that aren’t aligned over time. While it may sound strong or even abrasive, it is a reality. Kind people will eject from cultures full of disrespect. Team members who have a strong desire for peace will leave cultures fraught with unhealthy conflict. Leaders who hold themselves and others accountable will transition out of the organizations that don’t take responsibility.
Take a moment and think about the leaders you’ve worked for during your career. What words stand out as true of the leader and true of the team?
Or perhaps the more sensitive question is to ask you to look at the team you lead. What are the things you’re most proud of or drive you nuts? Is there a correlation to the way you operate? What could you do to address that tendency within yourself and, ultimately, the team?
If we believe this to be true, the bad news is that we are the root of the cultural issues within our team. But, the good news is that we are also the root of many cultural solutions within our teams.
Going back to The Power of Imagining the Future from last October, “in ____ years, I want our team to be known for (or absent of) _________.”
Cheers to being the embodiment of what we hope for in our teams and organizations!