Good leaders are constantly striving for excellence. They start with themselves, then raise the bar for their team. It’s a journey that requires a combination of self awareness and growth.
I had a chance to experience both of these things when I recently accepted a new position with my company. Eight months ago, I stepped into a new leadership role supporting a team in Asia Pacific.
It required me to up my game in three critical areas—increased transparency, response to feedback, and commitment to growth.
Here’s what I learned. See if it might help you.
Increased transparency. We take our leaders and clients through a process we call Leadership Point of View where leaders take a look back through their leadership journey—the people and events that have shaped them, their values, and what they expect of themselves and others—and create a story about themselves they can share with people and teams they lead. Because I had the good fortune of going through this process more than seven years ago, I was able to share my Leadership Point of View with my new team. In sharing, I set the stage for each person to have a better understanding of me as their leader that, because of the distance between us, would have taken months if not years to learn through our interactions. How well does your team know you? What could you do to increase your transparency?
Response to feedback. Getting a read on the impact you are having can be a challenge when you are in a position of leadership. Very few people are comfortable speaking truth—especially negative feedback—up the leadership hierarchy. In my case, I was stepping into a new position with a team located across the ocean on another continent with a different culture. How could I create an environment where people would feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their thoughts about change? What was the best approach to being culturally sensitive in China or in Japan? I relied heavily on my internal teammates to guide me. I sought feedback following meetings and also asked for patience from my colleagues as I learned about working in Asia Pacific. Are you comfortable enough to be vulnerable and ask your people for feedback?
Commitment to growth. Growth comes in many forms, including identifying what’s not working, trying on new behaviors, committing to change, and then setting up both the direction and support for doing it all. Through coaching, I was able to practice new behaviors that had been outside of my comfort zone or different from what my typical style would be. I also have continued to seek guidance from people on the Asia team to get their input on how I can best serve them and their colleagues throughout the region.
I know my growth in the next year will put me leaps ahead of where I am today. It’s exciting to think about how much more equipped I will be to serve the region and the team. In the meantime, I am on a steep learning curve—but one that is backed with a commitment to serve, which will help me make incremental changes that will eventually feel normal and comfortable. How open are you to growth and change?
For me, a commitment to learning, growing, and evolving to meet the needs of my environment is the formula for success. See if it can work for you as well!
About the Author
Joni Wickline is Vice President, International Growth with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read Wickline’s posts as a part of Coaching Tuesday here at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.