Having a focus on lifting others up – helping them succeed and be extraordinary in their own way – might seem like a lot of effort, particularly when you have a company to run. After all, as business leaders we just need our people to do their job, right?
Jumpseat Leadership is the most generative form of leadership since it is one that is focused on empowering others rather than seeking to build or retain one’s own power. When we lift others up in this way, we create an environment in which our people choose to contribute more and start to become leaders themselves. Performance accelerates and is then sustained over the long term.
So how do we lift others up?
1. Be clear on the context. At a strategic level, ‘context’ would include our vision and overall mission. We also need to give clarity around how each project or task fits into that picture. The clearer we are on the context, the easier it is for people on our team to figure out how they can use their skills to contribute.
Consider this: the next time you roll out a new project or initiative ask the team how they see it fitting into the goals of the organization. Then take it a step further: ask what they see themselves doing to contribute to the success of the project.
2. Nurture a sense of belonging. When people feel they belong, they will instinctively want to contribute more. They will feel motivated to figure out how they can go beyond any minimum requirement. The way we nurture a sense of belonging is actually quite simple: we show that we care.
Consider this: the next time you meet with your team instead of asking, “What are you working on?” ask, “How can I help?” Then pause and actually listen. Follow up with them within 24 hours to figure out the next steps. They still own the task. You are there to support and help them see it through.
3. Encourage people to take responsibility. While we can make people accountable through, say, a set of KPIs, only individuals can choose to step up and take responsibility for how they respond. A team consisting of those with a strong sense of responsibility will always out-pace one that is driven by accountability alone.
Consider this: the next time something needs to get done, instead of telling someone what to do, ask them, “What steps would you take?” The next part is the most important: listen and be curious about how their approach could work. Just because someone does not do it the way you would doesn’t make it wrong. Be there for support and as a guide. This is a key aspect of becoming a Jumpseat Leader.
4. Delegation vs abdication. If we seek to accelerate our progress as a team, we need to delegate, freeing up our time to focus on those things only we are equipped to deal with. But delegation does not mean we shed our responsibility for a poor outcome. On the contrary, when those we have delegated to succeed, it’s theirs to celebrate; if they fail, that’s ours to own.
Consider this: the next time an opportunity comes up to delegate, take it. Go to the person you want to lead and walk them through what success looks like. Make it clear that the outcome is theirs to own, and that you have their back. Explain this is their opportunity to learn and you will be there to support them every step of the way.
5. Seek to spiral up rather than spiral down. It’s easy to rip into someone when they have made an error. But this reaction usually comes from our own fear. We fear how their mistakes may affect our life, livelihood, status, or reputation. When fear is driving us it can cause us to spiral downward. A spiral down can have ramifications for the future. In the critical seconds, before we start a tough conversation, we can choose what follows to become an opportunity for positive growth. Does this mean that we always “go easy” on people when they make a mistake? Not at all. We must be guided by how much they care about what they have done and the impact it has had. And if they don’t care enough, perhaps that says more about our leadership and the environment we create, than it does about them.
Consider this: the next time someone on your team regrets a mistake they have made, use it as an opportunity to lift that person up in front of everyone. Show your team that mistakes can happen, and when the choice is made to correct it together, everyone prospers and continues to feel they belong.
About the Author:
Peter Docker teaches people how to navigate the challenge of leadership. His latest book, Leading from the Jumpseat, delivers the message that leadership is about lifting people up and giving them the space they need so that, when the time is right, they can take the lead.
Co-author of Find Your Why and formerly a founding Igniter at Simon Sinek Inc., Peter draws on his 25-year career in the Royal Air Force, and over 14 years spent partnering with businesses around the world, to inspire others to Lead from the Jumpseat.
To learn more about Leading from the Jumpseat, go to www.LeadingfromtheJumpseat.com
By Peter Docker, author of Leading from the Jumpseat