BY STEPHANY COCHRAN
Leading teams and companies in a variety of ventures has been my foundation for 25+ years. Whether through small groups or leading larger teams of employees, I’ve always prided myself on the ability to take a group of individuals by leading them to accomplish a goal or vision together and fusing them into a collaborative team. My concept of leadership was being viewed through a tight lens and since joining the Green Shoe team that lens has been expanded.
Here at Green Shoe we focus on Pia Mellody’s concept of co-dependence. Having had both educational and extensive training in the counseling world, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what co-dependency was and the characteristics of a co-dependent. I was wrong.
Codependency is rooted in our self-esteem. According to Pia, healthy self-esteem is created within an individual who knows that they have inherent worth equal to others. We have inherent worth, period. No matter how much we succeed, who our friends are, what car we drive, or the mistakes we make…We. Are. Worthy. Issues buried within self-esteem surface when we feel worthless or better than others. Thus, creating codependent relationships.
Who knew my people pleasing tendencies were codependent? I love making others happy, but until recently have never stopped to ask myself why. Fast forward to present day, I’m now asking, “How does this fit into my leadership style?” I’ve always been good with people – you could say it’s my spiritual gift. I am able to connect and build a strong rapport and work wonderfully with others. This developed quickly into being able to lead, guide and grow those that worked for me. However, I discovered all my time and energy making others happy, and yes being successful, was a never-ending pursuit.
I’m reading John Maxwell’s’ book, “Leadershift”, one specific chapter that spoke to me was titled: Pleasing People to Challenging People. Simply stated, pleasing people is not the same as leading people. The difference between the two is as a leader, you cannot lead people if you need people. If I continue to put all my energy into trying to make all people happy, I’m setting myself up for failure because I cannot make everyone happy.
Repeat after me: You cannot make everyone happy.
Maxwell makes the shift by stating, “…to get the best out of people, leaders must ask for the best out of people”. My inherent worth as a person is the same as my inherent worth as a leader. By not relying on others “liking” or “not liking” me, I shift to challenging others to be the best they can be and for the organization to be the best it can be. So, here’s the million-dollar question: How do we make that shift from people pleaser to people challenger?
Maxwell lays it out in these steps:
1. Change your expectation towards leadership
Ask yourself these three questions:
This will enable the leader to make the shift from gaining approval to sharing the vision, raising the bar, challenging others, being an example, and asking for commitment and not waiting for consensus.
2. Value people as much as you value yourself
We see others as we see ourselves. So, if we know ourselves to be inherently worthy, we will see other as inherently worthy. However, the flip side works the same way. If a leader devalues themselves, they will devalue those that work with them. To get the best out of people, you must believe the best of people.
3. Work to establish expectations up front
Setting the expectations up on the front end and the boundaries of the working relationship, the leader is setting the team up for success verses disappointment on the back end.
Shifting from a people pleaser leader to a challenging people leader does not always feel good and can feel a little isolating at times. For me, by being secure in my own worth and not depending on other’s approval, I am able to focus on what is best for my team and the organization. It is key to set the vision and expectations for your team upfront, so they will see the changes and ultimately rise together in success. This also gives you clear sight on who is committed on your team. When you ask others to make a commitment you will lose those not committed but have a stronger team in the process. By shifting into a Challenging People Leader, the success comes as the vision builds, goals are met, and others grow.
I highly recommend John's book. It's an incredible eye-opener on the importance of a being 'leader' and a 'boss'.