One of the things, (not the only things but sometimes that’s closer to the truth than I dare admit), that I figured out early in my business career was balancing ‘doing’ with ‘growing’. Many leaders and achievers in life believe that it’s all about what you accomplish, what you achieve, or what you do.
But who you become, and are becoming, is just as important. As the saying goes, “If you’re not growing, sooner or later you’re going to be the biggest constraint to your team success.” No matter how far ahead of your team you are, if you just sit there, you’re going to be ‘in the way’ as your team grows to, then past, you.
I’ve taught for years that leaders can’t afford to just be ‘the leader’. They also must be ‘the student’. Part of it is being a role model for continued personal growth. But just as important is their growth. It creates a culture of growth and a sense of momentum and progress. We need to get better at what we do and how we do it. And if we’re not growing, we’re dying.
We also need to take time to teach, to share our knowledge and new learnings. Besides helping others on our team get better themselves (which benefits us), it also helps answer the three questions that all team members have of their leader. “Do you care about me?” “Can you help me?” and “Can I trust you?” Well, if you’re taking your time to share with them, to teach them what you have learned. Then, of course, they will believe ‘you do’, and ‘they can’. (And don’t waste time stroking your ego and strive to be the ‘answer man or women’ where all you do is answer their questions. That just gets them past one step, or obstacle, and on to the next. Teach them how to think so that they can get the answer themselves. A major benefit of this is that you’ll be shocked how much more time you have since you’re no longer constantly interrupted with questions.)
But there’s the challenge. We’re all busy. We’re all busier than we ever planned, or wanted, to be. So how do we find the time to stop all the urgent activity and take time to learn, to grow, to get better? Choose to do it. Decide to do it. And schedule it into your day. It really is that simple. When you decide to do it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is.
And as you learn and grow, you’ll be surprise how your attitude and your performance improves. And how much you want to share what you’ve learned with others. You’ll realize you don’t need to hoard your knowledge, because next week you’re going to know even more than you do this week.
Try it, and tell me what you learn.
P.S. As your role changes within your company, your ratio of doing/learning/teaching should change as well. Of course, initially, we’ll spend more time doing than teaching and learning. But as we go higher in the organization, continued learning and teaching become far more important than most people think.