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Will you indulge me in a bit of a personal backstory with Predictable Success, and perhaps a bit more woo/”in my feelings” content than you might be used to on this platform?
You see — as community manager of the Predictable Success Leadership Center, it’s my job to make sure that we’re providing actionable, data-tested, scaleable and logic-based advice and input, so that you may pursue your biggest and most lofty leadership goals.
Thanks to the decades of experience that Predictable Success Founder and CEO Les McKeown has provided, the roadmap and the resources are rock solid. They’ve helped some of the world’s most successful leaders and organizations scale, and have served as a North Star for tens of thousands of people who have read his books, listened to his podcast, seen or heard him speak at events or had the opportunity to work with him 1:1.
(Also, I can tell you from personal experience, he is genuinely cheering for your success, not just in business but in life. He’s a leader who is driven by integrity and an innate desire to see good people do good work. I can also tell you that he’ll probably grimace at reading this praise and ask me to keep the spotlight shined on you, not him!)
Those are, in sports terminology, the Xs and Os. But how should you — or perhaps more powerfully, how could you feel — when you are truly aligning your goals with your actions with your humanity?
Let’s explore it here.
Anyone can lead. Yes, you.
Whatever your leadership style, you can lead, and lead well. Visionaries tend to be a group’s big, bold thinkers — they’re charismatic, personable, strong communicators and tend to believe that their solution or idea is the strongest. It’s no surprise to me that most of the CEOs and founders that I’ve worked with over many career have been Visionaries or at least have dominant Visionary scores.
But there is plenty of room for leadership from Processors (I’m one!), Operators and even Synergists. If leadership were only defined as having MSE, or Most Senior Executive, status, it might be more defeating or challenging for non-Visionary styles to step up. But on any team, leadership happens at different levels — and when you learn to work well not only within your style’s strengths, but lean into the gifts and weaknesses of those who have other styles but work with and for you, you can absolutely rise to MSE or to MSE for your particular department.
This is an understanding that I’ll admit took me some time, and some practice, to fully believe. For a long time, I thought that my highest value to an organization would be as the #2 to the #1 (the CEO or founder). I’m not always the big ideas person — but I’ve come to embrace that I am often the best at implementing, executing and getting things done.
Shifting my mindset to see that work as having value, whether it’s in the CEO role or in leading a team of people who depend on my daily leadership and support in a lower role, has changed everything.
Leadership can feel peaceful and calm and sustainable. (No hustle culture required.)
Oof. Let this one sink in. And then consider how you really feel about that. Don’t believe it? Think that that leadership and success requires a 12-hour daily grind, with no weekends and no vacation? Maybe — if that works for you! I have friends and colleagues who genuinely love to work in their business all the time. If they take time off, or try to, they only find things to meddle with or set fire to — or they drive their teams crazy.
But if you’re working to the point of burnout, or you spend more days (and nights) worrying and stressing than you do celebrating and enjoying…there’s something wrong. I don’t believe that hustling, grinding and burning out are pre-requisites for leadership or success.
I find that a helpful exercise is stepping back and out of the “must do” list and instead, reverse engineering…and asking myself:
- What are the things I want to do each day or each week at work and outside of work?
- What are the things I do not want to do each day or each week at work and outside of work?
- What is the most FUN thing I do for work?
- If I had more free time, how would I spend it?
For example, my answers might be:
- I want to start each day with a daily walk outside, to take lunch breaks away from my computer and to pick my kids up at the end of their after-school program every day. When I’m working, I’d like to spend as much time as possible writing, working on growth plans for initiatives that we’ll execute in the next 90 days, and coordinating daily priorities with my direct reports.
- I do not want to check email or Slack before my daily walk and I do not want to answer emails or do work during family time. I also prefer spending as little time as possible in meetings, unless they are working sessions or have clear agendas and content that could not be answered in an email or Slack.
- The most fun thing I do is create project briefs — I love it! It lets me strategize, create detailed plans for implementation and uses just enough of my creative writing skills to fulfill that need.
- If I had more free time, I’d like to spend it doing regular volunteer work, listening to podcasts, writing in my journal, and spending time with my family on vacation.
There’s no crying in baseball but sometimes there is in the leadership journey.
I’m not a huge cryer, but there have been times in my life where I turned on the waterworks frequently. As in…daily crying jags.
I had the opportunity to be mentored by Les during one of my previous professional roles, and unfortunately for my ego (but fortunately for my heart), he witnessed some of these crying sessions in real time. It was incredibly difficult for me to break down in front of someone to whom I had so much respect, especially since I was working with him to develop my own leadership skills!
But I’ve learned — in large part through Les’ gracious response to my crying and for his discussions with me about what my pain really meant — that emotions and suffering can be gifts, if you let them.
My tears and greatest frustrations have come when something has been out of alignment. And knocking my head against that challenge has never worked. Not for me, not for my boss and not for my team.
If you are experiencing deep emotions — if you’re in your feelings — try asking yourself some or all of the following quesions:
- Am I sad, frustrated, angry or simply tired?
- Is there something or someone in particular that is triggering these feelings or is it the weight of all the things?
- Would more money, more power, more time, more sleep, more clarity or more SOMETHING help resolve these feelings?
- Who has the power to help me resolve these fears or challenges I’m experiencing?
Leadership often requires difficult conversations. Most of the time, they’re with other people. But having one with yourself (or with a therapist!) may be the most powerful and impactful.
It’s OK to not be great at everything. Acknowledge that and you’ll become even greater.
I’m a pretty classic Type A personality (and a Processor!). So, I don’t like to fail, or be “less than” in any aspect.
But I’m not great a graphic design. Or complicated math. Or writing neatly. Or cooking.
Learning to not just accept these limitations but embrace them as things I don’t have to pursue has truly helped me lead well. It means that I hire people who do have those gifts. And I delegate work that takes me away from my actual zones of genius.
The tighter you hold on to ideas of leadership and excellence that just aren’t required, the harder you’ll make your leadership experience. The more exhausted and frustrated you’ll feel. And the more likely you are to quit.
The world needs your leadership skills and creative energy. You can lead. YES, YOU.