I have a dream.
I imagine a world where everyone has an opportunity to love their work and do their best work using their unique strengths every day.
Sadly many modern workplaces with their rigid policies, procedures, measures, position descriptions and obsessive overwork cultures are doing little to encourage individuals to embrace their uniqueness and quirky ways.
In my experience, the most important people in organisations are not the executives at the top but the team leaders and middle managers as they are the catalyst for every success or failure a company has.
Everything from communication, innovation, and change to productivity and growth flows through the team leader or line manager.
We all know the old saying that people join a company but leave their manager and through my work, I speak to lots of leaders, supervisors and line managers and they all say they want to build a great team culture but they dont always know how or where to start.
How to become an Expander Leader
One of the first steps in becoming a great Expander Leader is to stop beating your self and your people up for not being perfect.
Perfectionism is not healthy striving.
When we aim for perfection we focus on the negative, on whats not working and what we are lacking.
Perfectionism is crippling.
It’s the vice of a Container Manager.
It comes from a place of low self-worth, of controlling, insecurity and devilish detail.
Imperfection is freeing.
It’s the joy of being an Expander Leader. It comes from a place of growth and expansion, of delighting in possibilities and being comfortable with emotions and being authentic.
Think of the bristle of a paintbrush left stranded in a painting. The uneven glaze of a Japanese ceramic cup. The delightful quirkiness of a homemade go-cart.
Perfection comes out of moulds or off assembly lines.
Things made by nature or by hand, like us are imperfect.
It’s the little things that make us unique and unlike anyone else that allows us to love our work and give our best performance every day.
The same is true for leaders, companies and workplace cultures too.
There is no one perfect way to build a great culture or team or business.
There is no best structure, framework or performance management system.
Traits of an Expander Leader
What makes Expander Leaders great is that they:
- Are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses
- Are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know.
- Are the ones who can’t do it all; they are the ones who look to others to help them.
- Are the ones who don’t try to be perfect, they try to be themselves.
If you are a manager, supervisor or team leader what’s one thing you can do to celebrate the UQ (Uniqueness Quotient) in your people?
Remember to #StartwithU
Recommended further reading: The difference between managing and leading >
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