Late one evening I was returning from an international trip. This was unfamiliar territory. I don't travel internationally very much. As I made my way off the plane and emerged inside the terminal, I decided to follow other passengers from my flight to find the U.S. Customs checkpoint where I would officially return to the country. Trouble was, they were no more familiar than I was with the direction we needed to go. The result was wasted time, wasted energy, and unnecessary frustration! Many of us have had similar experiences when it comes to developing the potential of those we lead.
My friend and mentor John Maxwell says this is nothing new. Actually, he says it's a law of leadership. A law is something that rules across cultures, organizations, and continents. It's a principle that applies to me, and it applies to you. In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John says that in leadership we do what we see. Do you have employees who come in a bit late to work? Are reports sometimes left incomplete? Do ideas get implemented before they are fully developed? The law of People Do What People See could be in effect. It's true that modeling is the highest form of mentoring. If this is your reality, there may be a need for you to model something new to your team.
What we model in our leadership is reflected back to us in the mirror of those we lead. Rather than following the crowd and resisting the opportunity to grow your influence, you can step out of your comfort zone and into the growth zone by applying the leadership law of people do what people see. What can you change immediately that will create a new picture for people to follow? How can you put that into action today? What have you learned here that you can teach someone else right now? I know that by answering these three simple questions and acting on your answers you will improve your reflection in the mirror of your team.
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.