In everyone’s leadership journey, it’s easy to reflect back on the accomplishments that led you on the path to where you are today. It took hard work, countless hours in the classroom, and studying. There were risks along the way, whether they worked out to your advantage or not, but they are all now part of your story.
At some point, questions are asked by others in how you got to your current situation or how something was implemented. In the blink of an eye, memories flood of the triumphs, challenges, and even mistakes along the way.
Then, a decision has to be made in how you tell the story. And, the first word in that story is the most important. Too often, I hear the first word that now makes me inwardly cringe and begin discounting anything that follows. Whatever the situation or person, the off-putting first word feels myopic, egotistical, and just plain greedy.
Your leadership journey should not begin with “I”.
“I did this…”
Regardless of the person, the circumstances, or the situation, there were people along the way that helped. Your parents. Your colleagues. Your support systems. Your friend. Your neighbor. Your students. Your community. Regardless of your title, you really didn’t do it all by yourself.
By stepping back to reflect on any situation, it’s important to make the connections on how something took place.
I was once challenged of this concept by someone who insisted he did everything by himself. I didn’t challenge his short-sided view as much as questioned the longevity of his outcomes. It’s possible to do things by yourself, but then the question arises of what happens after you’re gone. Is what you did, built to last?
We are all replaceable, and we all have a shelf life. Just as it can take decades for a monument to be built and seconds for it to be demolished, the same can happen to the initiatives we implement. At some point, a great leader makes a transition from building for the immediate to constructing for the future.
The crux of true leadership is focusing on the building of a team.
As you continue in your leadership journey, take the time to reflect on who has been there in your story. And, as you continue, seek deliberate ways to build the team around you.
As a team, take the time to acknowledge the work of everyone on the team. Create systems to obtain clarity of the true needs by seeking feedback and input from others. Develop practices which ensure the highest fidelity of implementation. And, build succession planning mechanisms that “freeze” initiatives into the culture of the system.
Build for the future. Bring others along in the journey. Celebrate the collective success of the team. And, if you do, you’ll go Farther Together.