I remember a very poignant discussion I had with a leader at FranklinCovey. They led a sales team, and while the team liked this leader, they were frustrated because they couldn’t get any time with this person.
The team came to me to help address this issue, and I got their permission to talk to the leader to see if we could make progress. The leader and I got into a discussion about the role of the leader, and this leader said, “At the end of the day, I’m responsible for this number, and if I’m going to be measured on anything, it’s hitting this number.” That is a perfectly understandable point of view.
I replied, “That’s one way to look at it. But I believe in your role as a leader, you’re measured on how well you helped your team hit that number.” It was a subtle difference, but it goes back to the question of “Do you want to be known as a great leader, or do you want your team to be led by a great leader?”
It’s a conversation I’ve had with several people who are moving into a leadership role for the first time (or who have been a leader for years but don’t have a great connection with their team). If I want to be known as a great leader, I’m going to hit the number and the team themselves is going to hit that number. If I want my team to be led by a great leader, we are going to hit that number— because the team did everything they could, and I was there to clear the path, coach, and help them. People hear that and say, “Okay, that’s a soft skill.” But you’re more likely to hit the number if you put your team first.
The role of the leader is to ask, am I willing to step back, slow things down a little, and develop the capabilities of my team?
Maybe—and this could be blasphemy—that means missing one quarter, in the case of a sales leader, while they ramp up their team. But they’re not only going to exceed the next quarter’s number, they’re going to blow past it.
Todd Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, training and training development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. Todd is currently a member of the FranklinCovey Executive Team where he serves as the Chief People Officer.