There’s something counterintuitive about becoming a great leader. You have to do some stuff that doesn’t seem to make sense.
I’m going to share something in this post that has set me free to get good at my job, and led me to more joy in my work. I’m hoping it does the same for you.
How do you actually get better at your job? You need to give yourself the freedom to do three things.
3 Ways to Become A Great Leader
1. Don’t Try to Get Good at What You’re Bad At
I am calendar challenged. As in, I accidentally enter events into my Outlook calendar on the right day on the wrong month.
I’ve even entered the wrong year before. Stop laughing! Sometimes I look at my calendar and somehow read the wrong time of a meeting. It’s embarrassing. I’m just not good at scheduling.
It gets worse. I’m actually not the most discerning leader out there. I get too excited about ideas and don’t fully think through the ramifications. I am not good at maintaining programs or systems. I get bored and lose focus.
What I’m saying here is that there is a bunch of stuff that I’m really not good at. The same is true for you.
What revolutionized things for me was a mentor who helped me understand that becoming a better leader is not about getting good at what you’re bad at. That will never happen.
Expending energy on becoming proficient in your areas of weakness is a guaranteed way to waste your time, become frustrated and lose confidence with the people you work with and for. So what do you do about your weaknesses? Instead of trying to get good at them, support them.
My administrative assistant manages my calendar. I’ve surrounded myself with both discerning leaders and leaders who are great at maintaining.
Instead of expending energy on getting good at what I’m bad at, I surround myself with people who are good at what I’m bad at and empower them to support my weaknesses.
I would challenge you to do the same. Just admit that you’re bad at some stuff and instead of trying to become good at those things, support those weaknesses with gifted people or systems.
2. Try to Be Decent at What You’re Decent At
There’s some stuff that I’m decent at. I’m an okay manager of people. I care about people and I’m a decent listener. I’m also a decent idea guy.
When there is a problem, I’m likely to come up with a few workable solutions. I’m a passable worship leader. In a pinch, I could grab my guitar and lead worship at your church and it wouldn’t be awful.
There are some things that I’m decent at. No job recruiter is going to seek me out as a worship leader or a manager, but I can get a passing grade.
Again, a counter-intuitive truth—if you want to be a great leader, don’t try to be great at what you’re decent at. If you want to become a great leader, just be decent at what you’re decent at. If you’re scoring a B-, don’t pour in a ton of energy in becoming a B+. Your B- is acceptable. Keep it that way.
This one is tough for me because I don’t enjoy being mediocre. Maybe you can relate. But, if you want to become a great leader, you have to be okay with being mediocre at some stuff. Why? So that you can focus on what you’re actually good at.
3. Try to Be Amazing At What You’re Good At
I’m only good at a couple things. I can preach. It started in high school leading bible studies in my friends’ living rooms and over time it has evolved into preaching as a significant portion of my full-time job. The more time and energy I pour into this role the more I improve and the more impact I experience.
Preaching is probably the only thing I do that I’m legitimately really good at. My leadership mentors have challenged me to focus an inordinate amount of energy on growing as a preacher. This is the one area of my leadership that I could potentially be great at, and represents my highest level of contribution to my church.
I’m not saying this to brag in any sort of way. What I’m trying to communicate is that there are only a couple of things that any of us are really good at.
These are the only things you could be great at. If you want to be a great leader, focus a ton of your time and energy on getting great at these one or two things.
Great leaders are not great at everything. They aren’t great at a lot of things. They are great at a couple of things and they pour their energy and focus into what they are truly great at and often produce amazing results.
In summary, if you want to be a great leader, there are some areas that you need to let go of. You need to accept that there are some things you just aren’t good at.
Instead of wasting your time and energy attempting to get good at those things, choose to support them instead. Just be bad at what you’re bad at.
There are some areas that you are decent at. You’re getting a passing grade. Perfect. Keep rocking that B-and embrace being decent at what you’re decent at.
And, there are one or two areas where you are legitimately good. And, if you choose to focus on improving these, you could be great. Be amazing at what you’re good at.
These learnings were incredibly liberating for me. I hope they do the same for you.