Story: A priest, a minister, an imam and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender says, “What is this? A joke?”
Ok, I think that joke is funny for a number of reasons, and over the years I’ve learned how hard it is to effectively deliver one. I have so much respect for great stand up comedians because most work exceptionally hard on their acts. I was just listening to an NPR interview with comedian Ken Jeong (you probably recognize him from The Hangover movies). He commented that it “can take 10 years to really write 10 good minutes.” Even when he’s headlining in main rooms, Jeong sneaks off to casinos, open mics, and smaller stand up venues to hear the “up and comers” and fine tune his material. His comedy appears spontaneous but like other memorable performances, it’s totally planned and all about practice, practice, practice.
The Problem: Too many leaders are unconscious about the process of leading. It is separate from title or a job skill. Leadership is a craft, and doesn’t happen by accident for the great ones. So what if all leaders kept exercising and honing their abilities for their role, like the best entertainers or athletes do? There are some common processes every formal leader has to do, regardless of the organization size, market, business model, etc. For example, every leader has to set a course or direction. Everyone in this role needs to coach others. Teaching, recognizing, hiring and firing are all leadership processes that can be practiced.
The Solution: Consider leadership as a craft and give thought to the merit of practicing it. Like the very best at anything, never accept good enough or unpredictable variation of your leadership performance as acceptable.
If this information is helpful, here’s how you might apply it:
- Just start with one leadership practice (like coaching), outline the steps for doing it well, and practice. Go from there.
- Just for fun, let’s check out Jeong’s Netflix special (Full disclosure: I haven’t seen it yet, but the trailer suggests it’s for mature audiences).
One Millennial View: Leaders should be aware that their employees are learning both positives and negatives from them as well, whether they’re trying to be mentors or not. If a leader is practicing, adjusting and and applying new processes, they’re simultaneously teaching these actions. If leaders operate with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mindset, then that gets passed along too. So, if coach doesn’t go to practice, neither do the players.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis