Breakfast of Champions


While lamenting the introduction of oatmeal into my diet, I noticed that my sage wife cooked hers in the microwave without any safety precautions on the bowl to prevent it from making an exploding exit to every interior surface of the ubiquitous appliance.  I mentioned this clear oversight, stating my oatmeal creations require a sheet of clinging wrap (made of kevlar) to prevent a near nuclear holocaust each time I fearfully close my eyes and hit START when preparing this vexxing of breakfasts.

“Your problem is you fight the oatmeal, trying to get it to conform to your cooking processes and style.  I work with the oatmeal, give it room to get started, let it work its way to a successful finish.”  Yikes!  There’s definitely a blog in there somewhere!?!

I work with many first-time leaders and emerging leaders.  Frequently they are challenged by how to get those who work for them to conform to what made them, the new leader, successful in their old role.  Statements range from “I know this works and everyone should adopt it,” to ”This is how it’s always done,” to simply “My leader did it this way.”  In between are many variations of this; riff off your favorite to see where you land.  Trust me, this is a common tale.

Leaders do not coach enough.  It’s a fact.  The best leaders coach just 20 – 40% of the time.   So it’s not surprising that new leaders in particular will lean more into their old job as a way to be successful in their new role.  This is a mistake.  Leaders end up being frustrated with their new role, they become stressed because one or more of their core values is being stepped on, and then, to compensate for the lack of progress, they end up doing more of their old job to achieve goals.  The next voice they hear is yelling, “Now I’ve got my old job multiplied by X times all of my team’s problems. For less money!”  And, what happened to all that dreamed-up prestige of being…a manager?!

Getting to know your people just to make your goals and the goals of the company is wrong thinking.  In this day of the great resignation, talent retention is a HUGE challenge for companies large and small.  Employees join companies, they leave managers.   Your role is talent development and now: talent retention.  Check out these tips for moving into your current job, not continuing to do your old job.

Look forward! 

It’s time to see what your new role is supposed to be and do for you, your organization and…your team.  Start by picking a simple thing that gets you started in filling your new shoes.  Suggestion:  Pick something(s) that you can hand off to others, let them flex and rise to the challenge.  Result: You redistribute energy being spent on your old role into big things in your new role, like strategy, direction + destination.

Look around! 

Who can you trust enough to relieve yourself of old tasks and baggage? These things weigh you down and prevent you from expanding and stretching yourself in directions you dream of going.  Trust is hard for those who elevate.  Suggestion: Be vulnerable and ask your team what they see can be “taken” from your plate.  Ask someone you normally don’t go to for innovation here.  Result:  You show vulnerability, a leadership superpower; they get included in a big decision.  And maybe you’re surprised to find some new “go-to” talent that has been staring you in the face.

Look around corners… 

This is something I learned from the great team at 7 Paths Forward.  Think in terms of consequences.  Suggestion: First order – you’ve made the decision, the move to do something. Second order – now that it’s been made, what is the immediate result? How do you see this change affecting your organization, your team, you personally?  Third order – what does it look like 3, 6, 12 months from now?  Result: When you take it through from the initial consequence of a decision you’re thinking about to a place on the horizon, it’s amazing how it can actually materialize and exist just as you envisioned it initially.

Look like you’re supposed to be here. 

Leadership is what you signed up for, and while it can be scary, it is invigorating!  To stretch to something new and uncomfortable, to grow, move forward and bring people together for that common purpose can be awesome.  And you have to at least behave like you’re supposed to be in the seat you sought!  Suggestion:  Take a breath.  Slow it down.  It’s a complex world out there and you need time to think about big stuff, not just the list of things to do!  It’s more about “What do you need next?”  Result: Being intentional about knowing you are the leader gives others comfort and confidence that you’re the right one for the role.  They will, at a minimum, grant you conditional trust and you get to build off that.

The key here is that what you did is not how they need to do it.  You have to figure out what your team can do, how they’re built, and connect them to all of this complicated process and technology that makes your organization what it is.  It’s why you’re there.  Be their guide, hold the flashlight for them. An iconic line from rock band The Who declared: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!” because so many leaders perpetuate the stereotype that you’re just an administrator, nothing more.  There is no change.  For you or for them.  It’s time for change.  Time to step into that new office, sit in that bigger chair, own it.  And don’t “F” it up.

When I told my wife that she inspired this blog, she said, “Great, now maybe you will start eating oatmeal again instead of giving up on it.”  I did notice a bit of giving up on it.  So, I’m pushing START right now.  No cling wrap required…

I guide emerging professionals to build trust, become more relevant, and surpass their competitors, thereby creating the ultimate personal, professional, and financial success for them and their businesses.”  Welcome in 2022 with the wild idea of investing in you!  Here’s a link to start creating that discussion right now!


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