The Incomplete Leader (Part 1)

The best leaders don’t try to be perfect––they concentrate on honing their strengths and find others who can make up for their limitations. This week on The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, we’re starting a new two-part series called The Incomplete Leader. Throughout this series you will learn from John Maxwell on the four capabilities of leadership, how to evaluate your personal strengths and weaknesses, and how to develop a leadership team to give your organization complete leadership.

During the application portion of part one, Mark Cole and Chris Goede discuss the process they go through to become more self-aware as leaders and the importance of consulting the perspectives of others to broaden your own leadership perspective.

Our BONUS resource for this series is the Incomplete Leader Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.

READ THE TRANSCRIPT

Mark Cole:       Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. Mark Cole here, and I'm excited about today for a couple reasons. One, John recently did a lesson called The Incomplete Leader. And I don't know how that strikes you when you first hear it, but that gave me great hope. Incomplete and leader. Secondly, Chris, no intentionality here, but we brought Chris into the studio today to help me debrief this as a cohost, not because he's an incomplete leader.

Chris Goede:     I'm stepping out right now. I'm out.

Mark Cole:       That's right. But because we want to hear from John, and then we want to share with you how we as leaders on John's team, is applying this to ourselves and to our team. We believe you will benefit from this two part lesson on the incomplete leader. Today, John is going to bring you two capabilities of a leader that they can work on to become more of a complete leader. We hope you'll enjoy it. In fact, if you're ready to listen, we're ready to bring you John.

First, I'd like to invite you to go themaxwellpodcast.com/incomplete, and you'll be able to click on the bonus resource button and download the fill in the blank worksheet. Now, grab your pen, grab your paper, by now, grab your fill in the blank worksheet, because here is John Maxwell on part one, the Incomplete Leader.

John Maxwell:  This is a lesson that I really got the seed thoughts from the Harvard Business Review. I have the people in there that are responsible for the paper. And so, much of the material I'm going to give you comes from them, and I want to recognize their resource. No leader is perfect. The best ones don't try to be. They concentrate on honing their strengths, and find others who can make up for their limitations. Let's stop right there. This lesson basically is about the fact that we are all incomplete leaders. And we need somebody around us to compliment us and to complete us. In other words, this lesson is all about developing the leadership team, because there's no such thing about one person having all the leadership giftedness and capabilities to lead an organization. We expect a lot of our leaders, top executives should have intellectual capacity.

What does intellectual capacity do for them? Well, intellectual capacity to make sense of sometimes unfathomably complex issues. But we expect our leaders to be very smart. We also expect our executives to have what we would call imaginative powers. This is the ability to paint a vision that generates everyone's enthusiasm, gets everybody on board. So, we want them to have intellectual capacity, we want them to have imaginative powers. We also want them to have operational knowledge. They have to be able to translate strategy into concrete plans in their lives. And finally, interpersonal skills. That receives buy in from everyone on the team.

Now, if you'll just take a moment, because you put in four things as far as what we look for executives to have, intellectual capacity, imaginative powers, operational knowledge, interpersonal skills. If you look at those four things, I will almost guarantee you that we all look at that and say, oh my goodness, I don't do all four of those things really well. And here's the point that I want to bring out to you in your notes. Unfortunately, no single person can possibly live up to those standards. Absolutely.

So it's time to end that myth of the complete leader. The flawless person at the top who's got it all figured out. In fact, the sooner leaders stop trying to be all things to all people, the better off their organizations will be. In today's world, the executive's job is to no longer command and control. So you say, John, if it's no longer to command and control, what is it? But to cultivate and coordinate the actions of others at all levels of the organization. Wow.

Now this next sentence in this paragraph, I underlined in my notes because I think it's very important. Only when leaders come to see themselves as incomplete, as having both strengths and weaknesses, will they be able to make up for their missing skills by relying on others. That's so true. As you know, I wrote the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, and I am average or less than average on five of them. And I wrote the book. In other words, there are 21 laws of leadership, but there are five areas that I shouldn't be leading in. For example, the law of navigation, I should not be leading in the law of navigation. I'm not a navigator. The law of navigation says, anyone can steer ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Well, I'm not a course charter. I'm a big picture person. I'm not a navigator. I'm not good at it.

Now, what does that mean? Well, what does that mean? It simply means that I have to know that this is somewhere where I'm incomplete. And why that's so important is, if I truly think I can do it all, I'll try to do it all and I'll lead people incorrectly in many areas. Does this make sense to you? Blessed is that person who just knows they're not good at everything. And if you think you're good at everything, you need a therapist. We need to have a counseling clinic over on the side to have them help you.

I was doing a conference, I'll never forget this, it was a conference just for CEOs and presidents. And so, it was a closed door kind of a deal and we were having a good day. And one of the things I suggested in the afternoon after I'd been with him for over half a day and I relationally was strong with them, one of things I suggested is that they go home and stand up in front of their companies or their organizations and tell their people what they're not good at. And immediately, I could feel emotional resistance. I mean, the room got real tight. I mean, really tight. And all these presidents and CEOs, I mean, they were wanting to power up on me, I could tell.

And so, anyway, I finished and I was signing books, and this one president CEO was standing beside me the whole time I was signing books kind of like a dark cloud. And I knew someday I got to recognize him, and so, I finished signing books. And he said, "Could I speak to you privately?" I said, "Well, yes, you can." He pulled me over to the corner. And he said, "It really bothers me what you said about admitting your weaknesses." And then he went into this kind of, this corporate kind of a deal, never let them see you blink, show your strengths, play from your best hand. And he just kind of did all these cliches as if I'd never heard any of them.

I let him talk. He's a president, he's used to it. When he's done, I smiled to him, and again, we were over in the corner, we were doing this privately, I wouldn't do this publicly to him, and I said, "I think you're working under a wrong assumption." And he said, "What's that? What's the wrong assumption?" I said, "You're assuming your people don't know your weaknesses." I said, "They already know your weaknesses." I said, "I'm not having you tell them about your weaknesses because they don't know. You see, if you'll go back and tell them that you know, they'll know that you know. And they'll say, 'oh, this is good. We don't have to tell him.'"

Now, what I want you to understand is leadership has a major humanist component to it. And we're not Superman and we're not Batman, and we don't always do it, right. And we're not the Lone Ranger, and there's a whole bunch of people we're not. And what we have to understand is we're not a complete person as far as a leader, and that's okay, because the quicker we recognize that and recognize what we don't do well, and bring some people on our leadership team that do do well, the better we're going to be. Okay.

Now, let's go to the four capabilities of leadership, let's go there. And this is just absolutely great stuff. In fact, I can tell you, as a student of leadership, what I'm about to give you is some of the best material on leadership capabilities that I have ever read or I've ever experienced or learned myself. There are four capabilities of leadership. Number one is sense-making. In other words, the ability to understand the context in which the company or the organization and its people operate. In other words, sense-making is just making sense of what's happening in your organization.

Number two is relating, building relationships within and across organizations. Number three is visioning, creating a compelling picture of the future. In other words, let me give you a picture that just compels us to follow it and to reach that goal. Number four is inventing, which is basically developing new ways to achieve the vision.

Now, just take a moment before we go on and look at those four things. Four capabilities of leadership. The ability to understand and make sense of what's happening in your organization, to relate with people across the boundaries, the ability to cast a vision that is compelling, and the ability to invent or to create new ways to achieve that vision so the vision doesn't get stale. Rarely, if ever, will someone be equally skilled in all four domains. Thus, the incomplete leaders differ from incompetent leaders. Don't get those two mixed up. Don't walk out and say, boy, John gave us a great lesson on incompetent leaders, and I just feel so qualified.

Incomplete leaders differ from incompetent leaders in that they understand what they're good at and what they're not. And they have good judgment about how they can work with others to build on their strengths and offset their limitations. So there are three goals to this lesson. Number one, teach and learn the four capabilities of leadership, I'll walk you through sense-making, relating, envisioning and inventing. Number two, evaluate personal strengths and weaknesses. We're going to take a moment and hopefully, this will begin to stir you up to evaluate your personal, in fact, I will tell you at the end of the lesson my strengths and weaknesses because of these four, I have two that I'm fairly good at and I have two that I'm fairly not good at. And thirdly, to develop a leadership team to give your organization complete leadership, because my hope is that when we're done with this, your immediate reaction will be, I have got to find a team of leaders, I've got to develop a leadership team.

Okay, so let's go to number one, which is sense-making. That's the first capability of a leader. The term sense-making was coined by organizational psychologist, Carl White. And it means just what it sounds like, making sense of the world around us. The ability to look at life, to look at the world in which we live, and to make sense out of it. Making sense of the world around us. Leaders are constantly trying to understand the context that they are operating in. How will new technologies reshape the industry? How will changing cultural expectations shift the role of business and society? How does the globalization of the labor markets affect recruitment and expansion plans? My goodness, think of the book The World is Flat, and what it has done to help us again understand this world is amazingly changing.

Executives who are strong in this capability know how to quickly capture the complexities of their environment and explain them to others in very simple terms. This helps ensure that everyone is working from the same map, which makes it far easier to discuss and plan for the journey ahead. Sense-making involves the following four things. Sensing what is happening. Two, it is seeking what is happening. In other words, it's a person that not only senses it, but then they begin to ask questions, and they ask questions to kind of validate what they're intuitively feeling. Number three, it's seeing what is happening. It's the ability then not only to sense it and to ask questions, but then they can begin to visualize it. And when you can see it, fourthly, you can share what is happening. That's where you get buy in. Then you sit down and say, okay, let me share with you what I'm sensing, what I'm learning. You've got to be able to do those things. That's what sense-making is.

Good leaders understand that sense-making is a continuous process, and they understand that it will never stop. They have to constantly be intuitive what was happening. How do we engage in sense-making, let me give you five quick things, and then I want to go to the second part. Number one, get data from multiple sources. You don't want to just get all of your information from one source, it will be slanted, it won't give you the big picture. Number two, involve others in your sense-making. Sense-making is best created by a team because they bring different perspectives.

Number three, use early observations to shape small experiments in order to test your conclusions. In other words, once you send something, test it a little bit. Take your early observations and say, here's what I think, let's try it and see, oh, well, that wasn't quite right. Number four, do not simply apply existing frameworks, but instead be open to new possibilities. That's very key. Don't try to put all this sense-making into what you already have. Okay, there's a flexibility that needs to be happening.

Okay, let's go to the second area of leadership, and that is relating, relating with others, stay with me. Many executives who attempt to foster trust, optimism and consensus often reap anger, cynicism and conflict instead. That's because they have difficulty relating to others. Especially to those who don't make sense of the world the way that they do.

Now, I underline this next statement because I think it's very important, this paragraph, traditional images of leadership didn't assign much value to relating. In other words, our beginning leadership, my father, that generation, they didn't really get into relational leadership. Flawless leaders shouldn't need to seek counsel from anyone outside their tight inner circle. The thinking went that they were expected to issue edicts rather than connect on an emotional level. Times have changed, of course, and in this era of networks, being able to build trusting relationships is a requirement of effective leadership. I'll make the statement but it's not a political statement so I don't want you to read anything into it. I'm teaching leadership, I'm not doing politics. So relax and take a pill. Don't get nervous on me. All I'm doing is a leadership thought about relating, consensus building, connecting.

President Reagan understood consensus making. What did he do every Friday afternoon? Had lunch with Tip O'Neill, the head of the house of the Democratic Party. He understood the fact that you have to relate, if you can't connect, if you can't cross over, if you can't relate, if you can't have consensus, you will not succeed long as a leader. So, three keys to relating well. One is inquiring. Inquiring means listening with the intention of genuinely understanding the thoughts and the feelings of the speaker. And I love that phrase listening with the intention of genuinely understanding. Relational leaders do a lot of the inquiring. The goal is to understand, not change the person. Inquiring seeks the right results, not personal ones. That's what inquiring means. Active listening, not passive. The goal to understand, not change the person. Inquiring seeks the right results, not personal ones. It's not my personal agenda I'm after, I'm really wanting to know what a person feels and thinks.

So first key is inquiring into relational leadership. The second key is advocating. Advocating is exactly the opposite of inquiring. Advocating is explaining one's own point of view. A person that advocates sits down and shares what their point of view is. Inquiring without activating equals participation without direction. In other words, if I'm inquiring and asking you, what do you feel about this, what do you think about this, what would you do? If I don't advocate, what I've got is I've got a lot of participation but I have very little direction.

Now, let me just flip it, advocating without inquiring equals direction without participation. And neither one of those are ideal. What you want is participation and direction. Now, how do you get participation and direction? Very simple, by inquiring, advocating, here we go, number three, connecting. Cultivating a network of confidants who can help a leader accomplish a wide range of goals. So, I inquire, sincerely ask questions for understanding. I advocate by explaining what I'm thinking. But then I connect with others, confidants that will help me. This next sentence in the paragraph, again, I underlined, leaders who are strong in this capability have many people they can turn to who can help them think through difficult problems or support them in their initiatives.

Let me personally relate to this. I have people in my life on different areas that I talk to to give me direction. I have about three people that when I have a business decision to make that I call and I say here's my decision, and what would you do? I have a couple of people financially when I have a financial decision, what would you do? For health, for my own physical health, I have a couple people that hold me accountable, talk to me, what would you do? In the area of creativity, I have a creative team that when I have an idea, I throw it out there, what would you do?

Now here's what I'm saying. I learned a long time ago that none of us is as smart as all of us. And some of my best thinking has been done by others. How we doing? So I have a long time ago developed people to go to, hey, and all these people are experts in their area. They're smarter than I am, they're faster than I am. They have more experience than I have. And I go to them and they just help men, they help me. That's what this relating connecting is all about. And let me give you, since I'm going to tell them this, I want to give you characteristics of what I call the confidants in my life, people that I'm going to talk to and ask those questions. These characteristics are simple but I think you need to have them because you don't want to be talking to everybody about this stuff. That would not be a happy day. You call the wrong person, they say, I've been waiting for this call.

Here are the characteristics of confidants. Number one, trustworthy. I would never have anybody in my inner circle that I couldn't trust. Number two, successful. They need to be successful in their area. In fact, let me put it this way, they got to be better than you. If you're number one, it doesn't help to call the rest. Are you okay? So, they got to be better than you. Number three, honest, you want somebody that's honest. You don't want somebody to tell you what they think that you want to hear, you want somebody to tell you what you need to hear. Number four, experience. I want them to be successful, but I want to have some experience under the belt. Number five, they have to have what I call a helpful spirit. There are some people that are more experienced but they don't have a helpful spirit.

Number six, they need to understand me, they need to know me, they really need to know me, they need to understand me because they need to know what I do well, what I don't do well, what my strengths are, what my weaknesses are. And finally, they need to unconditionally love me. I want them to love me. I want them to give me good advice and help me but when it's all done, say, you know I love you regardless, okay? Those are mine. You may have some others for yourself. But I just kind of helped you to get started because this relating connecting is very, very important.

Real quickly, how to build relationships. Number one, spend time trying to understand others' perspectives. That would you listen with an open mind without judgment. Number two, encourage others to voice their opinions. What do they care about? How do they interpret what's going on? Why? Number three, before expressing your ideas, try to anticipate how others will react to them and how you might best explain them.

Number four, when expressing your ideas, don't just give a bottom line, explain, this is very important, explain your reasoning process. You never teach a person how to do decision making by just giving them the decision that you're making. The way that you teach a person to be a good decision maker for you is not only to give them the decision, but then explain to them why you are making that decision. Give them the context of the decision.

Number five, assess the strengths of your current connections. How well do you relate to others when receiving advice, when giving advice, when thinking through difficult problems, etc? Okay.

Mark Cole:       Welcome back, John Maxwell fans, podcast listeners, family. Chris Goede and I are here and we are two models of an incomplete leader. Chris, I'm so glad you're in the pockets. There's so much to talk about here. You and I didn't even want to start the recording because we were trying to debrief this and become better. Glad to have you in today.

Chris Goede:     I am excited to be back. Thanks so much for for having me. Man, let's dive into the content. I was telling you before we started, man, this is so relevant to every leader. And it's relevant to you, it's relevant to where we're at as an enterprise, and your journey as a leader. And so, I got a lot of thoughts, a lot of questions. But Jake, who makes all this happen, said that you and I only have about 15 minutes. And you and I looked at him and said that's not going to happen.

Mark Cole:       Wish you hadn't put that on tape. That's right, that's right. So here we go.

Chris Goede:     So we apologize to Jake ahead of time for not staying within 15 minutes. What I want to talk about right away, this is so good, this is so rich, so relevant of the message from John, is this self-awareness as a leader. One of the strongest predictions I think that people and leaders can have of their success is how aware they are. And I think if people would take time to dig into self-awareness, both internally and externally, it would help their leadership journey a ton.

You and I were having a conversation, and one of them, one of the things that I've learned that people do wrong when they think about self-awareness as they step away, they ask themselves the why question. And they really need to be asking themselves the what question both internally and externally. And I heard you use this in a meeting. I was smiling because I was like, yeah, he literally just explained to us kind of a year end, everybody knows what you kind of go through year end, is how they kind of go through that process.

Talk a little bit about when you become introspective, when you try to figure out that awareness, what's the process that you go through as a leader?

Mark Cole:       Let me start with just saying this, John gave me great hope in the very first part of this podcast when he talked about that leaders don't have to live up to the expectation of perfection. And that gave me great hope because I realized a long time ago, that if there's a problem, not just because I want to be a responsible leader, if there's a problem, not just because everything rises and falls on leadership, if there's a problem, typically, it's because I brought something to the table to help contribute to the problem.

In fact, one of the things that really struck me is John in talking about this, he reminded me, it's only leaders that realize they are incomplete that can be complete. It's only leaders that realize, whoa, I'll never be perfect that can actually staff up, team up ...

Chris Goede:     Rely on.

Mark Cole:       Rely on other teammates to become the perfect leader. Don't lose hope in this kind of an incomplete leader lesson because there is a way to get better, there is a way to reach perfection. But that way is by getting people around you. And John's going to give us in this two part series, four characteristics that we need to be improving on ourselves, we need to be staffing up around us, and we need to be bettering to become that complete leadership system.

Now, let me go to your question because I love this question. This is January, and I'm just wrapping up my year end review and things that I really do that from a critique standpoint and a building standpoint, two and a half days between Christmas and New Year's becomes very foundational for the plans of the next year. No different this year. We just finished a very challenging year, it's challenging for all of us, everybody in podcast land, it was challenging to lead through 2020. One of the things that I realized is we had a short fall in several areas as a leadership team. Now we had a lot of triumph, and we celebrated that. But in building off of last year, I always find the value is in the lesson of the shortfall, not in the celebration of the triumph. There's not as much lesson in the triumph, in my opinion as there is in the shortfall.

So, back to your question, the first thing I do, Chris, when I realize we came up short, is I look where I contributed to the shortfall. I look where I as the leader did not step up and make the outcome different. And you and I were talking about this because we've had a leadership lesson, or we've had a leadership team meeting this week, and we'll probably reference that a couple of times both in this podcast and in next week's podcast. I'm just going to really dig into some of the discoveries that we had in our first leadership team meeting of the year.

But in one of those points that I was bringing to you guys that we did not measure up to the one team one dream, which was a rallying cry for 2020 for us. The first thing that I do is I self-reflect what could I have done different to get us further down the field. The second thing that I do is when I explain it to the team, I always give context. I give kind of the supporting evidence because I found that the supporting evidence to leaders are more important than the bottom line fact. Because context then helps an empowered leader to go and make better decisions and greater progress in the next year.

Chris Goede:     Listeners, what I don't want you to miss right there is a very simple word that Mark was talking about, and that was what. He asked himself, what did I do, what could I have done? And I think as you begin to think about self-awareness as we kick off this lesson, we're going to dive in here just a minute, I want you to make sure you're asking yourself the what question, not the why. When you talk about why, you rationalize it, you deny it, there's no real self aware, you miss it. When you ask the what, that's the growth. What is it? What can I learn? What could happen?

I just want you guys, as we as leaders, get further into a position, our tenure, our season, all that kind of good stuff. We become less aware of what it looks like to be on the other side of our leadership. It just happens. The people that are around us are less, people see us as a leader, they don't want to speak into it. And so, as we begin, I just wanted to hit on this because it's so key for where we're going because in order for you to understand you're incomplete, you have to be self-aware.

Mark Cole:       And for those of you that don't know, Chris has been with us a long time so perhaps you do but maybe you're new to the podcast. Chris is one of one, on my team of 12, Chris is one of one. I've got the test to prove it. That is the greatest processor on our team. So many of us are shooting from the hip, so many of us are relational. So many of us are just aspirational. Chris really processes things out and he loves the what. He naturally loves the what. But I want to make sure that all of us relational leaders are not missing the point that you just pulled out.

And that is when you're trying to correct something or when you're trying to bring people along and you talk from a relational or an aspirational standpoint, it's too subjective. That's why you say as a processor, the what is so important. But guess what relational aspirational leaders, the what is important to you too when you're talking about context. Give facts so that all of you, whether you're a processor like Chris, which is one of the few on our team, and thank God for you, Chris, or whether you're a relational aspirational leader like some of the other people on the team, the what is important when you're trying to build a perfect team to surround you for the things that you're short or that you're coming up short with.

Chris Goede:     That's good. Yeah, that's good. All right, so let's dive into the capabilities, the first two that John talked about. Now I'm going to put you on the spot real quick, and then we're going to dive in and talk about each one. But if you were just to look at these two that we're talking about, which one do you gravitate towards? Which one do you feel like you have a strength in, and maybe the other one, you need to continue to work on?

Mark Cole:       So, you love to put me on the spot. Jake, I think every time Chris comes, he goes, now let me put you on the spot. I feel like I got a spot on my back. Seriously, you know, as you asked that question, I'm going, I'm a relational leader. I've always been a relational leader. John challenged me, one of his greatest mentorship lessons to me was do you want to be loved or do you want to lead? And we've talked about that in past podcasts, go back and listen. I would say relating because I'm a relational leader, but I've got to tell you, Chris, and maybe it's just the season that I'm in, I believe that I really resonated and related more to sense-making as John was talking today.

And I think that's because on our walk over to the studio today, I was working through a situation, a topic that we were working in in our leadership team meeting a couple of days ago. And as I was doing it, before I walked into that leadership meeting, I sensed what was going to happen. I knew I was going to get some resistance, because as a leader, for all of 2020, I've been seeing more before, and I've been seeing a time that we need to go. And I cast the vision of that on Monday's meeting. And I'll be honest with you, I felt a little alone. Not lonely, everybody was around with me, everybody was with me, everybody's all in, we're good. But I felt a little alone because I was seeing something and the team was focusing on the miners and I wanted to focus on the big picture.

And so, I felt that, and so you and I were processing that, we had our first opportunity to process that on the way down. I already sensed it before we went in. On the way down, I was seeking from you what you felt was happening. And then as you were talking to me, I started seeing clearly what the real deal was, and then I shared with you on what it was from a contextual standpoint. And you went, huh. And I'm not saying you 100% agreed with me, I bet you have more feedback. Jake just popped the whip and made us get into the studio. You know how it is. I think sensing is where I'm going right now, Chris, which sounds like a political answer. It's relational and sensitive, I'm good at all of it.

Chris Goede:     What I love about it is John said, these two, these first two we're talking about, these enable you to lead. And you just gave our listeners an application of how to walk through those four things. And it's something that just is real, it's relevant to kind of where we're at. The other thing is, he talks about engaging sense-making. And I love this part, and what he says is get data from multiple sources. And as a leader, going into any meeting, any thought, any decision, in order for you to align with a sense-making, you have to gather data from, and I think you do that really, really well. And you do that before you even come into a meeting.

Mark Cole:       Let me say something on that. Too many leaders, in my opinion, listen podcast listeners, you're leading meetings, you're leading a company, you're leading a direction, you're leading a family. And you know what we do, we leave a chance to being revealed on the spot. We allow ourselves to go in without anticipating what could happen. I love anticipating resistance and being wrong. But I dislike not anticipating resistance and it being there. I dislike that more.

And so, I walk into a meeting. In fact, I told Kimberly, my executive partner, my executive assistant, I said to her before the meeting on Monday, she said, how do you think it's going to go, because she knows I'm already anticipating on how it's going to go. And I said, I think today is going to be one of our tougher leadership meetings. I think there's going to be more robust conversation, I think there's going to be some greater sense of pushback, all the stuff that you know actually ended up happening.

But let me tell you this, going back to sense-making, leaders, you may not be good at it, but do you either put in practice what I just described, anticipate what's going to happen in a meeting, a big meeting where vision is being cast? Or do you have a thinking partner? Do you have a confidant that John talked about in relating? Do you have somebody to anticipate with so that you can be prepared? Here's what happened. Because I anticipated in that meeting that we were going to have a little bit of sticker shock on something that was becoming more tangible in our future, in our direction, I was less disappointed when it happened. I had anticipated it. I was less reactive and emotional because I had anticipated it. I was less forceful and less directive because I had anticipated it. I had already anticipated a level of concern pushback or perplexity. And because of that, I could exhibit patience because of sense-making.

If I had not anticipated and spent think time on anticipating, chances are with my personality, my passion, I'd have got defensive, I'd have got frustrated, you've seen me act like that too, Chris. I was not like that on Monday.

Chris Goede:     No, not at all.

Mark Cole:       Before I sound too good, oh, so many times I have been because I did not spend think time in anticipating.

Chris Goede:     Love that. And I love the application of that and the real time of you living that out with your leadership team. And not only as a leader understanding that you're incomplete, but then also understanding that your leadership team, they're incomplete as well. They may not know it, but you know that about them, and you need to know where they're incomplete in order to go into a situation like that ahead of time to be able to make sense.

Now, listen, as we move into the second point, John talks about relating. And both you and I have a relationship bent. And so, we immediately think, this is about relationships. Really John's talking about here is he gives us the three points, inquiring, advocating, and then what John does really, really well and has taught us to do well is connecting. What I love about this as a leader, here's what I want you to understand, we want you to be curious. I liked what you just explained to us a minute ago about sense-making, I like to talk about as this intention versus perception gap.

Mark Cole:       I love it.

Chris Goede:     And the bigger the gap is, John Talks about the expectation reality, there's disappointment there. And so, as a leader and as a skill set, and as we begin thinking about this from a relational standpoint, we need to be more curious about where our people are, or the situation or the perspective that they have, so that you can address that.

Now, what I want to talk about here, and I want you to, anything that comes to mind under this capability, I want you to go, but I think you do this really, really well, not only in our leadership team meeting, but in our enterprise as a whole. John talks about when you talk about your ideas and your vision for where we're going, the decisions that you make, you do a really good job of explaining your reasoning and context behind it. Talk a little bit about why you do that, how you do it, and why that's so important to you as you lead.

Mark Cole:       Well, I believe that if you're truly going to empower somebody to lead in a way that models the visionary John for 20 years, myself now with some increased role that I have, if you're going to truly empower somebody and you're going to be able to let go of what you're empowering rather than delegating and coming back and not liking what somebody has done. True empowerment can only come when context has been given. Empowering somebody with no context and no resources is delegating at best, and it is dropping on them at worse. It's just unloading. I don't want to do that so here you go, but I care how you do it, so I'm going to come back and tell you all you did wrong.

True empowerment requires context and resources. It requires clarity, it requires a sense of accountability. That's not the point here. Context is the point. But I want you to know, the role of every one of us as leaders is to work ourselves out of a job, is to set someone else up to take what we have done at some point in our leadership career and take it to the next level. Simon Sinek calls that the infinite game. There's no end game, there's no 62 and a half years old, 65 years old, 70 years old to leadership. It's an infinite game. And if we believe that, then empowering people to contextually lead so that they can take what you have built mister, missus visionary to the next level. So I believe context is key, I believe it's critical, I believe it is necessary for empowerment.

It's slower than delegation. It's slower than decisiveness. I was on the phone with one of our leaders, we're in the middle of year end reviews, yes, I'm a little late. I know it's January, but I'm in the middle of year end reviews, our annual reviews is what we call them. I was on the phone with one of our leaders yesterday and I told him, he's a proactive go-getter, entrepreneur, I mean, he's extraordinary at entrepreneur. And I told him, I said, "I need you to slow down without letting me break your entrepreneur spirit." Now, that's a big deal. And he went, "Man, I don't know if I can do that." So then I began to share with him. And I said, "You're getting advice from people that's all accustom to leading last year and the year before. Who did you seek advice for that is looking forward not looking backward?"

And lights came on for him. And he went, "Oh my goodness, well, the context of saying, I need you to widen your input sphere in leadership was like, okay, I got one more person, in fact, I called four people in this. Last time I called three." And I said, "Yeah, but you called the same four people, they just had different names." They had the same paradigm, the same perspective. When I gave Chris, my buddy, Chris Robinson, when I gave him that perspective, I'm telling you, light bulbs came on. I told him that three times in the last two weeks and every time I told him that, he felt like I was micromanaging him. When I gave him context yesterday, light bulbs came on, because that's the difference maker, in my opinion in leadership is taking time to give context.

Chris Goede:     And I'm going to throw it back to you to wrap up with any closing thoughts you have on this. But what I love about that illustration and the reasoning behind it, is you are taking steps of a level four leader of what we're talking John's five levels of leadership, you're beginning to mentor and develop people in your thinking, and how you make decisions. And in doing that, you connect with them, which is that third point under that capability that John talks about. And so, leaders take time to do that.

Matter of fact, Mark even taking another step back where you're like, hey, I know this year, I need to spend a little bit more time with my leaders one on one because they have to understand, they have to catch where I'm going, they have to catch how I'm making decisions, they have to hear from me a little bit more than what we're hearing in leadership team meetings. And when you do that, we understand your reasoning, which allows us to move faster down the road, and we're able to connect with you at a greater level.

Mark Cole:       I don't want to close today, but Jake is standing up pointing his finger. I mean, you guys need to come be in studio with us sometime in this podcast. But I know we've went a little long, but it's been a long time since we've been in studio. I don't want to end this conversation. In fact, Chris, we won't, we'll keep going next week. We'll keep talking about it this afternoon when we walk back up.

But one of the things I'm going to challenge you this year, if you're a team leader, if you're somebody that is an incomplete leader, and if you're not paying attention to John's message, show up next week, download the podcast because you need to listen to next week as well. But if you're an incomplete leader but you want to be a complete leader by adding the team around you, we have a tool called the Maxwell Leadership Assessment. And this really gives you a 360 degree view of who your leadership because you get raters, you get eight, nine raters from different levels of influence in your life.

But the second thing that we provide in that is we provide a team orientation to where you can get every one of your team's a 360 Maxwell Leadership Assessment, and then began working together and getting your leadership team functioning based on your strengths and what each of you bring to the table. And Chris, I'm going to let you tell them how to go get the Maxwell Leadership Assessment because it's in your corporate solutions. But how do they get this Maxwell Leadership Assessment?

Chris Goede:     Yeah, if you'll visit johnmaxwellcompany.com, and we have an assessment tabs there, you can click on that, there's a form you could submit. Or even if you just want to jump on the podcast page and submit an inquiry, Jake and the team will make sure that we get that. But to your point, I like to say, it's as leaders how we play our hand. We've all been dealt a hand and this tool is a great tool that allows you to kind of see other people's perspective of how you're leading.

Mark Cole:       So thank you, John Maxwell, Thank you, Chris Goede. Thank you podcast community because together we are changing our world, together, we are transforming. Hey, let's lead. See you next week.

2 thoughts on “The Incomplete Leader (Part 1)”

  1. The lesson is powerful and the application really brings it to life.
    Excellent team work.
    Is it possible to write on the worksheet? That would be helpful but I didn’t figure I could.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Leslie, we’re glad to hear the podcast is impacting you and your leadership! Although you can’t directly markup the PDF digitally in your browser, you do have the option to print the worksheet in the top right corner of your screen. Please let us know if we can assist you with anything else!

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