Leadership is BUILDING Capability NOT BEING the Capability

Good Leadership is About BUILDING Capability NOT BEING the Capability

What is leadership? I’m asked this question often and the term is explained in many of the London Business School programmes on which I coach.

Leadership is about exciting others to higher levels of performance,
to get others to do what they need to do and ideally
to get them to go the extra mile in what they do.

The last day of a leadership development programme on which I coached has participants draw an image of what their current leadership is and an image 2 years from now of what their future leadership vision is. Who do they want to become as a leader? One participant articulated his growth edge beautifully:

I want to BUILD capability of others and NOT BE the capability.

This is so true for so many leaders. They get promoted because they are good at what they do and when they are promoted they no longer do what they are good at, instead they are expected to lead others doing what they used to do. A CFO (chief financial officer) no longer does spreadsheets and accounts, a CFO leads others to do that work. THE CFO’s role becomes influencing others to do their jobs well.

When’s the last time you excited someone to outperform you?

Can you say you’ve been excited by others to go the extra mile?

How confident are you that your team’s capability is what you’d want it to be, consistently?

What is a Leadership Role?

Any role can be a leadership role. This might be controversial, and I truly believe it. Any role requires leadership. So often when people hear the word leader they think of the person at the top of an organization, the one who is so often out front. This is often the public leader or the one featured in the media. Yet there are so many more leaders that are needed to supply any product or service.

The Co-Active Training Institute has a model of leadership ® with 5 dimensions of leadership.

Leader in Front – this is the person on the stage, and a ubiquitous example would be Steve Jobs of Apple, he was clearly the leader in front at the various product launches. This can also be the leader of a meeting, running the agenda. This is the person that engages and activates others, not necessarily the one with all the answers.

Leader in the Field – this often arises opportunistically. It’s when someone is just part of a group or gathering and they sense that leadership is required, they step in and lead. Often, it’s instinctive for them such as when there’s an emergency and someone just takes charge.

Leader Beside – this is the type of leadership that happens in business partnerships or in a marriage. My business partner, Sue, and I both lead our EQ Leadership Training business. We both co-deliver our training, side by side, for our participants. From a business perspective, she often does the marketing and client relations and I do programme design, financials and business acumen. This is collaborative, open and mutual.

Leader Behind – These are all the unsung heroes that make things happen behind the scenes. They see and sense what is going and serve in a way to bring something to fruition.

Leader Within – This is the foundation for all other leadership styles. This is about leading oneself. It’s about knowing oneself and having agency and self-determination. Think of anything you’ve had to get done, it starts with motivating yourself to perform. It’s about being yourself and acting in pursuit of your goals and dreams and in accordance with your values.

By the mere fact we are responsible for all our actions and reactions, we are all leaders and can step into any of the other 4 leadership dimensions when we sense it’s needs and choose to do so. This model shows how agile leadership can be, how non-hierarchical or role-dependent it is.

What is Effective Leadership?

Effective leadership requires self-awareness and conscious choice which are the first two cornerstones of emotional intelligence (EQ). Effective leadership of others starts with leader within, leading one’s own self. Then leadership requires building the capability in others, so they can perform at their highest potential.

1. Have a goal, dream, or objective. What’s the reason you are doing what you are doing? Know where you want to go. For companies that’s often having a vision or mission statement. For someone running a meeting it means having an objective for the meeting and knowing the outcome you’d like to achieve.

2. Choose the impact you want to have in a given situation. How do you want others to feel? How can you contribute to that experience? I often ask people “what impression do you want to have” in a meeting or situation. Not in terms of putting on a performance, rather in terms of what qualities, skills or attributes do you want to demonstrate. How do you want to come across that’s genuine for you?

3. Know what excites others. If leadership is about exciting others, then you need to know what motivates or excites the people you are wanting to influence. Some people are motivated by money, status, group affiliation. Others by personal development, not working alone, power, autonomy, recognition, stress avoidance, or structure. How do you position things to others in ways that honour their motivational preferences?

4. Find “right”. When trying to motivate someone, find the things they do right and ensure you acknowledge them. Learn a feedback model that can build confidence by acknowledging what people do well and that builds competence by helping them to improve where necessary. The COIN model here is a good one with examples to both positive/appreciative feedback and constructive/developmental.

5. Be overt and transparent. When you are building someone’s capability, tell them that’s what you are doing rather than doing it by stealth. Position their growth opportunity as just that, an opportunity to develop and potentially advance (if that’s of interest to them). Make it aspirational. And share your experience of when you had to learn this same thing to normalize it and remove any negative judgement.

Leadership is about exciting people to perform, consistently and to as high a standard as necessary. That means leading yourself, and any number of other people as required. The opportunities might be obvious of when you need to lead (a meeting, your team’s performance) and there will be other times when you choose to lead from the field or behind. Be intentional about when you are the capable one and when you are needing others to be capable.

What might be possible if you could excite and lead others to do more?

Do you want to improve your leadership?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore your leadership, and how to help build others’ capabilities.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Are You in Danger of Potentially Being a Workaholic?

Are You in Danger of Potentially Being a Workaholic?

Workaholic? Long working hours? Many people struggle with long working hours and a lack of boundaries between work and home, especially when working from home is now widespread. Anecdotal evidence from interviews I’m conducting estimates that white-collar office workers are working 90 minutes to 2 hours longer per day while working from home.

Workaholism Meaning

Workaholism is different than working hard or working long hours. It is an addiction, a mental health issue like alcoholism and drug addiction. Psychologist Wayne E. Oates created the term “workaholic” in 1968 as someone with “an uncontrollable need to work incessantly.” Like an alcoholic, it’s the compulsion, you must, not because the excess is good or enjoyable. It isn’t the quantity of work, it’s about how you engage with your work and predominately your inability to disengage from it.

Workaholics – Common Indicators

Workaholism is typically long-term, it’s not related to a short-term burst as you strive for a promotion or deal with the initial crisis of a pandemic. The key indicator is the amount of head space, thought, energy and in some cases time you dedicate to work.

Some indicators are:

• Work late and/or take work home often and unnecessarily

• Checking messages at home, maybe even in the middle of the night

• Working or continually checking messages on holidays

• Time and relationships with others are compromised

• Lack of sleep or poor sleep

• You’re defined by your work

A notable ‘test’ for workaholism is The Bergen Work Addiction Scale. It was developed at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen (UiB) in collaboration with Bergen Clinic Foundation and Nottingham Trent University and outlines 7 criteria for identifying work addiction. Score each criterion on the scale of: (1) Never, (2) Rarely, (3) Sometimes, (4) Often, and (5) Always:

• You think of how you can free up more time to work.

• You spend much more time working than initially intended.

• You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.

• You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.

• You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.

• You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.

• You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.

Doctor Cecilie Schou Andreassen’s work at UiB shows that scoring «often» or «always» on at least four of the seven items may suggest that you are a workaholic.¹

Health Impact of Being a Workaholic

Research by Lieke ten Brummelhuis and Nancy P. Rothbard of 3,500 employees identified the differences between the behaviours of those who worked long hours and the mindset of workaholics and the effect on health. They also conducted medical checks on 763 of these employees to ascertain the health impact.

Among people who worked long hours this research found they suffered no adverse physical effects (of note, separate research shows continuous, stressful hours of prolonged work is harmful to cognitive ability especially in those over 40 years of age). Whereas, those who were workaholics, whether they worked long hours or not, had more health complaints and increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.²

5 Steps to Address Workaholism

Acknowledge you might have a problem. That’s the first step of any recovery programme. If those closest to you, especially if it’s multiple people, have commented on your work preoccupation consider that you might be workaholic. You can’t address what you don’t acknowledge.

Reflect on what might be the root of the problem. What might be the underlying reason(s)? One might be because you don’t feel good enough so you’re chasing ‘approval’ by achieving the next goal, doing the next task or being recognized for your ‘passion and commitment.’ Another might be perfectionism. Trying to live up to a self-imposed standard to prove you are competent or live up to an unrealistic expectation from a boss or society. Another could be to avoid other aspects of your life.

Imagine a balanced, successful life. The first step to any goal is knowing where you’re going. As an entrepreneur you have an idea and strive to bring that to life. You create. Do this with your own life. Imagine what a balanced, successful life looks like for you. What do you want people to say about you 50 years from now? What values, relationships and impact do you want to be known for? Once you have the vision, start working towards it.

Create boundaries. Success at work is impossible if you are tired and risk sickness and ill health. Put boundaries in place in terms of amount of time working and mental rejuvenation. Commit and schedule other activities that you can get lost in. What are your dormant passions? Learn mindfulness to be less obsessive about work thoughts and worries. Put reminders in your diary throughout the day to breath down to your belly, to walk around, to leave at a certain time.

Get support at work, from family, friends and professionals if needed. Professional help might be needed if you feel you are a workaholic, and/or you identified an underlying cause of the problem that isn’t healthy. Also, ask for support from friends, family and colleagues to disengage from work and be fully present with them and in other activities.

Manager of a Workaholic?

Whether you manage a workaholic or know someone who might be a workaholic, here are some ideas:

• Help the person find their intrinsic motivation for working that’s healthy. What makes the work meaningful? What enjoyment do they derive from work? As author, Simon Sinek, says great leaders inspire action by starting from the WHY, what’s the purpose? Leaders need to know why they get out of bed, and it usually isn’t to hit a target or make money.

• Point them to time management tools for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

• Foster a culture of appropriate boundaries, work/life balance and engagement as this will help everyone be productive, energized and creative.

• Communicate clearly about what’s acceptable and expected for after-hours communication and work.

• Show them this article.

To re-iterate, if you answered always or often on 4 of the Bergen Work Addiction criteria consult with a health professional to get support and a robust assessment. If you scored less and are struggling or want to create different working schedule get support.

What would improve with better boundaries at work?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore your working situation, boundaries, or those of people that work for you.



Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels