The Self-Driven Manager's Guide to Leadership
A Note From The Editor
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I've often found that self-driven people make good leaders. After all, they usually are harder on themselves than anyone else could ever be, which drives them towards success. Because of this, they act as their own accountability partners and they rarely need to be pushed. They also are not afraid of hard work; perfection must be reached, regardless of the hours. While self-drivers possess many qualities that help them climb the management ladder, they also might struggle when leading people who operate from different motivators. Here are three keys for self-driven leaders to remember:
1. There is no such thing as perfect.
For the self-driven leader, it's not uncommon for them to demand perfection from themselves. The target is a benchmark that is impossibly lofty, but as a high achiever, you sometimes manage to reach it. The problem is when you try to hold your team to the same stringent standards as you do for yourself. People are never perfect. To err is human.
When perfectionists expect their teams to approach goals with the same degree of precision, the employees are doomed to never meet expectations. Not only that, this type of leader will tend to get annoyed by even the most inconsequential imperfections, causing enormous frustration.
Does this mean that lowering expectations is the answer? Not necessarily. It's a combination of choosing what to focus on and looking past stylistic differences. The perfectionist by definition wants everything to be just right. This can result in focusing too much attention towards what isn't going right -- even if it is not a key result area of your business. While you should not ignore an important constraint, ask yourself if it's really where your attention should be concentrated. If not, focusing on the bigger picture can help you steer your team in the right direction.
Shifting emphasis away from the minor imperfections also can give your team more leeway to operate within their own style preferences versus strictly adopting yours. This can be tremendously valuable in not only getting the most out of each individual team member, but also in the discovery of better approaches you otherwise might not have pursued.
2. Your drivers may differ from your team's.
One aspect self-driven leaders often share is that they know exactly where they want to go and are in a hurry to get there. Whether it's a big promotion, an income target or a juicy assignment -- your motivators are clear and compelling. While this surely works for you, it's very likely your team is going to be comprised of individuals with lots of other drivers. Great leaders don't operate under a one style fits all model. They get to know the team first and work with each individual to put together a mutually beneficial plan.
3. Others may need your ability to push yourself.
One of the reasons some people rise up the ranks faster than others is because they are naturally able to grasp concepts quickly and apply them without much supervision. These individuals are able to produce prodigious results, whether their leader is exceptional or not. They are successful and have been promoted in many ways because they can operate largely in a self-sufficient manner. Through years of experience, these individuals have learned how to motivate themselves.
Upon being asked to lead others, these individuals can become frustrated that their teams do not have the same skill sets. This should not be mistaken for either a lack of effort or disinterest. It's more likely they need someone to help hold them accountable. They require the occasional nudge, pat on the back or kick in the rear. Gradually, they can reach a level of greater self-sufficiency, but it needs to be coached, learned and practiced.
The best leaders have the ability to relate to each member of their team, regardless of their diversity. Remembering that every member is unique -- and allowing for such differences -- can help determine whether you become a great versus good organization.