Society has long made us feel that it is our mission to stand out, to be unique. For so many reasons I agree with this. We are all unique and those differences are a great part of what makes our lives so fulfilling and so diverse.
When we lead it isn’t about us or our individual differences but rather about everyone and our ability to generate the greatest results by moving together in the same direction. While some leaders do this inherently and others know this, it isn’t uncommon for the hubris of a leader to stand in the way between the leaders desire for individual recognition versus delivering results.
So to truly lead we must be more willing to blend in for the greater good. And to do this we have to get on board with a little less recognition and a little more humility. But don’t worry, your time will come because once you get the team moving in the same direction the results will speak volumes for your leadership.
Ready to go?
Here are 5 ways to Stand Out by Blending In
- Part of the Team: This is the theme in which standing out by blending in is built around. It starts by truly becoming part of the team. Removing layers of bureaucracy that have long divided leaders from followers, managers from employees and vision from the masses. The next four items build on this first one as you will never lead to your potential if you have invisible barriers between you and your team.
- Inclusive: Have you ever met the executive that only engages their senior team? Or those that shake a few hands with the people like a politician asking for a vote? Regardless a clear separation between them and everyone else is visible in their every interaction. That type of elitism may have worked historically, but I would say it never worked as well as the leader that brings the people together. This cannot happen by verbalizing this from your turret, but can only happen by taking genuine interest in those who contribute to your organizational success. Making them feel like you and them are working toward the same goal can move mountains in comparison to how elitism creates mere resentment.
- Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty: This isn’t to say that you have to put on your work boots and pound the hammer or climb under the car. However, showing that you truly know the business and that you understand what everyone is doing is worth its weight in gold. People will respond when they see that you understand what they do, why they do it and how it adds value. When you do pick up the hammer you will be amazed at the response you will get from your team. They love to not only hear that you are willing and able, but seeing it as well.
- Level Playing Field: Even if you have proven that you are part of the team, having everyone know that the playing field is level is a great way to take this one step further. Kind of like the Head Coach of a sports team; sure they are part of the team, but they also control who is on the field, how much they play and whether or not the continue to play. Coaches that show they can take input and use it in their decision making process level the field without ever truly relinquishing their power. Surprisingly there is great power in collaboration, but to realize this power you have to be truly willing to collaborate.
- Available AND Present: More than just an open door policy, being available is very human and normal behavior. However, important executives (all believe they are) too often like to show just how busy and important they are by quickly juggling one meeting and event after another. Whether or not this juggling act is truly what is most pressing, this type of schedule rarely leaves real time for others that may need you. So having time dedicated to meeting with all whom desire to do so is important, but what is more important is your presence in the moment. A seemingly simple task, often distractions of other mounting pressures can lead you to not being fully engaged. Being both willing to make the time, and give your complete attention to the needs of the people is a tremendous way to stand out by simply blending in.
To lead is human and to lead brilliantly you must become a part of whatever it is you are leading. To blend in is not a form of relinquishing control, but truly grasping the power of your team. So start standing out, by being a little bit more willing to blend in.
In this video we further explore how to blend in to stand out.