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Are You Focused Deep or Wide?

If you start talking about leadership, you may get several different reactions; everything from eye-roll to serious looks. Regardless of the guru you follow or the school where you took leadership training, there is one key question that remains.

Will your leadership ability be deep or wide?

If you’re thinking about big organizations with high headcount and multiple lines of business, you are thinking about wide leadership influence. This includes large communities or tribes where your influence can be experienced.

However, if you think in terms of the immediate circle of your peers and direct reports, then you are thinking deep leadership.

There is not really a right or wrong to either of these two schools of thought.

Wide Leadership Thinking

As the name implies, wide leadership reaches far. The edges are way out there. You might be hoping to influence or impact a large population, whether that’s within your company or inside an industry.

Your idea of a vision has a really big scale to it. You are wanting to leave behind or accomplish making a big difference.

Ironically, a great leader with a wide vision isn’t necessarily thinking about numbers of followers. Instead, they focus on the need. Their heart centers on service.

The best picture is that of the pebble cast on a calm pool of water. The place where the stone hits the water causes ripple effects that have energy enough to reach the far edges of the pond or lake. If the pool was perfectly still, a single stone will create ripples that are seen the whole distance beyond the center of that circle.

Great leadership creates ripples of influence and impact in the hearts and minds of the ones who stand in the outer bands of the circle surrounding the leader.

The Deep End

Deep leadership is limited in numbers. It is a more personalized experience, dealing with a few.

In business, we think of it as our “direct reports”, those who are assigned directly to us with whom we have a day to day contact.

Mentoring someone is a deep leadership happening. The leader will be pouring wisdom, encouragement, and experience into the individual, one on one.

Deep leadership impact will be life changing for the recipient. Perhaps the influence will be limited to just a few nuggets of truth or learning, but the substance will be powerful. The person receiving the lesson will be forever changed.

The Best Do Both

The best leaders I have ever known or studied do both. I’ve tried being that kind of leader in what I do. I’ve tried teaching it to others.

When you take on a position of responsibility, you have to make the team work first. Your influence should be the deep kind. You must feed and nurture those assigned to you or hired by you. It is up to you to explain the vision and purpose.

You’ll be doing individual development of those around you.

As the team becomes productive, you can shift your focus to the wider perspective.

Your business may have many layers and your team is just a part of the bigger picture. Your influence as a leader can be felt by others outside your team. You do this by supporting other units or departments.

If you own your own business, you have to get it up and running smoothly (deep leadership) before you reach too far outside into the community to make yourself known (wide leadership).

A Pivot

I could go on about this and maybe will in another installment later. But I need to interject something.

I had this article in my writing queue for some time. My calendar was clicking by and my process to go to press was running normally. Then it was time to polish this one off and prep it for release on Sunday, April 12.

It hit me.

That Date is Easter.

Then it hit me again. What better an example of deep and wide influence than the story we know about Jesus’s life.

I intentionally do not force my faith and beliefs on you my reader. Nor will I start now. But please allow me a moment to reflect on this, a very significant holy date for many.

The story of Jesus began with him assembling a small group, twelve to be exact. His intent was to go deep with teaching, mentoring and messaging. He attempted to dispel many teachings of the day and bring better clarity on the subject of God and Heaven.

The disciples as this group later would be called, didn’t always get it at first. It took many tries to explain and demonstrate the principles to them. They eventually did get it.

Then focus turned to a wider audience. A gathering in a town square, a following on a hillside. The pebble was thrown into the lake and ripple it did.

The twelve are gone. Yet, the legacy created 2000 years ago remains.

I don’t judge your beliefs. None of this is an attempt to sway you otherwise. Yet for those who do believe this story and these teachings, the model is perfect.

Leadership delivered deeply to a few had impact far and wide on many. Today, we as leaders can do much the same.

OK most of you will not start a movement or create a global cause. But you can be the leader your team and your community need right now.

I encourage you to reflect in this Easter season.

Where does your leadership stand right now? Deep, wide or both?

Managers, How Do You Show Up?

As you go about your day to day activity, how do you show up?

Whether you are the boss or just one of the team, you have choices every minute of every day. The way you decide to show up in the moment can be the single greatest factor in measuring your effectiveness and success.

Domino Effect

It’s interesting to realize that one bad start early in the day can shape the rest of the day. But I’ll save that idea for another message.

Today we’re going to talk about three key opportunities where showing up matters most.

Showing Up One-on-One

No experience at work or at home matters more than the minute when you are one-on-one with someone. You’re alone together.

There are no distractions, no one else is competing for time and attention.

What are you going to do? How will you show up? Or more importantly, how can you change the way you usually show up.

Building strong, meaningful relationships happens best in the privacy of the one-on-one.

Showing up requires your attention. You must not let other things distract you from the discussion you are about to have. Ringing telephones or random interruptions leave the other person with the impression they are not important.

Your listening matters here too. Your ability to express the right amount of empathy allows a more freely flowing exchange. Proving to the other person that you are attentive and engaged is best done with feedback based on what the other person said.

one on one meeting

Being transparent matters here too. By being open, honest, and even vulnerable to the person with whom you are having the one-on-one allows the trust to build. The more you can do to achieve high levels of trust, the better your outcome will be.

Managers Engaging the Team

Management duties often involve team oriented situations. Having routine staff/team meetings creates the perfect opportunity to show up big or fail miserably. Which do you choose?

Showing up is not about dominating the room. Instead, it involves much the same as one-on-one with one big addition.

showing up at the team meeting

Keep an eye on the whole team. Watch body language and subtle hints about your team’s engagement.

Doing this requires showing up fully ready to engage yourself. Be prepared.

Also, think about intentional messages you need to deliver or consensus you hope to build. Know in advance what you hope to get from the team meeting. Respect other’s time. Use it wisely.

Be decisive if asked for decisions. If you’re really not ready to make a decision on the spot, again, be transparent. Say so.

Managers Showing Up in the Organization

Showing up also impacts your success with those above you or to whom your report. Even CEOs have boards or investors for accountability.

managing up the organization

When you must report up, show up. Likely you were selected or elected for the role, so someone had a belief you can do the job. Remember that.

Use it to strengthen your approach and confidence.

Here Are 10 Ways You can Show Up

  1. Be prepared – try not to let any interpersonal opportunities go by without some degree of preparation
  2. Be in the moment – as new encounters unfold, put aside all other distractions
  3. Listen empathetically – assure the others) you are hearing what they are saying
  4. Listen more than speak – two ears, one tongue is sage advice
  5. Be transparent – whenever possible be completely open and transparent and yes there are plenty of opportunities to be this way).
  6. Don’t judge – be fair in your dealings
  7. Model the right behaviors – know what your situation calls for in the way you present yourself
  8. Be genuine – be yourself. Trying to be something or someone else doesn’t work
  9. Be confident – work on this if you have to, but be secure in what you are talking about
  10. State the things you heard – recap the moment to achieve the best clarity for the communication

If you can do these things with each and every opportunity to show up, your reputation and effectiveness as a leader will grow.

Leave a comment or share any other experiences you have had “showing up” as a manager or a leader.