Happy hump day everyone! This is the post that I have been most excited for. If you have someone who passes the first two criteria, this is where you are going to get the opportunity to shine and be a real leader.
Recap. You have to 1) find someone worth mentoring and 2) be able push them outside of their comfort zone.
Okay so how do you actually begin to champion others? This may be an exercise that is 100% a growth opportunity for you as the leader. A great leader knows when to put those that follow them ahead of themselves.
There are probably a million articles out there that describe the difference between a leader and a manager. If you like to take the success of those under you and cast them as your own success to your organization or refuse to allow them to grow or move because you “can’t afford to lose them”, I hate to say it, but you are a manager and not a leader. A leader inspires passion within their ranks and there is no better way to do that than to show them that your success is secondary to theirs.
Now if you do this well, your reward will pay dividends in the confidence people have in you as a leader and will shine so much brighter than your own achievements.
#3 Being a champion is putting your people’s success ahead of your own and going to bat for them, when they cannot.
Now there are two pieces to this so let’s talk about how you can do each of these.
When I say putting their success ahead of your own, (this is important) I don’t mean to be continuously casting yourself on the coals in order for them to have a pleasant walk through the fire. What I mean is that there will always be opportunities for you to pass the buck on when potential for exposure and personal success arises.
I know that I just said you aren’t supposed to seek your own reward and I am not trying to do this by giving examples, but I want you to see where you can do this.
I work pretty closely with a few analytic leaders in the valley so I have been asked to speak at a few events. Last month Phoenix hosted an event called “Data Analytics Unleashed” where 6 really impressive individuals with amazing stories of how they are changing the game in their organizations got the opportunity to speak in front of ~200 analytic professionals in the valley. Getting invited to speak is super fun but, I can be a huge personality so I have no problem finding my own exposure. So when Michael asked me to speak, I pushed that invite over to Brandt.
He absolutely crushed it by the way. I have heard his story (and was a part of it) like a billion times, but I was glued to everything he had to say. It was a really proud moment for me.
The second (and potentially more dangerous) part is stepping up to the plate for them when they cannot. There is risk associated with putting your name on their product, which is why those first two steps are so important, you can strike out and look like an ass but when the pair of you hit that home run, it’s kind of like that one time Jose Bautista did that awesome bat flip.
Shana has been at Knight for 12 years. She started out of high school so she didn’t have the opportunity to get a formal degree. She has done a lot of work within the “back office” procedures so she knows how things work. Getting her over to this team has been one of the most frustrating processes in my life. For some stupid reason I have to talk everyone into the fact that she can do this job. Even though she has built out some really cool things, the fact that those haven’t received a ton of exposure has made it hard to convince people otherwise. Sometimes I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
(I have seen this movie like a thousand times and am just now noticing that Will Ferrell is wearing a trashbag as a bowtie.)
In the end, it worked out. She is in the middle of transitioning over and the exposure is happening, but there were a lot of frustrating moments over the last 6 months.
I probably should have mentioned, that it’s not easy mentoring other people. It can take a lot out of you and depending on how the world accepts you championing folks the process can take a long time. Through this you are a team and it is possible for either one of you to lose steam. You can’t make anyone do what they don’t want to, but if you both keep the faith, you will end up igniting each other’s lives in some way. Which is why the whole thing is so worth while.