238 years ago this week, a group of men, a group of leaders, risked their lives and livelihoods to declare their (nonexistent) country’s independence from England. If you are from the United States, I wish you a Happy Independence Day!
But actually I am wishing that all of you (regardless of the country that issued your passport) consider declaring your independence.
What do I mean? After all, as leaders, aren’t we actually pretty dependent on our organizations and those we lead?
But I believe that anytime and anywhere is a good time to think about our Independence. It is one thing to declare it, and yet another to make it happen. So today, I am suggesting several declarations, and some actions to help you get started.
We can independently choose to improve our skills.
Reading and thinking about these words is a start. You might be fortunate to work for an organization that invests time and money in your development. (If so, that’s great.) But whether you have training and development offered to you or not, you still must own your development. Yes, the skills benefit others, but the learning (and results) belong to you.
We can independently choose to serve those we lead in a way that supports their growth and the growth of the organization as well.
When you see your leadership role as one of service, good things will happen. When you actually serve others and the goals of the organization, your world and results will change. Declare that you will serve, then begin serving. The forefathers of the United States were a pretty good example here, an example worth following.
We can independently choose to care more, listen more, and trust more.
If you care, let your actions show it. This isn’t just nice to do, it is the core of your leadership role. This is a declaration to make silently and intentionally, then let your actions show your private declaration.
We can independently choose to be more creative.
There are problems and opportunities all around you in your organization. You can wait for resources or time – but it might be a long wait. Many of the greatest innovations came not from well-funded and planned efforts, but from passionate people focusing on a problem and creatively finding a solution. Why not make the creative choice for the benefit of your team, your organization, and your Customers?
We can independently choose to create the culture we want to work in.
Too many leaders lament that things would be different if their organizational culture were different. You might not be able to influence the decisions and approaches of the “home office” (at least not immediately). But you can influence the working conditions, relationships, and “how things are done around here” with your team, on your shift, or in your work area. Culture starts at home, not at the home office. As a leader, you can create the culture you want. (Tweet that.)
This list could be (really) long – but I hope you see the point. We do not have to wait for our organization, the economy, the start of the fiscal year, or someone else to change our organizational reality.
This article seems to be about independence, but now you see that independence, just like it did more than 200 years ago, requires a choice. We have choices – as human beings and as leaders. When we wait for others, not only are we not leading, we won’t get new or better results.
New choices bring new results.
This is all true, and it still isn’t the whole story.
While we must claim our independence, we must also realize that we aren’t alone. We are making these choices in connection to and in connection with other people. As a leader, I want you to claim your independence; I want you to value your interdependence too.
Declare independence to take responsibility and avoid victim behaviors and attitudes, then think interdependence to create a team that joins you to work towards greater success and satisfaction.
Do those things and you will be able to celebrate both your Independence and enjoy the results, too.