Leading For The Long Haul

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Leadership can be lonely and you have to protect yourself against the isolation that you can sometimes feel as a leader. As a leader you spend so much time pouring into others that you can very easily run out of gas because no one is pouring into you.

Every leader needs another person, or group of people, to invest in them so that they can continue delivering results and developing their team. This is one of the biggest opportunities I see today in the marketplace.

Leaders are encouraged and recognized for accomplishing so much at whatever the cost, that sometimes a leader finds that they are standing alone on the road of progress all by themselves with no one to share the success with.

Here are five things a leader can do to ensure that they are maximizing their personal brand of leadership:

  1. Have a mentor. A mentor is described as an experienced and trusted advisor. Sometimes leaders, especially those in charge of an organization or department, feel like they don’t need a mentor. They are the expert, the resource, and the encourager. And that is the problem. They are so valuable they don’t take the time to seek someone out to help them process their own situation and objectively assess their surroundings and shortcomings. Every leader needs a sanity check that a good mentor will provide.
  2. Schedule blank space. As leaders we are all driven to go non-stop all day, everyday. The problem is if we manage to a full schedule, we will overcommit and burn out. I have learned this the hard way and am beginning the process of scheduling blank space in my calendar to think, write, and process my ideas. After just a few sessions of nothing on my calendar but time, it has allowed me to think about my business and my family with a great deal more clarity than at any other time in my career.
  3. Read books. All kinds of books; business books, fiction, biographies, special interests…whatever you are passionate about, read about it. If you not a reader, I highly encourage you to get an Audible subscription and listen to your favorites. Reading (or listening) allows us to explore ideas and passions in a way that allows us to really process them versus drinking from a fire hydrant. Taking the time to digest different concepts and how they might apply to you and your organization is a powerful catalyst for change.
  4. Take notes. I always take notes when I am in a meeting, even if I know the content inside out. Taking notes does a couple of things for me as a leader. First, it sets a great example for my team. When my team sees me taking notes it reinforces that what I am hearing is important and I want to capture it. Seeing me take notes makes them want to as well. Secondly, it helps me process ideas further and think about other things we can do as an organization to move forward. I also remember content better from physically writing it down and that helps me in telling the story of our brand and our journey.
  5. Be a mentor. When you mentor someone it brings your leadership full circle. Sometimes when you are pouring into someone else and you hear the words coming out of your mouth, it causes you to realize “I need to hear this as much as this person does” and it creates the opportunity for you to lead by example. When I send a team in to open a restaurant, I send talented folks that I know will take the opportunity to teach and learn from it, and then come back and apply the standards in their own restaurant. Most importantly there is nothing more satisfying as a leader than seeing someone you are investing in start to “get it”.

Leadership can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s only lonely because we make it that way by carrying the weight of the organization on our shoulders instead of leading in such a way that it involves those around us to help carry the load.

So leaders make sure that you are being developed as much as you develop those leaders around you. Take time to invest in yourself, and to allow others to invest in you.

Published by

Bobby Shaw

I am a former restaurant company executive with a passion for developing existing and future leaders to achieve high standards. I love helping organizations develop strong people cultures with an emphasis on leadership development that result in top-notch operations and better business results. I have over 30 years in the restaurant business in all facets of operations, from my start at McDonald's in the grill area in 1984 to overseeing 200+ restaurants with Chipotle Mexican Grill from 2002-2012 to leading Freebirds World Burrito's resurgence from 2013-2016 to working with the Salad and Go restaurant startup as CEO in 2016/2017. My real world experience transcends the typical operations background with a focus in leadership development and coaching. At the core of my background and experience, I believe that how leaders get results is just as important as getting them, and what got them where they are, won't necessarily get them where they want to go. I work closely with individual leaders and companies to improve their results through understanding how their strengths impact the overall results. My goal is to help business leaders and companies learn how to leverage the strengths of their employees by understanding their strengths and what they’re good at, and using that knowledge to positively impact their entire organization.

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