Do You Have These Five Essential People On Your Team?
I’ve found myself talking with a number of leaders over the last month about the loneliness of leadership. For some, it has been gradual as they moved into more senior leadership roles in their organization and for others almost immediate as they launched a company and found themselves in a much larger leadership role than they ever imagined.
Leadership requires us to step into uncertainty, ambiguity, risk, and exposure again and again while helping others do the same. We can’t do it alone yet so many leaders find themselves in a lonely place with only a few people around them or for some, no one to talk to at all. I’ve written before about the importance of a sounding board otherwise your spouse becomes this sounding board for you and it can adversely impact your relationship and your ability to recharge with them. So what can a leader do?
I often discuss with leaders the concept of a personal organizational chart. We have team of direct reports and we also need a diverse team around us for long-term sustainable success.
Here are a few key people I’m looking to see in every leader’s personal org chart:
Sounding Board & Thought Partners
There are some topics that we need a completely impartial thought partner or sounding board to work through our thinking, someone not invested in the outcome. I see many clients using their spouse as a sounding board because they haven’t cultivated this relationship anywhere else. For some their spouse is the best sounding board and for many others, they are finding they need someone at arm's length to truly work through their thinking.
As we grow in our careers and life, mentors can become less obvious and scarce. I’ve learned we all need a variety of mentors including someone in your organization (if you’re at a lower leadership level), outside your organization in your industry and outside your industry. You can also benefit from peer mentors who are your same age and gender at the same life stage. I also encourage you to ensure at least one of your mentors is the opposite gender.
Champions and Sponsors
Having a cheerleader by our side or a sponsor who will put their reputation on the line are important to lift us up and see who we are becoming that we can’t see yet. They remind you of your strengths and show you ones that are emerging. They’ll push you out of your comfort zone and ask others to take chances on you.
It’s not a matter of if you will have setbacks, disappointments, and failures but rather when. An essential part of our support system is having someone you can call and be brutally honest about the hard stuff. They are someone who will listen and be empathetic and call on you to be self-compassionate. This is the place of least judgment where you can be your most vulnerable without judgment. These are not enablers in your life but a safe place to share hardships and wins who will be honest because they care deeply about you.
This is the one person who challenges you and says it like it is. They push you to raise your self-awareness, set goals for your future, and take meaningful actions to reach those goals. They’ll balance empathy with assertiveness to help you be accountable to yourself and move past unexpected roadblocks along the way that come from others or yourself.
This isn’t an exhaustive list and you will likely have a number of other categories in your own personal org chart ranging from social support to business support. When is the last time you had a good look at who is on your team?