As the author of Provoking Greatness: Unleashing Hidden Potential (Which Seth Godin says is “a generous book about stepping up to make art, to matter, and to contribute,” I’m often asked to coach progressive and passionate leaders.

In fact, I’ve had the chance to work with and speak for leaders at Johns Hopkins, NASA, and Johnson & Johnson, just to name a few.

Following my presentations, I often conduct on-the-spot coaching for those seeking to go beyond pushing for performance, onto provoking greatness. Many of these leaders have found themselves trapped in busy work, and are ready to free their time to focus on bigger projects.

Based on feedback from several leaders, they found the following tips particularly helpful in helping them free up their time to go bigger, while getting their team to step up.

These tips work whether you’re the CEO, mid-level manager, or requesting resources for a project. As one client told me, “They actually work ANYTIME you need to get stuff done through others.”

Provoke Their Greatness Tip #1 

Identify your end zone. No football player ever trained hard, practiced hard, or played hard without an end zone. Where are you taking your team, and why does it matter? Less than 10% of leaders ever identify a worthy goal (other than to make more money), and it’s the reason that 70% of employees lack confidence in the abilities of senior leadership according to the Dale Carnegie Employee Engagement Study. Increase confidence, increase engagement, and increase your free time… establish a worthy goal. 

Provoke Their Greatness Tip #2 

Know what’s fueling the machine. There are a variety of reasons people work hard. Here are a few:

—Make money

—A worthy goal/vision

—Make a difference/contribution

—Advance their skills

—Gain experiences

—Be appreciated

—Keep learning

—Achieve a particular title

—Lead a team

Just like regular fuel may destroy a car that’s meant to burn diesel, many leaders hamper motivation by assuming the that what motivates one person will motivate everyone. Know your team, and focus on helping them gain the success that’s meaningful to them.

Provoke Their Greatness Tip #3 

Their success is your success. Many people wind up in leadership positions because they got stuff done—they took the reins, worked hard, and produced results. The problem is the drive that earned them the title is not the same kind of drive needed to get results through people. Frustrated, these awesome people resort to, “I have more experience, I’m the boss, now do what I’m telling you to do.” Annoyed with mediocre work, these same remarkable people wind up staying late, working harder, and wasting time complaining about their team. They—their team—are not the problem. Instead, the opportunities lies in reframing their new position, and learning how to get results through others.

Rather than outshining others to move ahead, you have to intentionally be outshone by your team to continue advancing. Make their success your main focus and watch as your results soar.

Be on the lookout—Tips 4-7 coming next week.

Here’s to Your Greatness,

Misti Burmeister

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