Have you ever had a feeling you could do more? Accomplish more? Congratulations, leaders are supposed to have that feeling. In Today’s Challenge, I’ll address the “problem” you face when you actually do have untapped leadership capacity.
I’ll start by saying congratulations again. You have more leadership horsepower to invest in the world! This is a very good problem to have. Many leaders find themselves unable to execute on the demands and expectations already placed on them. If you can do that, you’re way ahead of the game.
If you’re wrestling with the issue of excess leadership capacity, I have four suggestions.
Execute your current responsibilities with excellence. How was your last performance review? Are you consistently receiving the highest possible ratings? If not, you may have work to do before you begin to expand your reach beyond your current role. If you’re not receiving performance reviews, or you want additional perspective, conduct your own 360 survey. I’ve been doing them for about 30 years.
Proactively look for ways to add value beyond your role. If you’re nailing your current assignment, look around. Where in your organization could you lend a hand? Perhaps a cross-functional team, or maybe there’s a special project you could volunteer to help deliver. Or, maybe you could mentor young leaders. The list of options before you is long. Start looking around.
Consider additional education. I know this answer is not for everyone, and some of you have many years of graduate and post-graduate education. However, for some leaders an MBA or even an MFA makes a lot of sense. (If the idea of an MFA sounds strange, I recommend you read the first four chapters of Dan Pink's book, A Whole New Mind.) Or, maybe you can prepare yourself for opportunities in an area in which you don’t currently have the educational background required.
Look outside your organization for places to use your extra capacity. This last suggestion may be what you’ve been looking for. Assuming you’re crushing it within your organization, and you still have untapped capacity, look outside. Several times during my career I’ve suggested this with great effect. Perhaps you should serve on a non-profit board, or volunteer for a local charity. I know one leader who led a global ministry with the excess leadership capacity his organization didn’t need!
If you find yourself struggling with the issue of excess leadership capacity at some point in your career, you are asking the right question. Our leadership is really an issue of stewardship. I believe we’re accountable for how we use it.[GLS_Shield]