I think every day, maybe a little more or a little less, I read or hear someone’s story about how they were struggling along in life, health, business, relationships, or with God and then something happened that changed things around for them. I know you hear those stories, too. Sure, some of them are made up or are just too good to be true. But many of them are valid. People can turn things around and they are doing it every single day.
In the valid stories, you will always find at least this common denominator; they lifted the lid in their own lives. I first read the phrase “leadership lid” from John Maxwell years ago and there is a great deal of truth to it. Maxwell’s premise is that an individual or an organization will only rise as high as its level of leadership. If you want to improve an individuals or an organization’s performance you need to raise the level (lid) of leadership.
Everyone who turns things around or makes needed changes to improve always adds some new lid-lifting skill. The skill might be figuring out to implement something they already know, but doing that figuring is an added skill. More and more research shows that it is not just a matter of willpower in making needed changes; it is more about developing the right skills and support systems.
Where Change Starts
In their book Influencer: How to Change Anything this team of author’s/experts/consultants/professors identified 6 processes leaders used to solve huge problems that had been around for decades. From helping felons become productive citizens to wiping out an awful and deadly parasitic worm in Africa to helping those in extreme poverty fund and build prosperous businesses, the main processes were the same.
The first step, and the authors stated with great emphasis as being universal to all these change successes, was to identify the vital behaviors. They did not try to change anything until they settled on what were the most important behaviors that needed to be different. That is a great starting point for all of us. What behaviors need to change in order to solve this problem?
Once those vital behaviors were identified, they then began working the six processes for amazing change. The starting point for all the others was dealing with individual motivation and abilities. To change things, individuals must change. In order for that to happen people need to find motivation somewhere and then they need to see there is a way to solve the problem that is doable for them. Change involves motivation and skill development.
As someone who is already motivated to make a difference in the world, which is really what leadership is all about, I’m assuming you have a way to motivate yourself. Aside from times of discouragement, every leader I’ve ever met has a pretty high degree of motivation already and that is one of the reasons they are, after all, leaders. What can fade in time is the desire to keep learning and improving. But that is exactly what needs to happen if you want to keep increasing your impact in the lives of other people in a positive way. The best leaders are ALWAYS lifelong learners. They know that to be the best they can be and to solve previously unsolved problems they will need to lift the lid, increase knowledge and add skills.
What You Can Do Now
What I would encourage you to do today is think through what are the most important behaviors you need to improve in yourself to raise the lid on your influence and leadership. What will make the greatest difference? Then think through and commit to a plan to make that happen. Raise the lid and increase results. That’s what leaders do.