Four Proven Steps to Unleash Your Leadership

AdVance Leadership » Four Proven Steps to Unleash Your Leadership

Welcome to Friday 411, issue #047. In 4 minutes, with 1 insight and 1 action, you’ll learn 4 steps to take when you experience a disparity between your current responsibilities and abilities.

1 Insight

If you lead long enough, you will experience what it is like to become leashed. It is up to you whether or not you stay leashed.

New leaders often start their journey with great enthusiasm and energy, embracing their roles and responsibilities with excitement. At some point, they face challenges that reveal a disparity between their current responsibilities and abilities. This disparity is the leadership leash. Early in their journey, leaders often strive to break free from the leash. But as they face ever-increasing challenges over time, the disparity continues. Eventually, leaders submit to the leadership leash.

In last week’s post, we revealed the challenge of the leash and mentioned four steps to unleash your leadership. In this week’s post, we will do a deep dive into those four steps.

1. Decide to get unleashed

Whenever you hit the end of your leadership leash, you have two options:

Option 1: Stop Striving and Stay Leashed

Most leaders don’t give up the first time they hit the end of the leash. Or the second time or the third. But, when they stay leashed long enough, leaders will stop striving and submit to the leash. At this point, many leaders will blame someone else: their boss, the company, their employees, or the market. But here’s the difficult truth: no leader chooses to become unleashed, but they do choose to stay leashed.

Leader, if you choose to stay leashed, your decision will affect your whole team and ripple out to the entire organization. Leashed leaders produce leashed organizations. When you stop pushing yourself to become better, you give everyone you lead permission to follow suit.

Option 2: Unleash your Leadership

Recognize that choosing to be a good leader means you will routinely experience “the leash.” But here’s the good news: feeling the leash proves that your vision is bigger than you. The leash indicates that your vision is bigger than your current abilities and/or responsibilities. Before you can upgrade your abilities or responsibilities, you must decide that your vision is so important that you must do the work to become unleashed.

2. Discern what got you leashed

Leaders make a common mistake. They try to solve the problems that are right in front of them. Those problems –called Presenting Problems – are not the real issues. Stop trying to solve the Presenting Problems. Instead, start by asking yourself this question:

What are the Presenting Problems that are currently causing me pain?

Those problems could be:

  • Increased customer cancellations
  • High employee disengagement
  • Failing to meet deadlines
  • Low employee retention
  • Diminished profitability
  • Low productivity
  • Lagging sales

These problems help you discern what got you leashed. Next, it’s time to go one step beyond your awareness of the Presenting Problems.

Ask yourself a second question to understand the Root Cause of those Presenting Problems:

What type of leadership issue(s) is this?

Every problem in your business starts as a leadership problem. YOU are the problem. If you are like most leaders we work with, this statement may have shocked you. You will discover tremendous freedom when you acknowledge that every problem in your business starts with your leadership. Here is why it’s so freeing: if anyone or anything else is the problem, you might not have the ability to execute a solution. But if you are the problem you have 100% ability to change. The faster you acknowledge that you are the problem, the quicker you can become unleashed.

In our nearly 50 combined years of leadership development, we’ve found seven issues that leash leaders at least 95% of the time:

  1. Character – you’re choosing not to take responsibility or handle the hard things in your business.
  2. Competence – you haven’t developed new skills necessary to lead your team to your next goal.
  3. Capacity – you don’t have the time to devote to growing and leading your team effectively.
  4. Clarity – you’re not clear on where the team is going, how it’s getting there, why it’s important, and each person’s role.
  5. Community – you haven’t built an environment of safety, trust, collaboration, and growth.
  6. Culture – you haven’t turned the core values into behaviors, habits, attitudes, and processes.
  7. Consistency – you are inconsistent with your vision, words, attitudes, and expectations.

By discerning what got you leashed and identifying the specific leadership issue(s) at play, you can take targeted actions to address and overcome these challenges.

3. Determine how to get unleashed

Once you have identified the root cause of your leashing, it’s time to determine how to get unleashed. Now that you know the type(s) of leadership issues you’re dealing with, it becomes easier to determine how to get unleashed.

If you’re dealing with a Capacity issue, you need to upgrade your Capacity. If you have a Culture, issue, you can improve your Culture.

Here are some previous articles we’ve written that can help you develop each of the 7 traits:

  1. Character
  2. Competence
  3. Capacity
  4. Clarity
  5. Community
  6. Culture
  7. Consistency

By focusing on growth within the trait that has you leashed, you can expand your leadership capabilities and drive positive change within your organization.

If your organization needs help upgrading leaders at multiple levels, we’d love to talk with you. At AdVance Leadership, we help your company develop the leaders you need to succeed. We offer multiple pathways to help your current and future leaders develop the seven traits that unleash your leadership. If you want to talk more about how we can help your company develop its leaders, email garland@advanceleadership.live.

4. Do the work to get unleashed

Deciding and discerning are important initial steps, but they are meaningless without action. To truly unleash your leadership, you must do the work. You are the only person who can unleash your leadership. Not your boss; not your company; not your team.

Doing this work isn’t easy. But it’s better than staying leashed and causing everyone you lead to stay leashed, too.

Becoming an unleashed leader is an ongoing process. The 7 issues mentioned above will continually create challenges in  your leadership. Each time you upgrade your leadership, you become more unleashed and your impact on others grows.

1 Action

Get unleashed! Discern what’s leashing your leadership and determine how you’re going to get unleashed.


Want to help your company unleash its leaders?

  1. Get your team to subscribe to the Friday411 newsletter.
  2. Get your copy of Gettin' (un)Busy, named by Forbes as “one of the books everyone on your team should read.”
  3. Email Garland to train your company’s leaders. We will equip them with 7 traits that solve 95% of their leadership challenges.
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