There’s a reason why I make such a strong connection between the leadership imperatives of managing yourself and leveraging your team. As I’ve written here and in the new edition of The Next Level, effective self-management is a pre-requisite to leveraging your team in effective ways. The story of Donna, a senior manager who was a participant in one of our leadership development programs, illustrates how getting grounded in your self-management can have positive impacts on your team’s performance.
In competing and following through on her Life GPS® personal planning tool, Donna recognized that one of the qualities that describes her when she’s living and leading at her best is that she’s grounded. To reinforce that quality in herself, she decided to adopt the daily routine of standing in her back yard with her bare feet in the grass for five to ten minutes every morning.
I thought that was a very cool and literal way of using a simple physical routine to reinforce an aspect of best case performance. I’ve since learned, as this article summarizes, that there are numerous physiological and psychological benefits including increased sense of well-being and reduction in stress hormones from connecting your bare feet with the earth.
When Donna brought up her feet in the grass routine during one of our program group conversations I asked her what she was noticing from doing that. She started by telling us how much better she felt physically and mentally but that wasn’t really the biggest surprise for her. When we asked what was she said, “The impact it’s had on my team.”
That was something that none of us expected to hear. How could standing with her feet in the grass every morning have a positive impact on Donna’s team? She explained that the impact of the routine had changed the way she leads. Before starting her grounding routine, Donna was sort of all over the place as a manager and leader and exhibited a lot of anxiety about what was or wasn’t getting done and how the team was acting on priorities. In short, she was a micromanager.
The grounding routine helped her see what she had been doing and then make some intentional choices to back off of that style. When I asked her what the impact of doing that had been she said, “It’s amazing actually. My team is doing stuff that I never thought they could do and, not only that, they’re doing great work. Better than I could have done myself in many cases.” Then I asked her what she was doing with the time and bandwidth she had freed up by not managing her team so closely. She replied that she was doing what she should have been doing all along – looking around corners and engaging with her colleagues to identify and address bigger picture problems and opportunities.
All of that from spending ten minutes a day with her bare feet in the grass. If you want to fully leverage your team and engage your colleagues, you have to start with managing yourself. Donna found a simple and easy routine that made a big difference in showing up as the kind of grounded person and leader she is when she’s at her best.
What easy-to-do routine could make a difference for you, your team and your colleagues?
If you liked what you read here, subscribe here to get my latest ideas on how to lead and live at your best.