Mere Leadership: Pacesetters and Teachers

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Mere Leadership: Pacesetters and Teachers

Today’s podcast is Part II of a special series on leadership. I’m doing this special series because I believe that there are a host of people who have been asked to be leaders in organizations, but they don’t feel equipped to lead. So I’ll be sharing some material informed by my leadership of a little less than 100 people here at McKenzie Banking Company / Foundation Bank.  In last week’s introductory session, I shared that I would be presenting 4 titles or descriptions of who leaders are and 4 actions that leaders do. Leaders may do much more than these things, may be much more than these things – but they certainly aren’t less. In today’s episode, we’ll be diving deeper into who leaders are by sharing 2 of the 4 titles or descriptions of leaders and exploring the implications of those descriptions together.

First of all leaders are pacesetters who set the tone for those that they lead. I was introduced to the concept of a pacesetter when I ran the Chicago Marathon. In a sea of 30,000 people running a 26-mile race, how could I make sure that I was going to finish the race in the time that I wanted? I ran this race before the days of iPhones and GPS watches, so those weren’t an option. Instead, there were runners positioned throughout the field that held up signs with times on them in 15-minute increments. If I wanted to run the marathon in 4 hours, I would find the pacesetter with the 4-hour sign and stay with them the entire race. If I wanted to finish in 3 hours and 45 minutes, I’d find the person with that sign. These people set the pace for everyone that was willing to run with them, and if you stayed with them you knew you would get across the finish line. Leaders are like these pacesetters. All leaders are setting a pace of some kind. Some are setting a pace that is negative, modeling poor initiative and poor work habits for the people they lead. Even if they don’t mean to, this impacts those people by encouraging them to have to exhibit the same negative behavior. But if a leader is modeling diligence, honesty, hard-work, compassion, and excellence in their work every day, then this will also be contagious in a positive way and will encourage those they lead to match their pace. One of the most powerful ways to lead is to set a worthy example. Even more than what you say, people are watching what you do. Even if you are not yet a leader, one of the most powerful things you can do to impact your workplace is set a positive pace that people notice. Other leaders will often see that example and will give you opportunity to influence others with your pace. Are you setting a pace that is worth emulating as a leader? Remember, a pace is always being set – the question is, what kind of pace? Don’t underestimate the power of pacesetting as a leader.

The second title or description of who leaders are is that leaders are teachers who multiply themselves through the people they lead. Leaders must recognize that there is only so much they can do in a given day. Many leaders struggle with overestimating their own abilities, and as a result they take on too much, which leads to enormous stress and often anxiety. The reality is that one person, no matter how gifted, is limited in how much they can “produce.” But if a leader recognizes the limits of their productive capacity and shares their knowledge by equipping others, then that leader has leveraged themselves through the work of others. This is the process of addition. 1+1 = 2. Each person that is trained to help with the work adds to your effectiveness as a leader. But even more powerfully, if a leader equips others to share their knowledge, then there is an exponential effect on that leader’s effectiveness. This leads to 2x2x2 exponential effect. Teaching knowledge to others is good, but teaching others to teach others is great. Insecure leaders are afraid to share knowledge. They are afraid that in sharing their knowledge it makes them replaceable. But a leader who knows how to share knowledge actually makes themselves irreplaceable, because the more that leader learns the more people they can share that knowledge with and the more work and productivity results. Having a secure leader teaching new and better ways of doing things is a priceless asset for any organization. Well, if one of the biggest obstacles to teaching others is a lack of willingness to share, a close second is the limitation of time. Do you consider yourself to busy to train as a leader? If so, you are limiting your own potential. I know there seems to never be a convenient time to train. But making the time to train can actually create more time for you in the long run. It is an investment. Consider setting training appointments on your calendar to make sure that you are investing a portion of your day in equipping others. You are a steward of the people you lead. You are a steward of their talents, desires and abilities. Teaching them sharpens these skills and allows them to reach new levels of contribution to the organization, which allows you to accomplish more through them as their leader. Are you clutching knowledge, or are you sharing it? Are you seemingly too busy to train others on what you know with others who can help carry your load? Your own future effectiveness is dependent on how you well you can equip those that you lead.

We will cover more on what leaders are and what leaders do in our next episode. We’re trying to implement these principles at MBC/Foundation Bank, but we haven’t figured it all out. We’re leaning from our mistakes and we’re learning how to get better as every week goes on. If you want to be part of an organization that sees leadership as stewardship, that is seeking to promote a culture of collaborative leadership, we invite you to reach out or explore our website. If you’re a small business leader and are looking for a new partner to better understand the needs of your small business, we’d love to hear from you. We hope you’ve found this podcast helpful, and if so we hope you will subscribe on your favorite podcasting app or share it with your friends and family. Until next time… God bless.

-President Chad P. Wilson, CFP

Today’s episode of “Money Matters” was written and recorded by President Chad P. Wilson of McKenzie Banking Company / Foundation Bank on March 29, 2022. This episode does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a financial professional to discuss your specific needs. MBC/Foundation Bank is an Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC.