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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #71: Is Your Team Better Because Of You?

January 16, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #71: Is Your Team Better Because Of You?

People are influenced by what you do for the organization. In Episode #71, Chris and Perry look at 7 ways you can increase your influence by making your team better. Whether you have a title or not, you influence will increase if you incorporate these seven habits into your daily routine.

To cultivate leadership development on your team, consider bringing a 5 Levels of Leadership Workshop to your organization this year.

Download our Learning Guide for this podcast!

Read Transcript Below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach, and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining. As a reminder, if you would like to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership or perhaps bring one of us in for a 5 Levels private workshop for your organization, we would love to do that! Please leave a comment or question for Perry and me on the John Maxwell site. We would love to hear from you. Also, we now offer Learning Guides for every podcast episode which can be found on our website.

Today’s topic is titled, “Is Your Team Better Because You are Present?” Perry’s going to give us 7 ways our team can become better because we’re present. We’ll dive into the 5 Levels of Leadership, particularly that Level 3 mindset. How do we become more efficient in what we’re doing? Our inspiration for this episode came from John’s book, The 5 Levels of Leadership. There is a sentence in the book that really struck me: “Is your team better because of you?” This episode is for any leader, with or without a title, no matter where you are in the organization. I’m sure there are many more ways to make the team better than the seven, but I’ve been trying these.

So, look at your team and ask yourself: am I adding value to the team? Asking yourself if you make your team better is the beginning of increasing your influence, which is how we define leadership: influence. If you can incorporate these 7 habits, you will increase your influence with your team, no matter where you are in the organization.

So, let’s get started. Number one is to be an encourager of other people. Everyone needs to be encouraged. Instead of letting everybody just fend for themselves, you should take notice of others’ contributions and encourage them in their work. What I love about this approach is that this is for anyone in the organization. You could be part of a team. You could have influence as a leader. You could be a leader. This is always something you can incorporate. This reminds me of the saying, “Who needs encouragement? Well, if they’re breathing, they need encouragement.” Some of us act like we don’t need encouragement. I would challenge you to admit that you probably do need a little bit. Think about what it’s like when someone does encourage you. While it’s simple, we often don’t extend encouragement to others.

Number two is to develop strong relationships. Trust is built over time with people that you like and respect. Trust is the currency of influence in leadership. This is a Level 2 skillset. Just a quick reminder that the 5 Levels of Leadership is not a stairstep process. You never leave one step behind. You don’t build relationships at Level 2 and then never worry about those relationships again. It’s a continual process. You never leave a step behind. As a leader or someone on a team, you should have a mindset of thinking, “How do I add value in this relationship? How do I connect with this person? How do I learn something new about somebody in order to build a relationship?”

We talk a lot about three questions to ask yourself about another person. How are they wired? What are their learned behaviors? What are their values? We haven’t talked about this in a while, but the value cards exercise is a powerful tool to learn something new about one of your team members so that you can develop a stronger relationship. It’s very easy to get “heads down” in our jobs, distracted by all the things that are going on, and give up that natural tendency to get to know people a little better. I’m working on making an intentional effort to get to know people better.

Number three: be an effective listener. Listening deeply—not just listening, but actually really listening—is the number one way to make another human being feel valued. So, what are you listening for? I’m listening for their strengths, their struggles, their good, and their bad. What do they need help with? How can I add value to their life? Where do they need to be encouraged? Just listen for ways to add value to their lives.

In our quick-paced world, we get caught up in making decisions, running the business, leading a team, being a part of a team, and listening deeply is the last thing on our minds, right? But I think the greatest compliment that you could receive, as a team member or a leader, is if someone expresses to you, “Wow, when I’m talking to you, I feel like our conversation is the only thing going on in your world.” If you can get to that point, as a team member or a leader, to where you’re that engaged in every conversation, you’re going to increase your influence.

To Make Your Team Better Because of You, You Need Feedback on Your Leadership.

We’re excited to announce our new and improved Organizational Effectiveness Survey (OES). The OES gathers feedback from employees to give leaders and management the knowledge and action plans needed to develop a more effective and productive work environment. Our new version measures 4 areas of your business: Leadership, People, Strategy, and Performance. 

Number four: provide and seek feedback. If the people on your team do not know how they’re doing, they will not know how to grow and improve. Oftentimes, there is a gap between how people think they’re performing and what the leader thinks about their performance. Again, (we’re going to say this multiple times) it doesn’t matter if you’re on the team or the leader of the team. You should be seeking feedback. You should offer it, too. Say, “Hey, can I provide you this feedback?” You want to help pull the greatness out of others. I’ve had coaches in the past that have seen greatness in a skillset of mine on the football field that I had no earthly idea I had.

So, what you want to help pull that greatness out. The only way to do that is to love them too much to leave them where they are. You’ve got to be able to give that feedback, and do it in a proper way. I was with an organization yesterday, and we were talking about performance reviews. The CEO hates performance reviews. He just wants to throw them out the window. So, their organization has moved towards a more continuous feedback. He can’t get rid of feedback, because not only do you need to provide it for the team members, but they want to hear it. But he wanted it to be more continuous rather than a once-a-year review.

Mark Cole, our CEO, says all the time, “If they’re going to be surprised by that candid, tough conversation, that’s on you as a leader.” These seven habits are in no particular order, but if they were in order of importance, this would be number one for me. Most people long to know how they’re doing. Many leaders shy away from giving candid feedback because it feels like conflict. It’s hard, but you’ve got to get past that. You’ve got to say, “I’m not giving you feedback to cause conflict. I’m giving you feedback because I care about you and our team, and I care about taking us to the next level.”

Number five: raise the bar. It’s easy to think of our performance as “good enough.” Everything’s so fast-paced, and we’re getting by, the business is working. Good enough! Instead, I like to think about how I can set an expectation within myself, and with my teammates, to challenge the status quo and reach for new levels of performance. How do we raise the bar? The other day, in the office, I was having a conversation with a team member about how they can increase their influence. Even if you aren’t a leader, you still can raise the bar. We had a great conversation about two things. I told them the first thing they need to do is make sure they kill their KPIs. That’s your responsibility as a contributor to your team. You need to make sure you are best in class, whatever that looks like. Once that is happening, you have a process and you know you’re killing it, look for other ways to add value to the team.

Number six: abundance. John talks a lot about the “scarcity versus abundance” mindset. I think a lot of leaders and team players out there have this mindset. So, I want to challenge us to think with abundance. This is probably one of the biggest obstacles I see with making teams perform better. We think, “if I help you, it takes away from me.” And that’s absolutely not true, especially if you’re on a team together. When I was a salesman, we all had quotas. It was easy to get into a mindset of “I’m trying to beat you.” John Wooden’s definition of success taught me that, really, I’m not competing with anyone except me from yesterday. How can I be a better version of me? If that means helping you, then that’s great for me and for the team. The scarcity mindset tells us, “There’s only enough to go around for me.” No, there’s plenty, and I can help you. You can help me. We can all get across the finish line together.

Number seven: assist when possible. We don’t often think about helping others do their job. When we have our hands full, we’re worried about what we have to accomplish. I can’t help Perry do his work! What I want to encourage you to do is to think about how you can bring your talents to help someone else. How can you make efforts to help your team, whatever that might look like? So, continuously have a lens for looking for ways to assist.

John says there are three questions that everybody on the team is asking about you as a leader, and you should be able to answer these confidently. 1) Are you trying to help me improve? 2) Do you care about me? and 3) Can I trust you? If the answer to those three are yes, you’re in pretty good shape. You probably have an engaged environment where people are bought-in and striving for the best.

There are two things I want to comment on that we haven’t talked about before in regards to these three questions. How your team members answer these questions will determine the level of trust and influence you have with them. Team members are continually asking themselves these question about you. It’s not a once-a-year performance review. No, this is a constant process. You want to be that go-to person they can trust, and you won’t be unless they’re answering those three questions in the right way. The old adage is that people are watching you all the time, and they’re watching for care and trust.We’d like to close with a story about John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach. In the 70s, he had a star player named Sidney Wicks. Everybody on the team knew that he was the most talented person John had ever recruited, back in the day. They would’ve called him a 5-star. But when Sidney got to UCLA, he did things his way. He was very selfish. Not only did the team begin to feel it, but Coach Wooden felt it as well.

Being the coach that he was, Coach John sat Sidney on the bench. So, for Sydney’s first year, he sat on the bench a ton. His frustration built up, and eventually, he asked the question, “Hey, why can’t I play more? Why am I sitting on the bench? I’m the best player on the team.” Coach John wouldn’t hear it. He said, “Yes, Sidney, you are the best player on the team, but the team doesn’t play the best when you’re in the game.” It makes me think. How many of us are a part of a team or leading a team where that statement is true? If you can ask that question of yourself as a leader or team member, it can be truly humbling.

So, as we wrap up, make sure you’re thinking through these seven items. How do you begin to live out some of these seven? Maybe pick one this week, and pick another one next week, until it becomes your daily routine and until your team is better because of you.

I’d just like to remind you that if you want to know more about the 5 Levels of Leadership, you can go to visit website at and leave a question or comment for us there. We’d love to hear from you. And be sure to check out our Learning Guide, downloadable above! We’re always grateful that you join us on these broadcasts. This has been the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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