You’ve probably had a “Lid” Leader in your career. We’ve all been in situations where we feel like our leader wasn’t as qualified, knowledgeable or skilled as we were. We probably felt this way because we thought we were more skilled, versed or felt like we could be a better leader than they were. However, when we finally have the opportunity to lead, we can adopt the same unhealthy mindset as the leaders we’ve followed without realizing it.
If, as a leader, you find yourself leading team members much more qualified or skilled than you are, then you have basically two leadership options
You could be a “Lid” Leader.
A Lid Leader has a fixed mindset and doesn’t invest much energy or focus in growing in their own skill set. This makes them stagnant leaders that rely purely on past experiences to help them lead their team into uncharted territories. This causes a gap between lid leaders and their team members that are growing and learning and preparing for future challenges. This also means they can’t afford to see their team members grow or flourish beyond the leaders own skill level–essentially putting a lid on their teams capabilities. They are insecure in their leadership even though they might have a title and a team. They try to suppress high potential team member’s skills so they can shine or claim credit for themselves. This obviously creates a lot of tension within the group and detracts high potential team members from stepping up or staying on the team. Besides, all of the insecurities and under developed skills the lid leader tries to hide only becomes more apparent to their team members.
Or, You could be an “Umbrella” Leader.
This leader encourages their team of high performers to grow and flourish. So, instead of putting a lid on the team, they are an umbrella.
Unlike a lid that represents a fixed space, an umbrella represents freedom and room to grow while still providing cover.
That means, the leader has capacity to accommodate the growth and flourishing of the team without it being seen as a threat to their role. These leaders see opportunities to learn from their team members. They are also comfortable with not knowing the most information on the team. They are happy to delegate and complement in pursuit of a better outcome. These leaders are often in their own growth journey and working on becoming better leaders and contributors.
Umbrella Leaders showcase their team members instead of taking the spotlight in high profile situations. They focus on ensuring their team members have room to grow and develop to higher levels than themselves. This maximizes the potential of their team members to become future leaders.
3 Ways to Become an Umbrella Leader
Are you a Lid or Umbrella Leader? All hope is not lost if you find yourself closer to a Lid Leader. Here are 3 things you can do to become an Umbrella Leader:
1.Invest in your leadership skills and put them to practice.
Identify your strengths and develop them. And if you severely lack in an area compared to the leaders you admire, find ways to complement or shore up in those areas.
2. Pay attention to the “personal narratives” you tell yourself.
Negative narratives can make you to want to keep a tight grip on your team. So pay attention to the narratives you are telling yourself especially in tense situations. Oftentimes, I find it helpful to journal and think through these narratives and face them head on so as to overcome them.
3. Get regular feedback from your team to assess your growth and journey.
Ask even junior team members to chime in and provide feedback on your leadership style and methods. This creates a culture where people learn to provide constructive input and receive feedback without feeling attacked or threatened.
Disclaimer: All thoughts and opinions are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer.
Author: Stanley John is an Analytics Client Consultant in the healthcare space. His expertise in business analytics, data science, and consulting has supported over a hundred Providers & Clients in the industry.