Climbing the Ladder to Success Is No Trivial Task
“You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.”
This quote from Andrew Carnegie, one of the most famous entrepreneurs in history, serves as both a caution and a challenge to today’s leaders. On the surface, the quote seems to tell you only what you cannot do, and sets a simple hard limit. You that you can’t push people to success if they’re not willing to put forth the effort to climb the ladder to success by themselves. No matter how great you are as a leader, you can’t drag them up along with you by doing their work.
At the same time, the quote also alludes to your responsibilities as a leader. A team member will have to do the climbing himself, but as a leader it is also part of your job to show them the ladder, show them how to climb, and explain what’s at the top in an effort to get them excited about the climb. As a leader, providing the motivation is part of your job. Recognizing that, and being able to do it, is a crucial part of leadership development.
So how can you help your people climb up the ladder?
Set The Example
Some people simply don’t know how to climb the proverbial ladder, and others may be afraid of heights. Ignorance and fear are great deterrents to success, but as a leader you can help others overcome them. You can climb the ladder yourself, for example. By doing so, you demonstrate the right way of doing things and you also show that it can be done safely. In business, this is one reason why many leaders go through the ranks before they reach higher positions – these leaders already know how to do what their team members are being asked to do because they used to do it!
When you convince your team members to start climbing up the ladder, you can provide words of encouragement and praise. You should never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. As a leader, your words have value and impact, whether you realize it or not.
Be The Lifeline
In mountain climbing, oftentimes climbers are roped together as a safety precaution. The rope prevents them from falling, or limits the distance that they can fall to a few feet. In business, a leader should also show the same kind of support. Your team members must know that you’re the lead line, and that you can keep them from falling off the mountain when they miss a foothold. The mental support that comes from knowing you have that support can actually prevent people from slipping in the first place! Think about walking on a sidewalk and walking on a tightrope. Nobody has a problem walking a straight line on a sidewalk, because we know we’re not plunging to our doom if we misstep. Walking a straight line on a tightrope is no different, except that we allow our emotions and fears to control how our body acts and reacts when we visualize the impact of a misstep. The same simple task – walk a straight line – but in two very different scenarios, and likely with very different results.
Spend some time getting to understand the personality styles of your team members, and understand what motivates them. Something as simple as a DiSC Personality Discovery Workshop can make all of the difference in the world when it comes to evaluating and understanding your team. Your leadership development can improve significantly when you know exactly when and what type of encouragement your team members need in order to climb the ladder. You’ll learn to ask the questions and through leadership exercises you’ll learn to provide the right answers. The essence of building your team isn’t about doing everything yourself, it’s about being able to help everyone in your team succeed in getting to the top.