Do You Have Gaps?

The only honest answer to that question is yes. If you’re a leader who believes they don’t have any gaps in their skills or abilities then you are likely a leader who has been blinded by their success.

Even the most successful, authentic, and committed leaders have skill gaps. They have gaps not because they are poor leaders but because they are human. All humans have gaps of one type or another, I’m guessing it’s just part of being alive.

Authentic Servant Leaders deal with their gaps in one of two ways, they either grow themselves to fill their own gaps or they hire people who can fill the gaps for them. Most likely, they do some of both. They realize that they can’t excel at everything and they also realize that not everything that needs to be done needs to be done by them.

Step one for filling your gaps is acknowledging that you have some. 

This is going to require honesty and the courage to admit to some shortcomings. You will never fill a gap that you can’t admit to having so admit where you’re weak and deal with it. If you’ve decided to fill your own gap then take a class, read a book, talk with your mentor or someone who doesn’t have that particular gap. Whatever you do, do it now! Procrastination is the worst possible way to deal with any gap.

If you’re going to hire someone to fill your gap then once they are hired you need to allow them to actually fill it. Let them do their job. Micro-managing something that you couldn’t manage to begin with is totally unproductive and will quickly destroy the morale of the “gap-filler” you just hired. If you’ve summoned up the courage to acknowledge your gap and you’ve hired a qualified individual to fill it then dig a bit deeper for even more courage to let them do their job. 

Mentor if you must, (and yes, you must) but don’t mettle in details that you don’t truly understand. Remember why you hired the person in the first place!

The acknowledgement of gaps and the process of filling them is a constant of leadership. As a leader you can never stop growing, you can never stop learning and you absolutely can’t afford to think for even a moment that you’ve learned all you need to know. 

Great leaders never get where they are going because once they get someplace they know that they aren’t there anymore. Great leaders know that few things of consequence stay the same for even a second, almost everything is always changing. That’s why true leadership isn’t a destination, its a journey. (Just an aside here, principles and core values DO NOT change, regardless of the circumstances a leader may find themselves in) 

The very second you start to think you’re “good enough” you’re not good enough anymore. So don’t think in terms of good, focus on better, always better, and as your abilities and knowledge grow your gaps will shrink. 

Now, do you have gaps?

People Don’t Follow Positions

People follow people. They don’t follow positions and they certainly don’t follow titles. If you believe that your position or title makes you a leader then you’re making one of the most common leadership mistakes you can make.

Your title or position does not give you the right to lead. You can be promoted to a position of leadership but you can’t be promoted to “leader.” You must earn the right to lead and that right can only be given by those who would follow you.

Your title or position may buy you some additional time to earn that right but that’s about all it does. To earn the right to lead you must walk your talk and that is easier said than done. As someone in a leadership position you will be watched. 

People will watch to see if what you say matches what you do. If it doesn’t then your leadership is pretty much dead on arrival. You may be given the occasional pass for a minor lapse here and there but overall if you hope to truly lead then your words and actions must match.

When your words and actions match your potential followers will see you as an honest person who is credible. When people see you as credible they will allow you the opportunity to lead them. It’s only when people actually follow you that you are truly a leader. 

That’s why it is a good idea to turn around once in a while to see if anyone is behind you. If no one is there then you may be going for a walk but you aren’t really leading anyone.

Clearly there is more to leading than just walking your talk but matching your words and actions is a critical first step in earning the right to lead. Skip it and you miss the opportunity to make your leadership matter.

If you’re in a leadership position and no one is following don’t think for a minute that your position has failed you. In order to grow into a true leader you must understand that you have failed the position and the people who needed you to lead. 

Learn from that and you’ll be learning to lead.