251: Lanterns For Leaders

14 Minutes Read

How do you know when you're making progress in your growth as a leader?

Despite leadership being a “softer” skill set than, say, engineering or data science, there are still measurable signposts you can use to see how far you’ve come and where you may still have room for development.

In this episode you will discover:

  1. What overworking means about your leadership and how to fix it, both for your own well-being and the health of your team

  2. How to know if your vision is strong enough to motivate people, and how to make yours more clear and compelling

  3. The role of feedback—both giving and receiving it—in your development as a leader and how to get better at both

  4. Your personal source of confidence and how to tap into it when you’re feeling shaky about a decision or task on your plate


In this episode we also talk about the business building program, Grow Smooth. You can learn more about it and get started here.

If you haven't already joined the Superabound Collective, what are you waiting for? It is a community of soulful business owners where you can get support with the challenges of leadership. And it's free for a limited time.

Learn more and join the Collective here.


Episode Transcript

Steve Haase  0:01  
Welcome to the Superabound podcast with master coaches Erin Aquin and Steve Haase, where business owners like you learn tools that help you clarify vision, clear up static and overcome challenges, you are listening to episode number 251: Lanterns For Leaders.

Erin Aquin  0:19  
Okay, so we just lit a really big lantern, getting our manuscript ready for third party eyes, for the publishers that we're talking to for potential editor. And at the same time, you know, I love to be doing many things at once, both in business and personal life, I put together this little reel on Instagram of all the things we did while we were finishing the manuscript. Not as like to brag, but just to say, you can still live your life while you're doing important and big things in your business, you don't have to become totally focused, you don't have to go live in a cottage for three months while you finish something important. As wonderful as I'm sure that would be. That's not how our life looks. So rather than saying, I can never write this next book, we're too busy. We really just found a way to make it work. So first, I just want to say congratulations, Steve, on finishing the manuscript of your first book,

Steve Haase  1:31  
thank you so much wouldn't have happened without you, it's been a heck of a process and a real delight, getting it into words with you.

Erin Aquin  1:39  
Yeah. And immediately upon doing that, when I looked at our calendar, against our values, not against, but in comparison to one of our values, which is that self investing is non negotiable. I just realized that we are prepping for a big event. We have a coach certification that we are teaching coming up in the fall. And it really made no sense to me to try to put together yet another live event, even though I know that sales retreat is going to be totally amazing. I decided that we should move it to October,

Steve Haase  2:20  
which is a brilliant decision. Because what that means is we can focus on this podcast, we can have a nice spacious vacation coming up. And it will give us time to really hone in on that coach certification, as well as the sales retreat on the heels of that. So we're looking forward to sharing it with you later on. And until then, we have this podcast where we will be sharing insights on leadership, particularly as it relates to growing revenue, but really growing all aspects of your business and your team. So we look forward to sharing that with you and invite you to stay connected with us in the Superabound collective, where we actually, from time to time will record a podcast live with input from members of the collective on things that are important to you. So if you want to be part of the podcast creation process, and actually have one created for you and for the thing that you are working on right now, join us at the Superabound collective at besuperabound.com/collective.

Erin Aquin  3:29  
Yeah, we do all sorts of fun stuff in there as well, including some Monday meetings, say if you're an entrepreneur, you don't have a big team, you need other people to bounce ideas off of or talk about challenges that are happening, we do those from time to time, we have superabound fire and fire tender working sessions, where we all bring a piece of important work and do it together. And that community is free. That community is something that we where we can get to know each other. And we have plenty of our clients in there as well. But it's just a chance to connect business owner to business owner, leader to leader and sometimes we'll offer coaching but for the most part, it really is helping each other with the nuts and bolts of business, because everyone

Steve Haase  4:17  
can use some wind in their sails some oxygen for their flame. And that's what you'll find in the Superabound collective.

Erin Aquin  4:26  
Okay, let's move on to what we're going to talk about on today's podcast.

Steve Haase  4:31  
So today is all about lanterns for leaders. And apart from being a cool alliteration. What it means is the touchstones for you as a leader that show that you are making progress up the mountain of being a successful leader being an admired leader building a great company building a great team. That's what we're talking about today is how do you know that you're making progress up that mountain of your vision of the company that you're building the culture that you're building? How do you know you're getting there? And what might you want to do? If you want to speed up that progress?

Erin Aquin  5:10  
You know, I think this does look different for every single person. So we're going to be offering some kind of general ideas, some of which will resonate with you, some of which won't maybe apply. But I think that the first and really important thing to start with is that there really is no playbook. I know, there's a million books on leadership. I know there's a million trainings and courses and various things that that, really, the authors and creators have those things that they've got it all figured out. And maybe they do for some people. But I have met more leaders, more CEOs, I've worked with more people who feel like, they're really just making this up as they go along. And I'm talking high level executives at huge companies, because so much I think of what it takes to be a leader can't be really captured theoretically, in a book. And we know this, because we just wrote a book about business. And there we touch upon some aspects of, of inner leadership. But this is really something that I don't think you can understand for yourself. If it doesn't happen in relationship, to mentors, to coaches, to other people on your leadership team. I think it is something that we can't just figure out from a book, sitting alone in a room. It's something we have to do with other humans.

Steve Haase  6:46  
It's a powerful point because it shows that you can't find out how far you've come unless you are actually working with others unless you are leading a team and are getting that kind of feedback on a regular basis from those around you that you really trust. One of the stories that I heard from the last inbound conference with HubSpot was of the the feedback process between the co founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, where every year, they would each create for each other about a 20 page document of insights, feedback, areas to work on areas to grow. And that was the most valuable part of their year was hearing from their co founder, what are the next steps for them on their leadership journey? So that connection with another person who you trust deeply, and who has a lot of skin in the game is a fundamental part of seeing what is that next lantern for you to light?

Erin Aquin  7:50  
Yeah, because we're humans with with blind spots. And no matter how much you meditate, no matter how aware you are, no matter how much inner work you may have done, it's actually impossible to see the places where you may be holding what we as coaches sometimes call limiting beliefs, where you may have decided to put one area of your your business in a box, like you know how many times you people say, well, marketing is just dumb, marketing sucks. Marketing is the worst. And then they wonder why their marketing isn't working for them. It might not be that this made up thing is inherently a problem. It might be that you just haven't figured out a more aligned way for your company to do that. That feels good to you, that feels exciting to you, that feels like it's helping your business rather than taking up too much time.

Steve Haase  8:55  
So when we talk about lanterns, I have a great big one here that you can't see if you're listening. But it's big. It's beautiful. And it is a representation of a goal that means something personally to you. We use that to distinguish from the word goal, which can often be laden with other people's expectations with society's mandates for what you should do. And what is important to work on. A lantern is something that you determined is important to work on. And so that's the subtle shift that we're using when we talk about the lanterns that you want to light. Now some of those lanterns are ideas that I've seen that we've seen, great leaders bring to light in their life. And we want to share some of those with you today in hopes that they resonate with you and give you a sense of some possibilities for where you can go on your leadership journey. And the first one that I want to share is that You have a clear, consistent and inspiring vision for your company and for what you want to create. And the reason that this is a lantern, because in the way that we talked about it within the Superabound Coaching framework, the vision is kind of the top of the mountain, but the vision is where it is that you want to go. So why would it be a lantern to have a vision? The reason is because many leaders don't. They operate from day to day, they operate, according to what is happening in the marketplace, they follow their competitors to do the next thing that seems to be trending. And in doing all of those things, they end up in a race to nowhere, really, I was gonna say to the bottom, but like, it just goes nowhere, because it's not being fueled by your by that leaders vision. So having a clear, consistent, and inspiring vision is a lantern that you as a leader will then know that you're on the right track. And this is not limited to if you own the whole company. This could be if you run a team of five or three. Where is that team headed? And why does it matter? And is that consistent over time? Obviously projects will change priorities will change. But does that team's purpose? transcend those projects and priorities? If you can answer yes to that, then you have successfully lit one of the most important lanterns for being an effective leader.

Erin Aquin  11:37  
I could not agree more with that. It's also so incredible to have that vision as soon as possible on your leadership journey, because so much of the time, it will tell you very clearly which path is the right one to take. You don't have a vision, you could just be flapping in the wind. You know, if you don't know what your team is there to do, and that's not something really big in your mind. It's actually very hard to make decisions and choices about how you're going to get there. It's hard to know. I mean, even even from from the perspective of hiring someone, how do you know that this person is going to be a right fit for your team? Maybe they seem fun. Maybe they seem pretty qualified to do some of the work that you have them doing. But if you can't articulate the vision of this team, and you can't see the excitement on that person's face, and you can't hear how interested and how amazing it feels to them to be on this particular ride. It's easy to like have wrong fits on your team.

Steve Haase  12:56  
So that vision will provide the overarching context for your team to thrive. Business is an infinite game. It just goes and goes and goes. So unless you are clear on how do we know which way we're going, it is possible to spend a lot of time doing the wrong things. And so vision is how you point people in the right direction.

Erin Aquin  13:21  
Another lantern, I think that is important for a lot of leaders that maybe doesn't seem to have so much direct relationship to the work that gets done is like weekends off, not working evenings. This particular lantern, I think when you're an if you're an entrepreneur, if you are the starting mark of your company, it's easy to let your business your work, be part of every single second of every single day. But as you evolve into a leadership role, the idea is now you have a team of people to support and bring your vision to life and you don't have to be the one in there doing everything. We have talked about this on the podcast before. So if this sounds familiar, we've talked about it. But as a leader, you also have to be the example to your people have that I hate I hate the term work life balance. So I will use like a work life harmony. One where your personal life has meaning feels fulfilling and your work life is part of that. Where you feel your vision being realized through your work, but that at the end of the day, you can go home, close your computer and be with the people you love. Or be alone if that's what you love.

Steve Haase  14:50  
It's a powerful thing and it also feeds into your process for growing your business. Being able to light the lantern of saying I am not overwhelmed game is going to help you build the kind of team that you want. Because one big reason for overworking is that you think you're the only one that can do things. So if you find yourself on that thought, well, I guess I'm the only one that can do this. Chances are, there's another lantern for you to light on your leadership journey. And that is to have a team where the roles and accountabilities are clear. And they are filled by as many people who are not you as possible. Like Erin said, if it's a start up, and you're, you know, at your first one or two people, there's not going to be a lot there. But the more clear you are on the roles that are being played at your company, and what it means to play each of those roles, well, the quicker you'll be able to put the right people into those roles. And if you have people in those roles, making sure that they know what's expected of them. And what it looks like to win will make it so that you aren't micromanaging them, are you doing their work, any of those those other signs that show there is another lantern for you to light, namely empowering your people so that the work that needs to be done is not all on your shoulders?

Erin Aquin  16:19  
You know, I really want to stress that in order to even get on the path to lighting this lantern, having job descriptions? Do you like KPIs or just ways to know that someone is succeeding at this role, having that written on paper, somewhere where everyone on your team can see it for every single person, including you is how you can get started with that. And once

Steve Haase  16:49  
that's in place, that lantern is live, it doesn't mean it won't evolve, or improve or change as you grow. But I think a lot of people push those things off, saying, well, we'll do it when we're bigger, we'll do it when we raise our first round, we'll do it. And there's always a reason to kick it down the line because like, well, things are fine now. But that fine, is actually preventing you from reaching the next level, in your business and evolving as a leader. So part of the focus for this whole episode is shifting your mindset from Chief Doer to Chief builder. And the doer will always kick the building down the road, they're like, yes, it's a lot of work to do all those roles and responsibilities, I'll save it for another time. Live that up for future me. And the punch line is future you will never do it. As long as your mindset is one of I'm the doer, you need to put on the mindset of builder of leader in order to ever be the person who's going to do that particular task. And so another lantern that you could see yourself lighting is more of an internal one. But it is a profound one, namely, identifying as a leader, identifying as an executive as someone who gets their priorities achieved by empowering other people.

Erin Aquin  18:23  
And this is not one that you can often do alone. You know, talking to yourself as the CEO is one thing. But for me, I needed a coach for this and I am a coach. So I do have these tools around. But I needed to have someone I could unpack my concerns with my insecurities with as your team grows. And as you lead more people, it sort of I think for a lot of people, not every company some companies have a different like level of transparency that really works for them. But I think sometimes when you are leading the hike up the mountain, sharing every vulnerable thought, every worry, every fear, every concern with the people who are following you, is not always the most helpful and productive use of your time, energy and the resource of your people. So that is why I mean that's why we coach so many leaders is because you do need a place that is a safe container for you to unpack all the beautiful parts of your humanity and to sort out issues with someone who is there to support you. But isn't your direct report isn't someone who is going to just say yes to you, because they are afraid for their job. They you need someone that's going to actually help you sort out what is best not only for you As a human, but for you, as the leader with responsibilities of your own to take care of,

Steve Haase  20:06  
absolutely. Along those lines, one thing that leaders often struggle with is feeling confident. And they think that they need to look a certain way, or be able to process data as fast as you know, someone else that they've worked with, or whatever reason. They're feeling on unconfident, powerful lantern to light as a leader is knowing your voice. And what I mean by that is, being confident in who you are, why you care, what you bring to the table, what is expected of you, what could possibly be achieved by you and your team, basically, what is your foundation for leadership, and having a sense of that will give you that confidence that you seek, if you find that lacking, but it won't do it in the way that you might be thinking, and a lot of people think, well, in order to be confident, I need to sound like Brene Brown or Simon Sinek, you're not gonna sound like them, because you're not them. And you don't have a team of 20 people writing your speeches or doing your research, not that that's what they do. But you know, you are you and you have the resources you have, and you have the vision that you have. And feeling confident in that without comparing it to whatever vision of a leader is in your mind, is going to be how you know your voice, and how you find your foundation for confidence in leading your team. The next lantern, that is absolutely crucial actually kind of ties us back to the beginning. And that is giving and receiving feedback. When you when you're leading people, you need to be able to hear when things aren't working. And you need to be able to deliver the news when things aren't working. And so, so many people lose so many hours, weeks, months, even years, not having hard conversations not being open to when people are delivering hard truths. So your ability to give and receive feedback, even if it's things that you don't want to hear or don't want to have to deliver our what will make you a more powerful and impactful leader.

Erin Aquin  22:30  
Yeah. And that lantern might look like scheduling, one on one meetings with your team once a month, if you've never done that before, having some kind of a quarterly review process. If you've never done that before, or, you know, making sure that you're delivering one. You know, I know plenty people that have those kinds of meetings, and they're like, everything's great, everything's wonderful, and they don't share the things that could possibly help that particular person on their team thrive. It could be, I'm going to deliver one piece of feedback that helps this person up level as best I can. And it goes back to what you said about Steve knowing your voice. Because if you say okay, I'm gonna deliver feedback, and I'm going to be super harsh, even though my voice is usually carefree and lighthearted and really supportive. And then I'm going to have these meetings where I'm going to be a hard ass. That's going to create conflict, which is why I think people have avoided in the first place. So everything that we've talked about all of these different lanterns, including knowing your voice, including having a very clear vision for yourself as a leader for your team. It's all important because how you think about those big picture things, affects the day to day decisions and ways you handle things that come up on your team. So if this sounds like tools that you could definitely use and lanterns, you definitely want to light. Stay tuned. If something in the works for you. That's happening this fall, been asked about many times, but never offered.

Steve Haase  24:16  
Basically, we're going to help you like some of these lanterns and do so for other people in your team. And we would love to help you along the way before we offer this officially. And we're going to be doing some of that inside the Superabound collective. So if you're not a member there yet, why wait, it is free. Join us at besuperabound.com/collective. Basically, it's going to be the best place to go. If you're a leader who wants to have a big impact in the world. If you want to grow your business in a soulful, aligned, inspired way. That's the place to be.

Erin Aquin  24:55  
Thanks, everybody. Take care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai