Cultivating an exceptional team may mean letting them develop their own style and process for doing things – even when your own process is effective. Let’s find out more.
Kelly Slater is an incredible athlete. In fact, it’s hard to overstate his contribution to surfing and his level of individual achievement. He was the sport’s youngest world champion at the age of 20, and today, at nearly 50, he has a record of 46 World Tour victories. And he’s not stopping.
Surfing Champion Kelly Slater
But the thing about Kelly Slater is that he has a unique style. In fact, old footage was unearthed of him surfing near his Florida childhood home as a teenager. A viewer said about this footage:
His posture, flow, even the simple little waves of his arms through turns resemble the exact same 50-year-old man today. You can spot the guy from a mile away…or perhaps through squinted eyes staring at a 4×3 aspect ratio and the resolution of an Atari video game projected onto a movie screen. (The Inertia)
It’s his style that sets him apart. And always has.
But what about for you, as an expert and consultant. Can your unique style set you apart? And how can it drive exceptionality and help you create an exceptional team?
Your Unique Style Creates Exceptionality
The way you do something – whatever that thing is – sets you apart from your competition. And being unique is a vital part of being exceptional.
Rachel Zoe, says, ‘Style is about who you are without having to speak’. And the fashion world is a great example of why your style helps you to embrace exceptionalism. That’s because style, in the fashion world, transcends trends. It’s not about wearing this season’s bootcut jeans or RM Williams boots. It’s about how you walk into a room, the way you speak, the colour palette you’re drawn to. And this is all informed by where you come from, your values, your beliefs, your comforts, what you love, where you live and even what you do. Style is when you let your truest self be seen.
Rachel Zoe, Style Icon
Style helps you embrace exceptionality in your life and in your practice in the same way. It’s the manner in which you showcase your values, your beliefs, your skills, your leadership and communication techniques and your capabilities. And when you’re authentic and allow yourself to be seen in your practice, you embrace your uniqueness – the things that make you unequivocally you. And then you create space to elevate your exceptionality in your day-to-day activities.
Adapting for Those You Lead
As you grow your practice, you’ll get a bigger and bigger team. And it’s part of your job to help them cultivate exceptionality as well. In fact, research shows that organisations that have compassionate and inclusive leaders, who are able to adapt their leadership styles as needed, have better outcomes for staff. For an expert, consultant or thought leader it is much the same for building an exceptional team.
When it comes to building an exceptional team, however, it’s easy to look at the way you do things within your practice that work very well for you and assume that they’re going to work just as well for your team. But that’s not always the case.
Framework + Unique Style = Exceptionality
When I coach people on how to write their books, for example, I take them step-by-step through the process that I use to write my books. I give them the framework, show them exactly what to do in each stage of the process, and work with them to get that process going. But the system that I show is actually designed to help them to find their own style of writing a book. They may (and often do) hit blocks. And they need to have the freedom to find a way around that block. If we can find their version of unpacking, they’ll be able to write a much better book. And they’ll enjoy the process and be far more in flow in the long term.
I’ve given them the framework. But it’s about finding their unique style that creates their ability to drive towards exceptionality.
As a leader, it pays to recognise that there’s more than one style that can drive exceptionality. Even when you have a unique skill, or a unique way of doing something, that has proven effective and gets results, there will be other ways that work just as well. When you allow your team the flexibility to explore those you create space for exceptionality. And this is in your team members and your team overall.
When you’re looking to get insight into your own mindset ask yourself:
- When have you tried to do something the ‘normal’ way, or how you were taught, only to find that it didn’t work the way that you think it should?
- What have you excelled at that you’ve taught others?
- How did this or could this help build an exceptional team?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…