Craig Groeschel - Becoming the Centered Leader Your Team Craves
All right, let's dive in to new content for today's episode. Let me give you the background of why we're talking about this. If you've been with our leadership community for a while, you may remember we talked about how to inspire your team. Episode number 37. How do you inspire the people that you lead? We looked into something that Bain Research dug into. Bain Research listed 33 different qualities that are inspirational to the people that are on your team. There's one quality, though, that stands above all the others, and that is a centered leader. The most inspirational quality of any leader is a leader who is centered in their leadership.
In fact, we talked about that just briefly in that episode, but so many of you wrote in and said "How do I grow in my centeredness? What does it mean to be a centered leader", that we're gonna devote this whole episode to the centered leader. I'm calling it Becoming the Centered Leader Your Team Craves. How do we become that centered leader. Well, let's talk about what does it mean to be centered. A centered leader is difficult to describe but is impossible to miss. Think about it. I've never heard anybody say "Oh my gosh, we finally have a centered leader". But you know when you have one and you know when you don't have one. Nobody ever says "My last leader leaned to the left, but this one is dead on center". You know when it's there, you know when it's not.
What are some of the qualities of a centered leader? Let me give you some qualities of a centered leader. A centered leader is one who is guided by values. A centered leader is one who is driven by purpose. A centered leader is obsessed with mission. They're grounded, they're aware, they are secure, they are consistent. If you're serving under a centered leader, you're inspired by a quiet calm, by a sense of inward compass. You may catch their contagious confidence. You maybe inspired by a deep confident resolve. The problem is many leaders are a little bit uncentered, or maybe even a lot uncentered.
What do we know about uncentered leaders? Well, we know that uncentered leaders come in all different shapes and sizes. Some uncentered leaders, they're control freaks. Others, they're domineering. Some are risk-takers with no sense of reality. The truth is, no two uncentered leaders look alike. But the feeling you get under an uncentered leader never, ever changes. What do uncentered leaders always create? Uncentered leaders always create unsettled followers. If you've ever been under an uncentered leader, you want to buy in, but you don't feel like you can, because something is off-center. You don't feel fully safe because uncentered leaders always create unsettled followers.
Let's start with uncenteredness. If you're an uncentered leader, the bad news is you're not fooling anybody, everybody knows you're a little off-centered. In fact, you're very likely off-centered when you're one of these three things. Number one, you're off-centered when you're annoyingly insecure. If you've ever served under an insecure leader, they have a vibe. They kind of lead almost as if they're saying "Tell me I'm good. We're okay, right? You like me, I'm a good leader, right"? That insecure leader, they're needy, they tend to avoid conflict, they almost always lack direction.
Sometimes, the insecure leader doesn't just come off as quietly unsettled. Instead, their insecurity manifests itself as arrogance. Maybe you've been with somebody like this. Instead of being passive, some insecure leaders, they're more bullies, they tend to micromanage others, they're know-it-alls, they take all the credit or they give all the blame, they're insecure. What do we see every time there's an insecure leader. When the leader lacks confidence, the team lacks commitment. Take it to the bank, every single time. When the leader lacks confidence, the team lacks commitment. They want to buy in but they don't feel like they can because there isn't confidence at the top.
What does an unsecure leader produce? Every single time, an insecure leader produces insecure followers. What does an insecure leader produce? Every single time, the insecure leader produces insecure followers. How do you know you're off-centered? Number one, you're annoyingly insecure. Number two, you're off-centered when you are consistently unpredictable. You're consistently unpredictable. The people who follow you, they have no idea what to expect. The only thing they know for certain is that the direction will change very soon. The focus is gonna change, there's gonna be some new project, new emphasis, new focus, new strategy, new solution. All they know is that things are going to change.
The inconsistent leader may encourage you one day, and then criticize you the next. They may give you freedom one week, and then take it back the next. They're just simply unpredictable. What does an unpredictable leader produce? Unpredictable leaders produce hesitant followers. If you're unpredictable, your team members, they're gonna have good ideas, but they're gonna keep those ideas to themselves. They're going to feel like they need to play it safe. They don't wanna rock the boat because they become hesitant because you are not predictable in your leadership. You're uncentered when you're insecure, when you're unpredictable, or, number three, when you're distastefully self-absorbed. When you're self-absorbed. Chances are there are very few of you are gonna say "Yeah, I'm a really self-absorbed leader" because you don't know it when you become self-absorbed.
And let me just warn you, the more successful you become the more you tend to drift toward self-absorption. It's something that goes with the territory. The self-absorbed leader without ever really saying it, there's this sense of "This is my team. The team is here to meet my goals. You, as the employees, you exist to serve my vision, my dreams. You serve everything that I want because I'm absorbed in what I'm all about". What does the self-absorbed leader produce? Every single time, the self-absorbed leader produces resentful followers. If you've ever served under one, you get resentful over time, "It's all about them, they don't care about me, they don't even know that I'm here," and before long you become incredibly resentful. You want to care but you don't feel like you can, over time, because it's all about your leader.
What do uncentered leaders produce? Let me say it again. Uncentered leaders produce unsettled followers. Centered leaders, though, are very, very different. How are they different? Centered leaders don't produce followers. What do centered leaders produce? Centered leaders don't produce followers. Centered leaders produce leaders. Let's talk about three qualities of centered leaders. And what I want you to do is to pay very careful attention, and choose which one of these three areas would be your best area for development. Let me ask it again. Which one of these three areas would be your best for your personal development to grow in centeredness as a leader? Choose your one. The centered leader, instead of being annoyingly insecure, is, number one, inwardly confident. Inwardly confident. What does neediness do? Neediness repels, confidence tends to attract.
Now, you might say, well, I'm not really that confident in my leadership. You probably feel like you're either too young, or too old. It's really funny to me, I felt too young for years, now I battle with feeling too old. I wonder, when was I just right? It must have been, like, one day and I wasn't paying attention that day and that day passed. We all feel too something. Maybe we're not educated enough, we haven't been on the job too long, or been in so long we don't know how to stay current with what's new. We all feel insecure in some ways. What you wanna do, is you wanna find a way to build some confidence. I can't do a whole teaching on building confidence now, but I'm gonna give you a brief overview. We may devote a whole episode to this later.
How do we build confidence? I'll give you three quick things you may need to do. Maybe you have a skill to develop, a weakness to accept, or a belief to change. How do you grow in your confidence? You may have a skill to develop, a weakness to accept, or a belief to change. Let's talk about a skill to develop. Very simply, you may need to become a better listener. You may need to learn to give direct and honest feedback. You may need to learn to prioritize your time. Maybe you need to learn to read financial statements. Maybe you need to learn how to run an effective meeting. Maybe you need to learn how to do rap-back communication.
The good news is, you can take a class, you can read a book, you can find a mentor. You may need to find a skill to develop and that will increase your confidence. Maybe there's a weakness that you need to accept. This is so important. You'll grow in confidence when you recognize that you don't have to be great at all aspects of leadership. What you wanna do, at some point, is give yourself permission not to be great in some area. Accept it and then hire around your weaknesses, or delegate around your weaknesses. The problem is, so many of us, as leaders, we spend so much energy trying to improve at some skill, a trait, or a quality that isn't wired into us. The better thing to do, sometime, is to accept it. If you accept that it will never be a strength, then you can focus on what makes you great.
You might have a skill to develop, a weakness to accept, or a belief to change. Maybe you're limiting yourself with wrong beliefs about yourself. You might tell yourself "I'm not" when the truth is, you are. You might say to yourself "I can't" when the reality is, you can. You want to reprogram your mind. Honestly, this is what I work on, more than anything else, to grow my confidence. I have daily declarations that I say to myself, to remind myself who I am and what I can do. If you want to listen to those, they're in the episode called Institutionalizing Urgency. Maybe this is your one, you wanna build your confidence.
Number one quality of a centered leader is inwardly confident.
Number two, instead of being unpredictable, you are strategically consistent.
If you wanna be a centered leader, you wanna grow in your consistency. I always say this, "Successful leaders do consistently what other people do occasionally". So important. I like what Jack Welch said, Jack said "Great leaders are both relentless and boring," which is really good news for me because one time a person was introducing me, and they introduced me as one of the most boring leaders that they'd ever met. I didn't know if it was a compliment or if it was an insult. But, evidently, to this person it was a compliment because, he was saying, everyone on my team knows what to expect, they know the plan, they know the strategy, and that's one thing that makes our organization great, is we consistently deliver on the same things, bringing about the desired results year over year, consistently, strategically consistent.
I like what Laszlo Bock said, Google's senior vice president. Laszlo said: "If a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom, because they know that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want. If, on the other hand, your manager is all over the place, you're never going to know what you can do, and what you're going to experience is very restrictive". Being consistent actually brings freedom. People ask me often, "Well, what's gonna be new for your organization". Listen, we're all about blocking, we're all about tackling, we are relentlessly and strategically boring, doing the things that bring about the desired results.
Some of you, this is your area of development. You're inconsistent. You're looking for something new, something better, something different. Find what works and do it over and over and over again. Look for the rhythms that make your organization great. Why does this matter? Because consistent actions create consistent results. Successful people do consistently what other people do occasionally. It's not what you do occasionally that makes your organization successful. It's what you do consistently. Maybe you need to grow in your inward confidence. Maybe you need to grow and become more strategically consistent.
Number three, maybe you need to be more mission-driven. An uncentered leader is self-absorbed. A centered leader is mission-driven. You might be doing say, "What is the mission"? The mission is why you do what you do. And the why matters more than you can imagine. Simon Sinek says this, he says, "People don't buy into what you do. They buy into why you do it". I like what Katharine Graham, the first female CEO, of a Fortune 500 enterprise said, she said, "To love what you do and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun"? We wanna be mission-driven. How do you do this? You find your "why", or, some of you want to rediscover your "why" and lose yourself in it. What is it about your business that drives you, that moves you, that stirs you? Maybe you work for a nonprofit. Why did you say "yes" to work for that nonprofit in the first place? Because even when you love the cause, the daily work can become a grind.
You have to work to stay centered in the "why", the mission. Fight to keep the mission before you. Some of you, this is your one. You're looking for something different, something that matters, and you need to lose yourself in the mission. People are inspired by a mission-driven leader. We don't want our people just doing a job. We want them fulfilling a mission. People will work for a "what," but remember, they will give their lives for a "why". Which one is yours. Maybe you need to grow in inward confidence. Maybe you need to be more strategically consistent. Maybe you need to be mission-focused. In which one area do you need to grow? Confidence, consistency, or mission? Why does it matter? Because you reproduce what you are.
As a leader, you always reproduce what you are. If your organization is imbalanced, it is a reflection of your leadership. If you want a strong team, become a centered leader. Let's review and then we have an application question at the end. Centeredness is difficult to describe but impossible to miss. You know it when you have a centered leader and you know it when you don't. You're off-centered when, you're annoyingly insecure. When the leader lacks confidence, the team lacks commitment. Insecure leaders always produce insecure followers. Number two, you're consistently unpredictable. Unpredictable leaders produce hesitant followers.
Number three, you're distastefully self-absorbed. Self-absorbed leaders produce resentful followers. What do uncentered leaders produce? Uncentered leaders always produce unsettled followers. But the good news is, centered leaders are different. Centered leaders do not produce followers. Centered leaders create leaders. Choose your one. Maybe you need to be more inwardly confident. How do we grow in confidence? Maybe you have a skill to develop, a weakness to accept, or a belief to change. Number two, you might need to grow in strategic confidence. Successful leaders do consistently what other people do occasionally. Consistent actions create consistent results.
Maybe you need to be more mission-driven. The mission is the "why", you do the "what". Fight to keep the mission before you. We don't want our people just doin' a job. We want our people fulfilling a mission. Remember, people'll work for a "what", but they'll give their lives for a "why". I have one reflection question for you, and it should be obvious what's coming. Of the three qualities, which one do you need to develop to become more centered in your leadership? Maybe you need to grow in confidence. Maybe you need to become more consistent. Maybe you need to rediscover your passion, become mission-driven. Of the three qualities, which one do you need to develop to become more centered in your leadership? What are you gonna do about it?
This is where the rubber meets the road. Don't be complacent, don't sit back, do something about this. Grow. When you become more centered, you create other leaders. You don't want a bunch of people around who are just doing what they're told, who are working a job. You want people who come to work inspired to do something more, to create something that matters, to contribute to something that creates overall good in this world, and you are a leader because you are put there to make a difference. Work at this. Become a little bit more centered and people will love to follow you, because you know who you are, you know where you're going. You have a plan and you execute on it consistently. You're all about the mission. You're about helping others become better, and doing something that lasts.
Remember, if your organization is imbalanced, it's a reflection of your leadership. If you want a stronger team, become a centered leader. If this content is helpful, it means the world to me if you talk about it. Remember rate this, review it, share on social media. Two weeks from today we'll release a bonus episode interviewing Lysa TerKeurst, How Do You Lead Through Painful Times. We all feel pressure as leaders. This is around us all the time. We feel like we have to know it all, be it all, be perfect. You don't. Don't feel that pressure. Remember, people would rather follow a leader who's always real than one who's always right.