After all, it wouldn’t be safe.
It wouldn’t be prudent.
It wouldn’t be easy.
We set limits for safety purposes, for logical purposes and sometimes as excuses.
Limits are a part of life.
But as leaders, we must be in the business of challenging some limits. The challenge might be a question, it might be a change in the limit, or it might appear to be a blissful ignorance of the limit altogether.
Whatever the approach and for whatever reason, the best leaders know there is a time to challenge, surpass or just smash a limit completely.
What are the limits I’m talking about and how do they relate to us as leaders?
Here’s what I mean.
The Goal Limit. Goals matter – and where they are set say much about how big the vision is of those who set them. Set safe goals and you may reach them, but will you ever know what you could have done? Big goals might not be reached, but they challenge thinking and approach in ways that would never have been concerned possible.
What limits are you placing on your goals?
The Openness Limit. People want to follow people who are open and honest. But that is a safe limit. Push that limit by sharing your concerns and worries, your weaknesses and your mistakes. Doing this makes you human, but doesn’t mean your team must wallow or worry. The best leaders are open and willing to grow and learn.
How open are you with those you lead?
The Ideas Limit. Attend most brainstorming meetings and you will find 3-8 relatively safe ideas shared. What if you told your team you were not done identifying options until you had 20, or 30 or more? Putting a idea goal out there that seems ridiculous will get push back. But patiently waiting for that list to form will surface ideas and energy that would have otherwise never been found.
How many ideas does your team have?
The Effort Limit. We make heroes of people who give “110%”. Most days, most people at work don’t get close to that. What if, at the right times, you expected and lead by example through your willingness to work harder and with greater focus? People can’t run at 100% and on adrenaline and caffeine forever, but sometimes pushing that limit is just what a team needs to succeed.
How much effort are you giving?
The Energy Limit. Positive energy isn’t self-creating; it must be injected into a team or situation. The best leaders know that and take that role seriously and personally. How much energy are you injecting into your team? How much encouragement and positive support are you adding? When you start to add more than you think is necessary, you are likely starting to get close to what is needed.
Are you showing and using your energy to help your team succeed? (Tweet that.)
The Belief Limit. I believe this is the biggest one of all. Research and personal experience shows that your level of belief in your people (as their leader) will have a huge impact on their productivity and success. Little belief, little success; bigger belief, more success. What is your limit?
How far are you willing to stretch your belief in others?
These limits and ideas apply to any leader – whether they are leading a small team, a big project, a little company or a big country. My challenge to you is to examine the limits you and those around you have set, and see what more you can achieve if you question, surpass or smash one of those limits.
The famous Eagles song may say it best.
So put me on a highway
And show me a sign
And take it to the limit one more time
Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit
Take it to the limit one more time