I play in a recreational hockey league in my community. It consists of a bunch of mostly late middle-aged men and a few women that enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of the affliction known as “adult onset ice hockey.” The skill levels of the participants vary from former college and high school players to rank beginners like myself. While I experience brief moments of extreme excitement bordering on terror taking my shifts, the games are relatively friendly and tame. There is no checking and when anyone hits the deck or the boards, someone from the opposing team usually offers a helping hand up and some encouraging words.
Nonetheless, when I decided to take up the sport this past October, I was feeling relatively adventuresome, almost courageous, risking life and limb at a sport that most sane people would not undertake fresh at my age. Well all those feelings went out the window this past Friday night when I stepped out on the ice. As I began taking my warm-up laps around the rink, I noticed a little person skating slowly ahead of me, sporting my team’s colors. Even on his skates, he could not have been much more than four feet tall.
As I skated up alongside of him, I introduced myself and welcomed him to our team. “My name’s Buck”, he said with a big smile. Although he could barely skate, he appeared excited and eager to get going. As usual, our team consisted of about seven or eight skaters, so everyone, including Buck, had plenty of shifts. Throughout the game, Buck was an enthusiastic participant – he played offense, he played defense, he took face-offs, he got scrappy against the boards with guys twice his size and he took his share of spills. And in the third period, he scored one of our three goals! After the game, I did not have the chance to talk to him or congratulate him, as we were in separate locker rooms. However, all the guys in the locker room marveled at the courage that Buck demonstrated just in showing up for ice hockey at his size. He was an inspiration to all of us.
So, when you are facing your next huge challenge at work or in life, when you may be feeling fear about pressing forward, think of Buck.
What is a Leader Stake?
In my coaching engagements, I am surprised at how often my clients dive into new positions of leadership at work or in their communities without giving adequate thought and consideration to their stakes as leaders in their new roles. I always request that they define their stakes at the outset of any new endeavors.
So, what exactly is a “Leader Stake?” A leader stake typically answers the question “At a deep level, why is this undertaking important to you?” or “What higher purpose will keep you moving forward as a leader with this organization when the going gets tough?” Having a well-crafted leader stake makes decision making easier when you are faced with conflicting priorities or “mission creep” in your organization.
To craft your own leader stake for any effort that you are leading, take the time to reflect on why have taken on a leadership role; where do your values align with the goal and mission of the organization you are leading? The form I suggest my clients to use begins with a “When” statement and is followed by some kind of positive desired outcome. For example, if General Eisenhower had created a leader stake for Operation Overlord – D-Day – it may have looked something like the following: “When the world is free of tyranny and oppression, all of mankind may experience freedom.”
If you are co-leading an organization, work with your co-leader to craft a leader stake with which you are both aligned. Importantly, unlike a mission statement, your leader stake is just for you and your co-leader. For all you leaders, I would be more than happy to work with you to help you create your own leader stakes.
Are you feeling professionally stuck? Are you having trouble breaking out to the next level of responsibility? Getting tired of seeing “Principal” or “Vice President” on your business card instead of “Managing Director?” You are not alone. Many deal industry professionals hit roadblocks, particularly in mid-career after they have proved they are highly capable deal execution professionals. If this sounds familiar, please contact me to discuss my Mid-Career Accelerator Coaching Program. I’m here to call you forth into your true potential.
Peter Feer, CPCC, ACC