As a Leader, Are You Slaying Dragons?
“They know that if the dragon gets a little unruly, you're going to come in and finish him off. Because of that, they'll slay dragons all day long for you.”
This quote is part of a profound statement made by David Pericak, and the clip above was taken from the David Gelb documentary, A Faster Horse. We use this clip in our Executive Leadership Programme to demonstrate a very important point: to develop as a leader who can grow a strong, independent team, you have to continuously seek to improve yourself. Why? Because you are the model for your team.
All fledgling dragon-slayers look up to the mightiest slayer in the land. That’s you, the leader. In order to be worthy of that devotion, in order to build a confident team with the skills to deliver, you have to begin by slaying your own personal dragons.
As a leader, you need to be prepared to put in the hard work to build a winning team. You don’t just want to be the dragon-slayer, you want a whole army of dragon-slayers working with you, because they know that if they go out on a limb, you’ve got their back. Your team can count on you to have their back.
How do you do this?
DEVELOP YOUR OWN DRAGON-SLAYING SKILLS
Firstly, by investing in your own continued personal development, you build on your own ability to slay dragons. You become the legend, the hero, the leader.
Leaders don’t stagnate. They never believe they’re “good enough”. They’re always striving to improve.
Maybe you lack skills in a certain area, or you feel you could brush up on certain key competencies. Personal and professional development opportunities abound for those prepared to step up and admit where they need help.
BUILD DEEP RELATIONSHIPS
Secondly, you have to build deep relationships in your team, especially among the leadership team. This is the only way you’re going to build the trust needed to get people for face down dragons with you. We’ve spoken before about how great leaders make their teams feel safe. It’s hard to feel safe when you’re staring down the nostrils of a fire-breathing dragon, but you have to reach that place where your team are prepared to take risks, because they know you have their backs.
In our work, we often see team dynamics faltering as they fall prey to shallow relationships. We like to ask a senior team, “What is your culture?” Every business has a culture, whether it’s the one they want, or not. Many team members have trouble articulating this culture, but only by articulating it can they understand if it’s the right culture, or look for ways to get the culture they want.
We need to build a culture of high trust so we can have those tough conversations with each other, face up to our decisions, challenge ideas (without offence) and check our egos. By treating each other well and creating a culture of support and safety, we give people the ideal platform from which to grow their own dragon-slaying abilities.
As a leader, are you slaying dragons? If not, isn’t it time you started?
For more tips on leading with strategic intent and embracing continued professional development, download our free guide, The Four Cornerstones of Strategic Execution.
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