It is a glorious thing to be in the spotlight when things are going well. As a leader and a performer, I have enjoyed this wonderful feeling. However, it is even more glorious to share the spotlight with someone you have been teaching and training. Being a good leader is not only being able to be in the spotlight, but also being able to be in the shadows, allowing others to spotlight your team, as they enjoy the fruit of acknowledgement of their hard work.
By the age of 5, I enjoyed playing the piano. My earliest memory of performing for others, came with the final harsh request of, “Get Off That Piano!” As I practiced and grew in my abilities, that demand came less and less. Finally the day came when requests were made for me to entertain those present. My father many times would request I play his favorite songs as he sang along. At a ripe age of 13, I learned to blend into shadows to enjoy the benefits of playing in a band or at least as an accompanist allowing others to be in the spotlight. This same principle can be applied to leadership and the value of making sure you spotlight your team as your interactions with team members evolve.
Share the Stage with Your Team
Are you sharing the stage with others, or stealing the spotlight and not giving credit to the people who deserve to be recognized? The following is an excerpt from an article entitled “5 Humble Ways Leaders Put Others in the Spotlight”(1)…
▪ Encourage Others to Step into the Spotlight
“Susan tells me that she leads by surrounding herself with good people and then finding ways to let them
come to the forefront. As she explains it, rather than leading by “pulling people along,” she leads by
“pushing people ahead.” Susan Moore calls it delegating to let others grow. When everyone is given the
responsibility to step up, she notes, action moves forward.”(1)
As a music leader, I have worked with young people who desire to lead in music. Initially, I allow them to sing parts of a song and eventually, take over and lead the whole song. Often, confidence comes across and the song sounds better than when I was leading it. Enjoy the success when your team member exceeds your expectations, as you spotlight your team.
▪ Acknowledge what the whole person brings to the table.
“In addition to recognizing employees and team members for the responsibilities they’re taking on, Susan also makes a point to acknowledge them for who they are as human beings. She makes sure they know that they’re seen
and appreciated. Sometimes, this means she has to go against her introverted nature and engage in the everyday workplace chit chat that can reveal more about people and what’s happening in their lives. She does this because it helps her build deeper connections, particularly with those who don’t report to her directly.”(1)
In my team building example of a musical team, I assess each member’s abilities and encourage them to “shine” when they can. This may be in a musical solo or vocal solo, or choosing a collection of songs for a special event. My team member may have a gift in speaking before we offer a particular rendition of a song and that allows the spotlight on my team member. Keeping an open agenda as the team works together and always being open to noticing gifts and abilities allows growth for each member and opportunity to express themselves authentically openly.
▪ Accept acknowledgement from others.
“Have you ever received a compliment or recognition for your work and said something like, “Oh, it’s no big deal,” or otherwise downplayed your contribution? It can be almost a reflexive response, and maybe it feels like that’s part of what it means to be humble. But when you do that, you’re downplaying the effort and acknowledgement this person made a point to give you. Susan Moore tells me that Susan always graciously accepts credit when credit’s due, without deflecting.”(1)
Being able to receive a compliment used to be the most difficult thing for me. I would deflect the compliment and acknowledge the group as whole. But, I finally realized that my team was watching me, particularly the people I was leading and mentoring. One day I made a decision to say “Thank You” for each compliment given to me directly. It felt good to receive what I had worked hard for and also began to show my team my ability to graciously accept attention and pass down the compliment to the whole team for our joint efforts. You can practice this as well as you spotlight your team during these victorious moments.
▪ Don’t assume people know they’re doing a great job.
“For introverts especially, we might think about the great work people are doing while not necessarily verbalizing it to them. Susan realizes she has to be intentional about this because people don’t always know it if we don’t tell them. She adds that it’s important to remember that, even if you don’t feel like you’re an intimidating person, people might be intimidated by you simply by virtue of your leadership position. It’s up to you to make them feel comfortable, heard, and recognized.”(1)
As an extrovert, I am pretty good at letting people know how much I appreciate their efforts. This hasn’t always been the case. I remember one particular circumstance that created a bad outcome. I was the music leader for a new church and was just getting to know the sound team and equipment. We had so many problems and issues with the sound board and wiring that tempers and frustrations were running very high.
Without thinking, one Sunday, I said out loud, “I hope “so and so” decides to stop by today so we can get this sound figured out.” The sound guy who was present, took offence and ended up quitting the position because his efforts weren’t valued. I apologized and asked for his forgiveness, which he graciously gave, but to no avail. He retired from the sound team.
A great job can include while in training and in progress, but perhaps not in a state of perfection. We are all in progress and learning as we go, especially if it is a volunteer position, as this was. I learned a hard lesson that day, but a great lesson. Every day, I tell those around me how grateful I am for their service and how they make a difference to my position through their efforts. I am happy to say, this wonderful person is on a different aspect of my team and we are working wonderfully together. Don’t forget to spotlight your team, by reminding them the amazing job they are doing.
▪ When the team shines, you shine.
“Susan understands that giving others the chance to shine doesn’t take anything away from her. It’s not a zero-sum game. “I’m pleased to be part of something larger than myself,” she tells me, adding that when they get recognition, she knows that she played a role in making that happen. Leading can be a lonely business, but humble leaders find strength in recognizing that it’s not all about them. When you encourage others to step up, take on new challenges, and contribute their talents to balance your own, it takes some of the pressure off — and it builds the confidence and respect of your team.”(1)
Having lived in the shadows for many years, this particular area of leadership has been a challenge for me. I believed for many years that I was not important or needed for the “team” and that no one would miss me if I didn’t share my gifts. This idea is quite common among those who struggle with low self-esteem.
Thankfully, I began to see my worth and contribution to the world as I noticed the impact I had on others as I began to share the spotlight with my team. Their head and shoulders began to lift a little higher and their performance began to become better and better the more I allowed my team members to shine in their gifting. I decided that I would not be intimidated with someone more talented or gifted than me, but choose to get them on my team to allow our gifts to combine and become even stronger.
▪ Where might you “push people ahead” by sharing the spotlight?
Your team will see you as a progressive leader when you spotlight your team. This is a skill and habit worth cultivating and will change not only your own life, but the lives of everyone you touch. I have watched many of my mentees become confident and “loud and proud” as they take the spotlight. Their gifts and talents begin to flow as they become all they envision themselves to be. It takes a leader to recognize the greatness in those around and begin to draw it out. As a leader, we can choose to spotlight your team and watch eagerly as center stage becomes alive with gifts and talents you spoke life into helped to develop.
Action Steps: As a leader, are you sharing the stage as you should be? Are you leveraging the diversity and talent that sits within your organization? Are you creating outcomes that far outweigh anything one individual (you) could ever accomplish as a solo act? Think about it, give it honest reflection, and formulate a plan to makes changes where necessary.
About the Author
I am Kathy Denise Hicks, Author, Personal Trainer, and Corrective Exercise Specialist and I would love to connect with you to help you achieve your fitness and health goals. Correcting muscular imbalances can really help you feel better, look younger and be happier. If you are looking to get moving, feel more energy, get out of pain, and lose a few pounds, I have a program that can help. My 14 Day Workout Trial, will give you an idea of the classes I offer.