How Leaders Know It’s Time to Go Up to ’11’

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Can a leader ever justify giving anything less than their very best?

No. Never.

Leadership requires “10 out of 10” level leadership day in and day out.

But are there times when a leader must go even beyond “10 out of 10”? Yes. Sometimes. Sometimes a leader must punch their amp up to “11”.

Fans of the classic comedy film This is Spinal Tap know exactly what I’m talking about.

This “mock-umentary” about an aging British rock band features a hilarious scene in which the lead guitarist (Nigel, played by Christopher Guest) tries vainly to explain the extra power contained in his guitar’s amplifier.

“You see, most blokes will be playing on 10…where can you go from there? Nowhere! Exactly…But what we do, if we need that extra push over the cliff, what we do is we go up to 11. One louder.”

As silly as that scene plays, leaders need to know when it’s time to go one louder; when it’s time to go up to “11”. In other words, leaders need to know how and when to call for the very best out of their team; even beyond the level of their normal level of performance.

How do you make that call? Here’s what I’ve learned from effective leaders.

It’s time to turn the performance level of your team up to 11 when:

1. The size or complexity of an approaching challenge requires extraordinary team effort to overcome,

2. A long season of “business as usual” has allowed the team to drift into cruise-control,

3. You want to provide an opportunity for new leaders to emerge,

4. The team hasn’t experienced a “win” in a long time,

5. A window of opportunity presents itself, requiring “all hands on deck” to seize the opportunity.

Effective leaders know that from time to time it is necessary to unleash the team’s full potential and to lead them to operate at a higher than usual level of energy.

You can’t over-do it, or you’ll risk burning out the team. But if you want to get the most out of your team, you need to know when to call the very best out of them.

In the situations described here, it means cranking them up to 11.

How do you know when it’s time to go up to 11?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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