You are probably asking, “What is a Finish Line Leader?” I heard my mentor, John C. Maxwell, teach a lesson on this a few weeks ago. First, a Finish Line Leader is a leader who reaches the goal, accomplishes the mission, or completes the task. But the Finish Line Leader also brings others with her.
If a leader crosses the finish line alone, he is not really a leader. One of my favorite quotes is, “a leader sees the way ahead and simplifies the route so everyone can get there.” A good leader is able to bring the whole team along to the finish line.
John listed eight principles for a Finish Line Leader and I will cover a few of them here. First, a leader has to find his people. By that I mean that he has to connect with them and find out where they are. Then you have to go to where they are and lead them where they need to go.
As a junior leader I thought you could just determine where your team needed to go and take off and they would follow you there. What I quickly learned is that the people on your team are in different places, have different levels of awareness, and have different levels of skills and abilities. We have to start where they are to take them where we need to be.
The second principle is qualification. That means finding out their expectations compared to your expectations then working to get everyone’s expectations aligned. It is hard to get everyone to the goal if there are multiple expectations of what is the goal, where is the goal, how do we get there, and how do we know when we are done.
Next is conditioning. You may have heard the saying that dreams are free but the journey isn’t. After finding out where the team or organization is, the leader then has to start there and begin the process of training, development, practice, coaching, mentoring, etc. All of this is part of the process of conditioning the team for the journey.
These are a few of the things to think about when you are leading a team. Remember, if you get to the top by yourself you are not really a leader, just a hiker. When you bring others with you, the team is better, can go higher and sustain longer. Take a look at your leadership this week and see if you are a Finish Line Leader.