John Maxwell talks about in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” a principle titled The Law of the Lid. The Law of the Lid applies to specific leaders and it states, “Leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness.” It goes on to state, “The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on their potential.” I want to apply this to all humans because I believe that ALL people have a “lid”. Another, less eloquent word would be “potential”. Each and every single person in this world has a “lid”, or potential, of who they can become or what they can accomplish. Some people’s lids are much higher than others. The funny part is that most people put a “lid” on themselves and it is much lower than their lid should actually be. Most people are their own worst critics and they cannot see how much potential they actually have. They just assume that who they are currently is the best they ever will be. I have never seen a time where the person’s actual lid wasn’t quite a bit higher than they actually thought, so it is your job as a manager or leader to find the real lid of your employees and hold them to that. Let me warn you though, if you ever try to push someone past their actual lid, (another way to phrase this is “promoting someone to a level of incompetence”). They will not only resent and HATE you for it, but you will break them in the process and very quickly you will have someone walking around your office with the mopes (noun: a person given to prolonged spells of low spirits) or they will move on to another job. (Bonus tip: Spend your time mentoring the ones that have the highest lid and spend almost no time mentoring people with low lids).
If we accept this as truth (I mean.. it IS a law), then the question becomes how can you continue to raise your lid, which is a great question. Thank you for asking, you fictitious person. The super tip for raising your lid is being self-aware. Most people are so un-self-aware (is that a word?) they either think they are A) great or B) not good enough and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. When you stop getting stretched or pushed, you become complacent. You need to understand what you are really good and bad at and those things you suck at, you need to attack with all of your passion and focus. Master that thing and then (here is the important part) NEVER STOP LEARNING. Growth comes from a place of uncomfortableness. Being complacent or comfortable is a very bad place to be. For me, I absolutely hate doing morning huddles with my team because I just want to work and do not need a “touchpoint” or a mini-motivational seminar so guess what I do every day now? You guessed it (man, you are killing it today), I do huddles!
Action item time: As a leader, you need to take the time to find your employee’s actual lid and set that expectation with them so they rise to it. Once you find it, help them get there and hold them at that level. For yourself, if you do not have (or need) someone to “push you” to your lid, you need to take a self-assessment in the areas that you are not great at and come up with a plan for you to attack those weaknesses and eliminate them. This needs to be repeated…forever. FOR. EV. ER.