If You're the Leader, You're the Lid (And 3 Things You Can Do About It)

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Today, a really simple—but powerful—principle.

If you’re the leader, you’re the lid.

I know I’d rather pretend that’s not true, but it is.

Here’s what it means:

Over time, the team and organization you lead will never grow past where you’ve grown.

If you stop growing in an area, people who want to grow past that point will simply find another leader to follow.

So this just makes me nervous. As a leader, I set limits that impact others.

How do you overcome it?

If you're the leader, you're the lid. Click To Tweet

It’s Everywhere

As much as you and I would like to pretend that we’re not the lid as leaders, the truth takes us elsewhere.

Your lid operates in every area of your life and leadership. As a leader, you become the organization lid






And on the list goes….

People who want to grow past where you’ve grown will move on.

So how do you keep growing?

3 Ways to Remove Your Lid

So what do you do about it? Three things have consistently helped me grow:

1. Do whatever it takes to become personally healthy.

Spend time with Christ.  Go see a counselor.  Hire a trainer. Get a leadership coach. Find some mentors. Hire a spiritual director. Work on your junk. Get the help you need. Do what you need to do to get where you need to be.

And stop making excuses as to why you can’t change.

2. Become more self-aware.

Seeing your limits is one of the best ways to begin to address them.  Self-deception is one of the worst kinds of deception around.  Healthy leaders don’t gravitate toward people who lack self-awareness.

Emotional intelligence is a skill that almost every effective leader needs to grasp. Fortunately, emotional intelligence can be learned. If you want a spiritual primer on emotional intelligence, Jeff Henderson does an exceptional job tying faith and relationships together in the Climate Change series.

3.  Recruit people who are better than you. 

One of the keys to creating a better organization is to recruit around your weaknesses.  You will never be the best at everything.  Focusing on what you do best but finding people who are far better than you are at most things can help you create a community that goes further than you could ever take it alone.

And, of course, being around people who are better than you—as long as you are open to learning—will make you better. You’ll grow. Here’s a post I wrote about how to attract and keep people who are better than you.

Knowing I’m the lid challenges me to get better in every area.

Sometimes, just knowing is most of the battle.

Over time, the team or organization you lead will never grow past where you've grown. Click To Tweet

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.