A System for Becoming Better Leaders

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One of the most important thing that we can do as a leader is to find a way to continue to grow as a person and as a leader on a regular basis. This is one of the fundamental habits that transforms us from being amateur leaders to professionals.

I was first introduced to the Shamrock system for continuous and holistic growth in my conversation with David Burkus on my podcast. You can listen to my entire conversation with David here.

This is a very simple system that was created by the legendary mixed martial artist Frank Shamrock. This is called a Plus, Equal and Minus system.

Plus (to learn):

Always have someone that we look up to and who is ahead of us on the path that we want to tread. Someone who can guide us, show us the path, tell us about what we need to be aware of, what we need to be vary of, etc. These are the people who can help us with what we need to learn in order to become the person that we want to become.

We could have different people we have in our Plus circle for different thing we want to learn about. The very deliberate process of identifying the areas in our live that we want to improve and finding someone who can help us, reaching out to them and asking them for their help and guidance means that we are already on our way to becoming a good leader and a better person.

This means that we are intentional, humble and moving acting in ways to strengthen ourselves. The people in the “Plus” circle are our teachers, mentors, coaches and people we are inspired by. Some of them we might know and connect in person; some of them we might only get to know through their work (books, videos, courses, etc). The important thing is that we have them in our lives and continue to learn from them.

Equal (to respect):

This is a circle of peers. People who are in the same place and on the same journey. These are people who are our competitors, friends and any one who is struggling with the same things that we are struggling with. These are people who can empathise with us and with whom we can empathise with. We can share our current challenges and discuss what we are thinking about. This is circle of peers whom we respect and who in turn respect us.

Minus (to teach):

This is a circle of people whom we can teach or mentor or coach. The adage that in order for us to understand something deeply, we need to teach it to someone else is true indeed. So, by teaching, mentoring or coaching someone about something important for both of us, we are better able to internalise the same as well.

In addition, this also has the benefit of sharing our knowledge and helping someone in their journey. The thing that we need to be aware of is that we do this not from the position of a “Sage who knows everything, preaching from a stage” but do it from the position of “I am a fellow traveller, just a bit further along on the path that you are treading and here is what I learnt which will help you in your journey”.

Conclusion:

As they say, no model is always correct but some of them are useful. This system is one such example. It might not be absolutely the right thing in all contexts but is useful when we are trying to continue to find people who can help us in our journey to becoming better leaders and better human beings.

You can watch Frank talk about this system in one of his keynote. You can watch the entire keynote where he shares his entire story here and if you would rather just watch the short segment where he explains this system, you can do so here.

You can also find another post on this system by Dan Rockwell here. Another one by David Watters in his LinkedIN article here.

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