In writing and publishing my first book this year, I learned so much about the technical aspects of writing and publishing. But the real lessons for me were the ones that apply not only to writing but to leadership as well.
Leadership Lesson #1
When you’re an expert in your field, being a novice can be uncomfortable.
I’m a compensation expert who makes my living consulting with companies and coaching individuals about pay, but because I’d never written a book before, there were a million things to learn about, from structure to editing to what makes up those weird codes on your copyright page (it’s cataloging data for librarians and bookstores, by the way). That steep learning curve was intimidating for me, especially because I had to embrace being a newbie in order to learn what I needed.
The discomfort that comes with not knowing is all too familiar for early-career employees, and we as leaders naturally factor that in with our expectations of them. But it’s important to think about that discomfort in mid- and late-career employees, too.
In any job, there should be learning and development — even for seasoned experts. When you support and nurture all of your team members through the vulnerability that’s required for growth and development, it can drive breakthrough performance across levels.Some of the biggest leadership lessons I've learned came from writing a book! #leadership #writinglife Click To Tweet
Leadership Lesson #2
Community makes the journey easier and more fun.
We typically think of writing as a solo effort, and that’s sort of true. But bringing a book from first idea to the marketplace is complex, and there are so many alternatives to choose from along the way.
I found that communities were key to my success. I’m a part of a group of writers that gathers (via Zoom) once a week to hold each other accountable for getting writing done. Another online community provides expertise and guidance on every writing and publishing topic under the sun. In yet another small group, we provide inspiration and encouragement to one another, whatever projects we’re working on. Each of these communities smoothed my path and made writing my first book a ton more fun.
Leaders, help your team find communities — both within your organization as well as outside of it — that can offer expertise and collaboration that goes beyond what’s available in their current roles. Encouraging these types of teamwork can bring diverse viewpoints, strengthen relationships and enhance innovation in your team. Expert help can come from unusual places.
Leadership Lesson #3
Recognition feels amazing (so don’t forget it).
Some of my most exciting moments this year have come from friends, former colleagues and even people I don’t know telling me they’re benefiting from advice they found in my book.
I truly believe that when people are more confident and competent in negotiating their pay, it’s good for them, it’s good for their potential employers (really!) and it’s ultimately good for the world. Knowing these results are happening as a direct result of people taking action based on a book that I wrote is exciting beyond words. That recognition inspires me to write more, share more and do more.
It’s easy for words of grace, thanks and recognition to be skipped over in our fast-paced world. What would be possible if we didn’t ignore them? Employees who understand the link between their work and positive outcomes are more engaged and excited about work, and research shows that leaders who take the time to recognize the great things their team does are rewarded with higher levels of effort. In short: Recognition pays off. Big time.
Acknowledging the discomfort and vulnerability that comes with learning (even for your most experienced team members), encouraging community building and recognizing your team’s results can help accelerate your team’s results. The same lessons might just help them write a book, too!
This article first appeared in Forbes.