The 1,000-Hour Leader

If you’ve been reading along and taking the 1,000-Hour Pro journey for any amount of time, you may be on the same page with me that a lot of being a 1,000-Hour Pro is learning skills and being able to do tasks. And I’ll be the first to admit, that even as I was first thinking about the value of a 1,000-Hour Pro, I was skeptical. Being a 1,000-Hour Pro seems to be a fast-track to middle management. Learn how to do a bunch of different things and get stuck only doing things for the rest of your life. Seems logical, right? Not so fast.

You see, being a 1,000-Hour Pro is great when you are in those middle-management roles. You can lean in and be helpful when you’re needed, and you can be known to your bosses as an integral member of the team. That’s all well and good, but the 1,000-Hour Pro journey pays off big time when you get to be the 1,000-Hour Leader.

Being a successful leader all begins with trust. If you’ve ever been in a leadership position, you know how valuable trust is. Trust gets a team moving in the same direction, reaching for the same goals and having each other’s backs. And of course, there are a myriad of books, articles and blog posts you can read about how to build trust on your team. But there’s an edge that the 1,000-Hour Leader has.

As The 1,000-Hour Leader, you have come up through the ranks all the while learning different skills. You’ve learned a little about each area of your team, and now that you’re the leader, that’s going to become apparent to your team. Because when a designer comes to you and has an issue, you can speak their language. When someone from accounting comes to you for guidance, you can help them problem solve and not just encourage them to figure it out.

The 1,000-Hour Leader can be trusted because they care. They care enough about the IT world to have learned some of the ins and outs of the company systems. They care enough about the schedule of the traveling sales team to learn the times that it’s easy for them to chat and other times when it’s too stressful amongst airport security, rental cars and hotel rooms.

I’m currently reading a biography of Winston Churchill called Churchill: A Study in Greatness by Geoffrey Best. Best talks about Churchill’s early career in government before he was the Prime Minister, the great orator or the British political powerhouse that led a nation through the Blitz and World War II. Churchill held office in every area of the government and is described by Best as “one of the most able and versatile men in government.” What that meant for Churchill as he ascended to the top position in the land was a complete understanding of the workings of his “team,” the British government, and an ability to understand what it took for individuals to hold those offices and operate a country through all of the offices, cabinets and commissions.

If you still don’t believe me that the 1,000-Hour Leader is a better kind of leader, think about your own life. How many times have you left a meeting with your leader, boss, whoever, and thought, “They just don’t get it. They have no idea what I’m dealing with.” As a 1,000-Hour Leader, you can make sure that thought is never on the table with your team. The 1,000-Hour Leader has been in the trenches learning why things are tough and what frustrations pop up. The 1,000-Hour Leader knows how teams work together and why things sometimes break down. The 1,000-Hour Leader knows because they’ve been there and can empathize.

The 1,000-Hour Leader knows, and the 1,000-Hour Leader cares because the 1,000-Hour Pro learned.


One thought on “The 1,000-Hour Leader

  1. Thanks, to your mom, Taylor, who turned me on to your blog!

    I’ve lived this concept of a 1,000-hour pro my whole career; indeed my whole life. I always described myself as a “generalist” as opposed to a “specialist,” and it’s been a lot of fun learning a bunch of things.

    It does have a dark side, however, because if you lack discipline or don’t know your limit, you can really get over your head and waste a lot of time on a project or task that should have just went to the specialist. I find this particularly in the world of IT, or graphic design, where peoples spend their whole lives learning networking or mastering Adobe Illustrator.

    Leading as a generalist, while acknowledging what the specialist brings to the table is really the sweet spot; the junction of respect and accountability.

    Thanks, Taylor!!


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