One of the key hurdles for potential leaders is understanding that Leadership and success are both extremely people dependent. We all know it is easier and safer to do things ourselves rather than depend on others. Usually the attitude is that we can do it better, our way, and it will be much less stressful. And if you are a one person shop, or have no direct reports nor desire to, this attitude is likely in check. However, if the situation is any different and this concept is not fully embraced, it becomes the number one limiting factor to success, organizational growth, and personal leadership growth. We have all had bad experiences in our attempts to find the right people, motivate them, and care for them, however we have to get over it and must never forget that our capabilities as leaders are totally people dependent. Therefore we must learn from each mistake and focus on picking the right teammates, motivating them, and genuinely caring for them.
It all starts with picking the right people. We should never hire anyone unless the thought of having them on the team is truly exciting. Hiring is tough and disrupts our other duties, which makes us very suceptable to losing our patience and making the wrong choices. Here is an easy test for ourselves or anyone else on our Leadership team – ask “Should we hire _____?”. If there is any hesitation do not do it! And for those we are excited about, we should validate that they:
- Are smart and have the experience/knowledge to succeed
- Are a match between personality and the role
- Are a fit with the culture
- Are leadership potential (ask them to draw their life path and look for a consistent past of going the extra mile
- Fully understand the expectations of the role
Motivating starts with understanding how others are motivated. Some are motivated by recognition, some by praise, some by constructive critcism, some by just being left alone and being treated fairly, etc.. To understand what motivates others requires us to know the person and to care about those motivating factors. It is work, but just like anyone else, it is work a leader must enjoy in order to be good at it. If we are truly passionate about leadership one of the questions that should be asked consistently is how we motivate others and what we can be doing better. Motivating our team deserves/requires constant attention.
Genuinely caring about others is fundamental to motivation. If people do not feel cared for, they do not feel the need to care. Knowing more than just the work side of a person is crucial. In a recent interview one of the questions we asked an interviewee was: “Who was your worse boss and why?” When the interview described that person, the number one reason they were picked was because the person simply did not care about the individual. The individual said “While we all know that our primary purpose as employees of the company is to help the company meet it’s goals, it is very demotivating if that is all your boss ever focuses on”. By not caring about the person and their life/interests outside of work, his old boss demotivated him and likely the entire team around him. Sadly, it is doubtful the boss had any self awareness in what he was doing wrong. Some would say he was more of a “manager” rather than a “leader”, but isn’t that argument unacceptable? The last thing we should ever want for our organization is for us or someone in a leadership role be named as a peron’s worse boss ever. A manager that is not a good leader/potential leader, should not be in a managerial role.
Let us never forget that the number one asset of an organization is the people within it. Pick right, motivate, and care.