Great leaders genuinely care for every person on the team. However, there are always some that we rave about, depend on the most, and can consistently expect more from. They are the internal leaders and the up and coming leaders of the organization who have only gained the status through hard work, success, and consistency. We no longer hope they will have a success because we have grown accustomed to consistently expecting it (while not taking it for granted), and at this point accountability has risen well above the detail level. These are the types that give us energy rather than consume it. They are the internal leaders that everyone counts on, and who will take the organization to the next level. They are raved about by us, and others both inside and outside the organization.
Internal leaders are also those that peers (across all areas of the organization) can rely on. No one truly gains leadership status just by being liked by the boss. And arguably, if the boss is a good leader they will not buy into someone being a good leader unless their peers do first. In priority order, internal leaders must be well respected, and liked by the vast majority of the team. Respect and likeability are not results of having one or two successes – they require consistency. It is not just about being good at what you do because it also requires help from other team members, and others only help if they believe the person works as hard or harder than they do, appreciates others, and has good ethics.
An additional responsibility of a leader is to rave about the right people, who are the people others naturally rely on.
Teams need to trust their leaders to do the right thing, to care about customers, to add the right people to the team, to care about them, to hold them accountable, to make tough decisions, to be consistent, to help them grow, to envoke change, and to be visionaires. With trust comes confidence. When leaders have gained trust, their teams are confident that they are with the right team and headed in the right direction; the atmosphere is positive and they enjoy working towards a common goal; they like what they do and are focused on being the very best.
In addition to a team having trust and confidence in it’s leadership, the same goes for teams having confidence in one another and in the overall leadership of the organization. Teams interact and typically depend on one another to achieve success, therefore they and their respective leaders must be as cohesive as possible. Teams create both challenges and success for one another, which creates an emotional (both in a good and a bad way) environment at times, however with the right leadership (trust and confidence) we always emerge a stronger organization.
As leaders we have to do what it takes to gain the trust and confidence of our teams. Additionally, we must have the trust and confidence of the other leaders in the organization, their teams, and vice versa. Strategy and execution is our responsibility. Our teams expect us to make the right decisions about people, partners, processes, etc. When/if mistakes are made, we fail the team if we do not take corrective action and in turn we become vulnerable to losing the necessary trust and confidence. We are not perfect, nor is the organization, however our teams will continue to trust and have confidence in us as long as we continously make the right changes and position them to be successful.
There is discomfort and stress in constantly feeling the need to change and eliminate excuses. We push ourselves to rid these uncomfortable feelings because in our gut we know that something has to be done about “x”, and we have to initiate it. However, the easiest thing to do is to neglect the nagging feelings and bet on things just “working out”. The right thing to do is to take the steps required to feel absolutely comfortable in how the plan is being executed.
Planning is so important because it is really about laying out how we will be “changing”. If there are no changes, no plan is required. We must say (plan) how/why we will change, or it will not happen – and if we do not follow up on the plan for execution, there is no point in planning. The plan can be a budget, an acquisition plan, a sales/marketing plan, a project plan, etc. Regardless of the purpose or content, once it is finalized the real work should begin soon after. However, it is easy to be worn out just from the planning process and wait 2-3 months before reflecting on it. When we let ourselves do this the uncomfortable feelings grow stronger and linger until change happens, or worse, until something bad happens in the absence of execution.
“Eliminating excuses” is an easy way to think about implementing change. If things are not on track at a later time/reflection point, we and the others we lead will have several excuses – all of which can be anticipated today. Simple personal example: I want to get my weight down to 175lbs and maintain that level. It is two weeks into January and I weigh about the same weight. To reflect on that, have I started the process of eliminating excusses in order to feel good and secure about my progress? The answer is yes, I have been eating better and I have held true to my plan in working out at least three times per week. While I am not at the 175lb level yet, I am comfortable in where I am and that I will get there based on my efforts to eliminate future excuses. So if we have goals for our teams/organiztion to perform at a higher level, what are the excuses that we and others will have in 6 months as to why we have not done what we said we would do? Doesn’t it make sense to pull the plan back out right now and start eliminating those? How can we be comfortable and manage our stress levels otherwise?
One of our core values at MCCi is to “Focus, Focus, Focus”. A plan without focused execution has no value, and our confidence and success rate only increases with the same speed as does our excuse elimination/execution efforts.
We help guide others and help them form goals periodically, and then expect everyone to be off and running/executing. We know to let them have ownership and not to meddle in things in between goal setting and periodic reviews, for if we have to meddle, we know that we likely have the wrong person or a bad alignment of people/roles. Besides, micro-management is not the work of a Leader. It is a waste of time and is not respectful or motivational. It should not be considered work and if we do it and feel like it is “working”, shame on us. “Work” that a leader should be doing, is finding the right people so that micro-management is not necessary.
Others need to know in their hearts that we are hard workers and that we are working on things that are going to help the organization and the team grow. This is motivating to them, which turns into a high level of productivity for all. As leaders, we should follow the work ethic expectations we set and should be viewed as one of the hardest, if not the hardest worker in the organization. Think about some of the most successful people/organizations, who is their leader and can they quickly be identified as a hard worker themselves?
When we hold others accountable and work hard ourselves, the people we lead will even start leading us at times. If they have ownership/belief in their goals, the most motivating thing we can do is give them the breathing room needed to accomplish them, and spend our time working hard on other important initiatives. We must never be viewed as hypocrites – no one wants to follow that. In fact, during interviews a great question to ask is “What was your worse boss like?”. The responses typically show that they had a lack of respect for their boss and that they felt they were micro-managed and/or that their boss was hypocritical – which both lead to a lack of respect and a high probability of low productivity.
In our society, the belief seems to be that most people would rather not work hard. It is surely the case if the people do not believe in their work, their team, or their leadership. Sadly, there are many organizations that have a culture where working hard is not valued and sometimes even frowned upon. To be stuck somewhere like that would be my own personal hell. As leaders that believe our own hard work is an important motivator to others, we witness a totally different dynamic within our teams. Perspectives are different and hard work is not viewed as sinful. It is viewed as expected, rewarding, and exciting – because everyone is doing it, even the leadership team.
One important thing to do during the goal setting cycle is to make sure we have our own goals carved out in regards to what we will be focused on. Usually our goals are a culmination of the goals from everyone else and we play the role of putting the puzzle together, however we should have a couple that are things we will be working towards when we are not being lead by others. The coolest thing ever is to work for those we lead. We know we are doing things right when they come to us for the right kind of help and we end up working for them. This only happens if they are motivated enough to stretch themselves and us, and they will only come to us if they believe we truly can and want to help them. And they only believe we “can” and “want to” based on how they view our own work ethic.