There would be little need for leadership if all subscribed to the notion that they should not depend on someone else telling them what to do to be successful. Required levels of performance, mentorship, and accountability will always be key elements of leadership, but who rises to the top? It is typically those who put their own plan together or augment the standard with their own level of awesomeness; it is those who are strategic thinkers and who come up with solutions, find new opportunities, and push past the limits of what has been done in the past.
Finding/developing true leaders is the largest never-ending leadership challenge. Getting others to find their passion and to unlock whatever mental block is holding them back from being the absolute best – that is it – that is the leadership challenge. And in every organization, leadership is needed at all levels; Sales Managers need sales people to be Sales Leaders, Executives need Managers to be Leaders, Delivery Teams need those delivering services to be Leaders, Customer Service needs all representatives to be leaders in how they interact with clients, etc.
What are some of the things you do to assess people and cultivate future leaders?
Many high-growth organizations use a formal Growth Operating System; We use EOS, and one of the concepts is to tie in your Core Values to how you assess yourself and teammates. Here is example of how we use our Core Values to assess one another.
WE ARE FANATICAL ABOUT CLIENT SUCCESS Demonstrates personal accountability to client (internal/external) success
WE DO THE RIGHT THING. ALWAYS. Consistently demonstrates a high level of character and integrity
WE INNOVATE AND EVOLVE Seeks and suggests ways to improve processes/products/services
WE ARE FUELED BY CRUSHING GOALS Consistently achieves personal goals and does their part in team goal achievement
WE ARE UNREASONABLY PICKY ABOUT OUR TEAMMATES Considered a great teammate by others; has a great attitude and excels in doing their part
WE EXPECT & EMPOWER OUR TEAM TO GROW Takes ownership of their own growth and development
Core values are not just about an outward facing identity; they are also crucial in evaluating what success looks like internally and having all aligned. In the context of this message, I believe they can also help coach rising stars!
Any significant opportunity is larger than the individual leading it. The outcome (success or failure) will impact others as well as the organization. Because great leaders look at large opportunities as responsibilities, their success rate is much higher than others. Here are a few things they do to ensure large opportunities have successful outcomes:
They think long and hard about the opportunity before they sign up
They check themselves for the juice they and their team have in the tank; it will be needed because things seldom go as planned.
They make a plan and ensure they have the right team and resources
They set up inspection points
They celebrate the small wins and learn from the small failures along the way
Successful outcomes require great leadership and teamwork, which makes being the leader an Awesome Responsibility.
For me, being a leader of leaders comes with many lessons learned. First, if you have leaders who report to you, recognize that all are in different phases of their leadership development cycle. Many who are given leadership responsibilities have not had the benefit of the successes or failures that come with experience. Secondly, only those who exhibit strong leadership potential should be placed in management and leadership positions; and along the way, they must understand they are expected to be or become great leaders. And lastly, we must understand where each person is on their leadership journey. Where there is a need, we must mentor/educate and provide leadership directly. The ultimate goal in being a leader of leaders is that we have a stable of proven leaders, and part of that is filling in and doing some servant leadership to make sure we are supporting them and their team as they grow.
Focusing on this last point a bit more……..a well rounded leader has all the following in check when it comes to their people: 1. Trust/Relationships; 2. Accountability/Inspection; 3. Awareness; 4. Ability to motivate; 5. Accurate assessment of issues/opportunities; 6. Clear goals and mutual commitment; and…… 7. a healthy team culture. All of these are pre-requisites to being respected as a leader. Now look at those you lead and grade them as if you were a member of their team. As a leader of leaders, it is our responsibility to have this level of awareness. It is a mistake to think that by putting someone in a leadership position, that they have it all figured out and are able to provide all the leadership needed right out of the gate. They should be able to experience their own failures, but they need us to be aware of where they need coaching and support, and we need to make sure that while they grow we continue contributing so that they and their team receive the level of leadership deserved.
Everyone has a boss. Here are some guidelines of when and when not to leverage others when it comes to leading our teams……
When to leverage:
When you do not have decision making authority
When an item is material enough and you need advice before making a decision
When you are already all-in, but need some additonal support to get to the next step
When not to leverage: When it is something fundamental to the success of your team, yet you yourself are not behind the initiative. Belief has to start with you as the leader of your team and leveraging others absent of this will only deminish your influence and ability to successfully lead.
If you ever find yourself conveying to the team that a new initiative must be adopted due to someone else’s agenda, it is a good idea to stop and spend time with your leaders to fully understand (debate if needed) the initiative, find purpose, understanding, and get behind it, and then focus on how to communicate it to your team as their leader. Your team has to know where you stand before there can be any positive momentum.
It is true that trust is the primary requirement to leading effectively, but the immediate runner up is accountability. Without both, you will get knocked off the leadership podium.
To provide a narrative……
A leader starts with their new team (new team or just new to them) and their first course of action is to build genuine relationships/trust through their actions. This goes on for a while and all is seemingly great. The team loves their leader and they trust them. The leader is also happy with how things are going and they trust their team, and now we have a tipping point because it is at this point that it is easy to start making dangerous assumptions (like that all understand their role, priorities, cadence for getting things done, what success looks like, the strategy, how and when to report, the why behind initiatives, etc.). The right move is to insert the accountability pieces as early into the mix as possible, preferably right when relationships/trust are taking hold. If the accountability step is missed, the trust that has been established can result in it taking quite a while before the reasons for inefficiency and lack of execution are apparent, thus making it the “ultimate sneaky disaster”.
To help avoid/correct this situation:
Live out the tried and true “Inspect what you expect” concept; people need this and they know it – you even need it from those you report to.
Understand that the trust you worked to build will ultimately be lost if the team is not successful. Some refrain from inserting all the needed accountability measures due to the fear of harming likeability/trust. However, the team looks to their leader to lead them to success and they expect to be held accountable. They are on/off the team because of their belief in their leader, so know that you have earned the right to do what is needed to ensure success for all.
It takes strong leadership to balance it all, but that is what is required. I have ended up thanking my mentors and leaders over the years for how they held me accountable. Without the accountability factor, I am certain neither of us would have experienced the same level of success.
Every team member should believe in the vision of their leader. Buy-in comes from trust, which must be earned. Here are some core questions to ask yourself in regards to whether or not you have earned your team’s trust:
Everything starts with a great plan: Have you done a good job laying out the plan by explaining how it was formulated, and being specific in regards to contributions needed from each team member? Have you gotten to the point where they understand and believe in their ability to contribute/impact outcomes?; Do they own and believe in their portions of the plan?
How would they rank your competency level? Does your team have full belief in your understanding of the business, goals you set, and your ability to help them cross the hurdles along the way? It starts with explaining “the why” behind goals, changes, and plans. Then your ability to get in the trenches when needed and help with a win, course correction, etc., is what cements the belief in your competence and the team’s ability to succeed under your leadership.
Do they value/respect your work ethic? The quality and tempo of the work you do sets the example for your team. Go-getters trust and are motivated by Go-getter leaders.
How would they rank your level of character and integrity? If you have made it to a leadership position, you likely have a high-level of character and integrity, but does your team know it? Have you spent the required time to build and maintain your relationships? Time and experience with each person is the starting point, and then consistently doing what is right is what must follow. Also notable is that doing what is right is not always what is easy/popular, but it is what creates long-lasting respect and belief in your character and integrity.
Most people desire to be successful and they seek a leader they can count on for support and guidance. In order to earn their trust, they must believe that being on your team gives them the best chance for success.
Reflect often (and trust your gut) on what is needed to build and maintain trust. At any given time, there is someone on the team that is not a full believer; therefore, building and maintaining trust must be a continuous effort by all leaders.
As a leader, it is a constant battle to have the right plan, attitude, and belief that success is attainable and within reach. The leadership commitment is to exude confidence and be a positive force in the organization at all times. People check their leader(s) for genuine feeling/emotion constantly, and what they are looking for is positive energy, motivation, and hope.
When you are dealing with the biggest issues and are feeling a bit down – know that no matter what you do, your true feelings and state of mind are trickling down to those you lead. You may believe you are not showing a negative side to your team, and you may even say that your peers, but don’t fool yourself for too long. In these moments (which there are many in leadership) we must act swiftly and do whatever it takes to get our heads back in the right place; only then will others feed off of the positive energy they need and deserve, and in turn everyone is then part of the solution.
Reminds me of a great quote………..
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
If you fail to handle yourself first, others will feel it and the impact is magnified.
My wife and I were visiting Asheville, NC this past weekend and walked by a local shop that had this quote in their window. I did check the source and while it is listed as unknown, some believe it came from Thomas Jefferson.
I normally post original thoughts only, but this really struck a chord and I wanted to share. As leaders we are constantly trying to develop other leaders and the ability to grasp this concept and be motivated by it is something we must see in them. Most “good” performers need to know something has been done before and then have to be motivated to achieve the same or better results; it requires good leadership to lead good performers and we need this foundation in our organizations. But how do we find and develop other leaders who will innovate and create tremendous growth for all stakeholders?
When striving for consistent exponential growth, we must find (or develop) team members that have the capability and desire to be entrepreneurial, which is what this quote is all about.
No leader has success without the loyalty, drive, ingenuity, and tenacity of the other leaders on their team. The role of a “leader of leaders” is to mentor/motivate, challenge, and hold them accountable, but we must not forget to routinely let them know how much they are appreciated. Similarly, we should show appreciation to those who lead us as well. Just think of when someone you lead, or someone who leads you, takes the time to ask how things are going and/or proactively lets you know how much you are appreciated. How does that make you feel?
While it is so easy to do, we must fight against the tendency to assume other leaders are not in need of positive feedback. The one on one sharing of the appreciation we have for other leaders in our lives is something they are more than deserving of, and it is a necessity in creating/maintaining a great culture and ever-lasting relationships.
For any MCCi folks reading the post and for those who have led me……… Thank you! Saying it here is not good enough; I know I can do a better job of putting this in practice and will be holding myself accountable to act.
This morning my oldest daughter (Eloise) asked me to sign her binder to confirm that she had done her homework, and her reading assignment last night. She had done both so I signed it and she was all set. As I was getting ready to head into the office, my wife told me that the day before Eloise had forgotten to get her binder signed and as a result only received 1 “pom pom” which is indicative of how well they do on any given day. It was the first time Eloise had not received the highest mark (2 pom poms) and she was devastated. After learning this, it made total sense in regards to how eager she was to have someone sign off this morning (her mom has always done this and she was not awake yet).
My biggest takeaway as it relates to adults and the professional world is that all organizations need awesome 1st grade teacher types (Like Mrs. Dunn in Eloise’s case) as part of their management/leadership teams. The result of setting clear expectations, inspecting results, and holding people accountable is that all are given the chance to reach their own optimal success level. Everyone needs guidance and accountability. While it may not be a daily focus like it is in 1st grade, the best business leaders know the importance of this same concept and it can surely be exemplified by doing a review of what the best-in-class organizations are doing.
Failure to practice the same concepts as grownups is simply a failure to lead.