After 20+ years in corporate management positions and coaching high-performing executives, I’ve seen it all.
Bad leaders who can’t make up their mind, who vacillate quarterly based on wind direction and managers who manage by fear, non-information, and deception. They flail constantly fearful of the future, frustrated and angry with their situation, and are secretly guilty about their past failings. We’ve all worked for one of them.
As a leader, you have three basic responsibilities to your people — if you get them right and stick to only these three, you will be hitting home runs all season long.
You need to find the fuel that will energize your people. Most leaders manage everyone the same way and wonder why some people don’t resonate or act recalcitrant to your requests. It’s because you’re not finding what motivates THEM. What is that spark that gets them going, focused, and productive.
No one likes to come to work and be bored, ineffective, and sidelined. They want to be involved, excited, and active to various challenges that tap into their talents and grow their abilities.
To walk the talk, you need to hone your talk. Most leaders don’t care about what they say and how they say it. They’ve worked diligently for years to get where they are and rely on past abilities to keep them in their present role. That’s a big mistake that usually bites them on the butt.
You need to speak in their language — make it easy to consume your message. Stop the annual ‘president’s letter’ — get out of your office and speak directly to your people – in small groups, one-on-one, and informally. Drop by and say ‘Hi!’.
Communication also includes LISTENING and UNDERSTANDING. This is where most leaders fail — they become loudspeakers of canned company propaganda and don’t take the time to listen and understand their people — their wants and needs, how they can work better, how they solve problems, what they hear from customers, etc.
Your people are starving for new information, tools, and efficiencies to help them perform better and grow in their position. You are in your position because of what you’ve done, how you did it, and what you used to get there. Most people don’t know what you know.
Step out of your self-imposed cocoon and give people the tools and knowledge to help themselves grow. Make lunch & learns a regular event, go offsite to different locations and bring your people with you, make it a point of ALWAYS grabbing some staff and introduce them to your clients and vendors. Encourage and finance increased education at all levels and most of all, make conferences, books, magazines, etc. mandatory and paid for by corporate.
If you do these three behaviors — and only these three when you lead, you will be remembered by your people as one of the greats.