Often my driven and laser-focused clients are at a loss as to how to ramp up some of their employees. In some instances they have assumed that what drives them are the very same variables that drive their troops. This is an erroneous assumption. The fact that we all have different motivators is what makes the market. Your exact passion may not be theirs.
It is not just important to communicate your vision. Equally important is whether each and every member of your team understands their role and how their specific contribution fits into your strategic plan. Most leaders fail to communicate often enough. Each time you shift your focus you need to explain why, otherwise employees will not feel connected.
You must create ownership. If you lead with your ego you might be doomed. This is hard for a narcissist to see, because your own reflection can be blinding. Blinding to you and off-putting to others. Confidence and creating momentum must be equated with being prepared to share the spotlight.
In helping organizations identify succession planning needs, we look at a leader’s history of achievements. Have they taken risks and profiled their team? Do they trust that their senior leaders will be able to provide an articulate snapshot, answer questions with precision and stay out of the weeds? One of my clients is super bright. She is quick to synthesize data and formulate solutions. She regularly brings her direct reports to executive committee meetings. Her staff, however, has rated her low on empowerment. She was frustrated and perplexed. In her mind she was profiling her stars. I shadowed her and joined her team members at a number of senior steering committee meetings. It became crystal clear. Her direct reports would present, but as soon as a question emerged from the C level suite she jumped in. Each and every time her staff was not permitted to speak.
Your passion is not contagious by itself. If you want to go viral, bringing others along means understanding their values, finding alignment and letting them fly.
So what’s up with that? Well two possibilities. Either she wanted all the acclaim or had a high need for control and worried her team would be ill prepared. Either hypothesis might apply. If you don’t let go you are guaranteed to have a disenfranchised team.
How many of you regularly vet your team and explore whether they are getting the kind of exposure they desire? It’s not just visibility but rather the profiling must also fit with individual career aspirations. Do they want to develop financial acumen, enhance strategic thinking, or learn how to present at the executive level? Most want to get better, but better at what? If you cannot answer that question for each and every team member and if your key players cannot answer that for their own team members then how can you expect them to be jazzed about your vision? Your passion is not contagious by itself. If you want to go viral, bringing others along means understanding their values, finding alignment and letting them fly. In order to create a risk-friendly environment you have to surround yourself with experts. These experts have something to teach you. If you have nothing to learn or have all the answers I guarantee one of your key liabilities will be losing your star players.
Here’s something interesting to me. When I ask entrepreneurs why they are in business some indicate they want to make a difference or enhance the environment, but many suggest they just want to make a lot of money. I recently facilitated a group of business leaders and I asked them what they perceived their role was on behalf of their firm. Ninety percent raised their hand and stated their job was to help make their firm become the industry leader in profitability and market cap. I actually think that the answer should be “to stay in business forever.” If you believe that to be your goal, true leadership requires a highly nimble focus. Entrepreneurs tend to view themselves as highly flexible because they think in innovative ways. True enough, but stewardship in the purest definition requires you to not just spearhead your business but to launch everyone around you. The buzz is not really you. It’s each and every individual you have surrounded yourself with. That is, if you let them.