Are your actions overwhelming others and hindering performance?
This was the case with Jerry, a successful marketing executive. Jerry had the drive and passion to make things happen. The greater the challenge the better. From setting strategy to solving prickly problems, Jerry was dedicated to achieving one goal after another. People who worked with him admired his commitment; however, Jerry’s drive and push for results caused many in the organization to rush through their activities. There was no time for creative solutions as people hastily sped through the motions to meet the deadlines. Despite the organization’s positive results, most people were too stressed and exhausted to celebrate their accomplishments. Of course, Jerry was pressing on to the next initiative even when the prior work was not completely finished.
To even suggest to Jerry to slow down wasn’t an option. His senior managers were pleased with the progress and looked forward to more of the same. Little did they know that each accolade encouraged Jerry to push the organization even harder and at what cost. Jerry’s intent was to drive everyone as hard as he drove himself. He would joke, “Nothing personal, it’s just business.” Jerry’s actions were taking a toll both on himself and those around him.
It took heroic efforts for Jerry to stay on top of each business campaign. He was putting in long hours. His wife and children were complaining that Jerry was distracted and spent weekends working on his computer or talking on the phone to colleagues. As a runner, Jerry’s workout schedule seemed to be getting interrupted. He was more prone to small injuries and he wasn’t making training progress which he easily chalked up to getting older. The evening glass of wine had turned into two or three and lately he wasn’t sleeping well. Little by little, Jerry’s enthusiasm for the work was turning more into anxious pressuring of others to work harder. The work was endless and all consuming; and to what end.
A guy who once rallied the organization with his energetic speeches was now turning people off as they knew Jerry’s messages equated to a pile of work with little relief in sight. It might have helped if people felt their efforts were recognized. Coworkers and direct reports rarely heard an encouraging word from Jerry, but they sure got an earful when things were off track.
Many would congratulate Jerry for his dedication and results. However, was Jerry creating a sustainable work environment or one that required his vigilant oversight? The truth is Jerry’s actions would eventually hold him back from the senior executive job he so coveted. The short-term results were only sustainable for as long as Jerry continued to drive the organization. People quickly learned to keep up with the pace by providing minimal effort to stay afloat. Tempers flared and the number of mistakes was on the rise causing hours of rework. Maybe it’s time for Jerry to channel his passion for the business through his leadership to create a healthy and thriving organization that is ready to take on multiple and sequential business challenges.
The intention of leadership is to ignite the passion in people for positive outcomes. Successful leaders are able to achieve a company’s vision through marrying the strategy and plans by bringing out the best in people. They recognize as the company grows it requires developing the capability and potential of themselves and others. The principles of leadership are simple to understand; however, in today’s hectic, mega-tasking world, leaders can get distracted from the very principles and leadership behaviors that will guide them to engage and motivate others to action.
Unfortunately, leaders like Jerry leave themselves and the organizations they serve emotionally spent, tired and stressed. Jerry may be well-intended to focus primarily on the results but there is a clear gap in the execution of the business concepts. Achieving results could get easier if Jerry and the organization focused on the fundamentals to develop, lead and coach people through the changes. The organization would be more aligned and better prepared to take on the business challenges.
Like a professional basketball player, who follows their fingers coming off the ball to the basket, effective leaders know the series of actions to take from strategy conception to execution of the ideas to achieving the end result. As basketball players practice the same shot over and over, extraordinary leaders know that to get to the prize requires a consistency of actions and alignment to the target.
Here are 10 steps to align your intentions with key leadership actions to make it easier to achieve and sustain results.
- Authentic: Act as a role model. Realize what you do will get emulated by others.
- Direction: Set clear direction and show how all the initiatives work together.
- Engagement: Get buy-in and gain commitment.
- Action: Define what you are going to do and “how” you will carry out the task.
- Caring: Consistent and constant development and caring for people.
- Communication: Express ideas in ways people understand and can take action.
- Feedback: Provide generous amounts of positive feedback early and often. Use constructive feedback as learning opportunities to develop others.
- Intention: Listen and observe then match your actions to your intentions.
- Visibility: Be visible and available to provide guidance, direction and remove obstacles.
- Victories: Celebrate and acknowledge the small victories on the journey to results.
It takes practice to implement leadership concepts on a consistent basis. Start by identifying and working on a few leadership aspects over the next 30 days. Develop a plan and frequently monitor your progress. Ask others for input on how you are doing. For better results, pay attention to both what you want to achieve and how to achieve the desired outcome.