June 28, 2023
If your journey’s been anything like mine, you’ve heard plenty of leadership advice.
First my career and then my business have taught me a lot about leadership, starting with the nuts and bolts of making a strategy (creating products and services that our customer’s value) and then taking that strategy down through the tactical points of planning, delegating, and managing tasks to completion.
But I think the area of leadership that energizes me the most is the place where a strategy intersects with execution where the people need to organize to make it happen.
When employees see a mission statement, how much does it inspire them?
Can they see themselves in the goals it implies?
A corporate strategy becomes reality when the employees make it their own; it creates an emotional response and connection.
To me, it’s critically important that I paint a very clear picture for each person how vital they are to create value for our customers (strategy).
Strategy in its simplest form is finding where value exists intersected with our relative ability to compete. Invariably, unless you are #1 or #2 in a market, gaps and opportunities exist to beingmost valuable.
These gaps and opportunities energize me to focus on that place where strategy comes to life through our people. My role is to help them see the value from the customer’s perspective and visualize themselves creating that value.
This is the three-part framework that guides the way I lead and inspire:
Create the space for listening. Listening to the challenges, the opportunities, the excitement, the fears. Listen for how our people personally connect to the strategy.
In this part, the focus is on being present, lovingly validating and appreciating our people’s feelings and connection to the vision.
This might sound too touchy-feely to be about business, but it’s a rule I live by: Exchange expectation for appreciation.
You might be like me and where I found I can get more contribution, game-changing ideas and engagement through actively listening. Appreciation is a form of love. When people feel appreciated, they can see themselves in a more positive light, and that can be very motivating and inspiring.
Now that I’ve listened, I understand where my team is coming from. This is how I can explain – in a way that’s relevant to them – how their unique skills, talents and goals are needed to make the strategy happen.
I help them find pathways for their growth that are in synch with corporate goals and their dreams.
My job is to foster productive partnerships with and between the people executing the strategy, translating vision into all the tactics that create progress.
Finally, I work to nurture behavior that turns dreams into reality.
I always have my eyes and ears open to our people doing the things that have to happen for success. Praise the behaviors and leading indicators that will lead to success.
I try to model things like learning from failure, reflecting on what went wrong and figuring out how to avoid it next time. Be tenacious and unrelenting in learning from setbacks.
When I see others working together to overcome an obstacle, I always call attention to it. We grow and create progress through obstacles.
If you can truly inspire your team, the sky’s the limit. As a leader, you can set the tone for huge successes for your employees and your company.