One of the big problems I have with much of the information out there in books and journals about leadership is that these books focus on the leader…not on the followers. My belief is and always has been is this: As a leader, if you know some general truths about people, about what motivates them and what drives them away, you will be a much better leader. So, today, I want to share with you six truths about leading people. While these do not apply to every single person out there, these are so common that I feel I need to write about them today.
1. The majority of people you are leading are doing their best…even if you think they are not. As a leader, you may have some preconceived ideas and expectations about what your followers should or should not be doing. The question I have is this “Have you spoken to them about those expectations?” If not, then this is not their fault…it is yours. As a leader in today’s world, you have to be willing to place a top focus on the training and development of the people in your company and then be willing to bring in coaching to encourage people and to hold them accountable to their own greatness. If you are walking around silently complaining about what someone should be doing, there is a good chance your employees don’t know this, and it is up to you to assign someone in your company the job of implementing a world class development program.
2. People are inspired by public recognition and will do more for you when they get it. As someone who works with leaders and teams every day, I have heard so many people speak about the lack of public recognition for a job well done. From my perspective, people are craving recognition, and they are just not getting it, and they are craving recognition for not only big accomplishments but the small things that make the biggest difference in your company. Why are we doing this to our employees? My hunch is the old excuse of “We just forgot…or we just did not have time.” Hmmm…I say it’s time to “make time” for public recognition every day. The public recognition does not need to be in front of hundreds of people…it could be in front of just one other person, and the employee needs to hear something like this: “Thank you so much for handling the incoming calls yesterday for 30 minutes. I cannot tell you how much time this freed up for the whole team to finish the project we were working on.” So, you name the good deed while explaining how it had an impact on the team and/or your company.
3. Every person in your company has a different level of readiness for change. Generally speaking, most people don’t like change, because change challenges us all to go into unknown territory. Having said that, some people will adapt to change quickly while other people will change gradually over time while others will never buy into the change you are trying to implement. To expect everyone to jump on board with your change initiative or new idea is almost impossible. A tool like the DiSC assessment can help you understand a bit about how people view risk and change so that you aren’t blindsided when some people don’t automatically jump on board. For those people who do not easily buy into change, give them an end date for getting on board. For those people who don’t get on board with your new initiatives, it will be time for a tough conversation.
4. People are watching you to see if your actions match your words. Because of the lack of integrity in some of our leaders, our world now looks at leaders through scrutinizing eyes. They may hear your lips flapping, but they don’t see your actions lining up with the words you speak. The first rule of integrity is probably “Tell the truth and live the truth, even when no one is looking”. Right up there with this rule is “If you say you are going to do something or you want your team to act a certain way, you better do it”. If you don’t, your credibility will instantly become tarnished, and people will lose trust in you and the words you speak.
5. Not everyone in your company wants to be an “A player” on your team. Somewhere along the way, company leaders have grabbed onto the idea that every single person in their company wants to “play to their full potential” and “rise to the top”. This is just not the case. There are many people in companies who love playing a support role. They are your “B players”, and they are perfectly content playing that role. As a leader, if you are going for only “A players” or people who want to get there, I recommend you read the book Topgrading by Brad Smart and then only hire people who have the qualities of the “A players” of the world. Having said this, I just don’t know how well a company would operate with all “A players”. I feel that we need people in support roles who don’t want to rise to the top of the company, but that is just my opinion. The truth is to know that even though you may want everyone succeeding beyond their wildest dreams, there are people who just don’t want that for their lives, and as a leader, you have a decision to make: You either have a mix of “A and B Players”, or you only hire “A players” who are going to rise to the top of your company. It’s all up to you.
6. There is a 99.9% chance that the people in your company are gossiping about you and others. Let’s face it: People talk about other people in your company. Of course, they love to spread around the bad stuff, but as a leader, you must be willing to know that there is a grapevine in your company, and it is important to know what is being heard through the grapevine. I don’t want to suggest that you dwell on this topic, but it is important that you put your ear to the ground enough to know what is being said at the water fountain, over lunch and during breaks about you, your team or your company. It could be very valuable information that can lead you to making a decision that could turn your company around.
To learn more about the people in your company and what they want from you as a leader, contact me today for a complimentary coaching session. I am happy to see how I can help you.