3 Little (but absolutely key) Leadership Lessons
No joke - we celebrated our 23rd year in business on Friday, April 1st. I'm not sure why Steve and I decided to go with April 1 as our official start date but we did and it has not served us wrong yet!
I was recently asked what 2-3 biggest things we as founders have learned in the 20+ years we've been in business. And to be honest, it was pretty difficult narrowing it down especially because we love to learn, upgrade, develop and create. Obviously, an awful lot has changed not only in business but also the world over the last two decades. However, one of our strengths as a company is looking at change and change management as opportunities to explore.
From exploration came an intense drive to research and learn… never being satisfied with the flavor of the day. We understood early on, that as founders, we could never build a business advisory firm without a team of great people. This is what propelled us forward and through the many upheavals and pivots of the past few years.
So, as I thought about that and looked at the big picture or from a 30,000-foot view as we like to say, I identified three key leadership lessons that really stood out. These three are not only derived from our own lessons learned but the lessons uncovered from the hundreds of businesses we’ve served as well. I also believe these are three key drivers of future momentum.
It truly is all about people. Your momentum comes from how healthy your team is when working together. Today, with a tight labor market and the last two years of unexpected disruptions, we have all come to realize how important it is to find the right people and place them in the right seats. Although this is a big part of getting a great team in place, it’s just the beginning. Team health encompasses so much more. Your leaders must be willing to learn, practice (sometimes uncomfortable) people skills, build relationships and make a difference in:
Developing the organization’s unique culture by setting expectations
Understanding and reinforcing the Core Values daily (not just marketing your core values on a webpage)
Playing to individuals’ strengths by developing their unique talents
Balancing those talents across the organization so the company becomes strong in every area
If people are key to the organization’s success, then leaders and managers must first, believe this and second, make sure their actions reinforce that belief. Whatever you call yourself ... manager-leader-supervisor ... remember: you lead people, you manage tasks. There is a difference, especially in the eyes of your team members. Leading people requires you to give of yourself, no matter how high-ranking you are, and spend time supporting and offering resources for others to grow and succeed in their jobs. Part of any leadership team’s long-term strategy should include developing their own coaching skills. When was the last time your company devoted time and materials to move managers toward becoming leaders of people? The most successful leaders who have a knack for retaining great people display a willingness to:
Be open and honest: Patrick Lencioni, author of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, explains it as being vulnerable with your team. Leaders are not afraid to admit that they may not know or understand everything but are very willing to discuss and collaborate to help their team members gain momentum. They take the time to develop relationships with individuals so that they can better understand.
Wade into conflict. These leaders are not afraid to identify and bring up conflicting thoughts and behaviors within their teams. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, called this “confronting the brutal facts”. Leaders lean in to exploring issues, especially if the issue is affecting the organization or the team. They have that ability to treat others with respect as they bring up issues that may be volatile or personal in nature and they begin conflict discussions with “I want to understand your side first”.
Have delegation conversations with their teams and ability to give the reins to others. Leaders here realize they cannot be the command center for everything that must be done. Delegation is a skill to be learned because delegation requires one to teach, coach, review, reinforce and reward. Is this sounding like employee performance management? Yup, but with a strategy toward helping individuals develop by taking on responsibilities that will allow you to move on and grow!
There must be only one operating system for an organization:
Not multiple systems created by each department or division manager. Although you may have hired top notch, high potential manager-leaders for each part of your company, they cannot “own” a company’s operating system. Without this, all you have are mini efforts with different focuses, multiple targets and a group of individuals, not a team. When leadership teams follow one system, talk the same language and stick to a meeting cadence, it builds a higher level of communication for teams which in turn builds your momentum.
And that’s it…the three big picture leadership lessons learned over the course of The Resultants journey. If you're going to start anywhere, start with people (Jim Collins). When those people buy into one operating system, they begin to push the wheel and once they all start pushing together, your business creates a momentum few can stop. In a nutshell, these steps translate into moving further, faster. It's why we love what we do at The Resultants as well as how we have built teams of great people for 23 years!
The Resultants Team
We truly couldn't do it without our team. We appreciate all the brainstorming, hard work, energy and time this team has put into making our company what it is. Take a minute to learn a little more about the Team Behind Your Team™.