My youngest son plays quarterback and often finds himself in vulnerable situations in which he must open himself up to big hits to deliver the ball effectively; allowing little wins or big wins. If you’re not familiar with football, the quarterback is the person that throws the ball. They are usually the leader of the team, the most important position on the team, and are at great risk of injury due to hits they see and don’t see coming while throwing the ball. This season, my son tried rib-pads for the first time for extra protection and an amazing thing happened… his confidence to stand in the pocket rose tremendously, his ability to take a hit improved, and his willingness to give a hit improved! Why? In his words… “I felt protected”. What does this have to do with you, your leadership, and your organization?
It’s hard… and unlikely for people to play their best on a team, do their best in an organization, or perform their best on your team when they don’t feel protected. Perhaps you’ve worked for a company or a boss where making a mistake led to being chewed out, disrespected personally, put down in front of others, demoted, or even fired. It’s unlikely you’d want to take a risk again; nor would anyone else within the organization. It’s had to grow a business or successful team this way; and you may promote managers… but not leaders. In this type of environment, true leaders will either burn-out or bore-out and leave… or burn-out or bore-out and stay.
My definition of Leadership consists of five words: influence, impact, decisions, expectations, and protect. As a leader, you must be able to protect your people from themselves and their bad habits and protect them from YOU and your bad habits!
You know your people and the nature of human beings. You know who tends to come in late, come in right on time, gives the bare minimum, is late regarding deadlines, has a bad attitude, etc. A willingness to set and maintain high standards, expectations, and consequences… along with the ability to speak the language of your leaders, employees, and team is the leadership act of protecting your people. You also know how YOU are when you’re in a bad mood, busy, hungry, or not in the mood for THAT conversation with THAT person. Protecting your people from YOU suggests you are willing to be self-aware, practice self-care, and protect your time; being sure you’re enhancing your leadership, creating other leaders, and avoiding becoming just a “fixer” and “fire-putter-outter” all day long! So, here are three things you can do to protect your people to success!
Create Opportunities for Success
This sounds simple, but several things go into this step to enhance your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony and that of your people:
- Know your Vision & Vision Factors for success. It’s hard to know what success is and when you’ve achieved it personally, professionally, and within your organization if you haven’t defined it.
- Know what skills, attitude, and success you want and need for your people. Be sure they are aware too!
- Know the superpowers of your people; what do they bring to the table? Are they aware? Does their perceived superpower match their true ability or potential? When it matches, great! When it doesn’t, it’s time to have a tough and honest conversation that protects you, them, and the organization. This leads us to number 4…
- Are your people in the right-seat within your team or organization to allow success?
- Consistently educate and provide training for you people to enhance their skills, their leadership, and their work/life harmony; allowing them opportunity to progress with you or after you. We live in a new era; most employees that start with you will not finish with you. It’s not that they’re disloyal… it’s simply the way of today! While they are with you… give them a reason to stay longer or a possibly to the end their career within your organization. Or, make them great; allowing the world to notice the type of people coming from your organization. Believe me, it will pay off as great people will acknowledge your organization and want to be a part of it!
This is the opposite of the example I shared above of the person being chewed-out after making a mistake. As a leader, create a culture where thinking outside of the box is encouraged, manageable risk is encouraged, and lessons from hard-times, difficulty, and failure are nourished.
Of course, we all want 100% wins, but that’s not realistic! So how do you embrace failure?
Share with your people the importance of thinking big or bigger… assuming this is something you want to do. Encourage a sharing of ideas with co-workers, leaders, and everyone. Explain there will be times where you go with their idea, there may be times we collaborate, and the times you cannot go with their idea… we promise to tell you why, explain the bigger picture, and encourage you to fit your idea into the framework of that bigger-picture.
It’s also necessary to give your people enough rope to succeed and fail. Although you’re encouraging free and big thinking… it doesn’t mean your employees are running around crazy like chickens with their heads cut off spitting off ideas and doing whatever they want. Establish a process of sharing ideas and starting ideas… this process cannot pass through too many desks; otherwise, a lot of nothing happens! Also, if the damage of a new idea and risk is minimal (you must decide what minimal is) provide your people permission to JUST DO IT and report back afterward. Here are a few questions to ask:
- What was good about the idea or what you did? What did you like about it?
- What did you learn from it or the process?
- What advice would you give someone doing it in the future
This is a perfect opportunity to protect your people, your leadership, and the organization as you allow this person to share the experience and the answers to the questions above in your next meeting. This is how success, growth, and evolution happens and is encouraged!
Remember, leaders protect their people from themselves… as not everyone is overly ambitious and “Inspired & Motivated”. Many managers, employees, players, team members will drone about if left to their own accord… therefore Create a Success Map for your people!
A Success Map is a map to show those on your team or in your organization how to achieve their professional definition of success! This suggests you are curious enough to ask and know their answer. Perhaps they want to be you one day and sit in your seat. Perhaps they want to open a bakery, but need this current job until it’s a real possibility. Either way… great! Most employees and students have no idea all of the wonderful things their company or school offer. I didn’t… I had no idea what moving up in the company I used to work for looked like, entailed, or if a REALLY wanted it. Most people will accept the promotion because of the increase in income… or a title that makes them feel good.
Protect your people from this bad habit and your “busy” and ask, “What do you want to get out of working here”, “What’s your dream professionally”, “What do you like about working here… and what would you fine-tune”. These are leadership questions that allow you to know your people, what they need, how you can protect them and the organization, and what you’d benefit from stopping, starting, and, continuing to enhance leadership and work/life harmony for everyone!
Enjoy your 3 Ways of Protection your people and start the process of wowing your people and building the team and organization of your dream and theirs!
“As a leader, create a culture where thinking outside of the box is encouraged, manageable risk is encouraged, and lessons from hard-times, difficulty, and failure are nourished” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
I look forward to being of value and impact to your organization, your leaders, employees, and you with my Speaking Engagements and Leadership Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual)! Let’s connect to discuss and customize at www.youevolvingnow.com