Have you ever wondered why some years are better than others, professionally? Sometimes it is due to forces beyond one’s control. Sometimes it is due to variations within oneself. Eventually, a team is only as strong as the weakest self revealed and personified by the leader. In simpler terms, follow the leader is not just a children’s game. When the leader strives to be his/her best-self in front of the company, then the company responds in kind. Encourage your leaders to be the best version of themselves. We make hundreds of choices each week, and we should keep our mirrors close by to ask ourselves, “Is this me being my best self?” Adjust, staying true to being the best version of yourself, and teach others to do the same.
Starting with yourself as the leader, make a public commitment to your team that you will do the best work of your career, right here and right now.
Now I know this is aspirational, and the fact is that we will all fall short of being our best self. The question is how far will we fall short? How often will we fall short? How visibly will we fall short in front of others who are counting on us to be the best version of ourselves? This applies at home, in social circles, and at work, especially as it relates to the family, friends and coworkers looking up to us as mentors, role models and examples. It can be heavy at times. It can feel smothering when life is dealing a healthy dose of controversy and challenges, yet we are still expected as leaders to be the best version of ourselves, especially in tumultuous times.
In full disclosure, I have lived through enough leadership roles over 30 years to witness myself doing my very best work as the best version of myself. It is very satisfying and edifying because one can see the positive impact on the team and people. I have also lived through enough hard times and life’s curve balls to witness myself struggling to be the best version of myself. I have seen how that lets down the team and impacts people. So, I am not wielding judgment here. Nobody is perfect at this best practice. My hope is to establish how this best practice can be incredibly powerful if an entire leadership team embraces it and edifies each other to be tenacious at it. Once this takes root in the entire organization, it becomes transformational.
Encourage honesty and self-reflection on why we had the failure. Go first as the leader and live by this as well. Once again, we can set the bar as being the best version of ourselves. Wreck, adjust, ride. Just do it as the best version of yourself.
Here are some ways to take on life’s challenges to deliver the best version of ourselves as leaders:
- Do the right thing, the right way: Lead a culture to have healthy dialogue that includes a pause to consider, “What is the right thing to do, here? How is the right way to do it?” This comes across as trite at first, but it is actually quite empowering and powerful. If you have established a strong vision, a strong brand, a strong set of core values that are well written and simplified, the right people are in the right seats, and then you have rolled it all out in a solid annual and quarterly plan, then doing the right thing, the right way will have the definition and guard rails necessary for everyone to embrace it. We are defining “right” as it relates to being on-brand, true to the core values, and rowing towards the vision. We are also defining doing right as using our morale compass to make the right tough decisions, but in a fair manner.
- Consider a more frequent connect-the-dots path from current state to ideal state: Our vision and our goals can create vast space, time, or mileage if you will, between points A and Z to get there. The most important element is to ensure we are going the right direction. If so, then I have found it wise to break that journey’s time interval and path down to weekly points. Important quarterly goals can be broken down into weekly bites. What will we do this week to get us to that 12-week goal? In other words, make the space between points 7 days, and haul ass. Be bold in that 7-day journey. This creates a true up on direction and intensity every 7 days. When I advise top executives, we get on a solid weekly meeting pulse right out of the gate. This is to enable the connect-the-dots interval. In hindsight you will have a straighter path, yet it will show adjustments and look like a slightly zig-zag connect-the-dots line between A to Z.
- Starting with yourself as the leader, make a public commitment to your team that you will do the best work of your career, right here and right now: This can become something that is championed by everyone in the company. Once again, the vision, core values etc. already listed need to be in place. It should become fair to encourage, and if necessary, challenge each other in this manner, “Let’s do the best work of our careers together, right here and right now!” Why is this effective? Inspiration from the top is critical. Inspiration from all directions, though, is much more sustainable.
- Who edifies the edifier? Top leaders who are inspirational in the nature and style can effectively lead teams to synergy that catapults the business. I have witnessed these dynamic leaders, and I noticed that they, too, need edification from time to time. Who edifies them? If you are one of these dynamic leaders, or if you work with one, consider that they have a reservoir of energy and excitement that needs to be refilled from time to time. It is not a weakness that drives this. It is just common sense. So be sure we edify our edifiers. They return the favor tenfold.
- Be willing to fail, but just fail fast going the right direction: By following the weekly interval of connect-the-dots to big goals, we can do what is called fast-fail. We want to encourage hard riding and smart risk taking, but we want to fast-fail so we can course correct and stay on the straightest, logical path to our goals. (Previous Blog post – If you aren’t wrecking, you aren’t riding). It is healthy to admit mistakes, miscalculations, and stubbornness to following sound process, or admit to being overly aggressive. Encourage honesty and self-reflection on why we had the failure. Go first as the leader and live by this as well. Once again, we can set the bar as being the best version of ourselves. Wreck, adjust, ride. Just do it as the best version of yourself.
We make hundreds of choices each week and we should keep our mirrors close by to ask ourselves, “Is this me being my best self?” Adjust, staying true to being the best version of yourself, and teach others to do the same.
Are you delivering the best version of yourself as the leader of your enterprise or department? It is an aspirational goal, and one we will touch at times but rarely hold onto before we slip. The slippage makes us human and bonds us to each other. The goal, though, if ingrained into the culture using the points above, is to create a high performing team like one rarely sees. Is it not the ultimate leadership achievement to have the right people in the right seats, rowing together as a force of nature because they are all edifying each other to be the absolute best version of themselves? It is how great teams consistently win together.
Feel free to comment on how you lead your teams to be great and to be the best they can be together.
Until next week, cheers!