This is the 3rd in a series of stories about my leadership journey. My first management position was less than successful. As I’ve moved beyond that job, I’ve learned about a few attitude adjustments necessary for leadership transformation.
The problems in my first management position stemmed from everyone having their own vision for the future. It occurred to me that, even though I was the boss, each team member was free to make their own choices. The scope of my leadership could never eclipse their power to choose. Everyone chooses the energy and the passion and the interest they bring to a job. We also may be free to chose the method. And for many even what they choose to do and the order they choose are up to them. Either your team chooses to do what was best for the organization or they didn’t. In the end, few people do things because they have to. They choose to do them because they believe the choices will get them where they want to go.
I had already decided I wanted a certain type of person (energetic, optimistic, hard working) to want to work on my team. (See Focus on Others) These people did seem to have some traits in common. They shared the organization’s vision, at least once they understood it. I had never articulated it very well. The team’s vision wasn’t very clear in my own mind. Over time, I realized a shared vision made it easier for quality, hard working, passionate, energetic team members to self-identify and have an outlet for their energy. Slowly, I learned to stop telling people what to do. Instead, I learned to present a vision of the future and ask people to take part in our team’s pursuit of that future.
When I took these steps, character-based leaders self-identified. People chose to take responsibility for what they could do to secure our ideal future. Or not. Some chose not to and either left or were asked to. But many chose to join in the creation of our vision and chip in. Their contributions energized the others and created a positive, growing culture.
In a very short while, it became easy to identify those who weren’t committed to the teams future. Many times people think they “have to” embrace the team’s ideal future, so they put on a facade. They act like they want to do the work and they want to take part in the future, but the truth is different. Over time they get tired, drained, negative and miserable. The extra energy to act like they’re having fun when they’re not adds to their cost of employment. Over time they expend much more self-generated energy than anyone else to get the same paycheck.
For the people who freely chose to embrace the team’s future, they found energy in the effort. Their enthusiasm for the future made them happier and motivated them through even the difficult tasks every team must endure to succeed. Operating according to the idea people are free to choose brought energy and life to our team. It may for you too.
Do you recall a time when the energy was organic? It often comes from choosing your passion and working with energy. Like working out, working with energy creates energy more than it drains. Share below any thoughts you have on the attitude adjustments you’ve made in your leadership too.