You may be asking yourself how the father of Taoism could have anything to teach you about succeeding in business. The truth is, while Lao-tzu was never a CEO, he was on to something about long-term success. He understood that each single step is important. Each step is imperative to the success of the process.
Every leader has the responsibility to turn vision into reality. Between vision and reality lies the process—the path to success. You need skills and confidence to stay this course and overcome obstacles. You need confidence not just in your abilities, but in the process itself–to trust that the steps you and your team take are what you need to succeed, so you don’t get anxious, frustrated or lost.
Many people don’t understand the importance of this. Even corporations are often led astray by their own leadership hiring process, which can cause them to fail. When recruiting new leaders, people don’t see beyond the vision, thinking that’s all it takes. They don’t see the long and winding road, the grit and determination necessary to get from here to there. Maybe it’s time to start hiring the doers: the ones who turn dreams into dreams-come-true.
And, here’s why:
1. Success is as much about the how as the why. Everyone has reasons why they want to do something. Now ask them how they’re going to do it. Funny how silent people get.
I’ve seen it often in my work: once you get to the steps of actual implementation, the level of confidence and conviction goes down. Way down. Especially as the realization sets in that it takes a great deal of patience and resources to get from start to finish.
2. Everything important is a process. Even leadership and teamwork. Your company is made up of methods—ways of delivering the dream. How can you have a successful company if you don’t have faith you can develop and execute these processes well?
3. People have no clear direction without it. If you’ve been following banking, US car manufacturing, health care, or Wall Street, you understand that process plays as important a role as people in any organization. It is the infrastructure that puts thoughts into motion. Process is the what, where, when and how. Think of the workplace without them. Total pandemonium, yes?
4. Process doesn’t just impact corporate confidence. It’s about consumer confidence too. Now, think about your favorite brands, and your experiences with them. It’s not just what they promise, it’s how they deliver. For instance, I’m doing research on flights to Europe right now, and have gotten a lot of feedback on many of the airlines. Brand loyalty is firmly attached to the delivery process: ticketing, customer service, seating, in-flight assistance, on-time takeoff and landing. Process confidence has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. We want to be sure that brands deliver what they promise.
And this leads me to the final point:
5. Process turns promises into results. No leader can succeed without it. Process is the second jewel in the crown of execution, bridging the gap between people and strategy. Leaders can dream and strategize all they want. At the end of the day, outcomes are the only things that really matter.
In this rapidly-changing world of work, process needs to be understood more now than ever before, and cannot be taken for granted. Even the best leaders cannot perform or produce without confidence in the methods that will take them and their teams to success.
I urge you to read, re-read, and digest these five reasons you need process confidence. If you emulate faith in your company and your team, the process will thrive. If the process thrives under your leadership, your company will succeed. Take care in every single step you take, and your journey will thrive for over a thousand miles.
Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan
**Edited for repurpose by Avery Page, writer for Goddess Connections publication Women Who Run It.
We’ve all had a boss we hated before. That’s never fun.
A bad boss makes your work suffer, your happiness suffer, and the company suffer.
Sometimes, that bad boss… is you.
Let’s face it–leadership is not easy and not for everyone. It may be what many people aspire to, but, often, it is not a good fit.
So—how can you tell if you’re a good leader or not? Well, your performance is reflected in your team. The business world has changed a great deal over the years, but one thing hasn’t: employees still want to have confidence in their leaders’ capabilities and to know that leaders will respond to their needs. That’s not fundamental in much of the corporate world today, and it should be.
Here are 7 reasons that affect your assessment, and why your team may hate you:
1. You tell instead of sell. I have written about marketing from the inside out to win employees, the same way you do to win customers. A company’s success is largely based on what its employees do (or don’t do), just as much as what their customers do (or don’t do).
So, where’s the marketing to employees? How are they being influenced? Today’s tactics of “do this and do that” and “you’re lucky to have a job” may be two sources of motivation. However, intimidation is not the answer to leading and winning in the workplace–and the marketplace–inclusion is.
As a leader, you have the potential to influence people every day, to effect change through exchange. So, take every opportunity to engage employees because, after all, they’re customers too. Begin the dialogue, open doors, get people involved. Share marketing ideas, do internal market research, get product feedback. Create a culture that is customer responsive by being employee responsive too.
2. You don’t fight for your people. Rewards need to be linked to performance—that’s how you set the bar for behavior and create a culture of execution. But, how can you do that if you don’t fight for promotions and raises for your A-players? Good leaders show loyalty to their teams. How can you expect employees to care about you when you don’t care about them? Leaders also deal with underachievers—either by improving them, or firing them for the good of the team.
3. You don’t trust your team to do what they do best. This means you don’t know your employees—their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities—and it’s your job to know. Just think of any sport—why certain players are in certain positions—it’s to the best advantage for the team to win. It’s one thing to follow up and monitor progress with your people. It’s another to micromanage them. I learned this from a former boss who meddled in every single thing I handled. The upshot: I never rose to my full potential. Once I reported to someone who trusted me, I got stronger, because it made me trust myself.
4. You can’t make up your mind, so you don’t inspire confidence. In today’s fast-paced business world, it’s common for companies to zig and zag. However, there has to be clear goals and priorities, otherwise, it’s total pandemonium on the playing field. If you’re too insecure, confused or indecisive, how do you expect your team to know what to do? How do you expect them to trust you if you don’t trust yourself? Your job is to solve problems, so gain clarity by asking questions, and encouraging others to do the same. Yes—skillful leaders always ask questions, and then make decisions accordingly.
5. You don’t listen or encourage questions and feedback. Today’s workplace is all about change, and change is much more successful when you respect and engage the people who will actually execute it. Lay it all out for your team — everything you know and don’t know, and what your concerns are. Provide the view from the top: the priorities, goals, and expectations. Never operate under the assumption that employees know what they need to know. Get feedback. Ask questions. Ask for help. Get your peoples’ concerns out in the open. This reveals important information that helps you plan and anticipate problems. This is not only a great team-building exercise, but it gives everyone ownership. Change is much more successful when you engage the people who will execute it.
6. You are not an exemplary team player. In some of the talks I’ve given, we’ve discussed great attributes of team players, and how to assess ourselves. The top descriptions are: reliable, supportive, positive, adaptable, and accessible. Does this describe you? If it doesn’t, then remember: the only person you really control is you. Your thoughts. Your actions. So—fix them. That’s how you become a better you, a better teammate, a better leader. How can you expect your team to have these attributes when you don’t set the example?
7. You don’t like people. Believe it or not–many executives are put in leadership positions that don’t belong there. They may be terrific at their specialties–technology, finance, design—but they absolutely have no people skills. Management is all about process. Leadership is all about people. You have to love working with people to be in this role. If you don’t, then either get a coach or mentor, or, have the courage to step aside.
True leadership and teamwork give meaning to business. It’s why we sign on and stay. It has the power to ignite high performance and productivity, and is the fuel that carries companies to success.
If it turns out that you’re the kind of boss that you’ve hated in the past, then it’s not too late to change. Your team doesn’t want to hate you, they want to work in a productive and happy environment. If you use these tips to change the way you lead then you can change the way your employees see you. Make your environment the best it can be and make some great connections with your employees along the way!
**Repurposed for edit by Taylor Brown Associate Editor of Goddess Connections’ publicationWomen Who Run It.