By Jay Forte
One of the behaviors I see most often when coaching executives is the need to be right instead of being open to the ideas of others.
Humility is an attribute rarely associated with our conventional definition of CEO or executives. In fact, the assertive, commanding and directing personalities have been routinely applauded as the attributes of successful leaders. Though there may have been a time when some of these behaviors did advance success, in today’s world, they do not.
Let me explain.
When any one of us is more focused on needing to be right than to sourcing the best ideas, we alienate, limit and exclude others’ ideas, perspectives or directions. The need to be right over the intent to be successful or productive are two entirely different things. The former keeps you small and limited as you push away others’ ideas and thinking. The latter encourages broad thinking, continual development and improved performance.
Today’s best leaders are those who are open, supportive, good at asking questions and listening; they are committed to their own development and to the development of their employees. They know that in a knowledge economy, the success of an organization is in the brains and ideas of their employees. That means that every manager, leader and executive must learn to ask themselves these 2 questions:
- Who do I have to be to activate the engagement and performance of my people?
- What in my approach needs to change to connect with, guide, support and coach my employees to discover, develop and use what they are best at to make their greatest impact at work?
The starting point to effectively respond to both questions is to define the success attributes of a CEO, leader, manager or boss in your organization. Don’t define it as it is today, but instead as it needs to be for your organization to be an employer of choice and to consistently deliver remarkable results in today’s workplace. This is your goal. As you start to build your success plan, refer to this as your “right goalpost.”
Next, assess what works and doesn’t work in your current approach. This is your “left goalpost” – where you currently are. By assessing what works and doesn’t work, you gain the clarity and information to know where you are and what is getting in the way to prevent you from achieving the goal you created.
In other words, you have left and right goalposts, your starting point and your end goal. This allows you to see the distance or gap you need to close.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say that as you reviewed your performance as leader, you noticed you are not very self-aware. You don’t really know your strengths and liabilities, so you can’t effectively manage them. As a result, you can be a victim to your triggers and emotions, frequently reacting instead of responding, which shows up in your organization through disengaged employees: your employees don’t really contribute, you see high employee turnover and it always seems like a struggle to achieve your performance goals.
Now you know what you want and you know where you are. You see the gap between the two. With this insight, you can start to identify actions to close this gap.
A potential first action may be to work with a coach to become more self-aware, to be introduced to assessment tools and to create a personal inventory of abilities. This expanded awareness will help you identify your strengths and liabilities; both will need management, which can’t happen if you are unaware of them. By managing them, you become a more intentional and mindful manager, becoming more responsive, more inclusive and more connected to your team and employees. Taking this first step helps you start to close the gap from where you are to where you want to be.
Contact me to learn how we help leaders define their goalposts and build success plans to close the gap.
Be the kind of leader that engages, inspires, activates and retains the best employees.