The CEO of a large global service organization was a very strong and tough leader. This enabled him to drive, almost single-handedly, significant and impressive changes in the structure, performance and market position of this organization.
His leaders admired the CEO for his bold leadership and the progress that he was driving. However pretty much all of them also felt intimidated by his strong personality and assertive and decisive leadership style.
The CEO stated that he wanted his leaders to be engaged and co-own and co-lead the company with him. However, in reality, he had such strong views about the business – which were often the right ones – that he infrequently actually listened or incorporated his leader’s ideas. And, the fact that he was wicked smart and knowledgeable about most aspects of the business, as well as an extremely rigorous and diligent leader presented an extremely high bar, which most of his people couldn’t match or live up to.
The members of the senior leadership team were frustrated because they weren’t making the difference, they felt they should and could be making and the difference they wanted to make. They felt they weren’t engaged and involved enough in influencing and shaping the important strategic topics and directions. They were also frustrated about the fact that they were not operating as a real cohesive and aligned team. They felt discouraged because they felt they couldn’t change their predicament. Needless to say, this company had significant alignment, teaming and cohesion challenges across and within its businesses and functions.
However, the story is not all bad. The company was making great progress and people, including the senior leaders, were feeling good about that.
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Everyone wants to be associated with great results. There are benefits from success – a sense of pride, satisfaction and often financial rewards too. That is why people are often willing to put up with a lot of hardship in order to stay associated with success.
Business success is important, but it isn’t everything. People spend the majority of their life at work. They dedicate so much of their heart and soul to their company’s cause. And, they often make a personal sacrifice for their job and put their work before their personal priorities.
The way you drive and achieve the results is often as important as the results themselves.
Unfortunately, many senior leaders still believe that business success is everything and the only thing that matters at work. They relate to team spirit, culture and job satisfaction as ‘nice to have’, but not a critical aspect of the business, or their job. So, they behave accordingly.
If you think back through your career and recall the most memorable teams you were part of, and impactful experiences you had – what do you remember most? The business results or the team dynamics, atmosphere, spirit, relationships and communications that took place that led to the business results. I am sure it is the latter.
People remember the leaders who inspired them by driving team unity, alignment, collaboration, growth, accomplishments, and pride. They remember the environment that enabled, empowered and encouraged them to be authentic, brave, express themselves, grow, be part of something bigger, and make a difference.
So, if you are a formal or informal leader or you want to be, you should ask yourself the questions:
- What type of leader do I want to be?
- What legacy do I want to leave on others?
- What impact do I want to have on people that I lead?