Where in your work are you half in, half out? Committed in physical presence but uncommitted in mental and emotional attention? It might be on a project, with a particular person or a chronically missed KPI.
We all do it and if you survey your team on any given day, most of your people (Gallup tells us 76%), at some point will be half way out the back door.
What does their misalignment cost you?
Think unfocused meetings, distracted conversations, avoidable mistakes and rework, inefficient workarounds and immeasurable time lost in low-level chat.
As leaders, our job is to hold the light of the future, make it so bright and clear and compelling that our people want to give their absolute best, follow us into treacherous territory (if needed) and eventually take over the lead.
To do this we have to self-manage our human tendency to check-out when we're frustrated, feel under-appreciated or when we're called to be more courageous than we've ever needed to be before.
Because to be an employer of choice, we need to be a leader of choice.
From 20 years of research, including interviews with 150 global C-level leaders, Brene Brown shares in her book Dare to Lead that in order to meet the demands of a complex, rapidly changing environment where we're faced with an insatiable demand for innovation, we need braver leaders and more courageous cultures.
More than 80% of these leaders who called for this quality, however, couldn't identify the specific skills of courage. Interestingly, they could easily speak about the behaviours that erode trust and courage.
Behaviours like: people unwilling to take smart risks or create bold ideas to meet changing demands; getting stuck by setbacks then spending too much time and energy reassuring people of their value; too much blame and not enough accountability; rushing into ineffective or unsustainable solutions; opting out of vital conversations - in other words choosing comfort over positive change.
So, if we know trust and courage are required to meet the needs of the future, but we don't know as clearly what courage looks or sounds like, how do we lead our people forward in ways that inspire them to give their best?
As a mentor once said to me "Leaders Go First."
Being a leader of choice includes:
- Leading and communicating with clarity, conviction and compassion (note compassion is not sympathy, and compassion and accountability are not mutually exclusive)
- Training people in clear behaviours that match company values and then holding people accountable to those behaviours (Brene shares only 10% of organisations have operationalised their values in this way)
- Initiating and navigating difficult conversations, leading by example how to effectively collaborate across functions
- Leaning in with emotional maturity and self-awareness when we'd rather lean out in judgment.
Being a leader of choice means we need to be honest with ourselves when we're half-in and half-out, recognising that our people are looking to us to understand how courage shows up.
Practicing self-responsibility with a healthy dose of self-compassion and then choosing the courageous path models the level of accountability we are asking of our people.