Wednesday, 22 February 2017
During my career I often heard of and saw others who had made a personal sacrifice for their company. Most times this related to things like extensive travel; late or early hours (or both); weekends and holidays consumed with things of work. Their feeling was that this level of sacrificial dedication was a good way of being considered for promotion or deserving of some recognition…particularly financial.
A standard dictionary definition of sacrifice in this context put it this way.
“…the surrender of something for the sake of something else…”
Expressed in this manner there is a certain magnanimous aspect to the individual’s efforts. But that would be the wrong interpretation!
The fact of the matter is that the individual has not sacrificed anything. Rather, they have made a conscious and self- serving decision. Wrap it up in whatever other rationale that may suit you, but the true sacrifice is made not by the individual but by those impacted by their decision.
Whether it is family or friends who lose the opportunity of relationship with the individual, these are those who are truly sacrificing something.
Let’s stop sugar coating the truth of the matter. When someone CHOOSES to throw themselves into their work to the extent that it causes disconnect with those who should otherwise expect this person’s time and attention, then this person has not sacrificed anything. They are pursuing that which they have chosen.
As a leader, are you justifying time away as a sacrifice you are making? I submit that you are deluding yourself. Clearly there are times when work appropriately demands more of you than is otherwise reasonable. But when that demand is chronic, your choices are a bigger part of the problem.
Don’t pretend that the company is at fault. Sacrifice only pertains to the relationship between individuals. A company has no personality and therefore can neither demand nor recognize a sacrifice.
Leaders model behaviour for others. In a perfect world it should be very much a ‘do as I do’ example. How do you measure up? Are you encouraging the sacrificial work ethics of others or are you - by word and by deed – demonstrating balance.
Your personal welfare and the welfare of your team members supersede the welfare of the company. Be the leader that demonstrates that reality.
Thursday, 2 February 2017
There is an old saying that states ‘…you can fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all of the time; but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time…’
I have known too many people in positions of responsibility to whom this is not a quotation but rather a ‘modus operandi’. They are in over their head and they know it! This approach serves as a type of survival technique. Rather than acknowledge their shortcomings they use a variety of schemes to mask the reality.
Some use trickery. Others simply lie or use alternate facts. Bragging; bullying; delegating or refusing to make the tough decisions; threatening; coercing; belittling. These are all part of the ‘style’ that some use to ‘lead’.
First of all, let’s be entirely clear. Leaders should never even try to fool any of the people any of the time. Not only is it wrong, it is just plain dumb. Those who work for you are not stupid and they can see through a façade pretty quickly. You may be particularly astute at hiding your incompetence from those above you, but it will come out sometime and likely at a time when you can least afford it to.
Secondly, most people are willing to offer you grace when you need it. If you are struggling with something that is impacting your leadership abilities, acknowledge it. Perhaps you need some training; speak to your superior or find a mentor. Perhaps your style has been incorrect – bullying, belittling etc. Apologize to everyone and change. Maybe you really are in over your head. Find the role that suits your abilities and your nature.
Finally remember that few people are qualified to lead the same group forever. Your role may be ‘for such as time as this’. The leadership style that works in a start- up company may not work for a mature organization. Working with large teams is much different than working with in a small group. Constantly examine and evaluate your skill set relative to the needs of your team. If there are too many discrepancies, too many disconnects, face facts and move on. This is no time for fools or fooling. It takes courage, but that is part of leadership too.