There’s a lot of talk about sustainability of the planet, our energy sources, transportation choices, and our products, but what about the sustainability of our leaders? What about the sustainability of your leadership?
What is your environmental impact on others?
Our words and actions are powerful in how others respond to us and how they perform their work. As a leader you are responsible for motivating your teams and moving your business in a positive direction.
The cost of uninspiring leaders is hard to measure as external factors are easy to point to as possible root causes to long launch cycles, lack-luster ideas, high PPM, low moral, and head butting between groups. As humans we’re wired to want to do good work and to be successful. Our personal pride runs deeper than any corporate directive. Consider how productive one might be however if your leadership combined with the corporate directive aligned with the personal motives of your team.
Just for kicks, let’s compare our needs and goals relative to plants:
|P L A N T S||P E O P L E|
|Grow and get bigger||We want to grow, improve, succeed|
|Need sunlight||Want to prosper,|
|Be seen as successful,|
|Want to shine|
|Need water||Need encouragement|
|Need to be empowered|
|Need support||Work better in teams|
|Need a leader’s protection|
|Need fertilizer||Need training|
|Want to learn new skills|
|Sometimes need guidance|
Like plants our needs are simple and just like plants we can still find a way to exist without enough water, sunlight, and support; the result is similar: smaller yield, less stunning product, lower functioning groups, and more issues.
How are you nurturing the environment around you?
We give water to our teams by providing encouragement and feedback in a way to help them do better in the future. We support by matching our employee’s skills to the task and partner complimenting skill sets. Through empowering others and setting them up to succeed, we also enable personal responsibility and ownership to succeed. We support our teams by running interference between them and upper management, justifying work loads, timing needs, and effort to protect them from unneeded stress.
I once took the heat for a two-day delay in a program because an experienced and highly respected designer made a simple mistake causing a week’s worth of effort to be trashed and all designs to require rework. We were lucky in that the mistake was caught by the team. The designer knew the stakes were high and volunteered to work overtime squeezing seven days lost into two.
Did my upper management need to know the name of this individual and his oversight or could the team (namely me) take the hit?
By protecting this individual, his reputation was not tarnished, his personal stress level did not rise from leadership pressure, and the team felt empowered by catching and readily fixing the issue. At the end all that was remembered was how well our team performed because our product launched successfully first pass.
What is your leadership story?
How did you nurture your team today?
Jennifer Werth is the CEO of a training and engineering service organization. You can reach her at jenniferATwerthexpertise.com and through her blog.