Leadership Role: It’s Not Rocket Surgery

Rocket Surgery

Have you ever heard a leader say something like this: “Wow, it would be a great idea if we held our people accountable for….?”

Well for me, the first question I ask is this: “Do you hold yourself accountable for….”?

Practice What You Preach

As leaders, we must always understand that we have the responsibility to practice what we preach.

It is often easy to come up with great ideas and suggestions, but our people will hesitate to follow us when they do not see execution and follow-up from their leaders.

From here, our level of personal leadership effectiveness suffers when people see us as just a mouthpiece for action and not an actual doer of things.

Are You Taking Action?

I see many leaders in the retail field talk about great ideas that would be huge in productivity and sales generation, but what I don’t see are leaders stepping up taking action.

All too often leadership teams come up with roadblocks rather than solutions.

There are more unproductive conversations in the retail field than action toward success. Why are teams ineffective at times? The reason for ineffective teams is ineffective leaders.

It’s Not Rocket Surgery

Here is a message to all leaders:

There is no secret sauce, nor rocket science, nor brain surgery behind leadership. The recipe is actually quite simple.

Leadership just takes a few easy steps that one repeatedly employs with every situation:

  1. Observe opportunities that are within in your control
  2. Plan a solution to the opportunities and get buy-in from your team
  3. Teach EVERYONE how to execute the solution to the opportunity presented.
  4. Exemplify what you want execution to look like and never stop.

If a leader misses anyone of these steps, there is possibility for costly failure that business leaders cannot afford to miss.

Train for Success

As leaders, we can easily get wrapped up in day-to-day functions of our own and forget to slow down and train people to do the job with us. More often than not, people want to be active members in an organization by being great at their job function.

And our job is to equip them and to help build a healthy environment in which they can prosper to play out and grow in their roles.

The assumption I find from many leaders is that most people are just another body to run the business. And unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion based on observations of “leaders” in many organizations that leadership has lost true meaning. Our leaders have become scared cats running away from their decisions, instead of backing them.

Taking One for the Team

Many leaders today are dropping like flies because they would rather let their entire teams get ambushed rather than standing tall for them and taking the bullet for their teams.

They don’t know how to get back up again after a misstep or failure, so they cower and eventually waste away.

A real leader is not afraid of missteps, failure, or even taking the bullet to make a difference. The best leaders are always prepared with a bulletproof vest, so that they can get back up again and fight for the win.

Leading By Example

I have heard critiques of my opinion that real leaders need to step up and train our future leaders; a general opinion is that a real leader knows how to learn to lead. What I say is that a real leader knows how to look for the right inspiration and if there is nothing to look at how they know what is great leadership.

Leading by example is the ultimate key to create a better future, we are losing the battle for success because too many people know how to talk about leadership, but all too few know how to exemplify leadership.

Leadership takes courage. It is supposed to be an uncomfortable position.

Who is your inspiration as a leader and why? Why has leadership become an image of easy? What have you done as a business leader to make a difference and can you stand to take a bullet or just blame like everyone else? I am a leader and I am vested-up to take the bullet. Are you? 


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Michael R Stanford is Doctoral Learner at UOP
He does occasional motivational speaking for community colleges
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Edited by Scott Leathers

Image Source: cdn.twentytwowords.com

2 responses to “Leadership Role: It’s Not Rocket Surgery

  1. Michael, great article. One thought I had while reading about taking one for the team is this: in my experience leading teams I openly plan for contingencies as part of the initial process. No project is 100% successful as designed and if you are clear about these expectations and announce that when this happens (not if) you will re-group and re-deaign the piece that didn’t go as planned together, then no bullet will be fired.

  2. Hello Michael. I appreciate the effort, but I am afraid your article misses the main point. What is the maine goal of a business? Is it to develop loyal employees? To bridge the gap in wage inequality? To appreciate the wonders of retail? NO! It is none of these. The gaol of a business is too make money. If that means letting employees struggle and sink, so be it. If that means participating in some “shady” deals, let it be so. A great quote by Warren Buffett “Some days you create loyal employees, and other days you do business.” If that doesn’t sum it up, I don’t know what does. An ethical business is a failing business as my mentor John Rytland (CEO of The Taco Bungalow (R) in Reilly, ME) and he is exactly right. I began my career in the electronics department of Walgreens. Through a series of backhanded moves, I quickly climbed the corporate ladder and here I am writing this from my presteigious 3rd floor office in Lansing, MI as the marketing advisor for Jorge’s Online Latin Dance School. I have no idea what you meant with the “taking the bullet” metaphor, but I can tell you how to keep your employees on their toes. When I ran Walgreens, I would fire one employee at the end of each month. Since this was during the 2008 economic downturn and jobs were hard to come by that sure kept my employees on their toes!!! They were working like machines; nevertheless I would fire one randomly selected employee each month just to remind them that they were expendable. Eventually I moved on to bigger and better things, but I purged the local management before switching jobs. That collapsed the regional franchise lol (Google Lansing, MI Walgreens…you’ll see they no longer exist). Anyways, long story short remember that business is about money not employees or any of these fancy scmhancy schemes. So, keep it simple, fire often, and swing that big stick!!

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