How to Identify and Grow Inspiring Leaders
At In Time Tec, we are very intentional with our approach toward success. We wrote about our commitment to results and our ability to shift focus when necessary. We have also written about how leaders and their teams can work together toward a shared vision. But one of the most important aspects of our success is our ability to balance the results produced and the people working toward those results.
Our company has 500 people worldwide. Of those 500 people, we are currently coaching about 150 people to build the future of In Time Tec. They are the group who will be developing the people, producing the results, and driving our company to the next level. Notice I listed “developing the people” first. Because you need people to produce results and reach the next level.
THE BALANCE BETWEEN RESULTS AND PEOPLE
Whether it’s a sports team, a business, or any organization, you need people: people who come together to achieve a common goal. Any organization at any level needs to have a goal - to win the championship, to surpass last year’s numbers, to increase visibility - but if you only focus on the goal and ignore the well-being of the people, you become obsessed with the outcome and the people feel neglected, which could ultimately lead to them leaving.
However, you also have to reach that shared goal. And if the people involved are only focused on each other, then the reason they came together cannot be realized. Therein lies a dilemma. Should you focus on results or on the people?
What I have found to be true throughout my leadership journey is that if you take care of the people, they will take care of the customers and the business. However, you cannot take care of the people at the expense of the business. Sometimes leaders see it as a “one or the other choice.” But neither of those options are true leadership and there are consequences to favoring one over the other - or ignoring both altogether.
OBLIVIOUS AND UNPREPARED
These are the managers who don’t pay attention to the people or the results. This type of person has gotten stagnant in their career. They might have previously been a high-producing individual performer or a leader only by title in another department or organization. They are oblivious to the importance of their role and often use “I,” “me,” and “my” language.
Consequence: No contribution to the business, people are neglected, and possibilities are limited.
Action: I suggest letting them go or coming up with a very strict coaching plan that both outlines the change needed in team morale and sets strict expectations for results. This will take a lot of focus and work so sometimes it is not even worth the time and energy, particularly when that time and energy can be used to coach others in the organization.
There are also the so-called leaders that just want to make people happy. The people-pleasers want to take the team out for lunch or drinks after work and be their friend but have no idea what the company’s goals are or how their team is contributing to them.
This type of person may have some underlying emotional baggage they are carrying. They may have unfulfilled acknowledgement and love from important people in their lives. Perhaps they want to please others because they want to be liked. Or, these people lack capabilities and are generally not equipped to produce the necessary results. They tend to compensate by loving people to hide their incapabilities. The people-pleasers think that by taking care of people, they will gain respect. But in actuality, they will not.
Consequence: Business with no clear accountability, favoritism toward certain people, and untrustworthy workplace.
Action: Train and educate people about the reality of not producing results. Tell them if their results do not meet expectations, you will still be there for them but explore with them why results are not being produced. Help them to understand that delivering results doesn’t mean giving up on the people; it just means finding a balance. Show them how to measure the progress and hold people accountable when results are not up to par. This will be challenging for leaders who are people-focused because they don't want to look “bad” by being direct and demanding that their team delivers. You should keep reiterating that people are critical and company is critical too, as its survival depends on producing consistent results.
“If you please people, it’s about you but if you take a stand for people, it’s about them”
On the other end of the spectrum are the crazy bosses. They are too results-focused and their team feels micromanaged and doesn’t have the space to create their own contribution to the goal. This can be discouraging and the team won't want to do anything if they feel they are just a number.
Just like the people-pleasers, crazy bosses have emotional baggage they are carrying. They are afraid to let themselves and others down. They are the people who see the world in relation to what they achieve. They think, “If I do not produce results, people will not respect and like me.” They feel they must deliver by any means, at any cost. These are also people who believe they don’t have time to care about others. It’s go go go! As soon as this type of person completes one task, it’s on to the next.
I look at it as treating employees as machines. They may produce big results, but people are unhappy and unmotivated around them. The outcome is that those people produce results, but it is not sustainable because the people feel used and will burn out over time.
Consequence: Unpredictable and unsustainable business results, unmotivated employees, and high pressure, unhappy workplace.
Action: There are many ways to help this type of manager focus on the team. When someone at In Time Tec is neglecting the people, I tell them I don’t need their results and I want them to focus on loving and caring for people. For a period of time, I don’t want them to talk about anything other than how they are taking care of people. During this conversation, I tell those managers that I will measure their performance based on how well they take care of the people and I re-emphasize they should never be producing results at the expense of their team. This means that I or other leaders may have to step in to help keep the business going and growing but the extra work is worth transforming these crazy bosses into inspiring leaders.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” - African proverb
To become an inspiring leader is the ultimate goal. This kind of leader clearly expresses love towards people while not compromising results. Taking care of the people while delivering on business objectives is their default way of working. This type of person lets their team know that each project is critical, results need to be produced, and without the team there is no project. They tell their team that they care for them and if they burn out or feel unmotivated at any time, they must let the leader know. It is a leader's commitment to take care of both the people and the business results.
Outcome: Sustainable and growing business, motivated team, happy and joyful workplace.
Action: There are no corrective actions to take when someone is showing up as an inspiring true leader. But there are things that can be done to continue to grow and improve.
It is important to include the team in creating and achieving the shared vision. Define the vision with the team and then ask them these questions:
- What future are you committed to create?
- What is the best way to achieve that future?
- What time and resources do you need to realize that future?
That's the only way to ensure the team is fully bought into the shared vision and committed to the results.
Although that may seem like a lot of work at first, it's like climbing a mountain; when you look at the peak from the base, it can be scary. But if you inspire the team by enrolling them in the shared vision, give them the right skills and tools, and be there for them when they need you the most, then the peak is not actually that far.
"Remember that a good leader takes people where they want to go, but a great leader takes people past the place where they think they want to go."
In order to produce results, you need to inspire and support people. Without people, there is no business. Without a business, there are no people. They go hand and hand and when you combine them, so many possibilities can be created. I encourage you to audit yourself and the next level of leaders on your team. The goal is to move towards the space where the people are taken care of and the business is growing. Once you reach that place, the world expands. That's true and inspiring leadership.
*Be sure to check out the YouTube video of this discussion.