Doing something because we really believe in doing it is the best moral code one can have, there’s nothing better than the celebration of reason and the standing of the “Why?”.
Doing something because I say so, because is mandatory make it sounds like “just because”. Even more, forgetting the “Please” particle ignores the existence of the order’s recipient, transforming him in a entity without volition.
Companies start loosing perspective when they start giving the message that in the company’s magnanimity, the employee has the job benefit of, well, having a job. That easily degenerate from leadership to direct management. Thinking that the employees don’t have any other job choices encourages patronizing. Ok, in the current economic turmoil, maybe job choices are really scarce. However, the huge challenges that such turmoil is creating requires a strong, adaptable and High-Performance company.
Surviving in the current market requires having a compelling performance purpose that exceeds sum of individuals goals. Requires joint work to integrate complementary skills. And guess what, just leadership can inspire a bunch of employees to do that.
There are several angles of good leader, however I want to focus in the foundation of leadership: Credibility.
James Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of the best selling book “The Leadership Challenge”, lay out the common phrases many company employees have used to describe how they know credibility when they see it:
- Leaders practice what they preach.
- They walk the talk.
- Their actions are consistent with their words.
- They put their money where their mouth is.
- They follow through on their promises.
- They do what they say they will do.
People first listen to the words, then they watch the actions.[...] If people don’t see consistency, they conclude that the leader is, at best, not really serious, or at worst, an outright hypocrite.
Are you saying you are very innovative company but in reality you don’t have the money for a R&D Department or new Product/Services initiatives? Do you promise a extra benefit or promotion, but you are not sure you have the money to do it? Do you say you listen to your clients but your products and/or services hasn’t evolved for a while and they won’t? Do you say you are building something but zero effort is on it? Are you serious at all with this credibility thing? Good employees are smart and wary, specially technical ones.
Don’t ask for a leap of faith if you haven’t proved how trustworthy your judgment is. Don’t encourage a company culture where there isn’t any. Don’t complaint about lack of communication when you have enforced silos.
Commitment and loyalty are patiently built on credibility. Once they are built, and with the right skills, your company will go beyond surviving.