With the recent spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) more and more people are being asked to work from home. Today’s business landscape was already changing to recognize that a lot of jobs can be done, or need to be done, from elsewhere. This global pandemic has only spread up the process So, how do you keep these employees engaged in your own company’s culture? How do you connect with them in a meaningful way?
Holding people accountable can be a chore for most leaders building an accountability culture. For a multitude of reasons, it’s simply not comfortable for most people. It’s great when people step up and take personal accountability. It makes your job so much easier! But, when you have people who just don’t hold themselves accountable and accept responsibility for their actions and instead play the blame game, then you have a much more difficult scenario.
In a recent client conversation, a CEO said to me, “He’s really (really) smart, but it’s just hard to hold him accountable. On top of that, he isn’t approachable because he gets really defensive and reminds us all that he knows what he’s doing.” But in reality, the rest of the executive team doesn’t really know what this executive-level leader is doing. His goals are vague, his metrics aren’t really solid measures of success, and he statuses everything “Green” in preparation for their weekly executive team meeting. And, no one wants to challenge him.
From a leadership perspective, there’s a real thirst for increasing leadership accountability. Executives have recently asked me various questions that linger over the concept of building team accountability to help them achieve their strategic plans while creating high performing teams:
“How do I build accountability in teams?”
“What else can I do to get people to do what we need them to do?”
“How can I hold a team member to be held accountable and still be seen as a good leader?”
"How do I balance leadership accountability and personal accountability when building a team?"
Building team accountability requires that we understand a few dynamics because it’s more complicated than we might recognize. It goes above and beyond the responsibility for the outcomes, which is obviously important, but effective leaders know that they need a culture of accountability in their teams that provide the inputs needed to achieve the expected team performance.
We read a lot these days about strategic leadership and tactical leadership (as we should). Leaders find themselves up against a multitude of scenarios and situations, all of which they’re supposed to magically handle in the right way with the right methods for each situation. When you study leadership, you quickly discover the massive complexity that surrounds it. So let’s take just one slice of strategic vs tactical leadership and dissect it for the purpose of your own reflective thinking about what kind of leader you tend to be (and the pros/cons that surround these tendencies).
The slice of leadership we’ll look at is the tactical leader vs. the strategic leader. Both are needed, but when you’re trying to lead a team (or teams) of people toward a common endpoint and/or if you’re trying to grow a company, understanding the differences between these two management styles is imperative. Without a sense of understanding around your own leadership tendencies, you can’t move the needle on much of anything let alone work towards achieving a strategic plan or objective.
In my last leadership problems post, I began exploring the question of how to help your people master the skill of problem-solving. While the ability to create their own solutions in real-time is a trait that leaders crave in their teams, often leaders fail to create environments where this kind of behavior can flourish. Meanwhile, most employees would like to have the opportunity to solve problems themselves. But, without the right conditions created by their leaders, they never practice the kind of strategic thinking that would lead to better problem-solving. Without practice, those skills can't grow.
You'll remember my three-fold question:
- What should leaders be doing to help their people learn to think strategically?
- What should leaders be doing to encourage their employees to solve their own problems?
- Why does any of this really matter?
Regardless of size, all businesses require strategic thinking to grow. Many leaders consider strategic thinking (and the subsequent execution of their strategic plan) as one of the most challenging leadership tasks. So many times, though, leaders confuse strategic thinking and strategic planning with being tactical and task-oriented.
While strategic thinking involves these two principles, it is not restricted to them. Rather, strategic thinking is the process of thinking, planning, and doing the work that will lead your company toward your preferred future.
There was a pause in his verbal stride as we talked. It was an awkward pause, which is why it caught my attention. As I looked at him, I could see his head was slightly tilted downward, his eyes staring at the floor. When he looked up, his entire facial expression told me he was suddenly in a different place. As his executive coach, I paused, too.
“So what’s going on? Where are your thoughts right now?” In another moment, he looked me squarely in the face and began to authentically express his inward pain.
“I want to be a leader that people want to follow. I’m good at being a CEO, but I’m good at a tactical level. People follow me because they have to. It would be such an amazing life experience for me if people would follow me because they wanted to follow me.”
If ROI matters to you, then you might consider “cuddling up” to the power of your company’s culture. I say this, of course, a bit tongue-and-cheek because so many executives just don’t want to take the time to truly dive into what they perceive to be this esoteric thing called “company culture.” Yet, according to the research (and according to the vast success of some contemporary companies that are known for incredibly engaging corporate cultures), culture is highly relevant to your bottom-line.
My last blog, 6 Excuses for Avoiding an Executive Coach (and Why You Should Think Again) talked about all the negative internal chatter (aka, excuses) we give ourselves for not wanting to have an Executive Coach. That blog also pointed out some of the key business benefits of Executive Coaching. What do some of those benefits actually look like and how do I know if I need executive leadership coaching? More specifically what is coaching ROI?