As a member of your company’s executive team, you have a lot on your plate. And, particularly in middle market companies, C-suite executives have some unique challenges that other leaders may not face. According to an article in Forbes, "The best leaders today combine agility and emotional intelligence with innovative thinking and an inclusive mindset. They must be adaptable and able to pivot quickly with sudden market changes in an uncertain economic and geopolitical climate.” If this sounds a little overwhelming to you, it does to me, too. In addition to these lofty expectations, today’s execs face some concrete problems.
Rhythm Blog | Accountable Leaders & Teams
by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team
There can often be a misconception that a person working 100 hours a week is more successful than a peer logging half those hours. That’s not necessarily true, considering the metric "hours of hard work" doesn’t give a full picture of the results actually being achieved.
Leaders often self-impose what used to be good habits at a bad time. What I mean is that they continue doing the things they did with 5 employees when their team becomes 50 employees, or what they did at 200 employees when they become 600 employees. It won’t work.
A Core Value that resonates strongly at Rhythm Systems is "Be Appreciative." That's why an episode of Hurry Slowly, a podcast about pacing yourself to uncover creativity and meaning in your work, that addressed the power of appreciation and generosity caught my eye—or ear, rather.
Most of our successful mid-market clients have no shortage of great ideas. The constraint lies with the time and resources to get it all done. It doesn’t matter how many brilliant growth strategies your team comes up with in your annual planning session if there’s nobody with the capacity to get anything else done. Focusing on only a few top priorities is difficult but critical for your success. Tempting as it is, piling new initiatives on top of an already overloaded team will have numerous negative consequences for the individuals, team and company as a whole.
At our annual Rhythm Systems Breakthrough Conference in Charlotte this year, we had the opportunity to survey our audience of over 150 mid-market executives and ask the question, “What are the top 8 business challenges for mid-market companies?” The term “mid-market” refers to the size of a company based on its annual revenue, usually between $10 - $500 million. It may seem like a big swing to go from $10 million to $500 million, but not so big when you consider that only 3% of all companies ever make it past the $10 million mark.
For many companies, the idea of the monthly management meeting can feel like a burden in an already overly scheduled calendar. Why is this meeting, in the midst of so many other meetings, important?
This day or half-day meeting is your key to building the team, learning together, solving problems, working on specific issues, and reinforcing your company’s culture, initiatives and goals.
CEOs are constantly being pulled in a million directions - they have shareholders, partners, investors, employees, customers, industry groups, community stakeholders and other constituents (not to mention family and personal relationships) to answer to on a daily basis. Even if you are somehow balancing all of these demands, running a successful business, and leading your team effectively, you still may not be doing everything you need to do as a CEO. According to a recent study by Harvard researchers, “It’s vital for CEOs to block off meaningful amounts of uninterrupted time alone, to give themselves space to think, reflect, and prepare.”
This idea of spending alone time “thinking” is counterintuitive to many CEOs, who may have gotten where they are today by working longer and harder than those around them. Taking time out of the rat race to think could be considered a weakness by some executive leaders. But, on the contrary, the research clearly indicates that this think time is an absolute necessity for CEOs.
We've all heard it... "Why doesn't Jane just do what I've asked her to do!?" or "How can I hold Tom accountable?" Chances are, if you lead a team, you have had similar frustrations. More often than not, the Janes and Toms of the world aren't coming to work everyday looking for ways to disappoint their bosses. Typically, they are good, hard-working, smart people or you wouldn't have hired them in the first place. So, where's the disconnect? Why are they causing you such frustration?
As a leader, it is your responsibility to create a culture where accountability can thrive. You have to build and reinforce the right conditions for your team to be able to succeed. As individuals, the Toms and Janes also have to do their part - to be willing to take responsibility for their results. But they can't do this if you don't do your part to be an accountable leader.
When I was in college, I took a course called “The Meaning of Work” and enrolled in a corresponding internship program following the course. As part of the program, I met weekly with a small group to discuss the work we were doing and reflect on its meaning. I earned a minor in “Faith and Work” as a result and gained experience in the non-profit sector and higher education through my internships. As a Millennial, I was fully indoctrinated in the belief that where I spend the majority of my waking hours should be meaningful in some way and, like many in my cohort, I entered the workforce craving something deeper than a paycheck. As they say, life happens, and my career hasn’t been what I imagined it would be as a 22-year-old college graduate (no surprise there!). But, I do still believe in the importance of finding meaningful work, the critical nature of doing work that matters, that has some purpose deeper than feeding my family and paying the bills. And the research backs me up on this, too.
Studies have found that “employees who derive meaning and significance from their work are much more likely to stay with organizations."