When I coach people or conduct leadership workshops there is a lot of conversation about the importance of self-awareness as well as communication with others. A consistent theme is the ability of individuals and groups to explain the “why” or “how” of a certain outcome – essentially one simple question.
This explanation is typically met with a tremendous amount of agreement that tends to become part of the culture.
On the surface, this actually sounds like a good thing. Having a cultural understanding of the “why” and “how” appears like it would strengthen the morale of the organization. However, there is a paradox that comes with obtaining this information.
For instance, an event planning company assigns a team the goal of sourcing a specific number of vendors to choose from for an upcoming annual event. The deadline to present their results to their supervisor arrives only to reveal they have not met the goal. When asked what happened a series of explanations are submitted ranging from timing, vendor availability, couldn’t reach the decision maker, etc.
The team’s explanation makes complete logical sense, after all, not connecting with the people you need is indeed a challenge. The issue here is this explanation leads to one of two outcomes.
1st – Their explanation is acknowledged as fact and everyone moves on to figure out how to get more potential vendors.
2nd – A simple question is asked of the team once they give their explanation. That question is…
It’s a simple enough question that is not so simple to answer. The explanation provided, on a deeper level, is simply a series of excuses that are designed to satisfy the people making them.
They may or may not be true. They may or may not be exaggerated because the employee has learned which excuses are acceptable to get the focus off of the employee and on to “others.”
That’s what excuses do; they appear to logically explain the emotional tension developed as a result of not accomplishing what they set out to do.
SO WHAT you couldn’t reach the decision maker over the phone?
SO WHAT you ran out of time?
SO WHAT the vendors were booked?
By addressing each specific excuse you create on the opportunity, although tense, to demonstrate the importance of being accountable and changing approaches to obstacles. You are helping them solve their own problems instead of taking it on yourself or giving them a pass.
If you let something like this pass once, without asking the question, it will become the norm within your organization. Not only will it be normal, there are business cultures where this has become ingrained in the organization and the owner or department head has instead picked up the slack, rather than challenging the team to do more.
With that in mind, there is another layer to reveal when it comes to upholding this standard. If you are going to use this powerful questions on your team, you MUST use it on yourself first.
Good or bad leadership are both demonstrated the same way → by example.
You must always hold yourself to this same standard when it comes to producing results for yourself if you expect it to show up in your team. Our team is always going to reflect back to you who you are and how you are showing up.
Not only that, your team will mirror back your example in multiples because there are more of them, making the impact of allowing excuses for yourself that much more of an issue when its allowed on your team.
SO WHAT you skipped the gym this morning?
SO WHAT you left work early today?
SO WHAT your team didn’t hit their goals?
How you do one thing will spill over into how you do all things. Each time you hit snooze instead of going to the gym and excuse yourself for it because you stayed up too late you have allowed an excuse to satisfy you.
This will limit your ability to hold your team accountable and you will find yourself giving them a pass here and there for “little things”. Only to realize when the time comes for them to deliver to you, you are met with an excuse.
As a leader, it is ultimately up to you. You determine what is allowed and the meaning you attribute to the actions of others in your life. Because these will ultimately reveal the standards you’ll tolerate personally and professionally as well as the results you’ll settle for within your company culture.
SO WHAT will you chose?
#heyAnne #leadership #performance #highstandards