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I believe in leading by example. I believe that it forces you to hold yourself to account and maintain high standards. People respond to what we do, not what we say. It is one of the reasons that people who smoke, tend to have children that smoke.
It is your behaviour that creates the example you set – not what you say. When facilitating a session, one of the first things I will say is…
If I know what I am talking about, I should be able to defend it and support my point. It is my job to convince you. Challenging me gives me the opportunity to do that.
You should never take advice from someone that hasn’t been able to implement it themselves, so if you want to know how I have implemented this, please ask.
There are a lot of people that talk about high performance and LinkedIn is scattered with advice on how to do things. But many people will offer advice and guidance that they don’t implement themselves. How can you advise other people to do something that you don’t do yourself? Do you really believe it if you don’t practice what you preach?
One of the first elements of building a high performing team is to get clarity on why you exist, what you do and where you are going. Without these three things, it becomes difficult to engage and align people towards a bigger picture. The three elements are often blended into one or mixed together into a mission statement. I prefer to break them out as each element is subtly different.
Purpose – How does your team/organisation or you make the world a better place?
Mission – What do you do and for whom?
Vision – Where are you going and what does the end state look like?
These three elements apply at an individual and a team level.
The purpose aligns people behind something more significant than making a return for the shareholders. No one comes to work and slogs their guts out to make money for other people. The purpose should be a crisp statement that answers the following question, ‘how do you make the world a better place?’
It should have nothing to do with money, it should be about improving lives of people in some way. The mission defines what you do and for whom. Amazon didn’t start off selling everything. They focussed on books and were extremely niche until they dominated that market.
High performing teams and individuals have a laser-like focus. This means that they can effectively use their resources. Spreading yourself too thin is the fastest way to delivering nothing. Amazon had books, what are your ‘books’? The vision is about where you are going. Without a clear vision, it is impossible to know whether the work being done is effective. Everything you do should be in pursuit of making something a reality.
Kennedy’s vision to put a ‘man on the moon by the end of the decade’ is a perfect example. A clear picture of the future, bound in time.I have spent time thinking about this – and subsequently teaching it. This short article explains how I have implemented the purpose.
Purpose – Many people dislike their jobs. This is rarely because of the role itself, it is usually because of the relationships that they have at work. Often there is an issue with their line management. People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers. But it’s not the fault of the managers, they’re usually poorly trained, if they’ve even been lucky enough to be trained. How can you expect people to perform as managers if you don’t train them how to manage?
Engagement problems, empowerment problems and accountability problems are leadership problems.
These are the problems that I solve.
But the purpose is about making life better for people by improving the performance of their leaders.
Now that I know this and I have this sense of purpose. How I deliver that becomes less of an issue. My business could crash and burn over the next few months and yes, I’d be disappointed but so what. No one died. I know my purpose so, I just have to continue ‘delivering on that purpose’ but working for someone else. It doesn’t matter how I achieve the purpose, so long as I achieve it. Resilience is the ability to keep going in the face of adversity. I can always get another job and take pride in building someone else’s business. So long as it aligns with my purpose, it doesn’t matter. I have thought long and hard about these three elements and worked them into a graphic which I have attached below.
This is how I prioritise and spend my time.
This reminds me what is important and where my focus lies. There are elements that have been taken from the OODA loop, philosophy (which I define as the art of living well), as well as my studies of high performance.
Do I live by it everyday? No, but I do try to – I’m human and it’s okay to fall short from time to time. As Roosevelt said though…
‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’
Next time someone offers you advice, ask them how they have implemented it. If they believe in what they are saying and truly understand it, they will be able to demonstrate it.
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