As you probably already know, this is Part Three of a series on my key takeaways from the 2019 Global Leadership Summit. I said that I would follow up with a summary of the leadership tips that I picked up during the August event and man, there was a lot to try to summarize for you! My intent was to only share the most practical and applicable points – those things you could take and then put to use immediately.
Today’s episode captures my attention (and my heart!) just like it did almost five months ago during the Global Leadership Summit. I’ll do my best to convey these points with the same conviction that I felt when they were made to me. This is probably one of the most difficult because I have so much respect for his wisdom and insight.
A Global Leadership Summit Treasure
Patrick Lencioni is the author of eleven best-selling books. I hope you’ve heard of them and I hope they are on your shelf! The Five Dysfunctions of a Team should be read by every serious leader. And if you are looking for help with disengaged team members, take a look at The Truth About Employee Engagement.
Dedicated to providing organizations with ideas, products and services that improve teamwork, clarity and employee engagement, Pat’s leadership models serve a diverse base from Fortune 500 companies to professional sports organizations to churches. Let’s get to the content and fill your head with some great thoughts that are sure to provoke growth!
Too Many People Have Influence
Pat’s session starts with a comment that on the surface is rather humorous. But like all great jokes, there is more than a smidgen of truth in it. What he said was that a lot fewer people in the world should become a leader. Then he went on to say that a lot of people in the world have influence…and probably shouldn’t!
That candor is classic Lencioni and I find that frankness refreshing. At the same time, it can be disturbing because Pat isn’t talking to others…he’s talking to me! How often do we completely miss valuable content because we’re sitting there thinking “wow, this is great for (fill in the blank) to hear!” or “(fill in the blank) should really listen to this!”
Why Are You Leading?
That’s the point: Pat is asking you to evaluate what you have to offer others. What’s at the center of why you are leading? Don’t you think that’s an appropriate question for attendees of the global leadership summit…you know, a room full of leaders? He says there are only two reasons:
- To do whatever you need to do to serve the people you need to, or
- For rewards like attention, status, or power
Can you answer that question for yourself right now? Why are you leading? It’s important to answer it honestly because if you don’t, you might be disappointed with your results…and you could disappoint others as well. If you are willing to serve others, to meet their needs, then your perspective shifts from what benefits you to what benefits others.
Think about how many responsibilities you have as a leader that will never be rewarded. If you are motivated by the reward, then your performance is going to diminish. How often have you thought that leadership is a sacrifice? I’m guilty – I’ve probably even said it in so many words. Alan Mulally has said that leadership is a privilege and a joy!
Those are certainly two very contrasting views. I hope you don’t view leadership as a pain. It certainly requires effort, but there should be joy in the exertion! So, how do you know if you’re rewards centered? Well, sometimes it’s apparent in what they will attempt to avoid. Pat offers these five signs.
Avoids Difficult Conversations
No one enjoys a difficult conversation or confronting poor performance and any other significant issue. Yet, it’s shocking the level of damage that can be done when it’s avoided. I would rather you boldly address a problem and do it poorly than letting it go unchallenged. It’s unhealthy to the team and organization when you avoid issues.
The truth is that the more often we do it, the better we will become. If you aren’t sure how to approach it, then grab another leader and practice! Understandably, preparing in advance, rehearsing and sticking to your points will not only make this survivable but communicate a level of concern to the one you are speaking with that’s missing in off-the-cuff discussions.
Avoids Managing Direct Reports
Again, your problems go away if the people do, right?! Rewards-centered leaders avoid having to manage direct reports. Having direct reports means things like monitoring performance, providing guidance and direction. You are likely going to have to get your hands dirty. Patience is required.
Managing means more than just sitting at your desk. A great leader is present. You know what your team is working on. Because you are in tune, you offer coaching – this is critical. Coaching, not doing it for them!
You keep the team aligned and working together. No silos! Maybe most importantly, you stay on top of things. This means no surprises – at least none that generate as a result of team performance. Your team members need and thrive in an accountable environment.
Avoids Running Great Meetings
When was the last time someone told you that you run a great meeting? Meetings shouldn’t be a dreaded component of a business day. When conducted efficiently, they are value-adding. Rewards-centered leaders could care less about meetings and they lose interest easily.
Pat says that one of the best ways you can tell if a leader is doing a good job is by attending one of their meetings. When the meeting is inefficient, the leader often is as well. Have you seen the leader who spends the entire meeting looking at their phone, or their email?
I’m not exaggerating here. One of the most important meetings that I attended weekly had a responsible team leader from another part of the organization who literally played games on his phone during the meeting. And, he wasn’t embarrassed when others in the room would call him on it. And that’s exactly what was required to gain his participation.
I’ll leave you with this thought from Pat on bad meetings: bad decisions result from bad meetings. The results can be catastrophic.
Avoids Team-Building Sessions
I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a supposed leader complain about “rah-rah” team-building sessions. A rewards-centered leader views this as a complete waste of time. Once again, disinterested and unable to connect with the purpose or intent of building unity of vision and clarity of purpose, the rewards-centered leader outsources the responsibility.
Some of the best moments in my professional career were the result of team-building sessions. Getting to know another team member’s personality, or how they approach problem-solving was immensely helpful to me. The rewards-centered leader outsources team building to functions like human resources.
Avoids Repeating Important Messages
Finally, a rewards-centered leader will never overcommunicate. Once and done, right?! Wrong! I’ve shared multiple times that a message must be communicated up to nine times before team members will hear it. Additionally, some of your messages are so important, you must repeat it daily. Think about safety for example.
Great leaders reinforce messages over and over again because the last time you say something might be the first time someone hears it. Pat goes on to say that you are the CRO: the chief reminding officer. This is how you keep others focused on the task. Repeat it. Frequently!
So, are you leading for all of the right reasons? I’ll wrap up this Global Leadership Summit summary episode with this final thought from Mr. Lencioni: politics and dysfunction thrive in an organization run by rewards-centered leaders. Break the trend and become the only real type of effective leader: a servant leader. Because truly, that is the only type of leader who makes everyone better.
Global Leadership Summit Conclusion
Next week, I’ll conclude this series on key learnings from the 2019 Global Leadership Summit with what I learned from Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild fame. So don’t miss that – you definitely want to hear his unique perspective on learning from hardship and difficulty. You are awesome – and only getting better!
Thanks for Listening!
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Now, go lead like someone you would want to follow!