I’ve been thinking about the top problems I’ve seen repeated repeatedly by leaders in business. What I’ve come to conclude is that leaders are too quick to focus on the result. As a result, they often miss all the opportunities to grow their business for the infinite game and invest in their team.
Leaders often are too keen on getting to the result that they miss the importance of the journey. As a result, they ignore the chance to learn something along the way that includes the entire team as part of the experience.
They push through decisions and tend to micro-manage to speed up the process.
Listening as Social Intelligence
Part of this is because they fail to use social intelligence and the art of listening.
It’s one of the main reasons why companies lose their high performers. So instead, leaders need to act like a guide to building a lasting business where people want to work and do whatever it takes to support their goals.
If you want to build a lasting company, you need to start listening to people and trusting them to help you lead the way towards the desired result. If you do that, you will have a bigger chance of support from your team. If you don’t, you may have short-term success, but you will fail in the long run.
Part of this is because social intelligence and listening help to build trust. But, when leadership is focused entirely on the result, these essential skills are often ignored, and employees can begin to feel they’re not listened to or valued.
That leads to the erosion of trust.
Instead, leaders should ask how they should support the ones following them to do a better job. Asking and clear communication, why you’re doing things, and act consistently will build the trust and confidence in the organization to reach the target needed.
It’s also about taking the time to get a clearer picture, but I’ll write more about that in the next post.
A Common Problem
I think this is a general business problem. In a fast-paced business landscape, the results are so crucial that you have to de-prioritize the journey to get there.
You’re focusing on results and never take time to listen to the people on your team who are doing the job. This focus on results instead of people can lead to missing the importance of building a team-based, bottom-up organization where people feel secure and are encouraged to perform at the highest level.
Some of this comes from leadership’s unwillingness to listen to those with more profound knowledge of desired results and what’s needed to produce them. Add in micromanaging, and the risks for wrong turns increase because the team members with the specialized knowledge are not empowered to execute the decisions needed to produce the results leadership says they want.
Short-Term Success, Long-Term Failure
I understand the importance of having people trust you and counting on you to perform at the highest level. However, I have also experienced how easy it is to lose passion for what you are doing if you feel you’re not being listened to and not included in the journey. I know what it’s like to disregard your knowledge because leadership is too focused on short-term success as part of their desired result to include other voices.
I think this will always be a problem if you are only focusing on results. You may have short-term successes, but there’s a considerable risk that you’re not building a lasting business. You will have employees that are doing their job but not bringing their passion to their projects. When a better opportunity comes up, they will leave you because you’ve been so focused on results that you failed to communicate why your business exists in the first place.
To build a business that will thrive and outlast you to infinity, you need to turn this around.
Suggestions to Focus on
Your employees and the journey you’re on are the most important. The result is essential, but not to the extent of the ones following you. The result is just one part of the way to build your company for resilience, and it is a vital part to be able to focus on your employees even more.
Some companies are already acknowledging the need to shift their focus and look at building culture and investing in people first. They have found that this type of leadership, this guiding, if you will, actually produces better results.
It will help if you acknowledge that culture and people are influential and then take the time needed to develop and invest in it. This is an essential factor — building culture and people to the full extent and not just scraping the surface.
It will take time, but the reward is much higher. If you do, you will start to build something where people want to be and where people will follow you through good times and bad.
You need to listen to the ones following you, see and understand where they are coming from, to start building trust. By getting to know them and then guiding them on the way, you’ll have a bigger chance of navigating the risks that will come up and a bigger chance of success. But, it starts with you as a leader, taking the first step.
I’m closing in to the end of this leadership series, built on the six principles Christopher I. Maxwell writes about in his book, “Lead Like a Guide: How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders“. In the last post, I will write about why having a bigger picture will guide you and your team through the journey that will take your company toward achieving its ultimate goals in an infinite game.
[This post was originally posted on Medium, May 31, 2017]