Did you ever have a moment where you were convinced you were the only one that cared? You were the one working the longest hours, putting in the most effort, and the only one giving your all. Did you ever start to get annoyed at, angered by, or worst of all start to resent the people who work for you or the ones on your team? Well congratulations, you’re in a leadership fail. The good news is, these fails are the necessary events on your path to learning, growing and becoming a better leader and human.
If you’re in one of these now. Immediately stop what you’re doing, google the closest bakery to pick up some humble pie, and immediately go have a slice. I’ll rip off this Band-Aid for you. If your team doesn’t seem to care as much as you, it’s only your fault. I know you’re still thinking it’s their fault too. Nope, you’re wrong. Only you. Here’s why:
You’re in charge.
As the in-charge person, you will come across moments where you stop worrying about your people, their fears, shortcomings, strengths, and skills. I say will because it’s exhausting being a leader. The emotional toll it takes on you sometimes gives in and you long for the days of doing the work yourself. Too bad. Buck up, that’s not your job anymore. Sometimes these things sneak up on you. Everything is good and then slowly they start to turn but you don’t notice. Then suddenly you look up and you’re the only one grinding away while everyone else is collecting their check and going to happy hour. There’s a handful of things that could be at work here:
- You’ve taken away their accountability
- Your goals and their goals are misaligned
- You’re roadblocking them from the skills or training they need to excel
- You’re not listening
- You put the wrong people in the wrong positions
The sum of any or all of these is a sad and demeaning culture of failure. If you don’t recognize it and make some quick remedies, your business will suffer, and great people will leave you. If you’re a leader of leaders, say your prayers quickly because now your bad habits have had an exponential impact on your business.
There’s good news. This will happen to you many times in your career. Wait, that doesn’t sound like good news. But it is because once you see it, it’s relatively easy to fix. Here are your belief non-negotiables:
- You must constantly remember, that your success is only dependent on the success of the people around you. If you aren’t a business of one, then that means abandoning many of your own abilities that probably got you to where you are and transferring your focus to be an uplifter of others only. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, then you shouldn’t lead people.
- Your team’s success is defined by their individual personal aspirations and skill set matched with your ability to align those things with the motives and initiatives of the business. This is your only job and trust me, it’s hard. Once you think you have things figured out, something changes with the goal or the person. It’s a continuum.
- Go invest time with your people. Have lunch, go on a walk together, get them to show you what they’re working on, have formal one-on-ones. However your business can handle it, do many things many times. Human connection is the key here.
- Listen, listen, and then listen again. You are there to learn. When you’re there to learn about someone else, you’re the dumbest person in the room. Take off your “I know everything” hat and remember you’re a novice.
- Do. Not. Judge. Your opinions here don’t matter. If team member Sara wants to adopt 9 special needs cats and is working to save up enough money to hire a dope DJ for her raging annual Flag Day party, then you, my friend, have hit the passion jackpot. Who cares what it is, what matters is that you care.
- Find ways to connect what matters to the company to what matters to them. Maybe the Flag Day party is in honor of her best friend who collected flags growing up and is now returning home from abroad. Maybe you can show her how she can take that thoughtfulness into the follow up thank you cards she sends her clients.
If you spend time with your people, you will uncover everything you need to realign priorities, resources, personnel, goals, and feedback. Now when you look around, everyone will be working as hard and be as invested as you are.