Culture is tough. It’s not easy to explain. It can be elusive and subjective. It can always be better and it can always be worse. Just in case you think yours can’t get any worse, try working for CEO Oliver Queen at Queen Industries. I’m pretty sure that his leadership style is the poster child for absentee landlord.
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The culture that exists in your company permeates everything. It’s like the air your team breathes. It’s impossible to avoid it becoming part of them; part of their results.
The question is, do you want that air to be filled with poisonous mustard gas or fresh, clean and pure oxygen? You want the good stuff, or course!
Why is it then, that so many leaders just ignore culture altogether; like an ostrich in the sand ready to be kicked in the butt? I believe the answer is simple. Many leaders tend to focus on tasks and processes because they are tangible and easier to understand.
People can be messy. They are mushy and gooey and full of crap. That doesn’t make their contributions any less important though. I’ve quoted this before, but I think it’s a valuable lesson:
“Take away my factories, and I will build a new and better factory; but take away my people, and grass will grow on the factory floor.”
With all that being said, here are three reasons why spending intentional time & effort cultivating your corporate culture is worth every nickel:
Some things just go together like: pancakes & syrup, wine & cheese, kids & play, great leadership & passion. While I’m sure some of these pairings were discovered by accident, the last one is anything but an accident!
Decisions are made everyday, several times a day that prime leaders to get the most from their team. Think about the Olympic athletes that compete every four years. Do you think passion for running or cycling (or whatever) is the only thing that makes them successful? Heck no!
What they eat & drink, when the sleep, how long they sleep, what altitude they practice at, etc; all matter. The trick here is accepting that all of these things impact their ability to compete & win. So what does that have to do with leading with passion? Simple: the people you lead matter. You have to connect the dots between how your people interact with you and how that affects your profits.
Now, don’t get me wrong here, being “passionate” about being a leader IS what I’m talking about. In fact it’s the one area where I believe most leaders fall short. Whether it’s someone above them or the culture as a whole, it’s an easy pitfall. It’s too easy to focus on tasks & processes without regard for the people that carry them out.
To make matters worse, most organizations pay for performance – whether you are leading your team with passion or not, is not in the equation. But let’s be real…being passionate about being a leader pays high dividends!
If you really don’t care about people or how their engagement and your interactions with them will impact the success of your business, then I suggest a realty check. You may love doing what you are doing, but you are likely holding people back. So, either get out of the way and let someone else lead, or take a piece of humble pie and learn how you can be better.
So, here are five ways to Lead With Passion:
1.) Accept that you ARE a leader; your ability to take that seriously will impact your success (and the success of your business).
2.) Schedule regular & intentional time (and money) reading & learning about how to lead your team better.
3.) Find a leader outside of your organization that can mentor you, give you advice, and be brutally honest with you.
4.) Regularly engage your team members (one-on-one) and focus on removing obstacles from their path to success.
5.) Figure out why you do what you do (what fires you up). Maybe it’s your company’s mission, maybe not. Just figure it out and share it with your team on a regular basis. See if you can get them fired up too!
Will this fix everything…NO! But these five simple steps can give you a jump-start on leading with passion.
By the way, if you aren’t already doing these things, then none of them will come easy. However, they are truly important to the health of your team. So, don’t take any of them lightly!
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