Having a business named “Corporate Culture Revolution” gets me into some pretty interesting conversations. Whether I’m being mocked, argued with, or praised, eyebrows are usually raised (along with occasional voices). It’s alright though, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The point being, I often hear reasons why written examples of leadership & culture don’t mean squat in the real world. They just aren’t practical in the time constraints of doing business. So, many leaders will give up on even trying to learn. Instead, they will focus on more practical problems & solutions for their business. Of course I don’t agree with this approach, but I do understand the challenges and pitfalls of attempting to apply unlimited theories in a limited world, focused on practical results.
Excuses Are Like…
Last week I spoke with a leader of a successful team that works in a company that is in a rut. This leader has over 30 direct reports with a handful of mid-level managers between them. Her time is spent hiring, firing, managing schedules, and occasionally rolling up her sleeves to get something done.
Time for learning about leadership (let alone applying those lessons) equals zero.
Of course, I understand her situation. Time is so valuable. Many decisions she makes are the direct result of executive level leaders dictating specific results. She has been working in the same environment for many years and knows the technical aspects of getting the job done.
Yet, somehow she knows something is missing. She looks above, below, sideways, and all around for someone to blame…but who? Other department heads? The executive team? Her own team? Market conditions? Industry norms?
This is where I enter the picture. Not that I have some magic potion or voodoo. Anything but!
What I do have is perspective and honesty. Two things that aren’t always easy to find.
Knowing how short staffed she is and knowing how limited her time is, I couldn’t help but to encourage her to stop the madness! Every leader above, below, and around her has the same limited resources as she does. They all have reasons why they are cutting corners in the “leadership” department:
- Reasons for procrastinating their one-on-one meetings.
- Reasons why they don’t read leadership books.
- Reasons why they stopped asking their team for critical feedback.
- Reasons why they don’t write Thank You Cards.
- Reasons why they don’t have time for team building activities.
- Reasons why they have forgotten their purpose.
- Reasons for not being intentional about their culture
So, don’t play the blame game!
I simply wanted to remind her that she is leading people; end of line. The things she does are just as crucial as the things she doesn’t.
What if the only way to change the people around her is to first change herself?
So, I asked her to pick one thing that she can do to improve herself as a leader. No more excuses for this one thing…No more blaming anyone else. If you can’t do them all, then pick just one.
Question: What is one thing that you can do to lead better?