I started reading The Real Life MBA by Jack and Suzy Welch. I have read some of Jack’s prior work on turning GE around and believe his thoughts on candor are especially poignant. In basic practice, Mr. Welch explains that everyone in the organization deserves to know where they stand. This candor from leaders helps to motivate achievers, clarify a path for growth and hold all team members accountable to the vision.
The Real Life MBA was on sale in Apple Books, so I made the purchase. Recently this quote on the role of those in a position of leadership emerged,
“Sure, the company pays them. It fills their wallets. But as a leader, you need to fill their souls. You can do that by getting in their skin, by giving the work meaning, by clearing obstacles.”
1. Fill their souls
How does the saying go? “Do something you love and your will never work another day in your life.” Unfortunately that may set many people up for failure and/or despair of not achieving this work oasis. Maybe it’s possible? As a person in a position of leadership, if you have lost your sense of vision you are going to attract the same. Yet, even if you are doing what are perceived to be meaningless or meanial tasks, there can be purpose. What is the problem that your team solves? What value does your operation bring to the world? Lean into that and find a way to communicate that to yourself and your team.
2. Getting in their skin
The beauty of this is remembering that leaders are not super humans but rather another person that has a role that is different than the other humans on their team. Shows like Undercover Boss seem to do a great job of (even if it’s only momentarily) bringing leaders down from their perches and into the mix of their companies daily operations. People dealing with people (and tons of positive publicity). In some episodes, the leaders see how some of their disconnected corporate decisions have no grounding in the production realities and are able to make long term shifts from what they learn from ground level employees. Ideas they would have never heard had they not ventured into their team
3. Giving work meaning
This circles back to point number 1. This is a lofty concept but employee engagement and development set growing companies apart from the pack. We often live in the extreme of giving these keys either too much attention or not enough. The golden rule still applies. Do your best to do your job, as well as make work enjoyable and rewarding.
4. Clearing obstacles
For whatever reason positions of leadership and beureaucracy seem irreversibly attracted to each other.
Leadership requires leading by example, which in turn means for your team and organization to grow you have to be growing and fostering a culture of growth behaviors.