17 Jun Leadership Requires Action
I recently delivered a speech to a group of leaders. It was a one-day session focusing on the book I wrote with my co-author Craig Smith – The Bee Book. The topics of discussion focused on Bee Ready For Change, Bee Innovative, Bee Engaged and you will Bee A Great Leader. (These are not spelling mistakes for those who know me well and my spelling ability!).
I believe that everyone needs to change, most people agree with this. I also believe that everyone must support innovation. It may not be their specific job but they should run day-to-day operations whilst supporting, to the best of their ability, the day-to-day operations of tomorrow. Once they understand and accept change and support innovation then how do you get them to do what you want them to do? You engage them. Sounds simple. The problem is that we are paid to do todays’ work. Most KPI’s are focused on short-term work and the daily operations.
My discussion throughout the day centered around a few famous quotes on leadership.
Think outside the box
One participant mentioned that with innovation you need to “think outside the box”. Now I don’t know about you but this quote gets me going. I dislike it. I think it is unfinished. I prefer to use this – “think outside the box, jump outside the box ands stay outside the box”. This is how you ensure change and innovation happen. Just thinking outside the box elicits zero action. Companies are not short of ideas, what they fundamentally lack is the means to implement the ideas, to bring ideas to market, to make them happen. The thinking inside the box is the 1% inspiration. What we need is the 99% perspiration to commercialise those ideas. What we need is more action in the business world. Ideas are dime a dozen. In our book Buzz (the main character) takes action. He does not wait around waiting to be told what to do.
The other quote that was thrown at me from a participant was on teamwork. I was discussing the best make-up of a team and the fact that every team member (in theory) should have 100% urgency and be 100% focused on what needs to be accomplished by the team. We discussed that a team is a strong as the weakest link etc. This person asked about the “i” in team. She quoted Michael Jordan in basketball who basically was the team. He was the ”i”. Why do we say there is no ”i” in team when there clearly is? My retort was that there is definitely an “i” in team and lots of them. If you have a team of 7 then you have 7 “i’s”. This is where outstanding leadership is required. Great leaders will ensure all of the “i’s” are working for the collective benefit of the team. At any one time, one of the team members may take the spot light but remember even Michael Jordan could not score points if he did not have the ball and he certainly would not have won anything taking on another team on his own. So yes there is an “i” in team but just remember every “i” has a place and role to play. As in our book the main character Buzz found new options but he needed the help of Stripes and Hover to achieve it.
“Smarter not faster”?
As we moved to the engagement section we discussed happiness at work of which much has been written of late combined with engagement. During the session I quoted a few facts about how happy and engaged people produce better results. In a debate on the subject one person mentioned that he always tells his team to work “smarter, not faster”. That may be so. I always maintain it is not how long you spend at work but what you do at work. Most of us attend too many unconstructive meetings that add little value, that start late and finish late. Then we go from one meeting to another. You cannot be productive if you do this. You just cannot. You certainly are not working smarter if you are doing this – you may think you are but you are not. I will challenge anyone on this. But still people do it? Why? Because that is the social script. We fear we will lose out on something, we want to look important or what ever the reason. The thing is, we are paid to be productive not active and often attending meetings is just being active. So yes, work smarter and attend less unproductive meetings and do some constructive work. This is how engaged employees produce better results. They do not waste time of things that add little value. The new norm requires us to work smarter and faster. Simple! Actually more like … Phew!
Bee a great leader
Last point in this article. In the “Bee A Great Leader” session we discussed sales related to innovation and change. The topic came up because we were summarizing the key points from the day. A gentleman asked the question about innovating from outside the company (outsourcing) and then mentioned “the customer is king”. My immediate reply was yes “the customer may be king but the customer is not always right”. This is where change and engagement come to play. We need to change the way we interact with clients. Engaged sales people will be able to put this message across because they are positive outliers. Clients love a positive outlier who is passionate about his/her company and the products he/she sells. Passion drives change. Passionate people work harder, produce better results and encourage more positivity throughout the business. These people will have a way of telling the customer exactly what the facts are and correcting the customer if necessary and the customer will listen. They build a rapour and respect with their clients and the results follow. They work smarter and faster for sure – alluding to the previous point.
So bee innovative, bee ready for change, bee engaged and bee a great leader. Bee action oriented and the results will follow.
The Bee Book is a leadership parable that can help leaders in your organisation to embrace some of the ideas in this blog. You may order The Bee Book on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com in hard copy and kindle format.