Author: Emad Elias
This post is a part of a four part series on Confidence.
Part 2: What does losing look like?
The dawn of responsibility is what this should look like. A widespread ‘contagion’ should set in where people are compelled to question themselves and each other without fearing negative consequences. Sounds lofty to be sure. But so is success! Getting people to gather and face facts represents the path to accountability – one of the building blocks of confidence. Without necessarily calling this mentoring, this is at the very least, grooming your veteran players to take care of the rookies who are not acclimated yet. Teamwork is the foundation of this as the culture of success is so dependent on the old adage that says “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole”.
So how do you make this “stick”? Certainly execution of a strategy is critical. A key point worth noting is that new leaders have an advantage over those that have been involved in the decline as they are better able to unravel the system dynamics and ‘build a better mousetrap’. As we’ve noted, investment and focus on fundamentals are building blocks and, indeed, are important to a sustained recovery where flashes of brilliance move the ball up the field. Several habits are formed during this stage:
- Follow up on promised actions is common
- Openness abounds and focus on goals is shared
- Insular functions in the organization quickly become integrated and clearly aligned to the new structure
- A system of measurement and data collection/analysis at various levels of the organization are used to critically evaluate performance and make decisions at regular intervals
- Optimism occurs specifically in the form of proactive and spontaneous opportunities to identify and correct problems always with a team based approach toward continuous improvement
In addition to these habits, especially in a complex environment where there are many components and many steps in processes that require multiple handoffs, there is an idea system that can be applied by top management that harnesses and leverages the many ‘small’ ideas from the front line. Toyota, though it is known for its lean practices and very precise manufacturing processes, has an idea system in place that has collected over 20 million ideas from its workers in a span of ten years, most of which have been fully implemented. Necessary for this system to flourish and make the kind of impact that even so called ‘big’ ideas can have, is a language across the enterprise that fosters contribution and metes out credit for ideas that lead to solutions that can be measured. A collaborative organizational structure that easily allows and promotes new connections, shared goals, respect for all ideas no matter from whom, and visible investment is what cultivates this new culture of success and responsibility.
Conclusion: Leadership Delivering
Each and every one of us, whether it’s personal or professional, wants to be assured that our plans and activities lead to positive results. Leaders of teams and organizations alike, as we all know, must have the experience and vision to be able to thoroughly analyze strategic and tactical problems and then provide a system of solutions that can be practically implemented. What some of us may not know is that messaging around these solutions is powerful, modeling the behavior desired is vital, and implementing formal processes and discipline can lead to maturity and sustained improvement. According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the real secret of leadership and confidence is not the self, it’s others. Mike Krzyzewski, the famous Duke men’s basketball coach says that “leadership is plural”.
Winnowing the formula for winning down to three things may be simplistic but there is something to be said for the brilliance associated to single-mindedness and focus. Leaders find the best people, put them in the best positions, prepare them, and give them a stake in the game that has benefit to others more than themselves. The result will be that people will lead and be willing to be led. Skepticism and blame are replaced by faith and boldness within and across teams. Fear of consequences as a result of identifying problems is replaced by eagerness and formal mechanisms to discuss and fix problems before failure can evolve from near misses. So can winning really be attributed to Initiative, Collaboration, and Accountability? There may be other formulas but this one definitely has teeth.