Leadership – the Sweet Spot
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens
P R O V E R B S 2 7: 1 7,
We all carry ambition inside of us and yet being somewhat realistic, we all know that sometimes we get carried away and aim for the high and unattainable goals in life without the reality of knowing our own abilities and resources. There is nothing more demoralizing that failing to meet your own goals that were set too high and too farfetched thus denying you the meaningful achievement we all fight for.
Many people miss the sweet spot of life or their career because they aim too high and fail to reach the level of satisfaction you get from being successful. Some say there is an art to being good at what you do. Some will tell you that hard work is never a substitution for the satisfaction you get in life. There is a fine line between what leaders say [talk] and how they walk.
It must be in harmony if they want to be better than the rest of people wanting to be leaders in whatever business you choose your life to engage in 100 %. They must know that perfect practice makes better business matters grow and if they pay attention to things their employees take an interest in, their morale and job satisfaction will sustain the success and positivity in their lives.
We get more out of a team if the leader pays attention to them and their particular needs. Dealing with these intangibles that rely on emotion and sensitivities, one cannot just solely focus on achievements but rather, focus on the people as well. Ironically speaking, we get more out of people if we are in harmony or in tune with how they respond to their goals equally with their organizational goals. These things must be done in harmony and defined to work together.
Nothing is more self-defeating than unreasonable deadlines. On the other hand, tight deadlines are sometimes needed to keep the organization from becoming too soft or lethargic and comfortable. Some leaders create deadlines to test their employee’s will or energy levels. Some do it to feed their own ego and some do it to keep the team on their toes.
Whatever the reason is for setting deadlines, the main purpose they should be set is to measure achievements and not feed egos. A bad test can end up creating false impressions that feeds complacency rather than productivity.
Creating work with poorly set deadlines can create the wrong impressions as well as the wrong energy levels and cause abuse of this workload principle to motivate the employees and promise a solid delivery of products or services. On the other hand, sometimes arbitrary and artificial deadlines are needed to keep the organization from becoming too stagnant or comfortable.
How you use that principle is how people perceive your leadership style and dedication to the team members and their goals. What is a basic rule for productivity is the goal to under-promise something and 0ver-deliver on what your goals and promises are related to the overall mission. Eager leaders have a tendency to respond with a ‘yes’ to every challenge made and do so without any second thoughts or pause whether they can meet or deliver such a deadline. What we don’t realize is that when we under-promise or over-deliver, we ‘cheapen our words’ in those cases where we fail to meet such deadlines. A good leader can rarely survive more than one failure at a time.
It does no good to anyone to technically fail to promise something we cannot deliver. Making promises without considering the time, effort, and energy to complete the task with a deliberate under-promise can ultimately destroy morale and break up a team of good people. This kind of deliberate misalignment creates friction and conflict that leaders often spent more time defusing than the problem itself. A good leader knows how to align a team’s skills and strengths. They know their own skill set and qualifications better than anyone else when asked to commit to a job.
Although it is frowned upon to pass any opportunity to allow the team to perform a critical task, there are exceptions where a team leader can’t commit to the deadline imposed and pass it on to another team as matter of making it clear that he or she is unwilling to over-promise and under-deliver their team’s productivity and abilities for the job. If this is the case where you aren’t able to commit, then briefly explain your position and why and then try to find another team leader or team to connect with.
If the request comes from your boss, you probably can’t refuse to do it but it is within reason to discuss limitation or alternatives. Asking the above questions will arm you for a conversation about unrealistic expectations for the project. This a much better scenario than outright failure or inability to meet the deadline as over-promised. Remember a “no” sometimes is just “not yet”; better to not commit and delay to a time when you can deliver than to over-promise and under-deliver.
There is a principle that stands here as it lands squarely on the shoulders of all involved and their reputation or the integrity of the team and its leader. Over-optimism is more dangerous than over-pessimism for it results in the demoralization of the team and disappointment that separates the leader from his or her followers based on the downside of these emotional responses to bad decision making.
There are those who repeatedly make this kind of mistake and eventually burn out or destroy team concepts along the way. We haven’t even mentioned the undervalued impacts of such disappointment from a management’s point of view. I am sure you know what this can lead to in the end. One must not think that this clears the path to become an overly pessimistic leader. Being excessively cynical or dark about things does nothing to boost egos, confidences or abilities. It would lead to never taking risks or finding new challenges and that is also very destructive in nature.
Take and make the safeguards and precautions as your experience dictates, gather the right insight and data to make a good decision and hold that resolve to get it done or promised in order to overcome the unknown obstacles we will face. When applied into a hostile or dangerous situation, the overly-optimistic leader chooses not to see the peril of their surroundings. He or she who sends troops into battle or ambush without assessing and anticipating what could go wrong has failed you as a leader. Once put into such a predicament where winning or staying alive becomes questionable, you lose the faith of those who followed you since they did so blindly and believed in you when you said it would be easy and not prepare them for the worst.
There will be times, when we do need to make decisions spontaneously or on the fly sort of speak. However, as a general rule, these kinds of situations should be rare. If you engage in too many of these kind of instant decisions, you risk losing sight of the big picture and disconnect yourself and the team from the reality around you. This is not the kind of situation to create in order to balance your strategies and abilities to execute while in a vacuum. A delicate balance, with the time and focus on long term decisions are worth your energy and effort to sustain the workload and upcoming challenges.
When in a vacuum, explain your decisions and other will follow even if they disagree. Common courtesy is to share the burden but carry the sweat for making the decision. Avoid leading others by merely leading them. Don’t be a selfish leader and show some selfness to them. Nobody likes working for a dictator and especially while working with generation X, Y and Z in the team who aren’t used to this kind of leadership. most reject it in favor of a more collaborative, team-centered approach. They want leaders who will humble themselves and earn their trust; they won’t automatically give it. Something we need to learn when it comes to respect and trust – it is still earned.
Old school must adjust to this generational gap. They must shift their approach or they will find themselves in the unemployment line sooner than later. We must remember that an explanation of our decision is not a cowardly act – in fact, it is just the opposite. It is a sign of strength, confidence and conviction as your willingness to share your thoughts brings about a vulnerability that is exposed to potential criticism but rarely does so when the leader is sincere and clear about his or her expectations.
It is the weak leader rather than the strong one who refuses to explain his or her decision for that person takes all criticism personally and not jobwise. This also avoids the traditional ‘behind the back’ talk when things are put out in front rather than kept secret. If we, as leaders, take the time to explain things, our team members still may not agree, but most will follow anyway. Illumination can go a long way if people are kept out of the dark. The little courtesy, respect, and humility that you show them by explaining yourself will pay off.
Leaders have faith in people. When they believe in them enough to share their thoughts, then they find that those willing to listen will rise to higher and more productive levels and expectations and create an ownership to the problem-solving methods. When people are being informed with the facts, instead of just being offered opinions, they work better, they trust better and they have the confidence to do better.