Editor’s note: I’m excited to welcome a new guest blogger to the Event 360 blog. David Berry’s professional passion is helping leaders find the courage and wisdom to create environments where they, and the people they lead, can creatively explore the limitless possibilities of their potential – and build rock-solid organizations while doing so.
In David’s fourth post of a five-part series, he asks one of the five fundamental questions every leader must answer in a clear and compelling way if they want to build an organization of maximum engagement. Since we know that employee engagement typically runs at about 30% this is no small task. But, since we also know that organizations with higher engagement also deliver better results it’s something that cannot and should not be ignored. To that end, over a series of five posts Davis is asking you to consider these questions in the hope that you will be motivated to think deeply about and take action on your own answers. The only thing at stake is the full engagement of your team in a cause worth fighting for.
Question #1: What will your organization look like five years from now?
Question #2: Why are we going there?
Question #3: What’s in it for me?
Question #4: Do I believe we can get there?
Credibility is hard to earn and easy to lose. We all know the line about under-promising (keeping expectations realistic) and over-delivering (delighting customers with more than they expected). What may strike some as a manipulative approach to business relationships (and one that grows increasingly unrealistic at a time when everyone promises everything and then beats the you-know-what out of their teams to deliver a fraction of their commitment) just makes sense given how critical it is to preserve both internal and external expectations of integrity.
But let’s keep our focus on you and your team for now: if your picture of the future is incongruous to their experience of your leadership it is going to be very difficult, regardless of how clear and compelling it may be, to gain my commitment to the cause. No matter how good you are at selling your vision it is simply not going to matter, with regard to my commitment to it, if either you or the organization doesn’t have a track record of delivering the goods.
Some questions to consider that will help you determine your personal readiness to move forward and your team’s readiness to follow; to bring their very best to the work:
Do you really mean it? If you aren’t “all in” on your “clear and compelling” vision no one else will be either (and, frankly, you probably need to address another set of questions). I’m not (NOT) saying you have to know how to deliver it. That’s what you have a team for, remember? What I am talking about is a deeply impassioned belief that this needs to be where we’re headed and why.
Do you have the resources? I’m not just talking about the money. I’m referring to talent, systems, supporters, clients, sponsors, advisors; whatever it is you need to give your team the best possible chance of delivering the vision you have set out to achieve. If part of your vision is about enrolling and securing those resources, great, just make sure you are incredibly thorough in your description of what exactly it’s going to take and your strategy for going after it.
Do they have your back? Or are you starting in a hole of damaged or unstable credibility? Whatever repair needs to be done with the team before you get moving, take care of it sincerely and thoughtfully before you get started. If you aren’t certain that they will be right beside you on the way up the hill you’ve got to do the work to make sure. Do you really mean it? applies here as well!
Will you remind them every day? Remind them exactly why they chose to follow? Remind them why this is the best possible use of their creativity, energy and initiative at this time in their lives? Remind them that you love, appreciate, regard and respect them and their efforts and that you will do everything in your power to help them learn and grow, expanding their talents to make an even bigger contribution to the world? Will you remind them that you are committed to learning and that you need them to be your teachers?
Credibility is hard to earn. And everything depends on it.
David Berry (@BerryDavid on Twitter) inspires and challenges leaders to make the modern workplace more fully human. His personal conviction and conversational good humor capture the attention of his audiences while his insight and awareness challenge them to have new conversations about both personal and organizational renewal. Audiences have described him as being informative and inspiring, relevant and revolutionary, self-effacing and passionate. David’s blog, Leading Change, is a chronicle of his experiences in learning and leading. You can contact David through his website or via LinkedIn.