Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Energize and empower people, part of Executive Leadership.
- CEO Christine Day says one of her most important priorities is ensuring the emotional vitality of the organization. It was crucial to her success as an executive at Starbucks, and later how she drove tremendous growth while in charge of the innovative apparel company Lululemon. Highly successful executives like Day know you consistently need to energize and empower your people, and you need to do both. Energizing people without empowering them can leave them frustrated. Empowering them without energizing them can leave them overwhelmed, stuck in place.
Intuit founder and former CEO, Billionaire Scott Cook says this lesson transformed his success as a leader. He said, "Nothing good happens with the product team, "unless they're excited. "Even if I need to change the way "they're approaching an issue, I need to leave them "more excited about what they're doing, "than when the meeting began". Here's how to do it. One, give them something to get energized about. Lead by example. If you don't come across to others as fully engaged in what you say, and how you carry yourself, what message does that send? Enthusiasm is contagious.
But so is its absence. If my leader doesn't seem to care very much, why should I? Think of it this way. If your people were asked anonymously to rate you from one to 10, how engaged and committed is your leader? You should almost always get a 10 out of 10. Remember, they can't read your mind. They need evidence that you're all in. They need to see it, and hear it. So, put some positive energy into your voice, your facial expressions, and your gestures. You don't need to overdo it, but you do need to do it.
Make it visible and audible that you care about the work they're doing, and that you care about them. Also, connect their efforts to bigger-picture outcomes. Tell them explicitly how what they're doing contributes to the team, organization, or customers, or the community or whatever constituency is relevant. Don't assume they see it, know it, or get it. Ensure they get it. Make it impossible for them not to appreciate how they're work makes a difference. Give them examples and recognition. Ensure everyone that interacts with you leaves you more energized, not more depleted.
Take responsibility for this. If they don't leave the room more motivated, as Scott Cook says, they lose, and so do you. Two, don't just encourage, empower. Tell them you're counting on them to figure this out, or get this done, or drive these results. I coached a highly successful CEO, who private equity firms hire to help troubled companies get back on track. When he starts working with a firm, he always says, "I don't have the answers. "You know this business better than I do. "My job is to help you do what you do best.
"I'm one hundred percent committed. "How about you?" Take a lesson from him. Don't micromanage. Micromanagers tend to remain managers, not leaders, certainly not executive leaders. Leaders learn to let go. You don't scale work through others by controlling them, but by unleashing their potential. Build them up. Build their confidence. And power, give them power. Power to make choices and stand accountable. Give them responsibility and challenge them to excel. I like the way David Heinemeier Hansson put it when I spoke to him as part of my research.
He's the founding partner for the highly successful productivity software firm, basecamp.com. Hansson says, "Decisions are temporary. "Often the most important thing is not to be right. "We make few decisions so important "that being right is crucial. "We care more about the long-term averages of our positions. "I try to allow other people to win arguments". As one of many examples, he mentioned a person who wanted to try an illustration-based design for the company's home page. Hannson didn't think it would work.
But instead of saying "no", he decided to run an experiment for a week, and then go back to the old way. But, there was a huge increase in signups. Hansson said, "I was wrong. "And the person who proposed it was right." If you treat people the right way, you win, whether you're right or wrong on an issue. Now, wouldn't you want to work for a leader like that, instead of someone who constantly needs to be right? Be that leader. Marshall Goldsmith, consistently voted one of the top 50 leadership thinkers in the world, says, "The number-one mistake executives make "that derails them is they try to win too much.
"But overused, their urge to be right is de-energizing "and disempowering for the very people they depend on." Avoid Goldsmith's number one reason for executive failure, and learn now the lessons that Day, Cook, and Hansson learned the harder way. Don't win arguments with your people. Instead, energize and empower them.
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- Understanding the four disciplines of executive leadership
- Thinking strategically
- Creating shared purpose
- Inspiring confidence—even under pressure
- Motivating and communicating
- Establishing priorities and focus
- Leading change
- Developing yourself<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.