The Executive Imperatives (Part 2 of 2)

Core Strengths for Today’s Leadership Call
Part Two

The first three of the Executive Imperatives – Creating an inspiring vision, attracting talent and building systems that work – discussed in the last issue of Connection are core to manifesting excellence. Yet, these alone are insufficient without the presence of three other critical attributes that move the Imperatives Driven Leader into a dynamic role in their team. Developing vision, developing systems with codified best practices and recruiting talent are primarily INTERNAL activities. They require introspection and imagination. They require reflection of past practices. They call us to review traditions and reinvent new ideas current to today’s challenges, yet these first tier imperatives are made manifest to employees and customers alike through a vigorous second tier of core actions and attitudes.

After a vision is formed, talent secured and systems designed the Imperatives Driven Leader must now Model Optimum Technique demonstrating that the organization vision is real, that it is truly embodied from the very foundations of the organization through every level of the management structure. By personally modeling HOW to actually perform within the systems built, the Imperatives Driven Leader shows that they are personally dedicated to the viability of all processes. This forges both commitment and comeraderie within the leader’s team. Additionally, from a front-line hands-on position the Imperatives Driven Leader is constantly teaching and coaching insuring critical skills are passed into the organization by the master.
As optimum modeling is woven into the fabric of a leadership set, the next Imperative to be practiced is to Encourage and Uplift each team member. This one Imperative is left omitted by managers and executives amazingly often. So often in fact that THE most common comment made by rank-and-file employees in the LBM industry is that praise is rare or missing entirely in their work environment. All also candidly admit that if positive reinforcement or their performance were given then a they would do a better job. An Imperatives Driven Executive knows that routine encouragement in the form of gentle consistent feedback, on-going coaching and outright ebnthusiastic commendation is essential to excellent individual and team performance.

A common comment I have heard through the years in our industry goes something like this. “ If you praise people too often then they stop working hard. They will get lazy. It is important to keep people guessing about their work and give feedback only when they screw up. That’ll make them respect me as their manager.” Seems extreme doesn’t it? Yet, I am sure each and every one of heard or even experienced this in our careers. Perhaps, shamefully, we have actually practiced this ourselves. There is no evidence what-so-ever that such a destructive management habit is helpful to anyone. None.

On the contrary, a compelling body of evidence asserts that when people are uplifted, encouraged and praised for a job well done, performance WILL continue to improve. Praise fosters generosity within an organization from every stakeholder. When the critical mass of generosity exists, there is a natural propensity for stakeholders to go the ‘extra mile” voluntarily without prompting. Extension of this self-driven offering of discretionary effort may be THE single most significant element rising from average organizational performance to world class results.

I recall my college judo coach who maintained that a single critical comment -_ no matter how constructive – must be earned by a coach at a ratio of ten to one. That’s ten positive observations of an individual’s performance to one criticism. His formula must have worked as he produced many national champions and winning teams year after year. I have attempted to do the same in my career. In doing so I have personally found that this ratio works! Great respect is earned and people actually listen when a constructive criticism is delivered. Try it and you will find it also to be true.

The final touch in the Imperatives Driven Leader is to take time to truly celebrate successes with the team. A long pursued customer finally grants an order to a dedicated sales person, you celebrate. A large complex order checks out perfectly in a load check – High fives as you celebrate the achievement. A day’s total sales beats last years daily totals by a large degree – You lead the organization in a roaring cheer. You notice a single customer being served well – Generous handshakes and commendations for the employee are immediately given. ALL, successes great and small are candidate for celebration. Do this over and over day after day and your organization will become conditioned to win again so you celebration can be experienced again. Joy itself becomes the driver underneath the achievement. Amazing!

Modeling Optimum Technique
Encourage and Uplift
Celebrate Successes