An older man who worked with us last year said that I should not allow a second much younger employee to talk to me with such a sarcastic tone as he occasionally does. The thing is this particular nineteen-year-old is a really good kid. But like many his age he just says whatever is on his mind. I didn't get to do all the things I have in my life without the capability to set and maintain appropriate boundaries with employees.
If someone crosses the line, I have no difficulty coaching or putting him or her in his place. I also have no problem apologizing upon realizing that I am the one in error. The thing is in my leadership role, I want the team to always feel that I am approachable. After all our Lord Jesus Christ, God of immeasurable power came to save our sinful humanity in meekness and love. He takes us where we are and challenges us to become more. It isn't really about employees liking me or my befriending them, it is all about them knowing that I value and appreciate them.
Some people mistake meekness for weakness. But I know that even my weakest players help us to finish the race. And I want all hearts and minds in our work. Only if I have their hearts and minds will they become champions of our mission.
Winning in our mission is always the point. The half of the equation is making sure that everyone has the tools needed to do the job. And not just the tangible ones. They need to know the game plan, they need to be educated on the playbook. People don't invest their hearts into something unless they truly value the leadership and the mission.
This is where numbers are a great help. Numbers don't create subjective bias, the way that our emotions can, numbers are concrete. I'm not saying I have never gotten angry. Of course, I have. I am saying that getting angry is not productive. Say that one of our people expresses that we should buy an expensive new expresso machine for the breakroom. I can make myself appear cheap and controlling by telling them to buy it if he wants it. Or I can simply "be an open book" and briefly explain the big picture thereby, making the most of his good intention: I could share like so;
“Our current ratio, (current assets compared to current liabilities) has been trending in the wrong direction these last two months from 1.75 to 1.65. Before we spend on any improvement we must raise revenue and profit a bit. What do you think our options are, or what opportunities do you see to accomplish that?” Happy Window Cleaning employees receive training (When they complete their studies) in finance so that they should understand numbers.
This is why I am such a big fan of both Open Book Management and Situational leadership styles. Share the numbers, educate and coach the team as necessary. Delegate whenever possible. So that everyone is willing and able to execute the playbook. That way people are thinking about how their performance matters, while the clock on each period is winding down. Give them the tools to keep score for themselves. Give them the leadership they need to succeed. This is the recipe for winning not just the game but for rising to the top of the league