The Leadership Shop

A Leadership Tidbit



“The question, ‘Who ought to be boss?’ is like as, ‘Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?’ Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.” — Henry Ford

It’s definitely good to be able to sing tenor, to know the words to the song. The question is, “What song does the tenor sing?” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said the song is, “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of being.” Confucius’ arrangement of that tune was, “If you lead the people with correctness, who will dare not to be correct?” Even John Steinbeck had a version of that song for would be tenors, “It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.”

How do you sing tenor? How does that song go? The special gift of the tenor is in knowing what people ought to be and how to lead correctly. If you qualify as “boss,” knowing what people aught to be and what it means to lead correctly are second nature for you. If they aren’t, if you don’t have a clue, singing tenor is definitely not in your future. Unfortunately, a lot of people are “boss,” who couldn’t sing tenor on their best day and quite a few of them can’t even carry a tune. The most pertinent issue here is, “Are you a real tenor or just trying to pass yourself off as something you aren’t? If you are the real deal, you consistently treat people as if they were what they ought to be, lead them with correctness, and then expect greatness.

The Gurus Say

ottrell, David. Monday Morning Motivation: Five Steps to Energize your Team, Customers, and Profits. New York: Harper Business, 2009.

The single greatest influence on your organization’s energy is the leader…you are the ultimate energizer. The energy you create can be positive or negative, and that energy is multiplied in the organization because of your impact on every member of your team.

Your organizational energy is not the sum of your individuals. It is dependent upon the ratio of energizers to sappers. If you have more sappers than energizers, the energy will be drained, and in fact the energizers may eventually become sappers. As unfortunate as it is, a negative, cynical person has a far greater impact on the energy of the team than a positive person. He or she will deplete far more energy than a positive person will add.

Consider the effect on a team if their leader speaks negatively about her boss’s decision to change a particular process or policy. Will the members of that team be energized about and supportive of the change? Not likely, because they see leadership chaos above them. On the other hand, when employees see that everyone in their line of leadership is on the same page, they are motivated to get on board also.

With respect to your team, are your organization’s values actually practiced or merely posted?

When conflicts are ignored, tremendous organizational energy is diverted from moving forward to dealing with the conflict. The rule illustrates how a small issue can grow exponentially if left unchecked. The longer it persists, the more difficult and time consuming it is to fix–and the more of your organization’s energy it will waste.

Southwest Airlines’ mission statement says: “Above all, employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest customer.”

Unfortunately, very few organizations are completely satisfied with their internal communications. No matter how many workshops are conducted, how much emphasis it’s given, and how many e-mails or memos are circulated, organizations rarely have the clear communication channel that they envisioned.

However, that’s no excuse to stop making an effort. It’s important to continue making every effort to enhance your internal communications at every level of your organization.

It matters what they hear, not what you say.

In your management approach, celebrate successes by quickly recognizing high performers. Quick, on-the-spot action to recognize the achievements of employees can have a tremendous impact in building loyalty and respect. And although it’s a painful task, take decisive action to clear out the underperformers from your organization. The longer they stay, the more energy they drain.

Problems do not just go away. Address issues quickly to avoid larger problems later.

One of the toughest things for a leader to figure out is “What’s the truth?” Many times the truth is camouflaged by politics, personal agendas, or even a sincere, intense desire to want something else to be the truth.

Honesty, integrity, and transparency are inextricably linked.

Your personal integrity is judged every day. The people in your organization judge your integrity not by what they hear you say, but by what they see you do. When you criticize one of your team members in public, you lose integrity. When you … say, “We’ll deal with it later,” your integrity comes into question. When you show favoritism, choose to not return phone calls, say you’re out of the office when you’re not, or say that you didn’t receive a message when you did–you lose trust.

Without a doubt, your personal integrity is your most prized possession. Each day, that integrity is tested, and you have an opportunity to prove it or lose it with every decision you make.

Business is personal. People commit themselves to other people more than to an organization. If people don’t trust the messenger, they won’t buy into the message. Leadership begins with the leader’s integrity. Without integrity, you can’t develop trust; and without trust, nothing else really matters. Trust and honesty are the keys to integrity.

People support what they help create.

If there is no trust, it doesn’t matter what you communicate.

The ultimate test of integrity is your follow-through.

A Success Tidbit

Light Your Fire

If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you
will be fired with enthusiasm. — Vince Lombardi

This isn’t always true but is true enough often enough. It may
not be true if you are the boss’ kid, the only one who knows how to drive the
truck, or if it’s your ball and you will take it and go home if they don’t let
you pitch. Other than that, think of it as Lombardi’s immutable law of
continuing employment. Oliver Wendell Holmes even knew the source of the fire,
Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with
fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and
passionate thing.

You probably won’t want to take the getting fired up thing as
far as John Wesley did. He is the one who said, I set myself on fire and people
come to watch me burn. Even so, John W. Foster’s point is definitely worth
keeping in mind, One of the strongest characteristics of genius is the power
of lighting its own fire. Turning into a torch like Wesley is going a tad too
far; but keeping a match handy to light your own fire might be pretty cool, so
to speak. Being a genius certainly can’t hurt your chances of avoiding the
employment ax, if it falls.

If you don’t happen to have a promising future as a genius,
Napoleon Hill offers some useful advice, The starting point of all achievement
is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just
as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. You need to have a
strong desire to succeed, a lot of Lombardi’s enthusiasm. As Publius Terentius
Afer pointed out, There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when
you do it reluctantly.

Winston Churchill hit the same nail
on the head, Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. And
Robert Schuller drove it home when he said, Do what you can, where you are,
with what you have. Schuller could have easily added, And do it
enthusiastically. Should you be thinking that the fire you need exceeds your
capacity, the popular Anon. has a parting thought just for you, If you really
want to do something, you’ll find a way; if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.