Embracing the Boring: The Underrated Value of Consistent Leadership
Many years ago, during a manager's meeting, the CEO asked for ideas to improve the company culture. I remember many ideas being thrown against the wall, including potlucks, employee of the day, and time off.
The CEO then asked me for my thoughts. I said, "If we want to improve the culture, if we want to become the employer of choice, if we want to create a positive environment, we need to be intentional." There are no quick fixes to becoming an employer of choice. It is doing the fundamentals of leadership day after day.
The CEO then asked the HR professional for her thoughts. She replied, "Why are we here today? I will tell you. Because certain changes we tried implementing over the past 2-3 months have not gone well. All of these changes lost traction between the leader and the team members. The easy part of getting any change is coming up with the idea; the hard part is getting team members to accept the change." She continued, "John is right! Are we holding our leaders accountable for treating their team members with dignity and respect every day?"
When I speak to leaders on all levels, I often remind them that there is no quick fix to becoming an employer of choice. It is all about becoming intentional. A farmer does not plant corn in the spring and then ask in the fall, where did the green beans come from? They know what they put in the ground will come out as corn. They can't control the weather, but they can control what they put in the ground. They are intentional.
Being a successful leader can be boring and mundane. If you work out for 4 hours one day, you will not get in shape. Now, if you work out 15 straight days, 30 minutes each day, you will begin to see progress.
The single act of brushing your teeth for 15 minutes one day does nothing. It is the cumulative habit and consistency of brushing your teeth daily, 3x a day for 2 minutes, that stops them from falling out.
How often do you see a leader taking a team out for dinner, or setting up a planned activity to bond the team? This can be characterized as an act of intensity. It's like working out for 4 hours. What really matters is how the leader is consistently applying the fundamentals back in the workplace day after day.
If I bought my wife flowers on Valentine's Day but did not treat her with dignity and respect for the rest of the year, the flowers would have no meaning or value in her eyes.
If you want to improve your culture or become the employer of choice, the solution rests in meeting the most basic workplace needs of its team members.
Most ineffective leaders know what needs to be done, but they don't know how to do it.
Most ineffective leaders treat others the way others treated them. They just don't know what they don't know.
Most ineffective leaders will say it's hard to find good people these days, versus looking in the mirror and asking what they can do differently.
Most ineffective leaders will say they have 15 years of experience as a leader, yet what worked with a Generation Xer may not work with a Gen Y or Z today.
Most ineffective leaders will say they don't need training because they attended a supervision training class 3 years ago. But in reality, they sucked up precious oxygen for all 15 hours. Why? Because they were distracted most of the time by emails and wondering why they had to be in the class.
Most ineffective leaders never had senior leaders hold them accountable for what they learned in a training class.
Most ineffective leaders will hope that pizza or potluck will be the quick fix to becoming an employer of choice. Yet, hope is never a plan. Yes, the food does have intensity and some value at that moment, but it is not the secret sauce. The secret sauce is how your leaders treat your people day after day. How boring, right? Then again, working out and brushing our teeth daily can be boring, but it is the cumulative habit that makes the big difference.
Leaders Are MADE, Not Born!