The Most Important Conversation a Leader Can Have
I looked up nearly in tears as my manager finished his 30-minute berating rant about my performance, and all I could focus on was the exit sign in the distance. It was my only outlet at that point. I was chasing a goal arbitrarily set by my manager, that I had no chance of achieving unless something miraculous happened.
Whether you have been in a performance-driven sales role or not, you can relate to having a manager provide results-oriented goals with no clear purpose, vision, or mission behind them.
It’s shocking how many bosses still live in a world where it’s “do as I say and don’t ask questions.” What’s worse is when you do what they say and you don’t meet their unrealistic expectations, it somehow is entirely your fault or just a major lack of skill.
Here is a simple conversation construct that all leaders must have with their people in order to avoid these bad situations and set their leader-employee relationship up for major success.
Why are we here.
Steve Jobs said, “The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.” It’s a leaders job to communicate a purpose to their team that helps them wake up every morning thinking how lucky they are to be doing what they are doing. Without a purpose, there is really no reason for a team to follow you. Does your team know the reason you are on this journey?
What Do We Do and for Whom.
Leadership expert Roderic Yapp, says it beautifully, “A Mission is simply what you do and for whom.” It should be stated in very simple language and is used to keep you focused on the right activities. So simply, mission is the following equation:
Mission= We do X in order to achieve Y for Z
The mission of Rod’s business, Leadership Forces is ‘to develop leaders in fast-growing companies who are able to deliver business performance’. Have you communicated what your teams mission is to your people, if so could they repeat it?
Where are we going.
Like the old saying “ When you are lost, any old map will do.” Great leadership entails vision, because without it we don’t know where we are leading people. If leaders can’t communicate direction effectively, then we have no right to ask people to join us on the journey. A vision takes into account the current status and paints a clear picture of a future state that will be successful by a certain timeline.
Just this week, Elon Musk the famous SpaceX CEO said “We are going to land people on Mars, by 2025.” I have no clue if they are going to get there and I am certain I won’t be one of the people on the spaceship, but I have little doubt that his team has a clear vision and timeline to make it happen.
What do we expect from each other.
Most people have heard of the story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. If you haven’t, check out this video. Too often people are unclear about what is expected of them and how they are going to be held accountable. The best leader-employee conversation I ever heard was simple and it went something like this: “These are my strengths, these are my weaknesses, this is what I am going to commit to doing for you and this is what I expect back in return. If either of us don’t meet these standards we both have the right to call each other out.” Simple, straight to the point, and clear – the only way expectations and accountability can work.
Have a conversation with your team where you clearly and confidently answer these four questions. When you do so, your professional relationships with your team will improve and the results will follow.
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