Episode Transcript

Hello, everybody. And welcome back to another episode of the G.R.I.T. – Give, Recognize, Implement, Time® podcast. I am your host, Steve Nathenson, CEO, and founder of Strive For More. Today I want to talk about a very important question leadership wise, that we are all addressing right now and considering, because we’re calling into question, where’s this organization going? How are we shifting with the times and what we’ve gone through over the past couple years? So this question is how do I ensure my leadership style resonates with my organization to take it into the future?

It’s a question on the minds of a lot of people right now. So the first thing that we have to ask is what’s the company culture like that we’re currently in? Is it very hierarchical? Is there a dictatorship and it’s very transactional and do what we say and don’t argue? Or is it more free flowing, open, authentic, transformational, listening by breaking down silos and having true, open lines of communication? This question as a whole can help us understand, does my leadership style fit within this organization’s culture? And do I see how this culture’s going to stay the same or shift as we go into the future? It’s a very important foundational question.

When we look at ourselves and let’s just for an example say we’re very servant oriented. We serve those that we lead. We help remove obstacles out of the way. We’re there to help them prop up their careers, promote them, remove roadblocks, help them because that’s what ultimately helps me as a leader get when I need to be accomplished. But that’s the opposite of what’s seen in the vast majority of the company. There’s a disconnect there between, say, my style and the company’s culture and the leadership style that it uses. So we have to figure out, do I align as a leader with what’s expected of leaders in my organization? It may be yes. It may be no. Let’s just say the answer’s, “Yes. That’s right in line with my organization. I see it continuing.” That’s great. Because that means that I can continue to grow and develop my skillset as a leader in my career and help take us into the future because there’s already that natural alignment that occurs between what I apply as a leader and what our organization wants and how we want to take us collectively together into the future.

That’s the easier route to take. Unfortunately, sometimes the answer may be no. Who I am as a leader may work really well for my folks, but it’s not the norm. And it’s a struggle and a constant battle. And that’s a question that we have to ask in that situation. Am I losing a constant battle? Am I fighting that losing battle all the time? And what does that tell me? If that’s the case, that allows us to know there’s a disconnect between what is expected of me as a leader in my organization and what I’m currently doing as leader? We have a choice in that moment, to ask, am I going to shift? Do I feel that’s right and that’s appropriate? I may find that, “You know what? Yeah, there’s some concessions that I can make. There’s different things that I can do that can shift that allow me to more naturally fit into that culture and help take our business unit into the future with the rest of the organization.”

Or we may find, “You know what? No, I disagree with the way that things are run. I disagree with the way that things are led. And I don’t see alignment between how I want to be as a leader and the culture.” And that may bring up the question of, am I sticking around as a leader or not? And that’s part of this great resignation that we’re seeing. People are looking at the battles that they have fought. And they’re looking at the question of, is it still worth it to me to fight that battle and to be a part of an organization that I don’t think aligns with who I am, and I don’t see a future with? And that’s a word of caution that we have to be cognizant of as organizations.

There’s two sides to that coin as well. As the leaders of organizations this may be how we want to be, this is what we feel is appropriate for us and we may recognize that we may lose some folks as we shift and we grow in different directions in these times. And we may be okay with that. Or on the flip side of that, it’s what’s causing us to lose all these people. What am I doing as a leader of this organization, say, the CEO level, the board, the C-suite that’s causing this disconnect and dissonance and this great resignation? And that’s a harder thing to do. Regardless of these scenarios, whether it’s us, whether it’s the leadership above, there’s a couple key things that really do truly align leadership and resonate with folks around us, to help ensure that we are embracing what’s going to help take us into the future.

The first of which is clarity. Clarity of vision and direction. If we are wishy-washy, we’re always changing our mind, we’re gravitating towards the next best thing, but that’s always changing and different, we’re not giving our folks what they need to successfully do their jobs and what’s asked of them because it’s always changing. They don’t know how to prioritize. They don’t know how to plan because, we, those responsible for leading our organization, aren’t giving it to them. There is a lot of danger in being indecisive and not picking a path to go down because it causes people to not have clarity, not have what they need, to second guess, to always question, to be prioritizing many different things all the time versus sticking to something that allows them to successfully put the time and effort needed into getting an organization to where it goes because they have that direction.

So first and foremost, as leaders, to ensure that we are engaging in a leadership style that resonates with our organization and those around us and the people that we’re leading, the first thing we have to ask ourselves, “Do I have clear vision and direction that allows me to help those that I’m leading know what’s expected of them? What to do? How to spend their time and efforts? What to work on?” This clarity and this direction, and the shared vision can do wonders. So that’s item number one. And that’s going to vary a little bit, depending on our position level. As someone who owns and runs his own organization. I get that decision. I get that say, I dictate what that vision is and the direction, and allow that to roll down. People in those positions, they have that responsibility and those obligation and that opportunity to create that vision and that direction.

And those “below us” in the organization, in terms of the chain of command, if you will, they need to know what that is. So am I sharing that? Am I open in my communication? But more so, am I getting their buy-in and engaging them in that shared vision and that direction so they know what’s in it for them, they know the purpose behind it, the meaning, the value, the impact that it’s going to have on them and what it’s going to create that gives them that drive and that purpose? That’s actually item number two. Purpose. And it becomes more important than other things because when somebody has a true alignment of purpose, what they value and why they’re doing something, it’s going to inherently motivate and engage them and get us over other hurdles that we face. So as leaders who are perhaps, let’s say, in the middle management chain of command in an organization, we’re going to have vision given to us by those above us.

And we’re going to look at what we’re responsible for leading and align our own mission and vision and purpose and strategy with that vision. So as we’re talking about the question of how do I ensure my leadership style resonates with my organization and helps get [inaudible 00:09:31] into the future? Am I aligning with that vision? Am I aligning with the direction and the purpose? Am I aligning with the values that we hold? And I’m not talking about the paper values. I’m talking about the true, unwritten, unspoken rules that create the values that we actually engage in. Unfortunately, there’s a difference often that shows what paper values say, versus, what’s actually true in organizations. We may purport to have empathy, compassion, and openness, but if there’s a ton of silos and people are just discrediting others and they’re not open, or they’re not truly listening and hearing people, we don’t actually hold true to openness, compassion and empathy. They’re paper values.

So for us, as leaders, that’s a third thing to consider is the values, the true values of the organization and my engagement in that. The fourth thing is our people, those that were leading. What is they truly need? What resonates with them? What motivates them? What drives them? What is it that I do as a leader to interact with those folks that truly builds that relationship, that bond, that trust in me that I can do right, and will do right by them? And help align them with their desires, what they’re looking for, their needs, their goals, the purpose that they want to serve and how that all fits together. Those key elements can help me understand are my leadership style… is my leadership style, excuse me, resonate with the organization as a whole, especially those people that I’m leading, that’s going to help drive us into the future?

So just as a real quick recap, a lot of things really stem from the company culture. What are those true values that we hold? Am I living to them? Am I engaging them? Or am I fighting against them? What is the true meaning and purpose in this work for my folks that they want, that we, as an organization are creating the impact on the world around us? What is the vision and the direction that we’re going into that’s driving that and fulfilling that purpose? And have I clearly expressed that and, not only expressed it, but got people’s buy-in and engage them in that vision because they know what’s in it for them? These are some critical things that we can look at as a leader to see, am I resonating with those are around me? Am I resonating with my organization? And are they inherently going to help me take it into the future where we want to go? Because I have these areas taken care of.

It can be a hard question to ask and to explore, especially when we are in those states of disconnect with the organization. A part of that real question that we’re asking is, do I have enough from those around me that are leading me in my chain of command, say, upwards, to be able to actually make that decision and to know how do I shift or continue what I’m doing to really help us get us to where we want to go? It is incumbent upon all the leaders in our organization to help us understand that and to help us look and reflect and to not only us, but as an organization, as a whole.

One of the simple truths in business is what’s in it for them? If I understand what’s in it for my customers, I’ll be able to help sell them and solve the problems that they’re having and fulfill the needs that they have. It’s no different internally in organizations. If we understand what’s in it for our employees, then it’s much easier to resonate. And it’s much easier to look inwards and say, “What am I doing as a leader that’s meeting that, or not meeting that?”

That’s true at the top level of a CEO to a frontline manager. When we look at where we’re headed, if we lay out a clear, engaging vision that fulfills needs and purposes of those that we’re trying to impact, our customers, and our internal employees, we’ll be able to more successfully lead them and actually increase the impact we have at large, with those that we’re trying to impact, meaning our customers and the world around us. So I hope this answers and helps answers that question for you, of how sure my leadership style resonates with my organization to help take it into the future? It’s a very important question we’re all facing right now, but it is a very possible question to answer with some of these key questions and being open and honest about it. Until the next time, I hope you all be the movement in your life.


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