Monday, February 21, 2011

Mission Possible In 3 Steps

"There's no way."  "Are you kidding?" "You must be crazy."  "That's impossible."  Have you ever heard these phrases?  Or worse, have you ever uttered these credibility killers?  Sadly, I know I have.

Leadership Is Hard - 3 Reasons You Have to Suck It Up
Whether you want to lead or not is the topic for another day; but if you're in a leadership position right now there are three things you and I have to keep in mind.

1.You're getting paid to lead
Simple, but clear.  There is no time for complaints about employees, other managers, or the Executive Team.  You're the leader.  Earn your pay.

2.  The need is great in our organizations for good leadership
You're here for a reason.  Your organization identified a specific leadership need, and has the confidence in you to fill it.  You're not a trophy, or window-dressing, or an empty-suit.  There is a need and you must fill that need.  Now.

3.  Very few leaders are truly passionate about leading, thus making the need for leadership even greater
This is perhaps the most important of our three responsibilities.  We've all seen leaders that simply come to work, go through the motions of the day, and then leave promptly at 4:30.  Everyday.  Never underestimate the impact your passion alone can have on an organization's culture.  Employees talk.  When you allow your passion and energy to flow publicly, those around you will have no choice but to notice.  

Open-Door Policies Are Not For Employees
Time for some self-reflection.  When was the last time I practiced my open-door policy and walked out my door?  Do I actually wait for employees to come to me as if I'm holding court and the common folk can come by and pay homage and receive my sage advice?  Wow.  That is NOT an open door policy.  That is arrogance.  Let them see your passion instead!

How About You
When you leave the office today, will you be able to say that you did everything you could to make a difference?  Will you say that you led with passion; or, did you make excuses for why your work is Mission Impossible?

For me, leadership is absolutely Mission Possible.  What do you think?  Hurry up and answer, court is now is session and the people need to hear from me.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of Aurora


  1. Nice Catch Jay,

    Even successful managers, executives, and leaders fail to leverage fully the outbound lane of their own office doors.

    The reasons are many: the heave and rush of daily business, they are introvert or other elements of style, they don't care, or they don't see the difference it can make.

    The "walk around" is one of the best tools available to us, and the first step is for leaders to get up from behind their desk and walk out the open door.

  2. Not too long ago I was running a focus group for managers on self service tools. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the idea that they would "have to" initiate some items (pay change, promotion, transfer) from their own desk rather than pawn it off on HR. It meant they had to be willing to own the process, and that struck them as "HR's job."

    Then, one of them stood up and said "Hey, aren't we supposed to be the leaders in this place? How can we be that if we aren't willing to take the responsibility of managing the needs of our teams? If we can't do that, why are we here?"

    It was, without question, the highlight of the project. And not one voice was raised in dissent. But the carpet apparently got really interesting to the rest of the participants at that moment.

  3. James - thanks for the feedback. I spent years focused on an open-door policy for all the wrong reasons. The door was for me!

    Dwane - Great example! That is worth writing more about!

  4. Jay, good post. I have always felt the "open door" policy is best served when it isn't a real door being talked about but the ability to approach anyone to discuss any work or business topic.

    I agree that the best interaction is not in your office but in other's spaces.

  5. Great perspective John. In the end, it really is about communication, regardless of the tool that gets us there. From the rounding I do in the hospital, it's clear that getting out of my office and getting to where the patient care is being delivered is always best.

  6. I've had an open door policy for a long time, and when I worked in the plants I was frequently told it would help if I was actually "in" the office! Where was I? Out walking around. I love to talk with our employees as they are doing their work - as long as it doesn't impact their safety or the quality of the product.
    Like John says - it's not about the physical door, its all about the "open" manager/leader.

  7. Good point Tim. If employees need a place to talk in a more focused way, certainly dedicating time to being in the office is important too! Thanks for the comment.