The reality is that nothing great has ever been achieved without hard work. The old Puritan work ethic states, “In life, you work hard and then you die. Period.” (I took the liberty of paraphrasing there.) It’s true for leadership, it’s true for teamwork, it’s true for achieving career success.
I also heard this quote the other day and it resonated with me: “We all pray for a harvest (success), but we forget that when harvest time comes, it’s a lot of work.” It reminds me of how my grandmother, (“Mimi”), used to tell us, “Mais cher, be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it!”
Today it seems that the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. Leaders want a quick fix – business success via microwave. Think about the popularity of books such as “The 4-Hour Workweek,” and then others that promote the idea that if we just hold a vision in our minds of success, we’ll attract it while sitting on our butts and sipping a strawberry daiquiri. Although I believe in the Law of Attraction, I also believe in the law of Hard Work and Dedication, (Not a real law. I just made that up.)
While watching a television interview with Mike Rowe, host of TV’s “Dirty Jobs,” he said that during “The Great Recession” in 2008-2009, when they were filming “Dirty Jobs” at businesses across the country, each one of those organizations had “help wanted” signs in the window. The economy was in the tank, people were out of work, and yet nobody wanted to work in those jobs. Yikes.
It can be challenging as a leader when you’ve got employees entering the workplace who have grown up in a world where everybody gets a trophy, where, (God forbid) we can’t keep score, and kids get recognition just for participating. Don’t forget the ones who are addicted to comfort or feel entitled. (Sorry to be such a Negative Nelly.)
So as an executive, a boss, a team leader, an executive leader, how can you get team members engaged and committed and willing to roll up their sleeves and do the HARD work?
Keep in mind, work doesn’t have to be synonymous with drudgery, nor should it be considered a four-letter word. Here are a number of Leadership tips to set up yourself, your team, and your organization for success:
Plan, strategize, and prepare. Effective leaders never lose sight of the vision for the organization and are able to see what is coming down the pike. Prepare for the harvest time to be busy, but also plan to conduct maintenance on your equipment and invest in developing your team members during the not-so-busy times. Having the view from the top of the hill is your responsibility. That’s why they pay you the medium-sized bucks.
Identify Strengths. We’ve all got ’em. Just like we’ve all got weaknesses. Taking the time and effort to identify those areas where you have a talent or a strength is well worth the investment. First, develop your talents into strengths, then encourage and enable your team members to do the same. Next, put those strengths to work for your organization. In making such an investment, you will find that employees blossom, become more engaged in their work, and contribute their best. (Call me about the work that we do with leaders and teams using the Strengths Finder®️ assessments.)
Create a culture of teamwork. As soon as your team members are working in their areas of strength, you need to ensure that you’re all rowing in the same direction. Successful teams are a product of a shared vision, a strong foundation of trust, and transparent communication. And NEWSFLASH: creating such a culture begins with you, the leader.
Take a Time Out. We all have a tendency to spend lots of time working IN our business. Carve out time where your team can come together to work ON your business. Focus on creating alignment, building collaboration, and nurturing relationships. (Call me to work with your team using The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™️ instrument.)
Lead the way. Effective leaders set the example. Their dedication and hard work inspire their team members to give the best they’ve got to give. Lead the way by walking your talk, keeping your word, and never expecting someone to do something that you wouldn’t do. It’s as simple as that.
As you can see, although ‘work’ really is a four-letter word, it should not be considered profane, tedious, nor is it to be dreaded – if you, the leader, set yourself and your team up for success.
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