The Leadership Playbook: How to win the Best and Brightest
If you visit my website www.mooremotivated.com, under my leadership program tab you will see this:
Would you coach a sports team with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ offense/defense? Or, would you adjust your tactics based on the opposition you face? Why is leadership any different?
Like fad dieting, the pursuit of instant leadership/team building fixes go to whatever the next best salesman is pitching. The solutions they offer are too simple and too rigid to be of use in our high stress, constantly changing world. But there is another way to create long lasting, positive change, while still being adaptable enough to overcome new challenges. It starts with creating a positive environment from the bottom up, which is something that your current employees and potential recruits alike will value and reward you for.
As I wrote the first disruptive leadership book, I saw first hand the benefits organizations could gain taking a fresh look at old and new policy alike. While going through this process with them, I realized that we need to incorporate different styles of leadership at every level, creating an environment that focuses on the true foundation of any organization: its people. It doesn’t matter if it is the Air Force, FedEx, Google, or the local mom and pop metal fab shop; you are only as good as your people!
So how do we take a realistic approach to leadership that will create an environment that gets ‘Buy In’ from its employees? You need to create a leadership plan.
This plan should be built like any other business plan, utilizing multiple perspectives as you encounter different obstacles. As a leader, your job is to evaluate your business’ strengths and weaknesses; determining the steps required to emphasize the good and overcome the bad. These are the skills you need to identify and develop if you want to attract the best and brightest. This is especially important when courting the millennial generation, who are more intelligent and financially responsible than past generations, but less driven by money. Instead, they favor quality of life and the value of their purpose/contribution. As a result, they are more likely to take the chance and switch between jobs if they perceive a better opportunity elsewhere.
So how do you create an environment to attract these bright millennials? You need to learn how to earn their buy in, or in other words: their emotional investment. This happens when they see your company not just as a place of work, but as something fulfilling in their lives. A place they can dedicate their time without regret or hesitation. Then, once you get them to buy into your program, they will dedicate themselves to the company’s vision and make themselves part of the team.
Nick Saban, University of Alabama football coach, is the master at this leadership technique; making buy in his first priority with a new recruit. Before bringing them onto the team, Saban has to know he can earn their buy in to his program. No matter how naturally talented they are, the buy in comes first. Because when he earns that buy in, he knows they will train until they puke. They will fight unselfishly in the fourth quarter of the game no matter how sore, hurt, or full of pain their body is; to lift their fellow teammates up and achieve the program’s shared vision. In return, Coach Saban enjoys success year after year, wherever he chooses to coach.
These lessons apply to business as well, but if you want to follow in Coach Saban’s footsteps, you will need to take a fresh look at how you approach leadership and team building. Bring in outsiders, me if you like, who have a diverse background in many organizations and an understanding of people.
The sooner you put these ideas into practice, the better, as competition to recruit the best is only going to get tougher. Ask the Air Force about how hard it is to recruit and retain good people; they’re offering 250K sign on bonuses for fighter pilots and are still about 700 short. And that’s just the fighter pilots. In fact, the situation was already so dire that as they hemorrhaged experienced pilots left and right due to the poor work environment, they considered lowering their standards for new recruits in order to fill the vacancies. I was one of those experienced pilots. And on my way out, I told them, “I would rather deliver packages for UPS as holiday help, for minimum wage, than fly your airplane for you.” Major 0-4 pay with max flight pay, or $7.50 an hour carrying heavy packages doorstep to doorstep in the freezing cold of Pittsburgh in the dead of winter. For me, it was an easy choice. Thank you UPS for being the bridge until I figured out my next step!
As for the Air Force, it wasn’t the people I served with that were the issue. On the contrary, they were great. Unfortunately, it was the toxic atmosphere created over years of regulation piled on top of regulation that made for poor work/life satisfaction. I found that mediocrity was encouraged, to avoid even brushing the edge of any boundary. This can feel very constraining, especially as time passes and nothing changes. I believe to attract the best this millennial generation has to offer, you need to achieve a fresh new environment, where employees are given opportunities to be creative and the freedom to fail. The best innovations often begin with those down in the trenches, so give them a chance to speak their mind.
Let’s work to create productive environments, earning buy in so organizations flourish, and in turn strengthening our economy; all while you enjoy the highest return on your people. In return, let’s take care of our employees. Offer the best quality of life you can, and see the profound impact it can have on them. Allow them a healthy work/life balance, so they can take time to lead their children, our next generation. Trust me, your organization will reap the benefits of a grateful, motivated workforce.
So, how do we define this long lasting question of LEADERSHIP: Easy, “Be somebody worth following!” ~ Dave Moore