I don’t like that guy and I’m not going to work with him

Let me tell you a story.

I came up through the Navy (and made seven deployments during the Cold War).

Then, I led businesses for 25 years.

Here’s a big lesson I figured out about leadership from my years in the Navy:

Think about a submarine. When you go out to sea, you’re gone for months at a time and you’re stuck with the crew that goes out to sea with you. You have to learn to get along with people because you’re not going to get any new people.

There’s no firing somebody to get someone else.

So, you find ways to work with people you don’t like, don’t trust, or don’t particularly care to be around. Because that’s what it takes to get the job done. In corporate America, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I don’t like that guy. I’m not going to work with him.” Well, in the Navy, you didn’t have that choice!

It gives you a unique perspective.

You learn skills you wouldn’t otherwise.

Besides that, in the Navy, if we don’t all do our job, people die. If the boat goes down, we all go down with it. So there was a real focus on competence in everything you did.

Do you see that in the civilian world?

Rarely.

Yet they’re not that different in some ways. In business, we’re all “in the same boat”. Pun intended. That’s because the success of the business is driven by its people. How much benefit, profit, mutual appreciation, and self-satisfaction for a job well done there is to go around depends precisely on everyone doing their jobs when they’re supposed to!

That doesn’t mean you forfeit your right to fire people if it isn’t working out.

Just don’t be so quick to dismiss them.

People you “don’t like” often have the most to offer.

I know it sounds strange, but it’s true.

A leader’s job is to pull the best out of the jumbled mix of personality types and get them working in harmony toward a goal. And recalling my submarine example can help. Although yours may not seem like it’s a “life or death” situation – metaphorically, it is. You’re just not used to thinking of it that way.

It’s literally THE difference between success and failure sometimes.

And MOST of your success in any venture or job will come from your ability to deal with the people involved.

Never forget it.

Bottom line:

We’re all busy. But you’re never too busy to lead. Take the time to get to know your people, find out what makes them “tick”. Having the pulse on your players and knowing how to engage them is the secret to accomplishing more with less…and the key to survival in today’s competitive business world.

If you liked this, you’ll love my book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.

Leaders – It’s Not About You

Leadership is simple. It’s about influencing a group of people to accomplish a goal. The problem is most managers forget about the people, the goal, and their role in influencing others. In other words, they do everything except lead. Maybe this is the reason why 70% of employees are disengaged at work. The vast majority of workers are disconnected because most managers are also unplugged.

Most bosses are just too busy to lead. They are focused on their own work. They are going to meetings, working on reports, replying to e-mails, or checking off items on their to-do lists. These managers are simply too busy to get out of their office and truly engage with their teams. As a result, most employees hardly ever see their managers and rarely interact with them.

If you’re a leader, your actions have a profound effect on the lives and careers of the people working for you. Once you are given the responsibility to lead a team it’s no longer just about you, it’s about them. Great leaders understand this and go out of their way to get to know every employee they are responsible for.

These leaders understand that every interaction with an employee is a chance to lead. They engage in deep, meaningful conversations with their employees and do more listening than talking. Great leaders are sincerely interested in what each employee has to say. These leaders know that engaging with their teams is a critical part of their job.

How about you? Are you engaging with your team? Ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do you know your employees’ names, how long they’ve been with the company, and something about their lives outside of work?
  • Do you take time out of your daily schedule to visit your employees where they work?
  • Do you take time to thank employees, appreciate their contributions, and celebrate their successes?

Leaders – it’s not about you. When you are in charge, you have the watch. You are not only responsible for the results of the organization, but you are also responsible for your employees. Engaging with employees is an important part of your job, much more critical than answering a few e-mails.

Great leaders know that employees who are appreciated, respected, and supported will be more engaged and will always do more than expected.

Learn more about how to be a more effective leader in my new book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.

My Interview on the Whistle and a Clipboard Podcast

Today I appeared on the Whistle and a Clipboard Podcast to talk about my latest book, I Have the Watch. During this podcast, I talk about the fundamentals of being a leader and the similarities between coaches and leaders.

The Whistle and a Clipboard Podcast with Coach Jason Oates is a coaching community podcast where Jason interviews successful coaches from the past, present, and future to learn from their coaching failures and successes.

This is a great back-and-forth discussion on the importance of leadership and the role of the leader. So, listen in and enjoy my conversation with Jason!

For those of you who have been asking, I Have the Watch is now available on Audible.

I Have the Watch AudioBook Cover