Becoming a Locked on Leader

Image taken from a cockpit of a plane

In the 30 years that I’ve been leading people in various organizations, I’ve always endeavored to try and make their lives that much more enjoyable. They look forward to work and they become engaged in what they do. I want to set people up for success. We should all be doing that same thing.  Over the next coming weeks, we’re going to explore the leadership strategy and tactics necessary to do that.  But first, I’m sure many of you are wondering where the name Locked On Leadership comes from.

I am on a mission to replace thank G-d it’s Friday with thank G-d it’s Monday. I’ve always endeavored to try and make their lives that much more enjoyable. They look forward to work & they become engaged in what they do. I…   CLICK TO TWEET 

The most difficult thing I did as a Radar Intercept Officer in the back of an F 14 wasn’t shooting down bad guys, it was actually deciding which bad guys to shoot down. You see, your radar screen gets inundated with information, you have to be able to sift through it, determine who the high threat is, and then put all of your radar energy, literally, on that target. We call it locking on, where that’s all you see. Then you prosecute that target until it is eliminated.  As business leaders, we’re faced with a very similar situation, we’re inundated with information from people left and right.  People bring us challenges, they bring us problems, they bring us information, we have to be able to sift through that, determine what is vital, what is important, what is critical and then with, laser focus, lock on to the problems that need our immediate attention and prosecute that problem until, like the bad guys, they are eliminated.  So, we’re going to be talking about the tactics necessary to do that as well as the tactics to create good leadership so that your team can actually be solving these problems for you and start coming to you with solutions instead of problems.

Tactics, in the absence of strategy, is just busy work, it’s ineffective.   CLICK TO TWEET 

The Leadership Strategy to Create High Performing Teams

Before we get into a conversation about tactics, however, we need to discuss strategy.   Tactics in the absence of strategy is just busy work, it’s ineffective.  So, what is our strategy as leaders?  This is different than your business strategy.  In fact, our business strategy and our leadership strategy work hand in hand but they are two distinct things.  So, let’s determine what our leadership strategy is going to be.  The best way to do that is to first look at what is our end goal.  “Start with the end in mind”, I believe it was Dr. Stephen Covey who first said that.  Now in all my years working with people, I’ve noticed that there’s a continuum of team members a continuum of workers.  Like any continuum, they’re best defined by looking at the extremes.

Weak team members

On the one side, we have what I call the robot, we all know this particular individual, we come to the office, they’re standing around the water cooler, they’re waiting for instructions, they need you to tell them what to do. Now, once you point them in the right direction. Most of the time, most of them except, for the really broken ones, they get the job done.  They go to work with a robotic and mechanical methodical way of doing things. The problem arises when a problem arises.  Because they’re not always aware of it.  If it’s a small problem, they may just keep working over that, they don’t bring it to anybody’s attention. They don’t try and fix it. They just keep doing what they were told to do.  Now the issue with this is that small problem that arose while they were doing whatever task you set them on will fester. By the time it’s discovered, it’s usually a much bigger problem requiring much more energy to solve or resolve. If, however, the problem is too big, then our robot simply breaks down.  They come to a place where they can no longer work and they assume that position waiting for further instructions, right?  We’ve all seen this.  So that’s one side of the continuum.

Great team members

On the other side of the continuum, we have our superstar.  These are the people, when we get into the office the already there, they’re at their desk, they’re working hard. They’re looking ahead, trying to anticipate problems and solutions. Frequently they come to you with things like “hey, here’s a problem I’ve realized and here’s my recommended solution.” The really good ones they come to you and say “we had a problem and I solved it I just want to let you know.”

The ultimate leadership strategy

When we look at this continuum of people, obviously we would rather have the latter and not the former, we want the self-starter and not the robot, we want the self-actualize individuals and in that little term, we finally realized what our goal is.  You see self-actualization was made vogue by Abraham Maslow, a psychologist in the 60s.  He developed Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, which is his theory on what motivates people.  Now we’ll spend some time in the future talking about how to implement Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how you can use that as a leadership strategy, but suffice it to say, the end of his hierarchy is self-actualization.  See, he studied people who became fully self-realized where they finally were able to turn inward and fulfill themselves.  Since we’re trying to set people up for success, if they are fulfilled, and they’re fulfilled doing the job we’ve asked them to do, they’re going to be much happier at their job.  That’s our basis, we now have a strategy, moving people along the continuum of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from the robot all the way to self-actualize individual.  We’re not going to get everybody there, not everybody will be self-actualized, but if we move people farther along that continuum, we’re going to have a high performing team.

Right now, some of you are probably thinking, why don’t I just hire those individuals? Why do I have to make those individuals? We’re not going to address that today.  That will be in a future article so check back in.

Please feel free to post any questions or comments below.

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