Ultimately there are 12 core reasons why leaders fail in today’s challenging environment. But, let’s simplify and discuss why you are struggling to create the much needed movement (performance, improvement, growth) of your people and organisation. There are at least three reasons…yes, only three. The inability to create expected and needed movement is without a doubt linked to one, two or all three of these principles:
- You, your leaders are not succeeding at consistently generating motivation: You struggle to keep your team and employees motivated. Perhaps you are successful at motivating your direct reports, but the most important part of your job is to get them to confidently motivate their people, and they theirs, all the way down organisational structures.
- Literature is riddled with ways and means, different theories on how to motivate followers, even in line with their individual personality profiles. It almost seems like your job is to be a psychologist rather than a leader. From a leadership perspective, to motivate a team or organisation, do these four things: 1. Unite around positive aspirations. When people enter that space where they passionately aspire, desire, they are motivated. You need to get your team to honestly, clearly tap into aspirations they want, then teach them to do the same with their people, again, all the way down organisational structures. 2. Get rid of, or manage the constraints that demotivate. Simple, make sure you consistently confront and address real or perceived constraints, obstacles, challenges across the business. Sometimes the mere exercise of combating constraints together can motivate. 3. Be clear on facts. Everyone must be clear on what exactly they need to move, from where to where. And they need to know factually the entity that they are moving – company, region, branch, division. 4. Seeing the positives. Always assist your people to see the positive achievements, possibilities, options, opportunities. In today’s world it is darn easy to become fixated on the problems, challenges, negatives.
- There is a lack of clear and relevant direction consistently, from top to bottom: The direction you and your team follow is not relevant, or if it is, it is not simple enough, clear enough, there is a lack of believability or it is simply not trusted because of a trust deficit within your organisation. This could be because you and your team did not truly create it together, backed up by an accurate understanding of what really goes on at the essence of the business; where the rubber hits the tar. Because you went on some break away does not mean everybody was part of creating the direction either, or that your direction is relevant, simple, believable or trusted. You may be autocratically forcing your direction on your team and organisation, in which case buy-in is slower; much needed action is delayed, and when implemented, it is not necessarily with the best attitude and even full grasp of the original message, because why will someone listen effectively when there is little or no trust. Perhaps at this stage your forced direction seems to be accurate and working out, but this approach will come back to haunt you. Your direction of course must point to the aspirations, positively impact the facts that you need to move, and address identified constraints across the business. Now, again, you may pass the test as far as your direct reports are concerned. But that is the easy part. To ensure your leaders do the same with their people, and they with theirs all the way “down” to the essence of the business, is the more important and challenging part.
- Structures – resources, systems, procedures are not adequately supporting motivation and directions: Your organisation has developed a culture of unnecessary compliance rather than one of passionate value adding and positive movement. Your structures have become a law unto itself. Let me say this: Structure, systems, procedures are there to serve your and the organizations aspirations and directions, not the other way around. Any structure that does not do this must be eradicated with immediate effect, as it is then officially your enemy to positive movement. Its primary purpose has become that of slowing down movement. This could take the form of an unnecessary meeting, reporting system or pointless building. You have to find the balance between appeasing compliance to relevant procedures and systems on one hand, while delivering on the need for speedy decision making and movement on the other. If steps one and two above are absolutely clear, then step three becomes far simpler.
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Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on email@example.com for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.