Many times I have jumped in heart first when I read about a companies culture and the view of the leadership and where they were taking their organisation. I was so excited and filled with passion to work with the views of an overseas leader or celebrity CEO that many times I failed to ask are these views aligned to my local leadership or my local boss.
I was reminded of this blind following the other day while out cycling in a popular area in Melbourne. There was a rider ahead of me who looked quite experienced by his bike and kit and I assumed he was heading to the same destination as me. There are a couple of options to get to this destination and one was new to me. When I saw him turn off onto this less familiar option I thought, great he can show me the way. As is customary we shared the lead on the more open roads but then the environment became unfamiliar to me and it suddenly occurred to me I had not actually checked with my new riding companion and leader that he was actually going where I was going. As I was mulling over this scenario he waved me past and said "thanks for the wheel mate this is my house, have a good ride". Have a good ride I thought. What the! Where too from here?
Luckily the iPhone and Google are useful in a tight spot and I was able to navigate my way back to my destination and I did enjoy the ride. But it does make you think. How many of us have worked for or are working for leaders who have never really explained the Why but only the What or the How (and sometimes not even the How). Simon Sinek has been going on about this for years and he is dead right and still some leaders don't get it. But then again have the employees asked. It goes both ways. When was the last time your values were misaligned with your leader or even the leader of leaders? Our values and our principles are the most important thing we have and it can be very stressful and incredibly unproductive when we feel these are not aligned with leadership.
So what to do? Well if you are a leader don't assume your people understand your values, your ethics and know your direction. In John Maxwell's book "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" he makes the point that being an effective leader takes effort. I know this sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many leaders assume their people understand them and their direction by sending out an email or assuming corporate comms will do it. Social Styles such as Extended DISC can also assist a leader with the various communication styles that may be required for their team members to thoroughly understand their values, direction and the Why as well as the What. Its too expensive to leave to chance. I was lucky to serve under some wonderful leaders like the late Lew Platt, CEO & President of Hewlett-Packard. Lew used to do a quarterly call to all 145,000 employees and then backed this up with slide deck. If Lew could do it so can any other leader and he did not even have the luxury of tools like Skype, Salesforce Chatter or Cloud Video.
If you are an employee and you are unsure that your leaders are heading in the same direction as you, or you feel your values or direction may be misaligned or becoming misaligned then ask for some time with your leader to understand these. Too many people wake on Monday and accept their day rather than lead their day. Too many people are going through the motions to get through the week or doing it just for the money. I get that but I also know you can't do it for long especially when your values start to be compromised.
As a leader it becomes a bigger issue because your people are not motivated, energised and focused and therefore you will never get the best from them. You will never develop future high value leaders and your customer service will be impacted. If you are in doubt check how your internal NPS score and Customer NPS are aligning. I can assure you if your own people would not recommend the solutions they are supposed to be providing then your customers will not be getting the best levels of sales and service. So remember that great song by Lenny Kravitz "Are you going my way" and check in with your leader from time to time about their vision. And leaders, check in with your people, especially during these times of disruption and change to ensure you are all going to the same destination. Remember, if you are leading from the front but no one is following you are just taking a pleasant walk!
Rob is an Advisory Partner at Global Sales Performance Company Miller Heiman Group. He is a seven times Global Presidents Club Winner. He is the author of three books on Business Growth and has appeared on a number of TV, Radio and Media channels on the subject of top line business performance. Rob is a former world & state champion yachtsman, a passionate cyclist, motorsport follower and an advocate for Men's Health. Rob holds a Bachelor of Business and a Post Graduate in Applied Finance & Investment from RMIT University and the Securities Institute of Australia and is a certified coach in Leadership with the John Maxwell Team.