“Let’s go do it,” not “You go do it.” It is so powerful when someone says, “Let’s”!
We all know or have even had those bosses that would sit in their offices and bark out orders for people to do things, but you would never see them doing any of those things themselves. While, usually the employees would do the things that were asked of them, they usually just did them so they could keep their job. They would not do any of these tasks with any passion. There was really no motivation to go above and beyond while doing those tasks. You do enough of those meaningless tasks and pretty soon your job has no real passion or meaning to it at all. If a better paying or more meaningful job comes along, you will leave your current job in a heartbeat. That is because there is no meaning or motivation behind the work you do.
As a leader it is vitally important that you be willing to and actively engaged in doing all the things that you ask those under your leadership to do. If you ask them to do trip reports, you need to do your own trip reports when you go somewhere. If you ask people to be friendly when they answer the phone, then you need to be friendly when you answer the phone. If you ask people to take the time to get to know and develop relationships with the customers, then you need to do the same.
The reality is that the people will only do what the people leading them are willing to do. It is a simple fact. Leaders can sit in ivory towers barking orders out to people and not doing anything themselves. In the short-term, people may do what is asked of them, but over the long-haul, they won’t continue to do these things or they will be gone down the road all together.
The magic thing that happens when a leader does the work with those following is called inspiration. People are inspired when they see the one leading them willing to do the work that they need to do. It inspires them to want to continue to do that work because they can see the benefits of doing the work. They get a sense that if they continue to do the work that the leader is doing, that one day they could be a leader too.
When people are inspired, they buy into what the purpose of doing the work is. They see the big picture. People see the bigger picture of what the daily tasks are being done for.
Let’s take the example of football for a second. If a coach comes to a team and explains to them that they are going to work as hard as we can each practice, but does not lay out a vision for why they should work hard each practice, the players will just try to survive the practices. They will do whatever minimum amount of work is necessary to get through practice without getting called out by their coach. Very little improvement or progress will be made. If a coach on the other hand lays out the vision to his players of winning a conference championship or going to a bowl game, the players have something bigger to focus on. They realize that the more effort that they give to each individual practice, the better chance they will have of hoisting that championship trophy or going to that bowl game. They will push themselves harder if they have bought into that vision. The result will be that players will make better improvements and the overall team will be better and have a better chance of reaching their goals.
So if you find yourself in a leadership position, be willing to work alongside those you lead. Adopt an attitude of “let’s do it together” not “please go do this for me.” The difference will be night and day. You will find that so much more will get done. So much more progress can be made. People will stand with you through the good times and the bad. Your group will truly make a difference. And in the end, isn’t that what you really wanted to do anyway?