Yes, absolutely, you need a strong sense of values in the company to begin creating a working environment that encourages high performance. But how about the people themselves?
The Power of Identity...
A favourite - and true - story of mine is that of a particular episode in history involving a military operation and the famous Nepalese Gurka Rifle regiment.
Members of the regiment, had been asked to assist in an operation and the only way to access the location in question was by plane, and there was no runway or means of landing. Which meant being air-dropped into a conflict zone.
Not being specially trained for this kind of operation they asked for time to consider whether they would accept the mission. They came back and said they would, but with three conditions...
- "They must not be dropped onto rocky ground..." This was deemed as ok and standard practice. The safest landing site was always chosen.
- "The plane must be moving as slowly as possible..." This too was part of routine operations. The plane is always at its lowest possible speed during a drop.
- "They must not be more than 200 feet from the ground*..." They were told quickly that this last condition was not operationally possible. The pilot explained that, at that height, the parachutes would not have time to open.
"Wait!" they replied..."We get parachutes!?" Ok then no problem...where would you like to drop us?
These guys' identity was so clear, so strong that they were prepared to be dropped unaided from a moving aeroplane.
Identity: Who you think you are, is extremely powerful.
What are the identities of your team members?
Who does each one of them think they are?
What do they believe they are capable of?
Are they acting in a way that releases their potential?
Do you know the answers to the above for all on your team?
Many team leaders can become frustrated with their team members' lack of engagement, enthusiasm, commitment and happiness. However, do you care enough to understand them: their goals both professional and personal; their challenges and frustrations? Have you taken time to encourage them in their pursuits.
So often we hear the tale of a successful person go something like this...
"...life was tough and I wasn't getting anywhere (in whatever context)...then I met someone who believed in me and encouraged me and then my life changed..."
My bet is that this happens all the time: in schools, in homes and families as well as in the work place. Sincere encouragement and appreciation has the power to change peoples' identity and what they believe they are capable of.
It may take a little time, or it can happen literally in an instant. Someone can go from a feeling of low self-esteem to being valued, from a sense of hopelessness to optimism, from feeling like they're at a dead end to seeing new possibilities.
It's worth your time...
...and it doesn't take much of it!
Sincerely getting to know your crew, a kind word, sincere appreciation, words of encouragement can mean the world to someone in ways you may not be able to measure directly in the moment.
But my bet is, the results will show up for themselves!
* foot note...the precise altitude here I have forgotten which bugs me. When quoting facts and figures I like to be correct. Either way the principle is clear I hope.
More about Scaling Up
More about Ian.