How to Be a Better Leader: 1 easy thing (part 2)

Leadership Best Practices

“Allow the way to your great work to be guided by your service to others”

Mollie Martie is a psychologist, lawyer and adjunct professor

of psychology at the University of Iowa


Three people quit the same day - they all had the same boss. 

One of those stories I won't forget (yes its true). I was working in a business known for its top-tier leadership. The manager was promoted from being an individual contributor due to his technical talent. He was sharp.  But, no one took time to understand if the person had the capability to be a great people manager or leader.  Nor if the person demonstrated those skills. 

That was his whole team who left by the way.  They had coordinated in advance to make a point.

Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers –
and today they are leaving more often than ever.
Louis Efron


The Challenge:

We're all wrapped up in day to day "busy-ness", we have limited resources, experience regular fire drills, strategy and planning, , and lack of time for our teams.  Its critical that we as leaders and people managers focus on how we can help not just ourselves be successful, and each of our team members as individuals be successful, but also as they work together as a team.

Aren't you measured on the success of your whole team? Not just yourself....

As I discussed this with a CEO friend of mine, he drew me a triangle as we were discussing his organization.  He said that he doesn't view his organization in an org chart but in a shape.  The triangle.  He placed the customer team and customer at the top, then on the two lower corners placed product, engineering, and sales on one corner and operations in the other corner.  He then went on to explain how they all work together to support each other and themselves.  The triangle was a great analogy.

A new employee in the middle of her career came onto my team. After helping her get up to speed, we defined: 1) what success means, 2) a few clear goals on what I wanted her to specifically accomplish. Surprisingly, she mentioned she'd never had someone do that before.

By the way, neither have I.

One Great Thing You Can Do...

  1. Set clear direction
  2. Help your team achieve their goals .. including how they work with others to create value within the business.
  3. Review
  4. Repeat

Execution often seems like it's the challenge...but it is not. The real reason is that we don't feel like we have the time or desire, or we just think people know what they need to do.

Top talent leave an organization when they’re badly managed and the organization is confusing and uninspiring. (Forbes, Erika Anderson)


Getting to the Answer ...

Managers try to make this more difficult than it needs to be.

Think of Business Value: How does your organization drive value to the business?

Here are some examples of how functional organizations provide value:

  • Customer support and Account Management create a great customer experience. Improve Net Promoter Score, drive customer retention / minimize attrition.
  • Finance focuses on quality / accuracy / timeliness AND ensuring business leaders have the right details to effectively manage their organizations.
  • Sales exceeds its goals in closing contracts.
  • Product team creates products that can be sold and customers like them.

Each person's measures of success should be focused and aligned with the functional or general team they're supporting. And creating value for the business. For example, a product manager's measurement of success may be related to released and sold products and retained customers.


3 Easy Steps:

  1. Make it simple: Clearly define success for the person (see above)
  2. Help them be successful: What can you do to ensure their success (work through challenges together, provide stories in your experience, provide expertise)
  3. Regularly talk about above.

There's no panacea for being a great leader but ensuring your team has clarity and mentorship to get there helps you be successful.


How to be a Better Leader?

Ensuring everyone knows what success looks like ...
and you help them get there.


Do you have a clear understanding of what success means?


We all focus on constantly improving ourselves.  How to be a better leader.