Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Is Everybody Happy?

As a young leader I was very focused on getting results (see Background and History). Getting results is all that I was focused on because getting results meant getting ahead. Later I realized the value in engaging the people around me because it allowed me to get even more results; all the while improving morale and creating a loyalty that helped me get through some very tough times. In fact, it would be impossible to overestimate the value of the loyalty that was created. My loyal employees not only stopped me from doing some dumb things, but they sacrificed their personal time and put in some Herculean efforts to make things happen to make me look good.

As I got better as a leader and saw my people going above and beyond the call of duty to make things happen, I developed a belief that part of my job was making my employees “happy”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making people happy. I mean, I would not want to take the opposite view and believe that my job was to make people unhappy, but the more I tried to make people happy the more challenging and confusing my role became. I would gather key people together before making a big decision to get their input. And then I would try to incorporate as many of their ideas as possible into a solution. My belief was that as I incorporated their ideas into the final solution that they would buy into the idea and work harder to implement the changes, thereby making everybody happy while solving the problem.

But I was wrong.

You see, as a leader you must realize that you cannot, and should not, try and make everyone happy. “Making everyone happy” is the job description of a comedian, not a leader. The more I tried to make everyone happy, the more confusing the solutions became. And sometimes by melding too many ideas together we lost the impact that could come from a simpler solution. We also lost speed of implementation, and, therefore, created more customer impact then we intended. Instead of analyzing a problem, identifying the best solution, and implementing it, I would dilute a good solution with ideas from others just to show them that I valued their opinion. Or worse, when it came time for something to change (and something always needs to change) I would become more focused on how to make sure that everyone was happy with the change rather than making sure that the change was properly thought out, properly planned, and properly implemented.

All of these troubles were caused by my belief that leadership meant making people happy so that they would work harder.

But people don’t work harder when they are “happy”. They work harder when they are engaged, when they believe in you and the mission, and they believe that you are doing what you believe is best.

Eventually I realized that my employees were smarter than I was giving them credit for. They didn’t need to see THEIR solution implemented. They needed to see the BEST solution implemented. They needed to know that I could analyze the possibilities, identify the direction, and communicate that clearly to the team.

Here is the question for you?

Are you focused on finding the right solutions, or are you focused on making people happy? If you really want to get the most from your team, focus on getting your team engaged by creating and implementing the best solutions, not the most popular ones.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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