You are likely familiar with the concept that employees don’t quit companies, they quit bad leaders.
It is with this in mind that many organizations invest time, energy, and resources developing leaders who foster employee engagement.
Yes, employees might quit an organization because of a bad leader; however, these same employees may quit their own bad behaviors because of a good leader.
In other words, great leaders create a culture of quitters!
Some of you may be thinking…
Wait a second; great leaders create cultures that encourage people to try new approaches, take on different roles, and apply new solutions. They don’t create a culture of quitters.
Oh, yes they do!
Great leaders encourage people to quit trying in four key areas.
I invite you to invest a few minutes reading about each area and reflecting on your mindset, behaviors, and results.
1. Quit Trying to Please Everyone
Blame it on your upbringing, your DNA, or some other force, but many of us are compelled to please others. We don’t like the idea of someone being disappointed with, frustrated about, or indifferent toward us.
So, we try to please everyone. Not only does this waste time and energy, but it is a fruitless endeavor, because you can’t please everyone.
What do great leaders do? Great leaders give employees permission to disappoint some people. These leaders work with their employees to uncover who truly matters most to the success of the team and organization. This gives employees the freedom to say ‘no’ to certain requests and give a big ‘yes’ to others.
2. Quit Trying to Do Everything
You have a finite amount of time, energy, and resources. When you attempt to do everything, you usually accomplish nothing with excellence. Yes, you might understand the law of diminishing returns at an intellectual level, but when faced with the choice of doing one task over another, you may let our feelings or egos push you to try to do everything.
What do great leaders do? Great leaders work with team members to determine the team or organization’s most important goals, and to ensure clarity about the role everyone plays. Getting clear on which goals matter most and who does what, allows team members to prioritize their efforts, and, like not trying to please everyone, they learn what tasks to accomplish and which ones to let go.
3. Quit Trying to Fix Everything
Most organizations measure things – arguably too many things.
Take a look around your organization. Odds are that if you can measure it, you do. The natural tendency when you measure everything is to try to optimize everything. When you try optimize everything, you typically create no sustainable advantages.
What do great leaders do? Great leaders give employees permission to be just ok at some things. They do this by allowing some measures to be sub-optimal, or cut the measure altogether in order to provide a very clear set of measurable goals that will allow employees to play a winning game.
4. Quit Trying to Control Everything
Since birth, many of us have tried to control everything. Some even incessantly watch the weather, the stock market, or the daily traffic report in an effort to control the outcome. Highly effective people know that the best energy is placed on things you can control or influence.
What do great leaders do? Great leaders allow employees to let go of things they can’t control and focus on things that employees can truly influence. These leaders also assist employees to accomplish certain tasks by lending the leader’s influence, access, or skill-set.
So, how are you doing?
Take a few minutes to assess yourself as a quitter. Ask yourself how well you are doing and whether or not you are creating a culture of successful quitters.
- Are you clear on who truly matters most to the success of your team or organization? Do you put the majority of your energy to serving these most important customers?
- Are you clear on your team or organization’s top goals? Can you name them and explain how well you are performing? Are you clear on the role you play in driving desire results?
- Are you measuring the fewest number of items in order to ensure clarity? Or, do you measure everything and attempt to optimize everything?
- Do you obsess about things that are out of your control in hopes that you can somehow gain the outcome you desire? Or, do you focus on what you can do and put your energy in those areas?
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a sought after writer, speaker, and global leadership consultant. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.