Leadership – It’s About The People

Leadership – It’s About The People

Leadership – It’s About The People

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

If you think leadership is about you, your ego has led you astray. Leadership has little to do with you and everything to do with those you lead. If you think leadership is about the bottom line, think again; it’s about the people. Without the people there is no bottom line. Closely examine the core characteristics of great leadership, and you’ll find it’s not power, title, authority or even technical competency that distinguishes truly great leaders. Rather it’s the ability to both earn and keep the loyalty and trust of those whom they lead that sets them apart. Leadership lives and dies by it’s ability to engage, influence, and care for the people. Are those you lead better off for being led by you?

It’s Not About You
Many view leadership as little more than a stage from which to promote themselves. While it’s true being in a position of leadership may afford you a marvelous platform, it’s important to recognize there exists no leadership platform but for the people. You didn’t build the platform, the people you lead built the platform and have entrusted it’s care and well being to you – forget this and failure is certain.

Why Do You Lead?
Leadership can represent a pursuit, discipline, practice, passion, calling, skill, competency, obligation, duty, compulsion, or even an obsession. I’ve known those who have worshiped at the altar of leadership as a religion, and a bit of reflection will reveal more than a few leadership revolutions dotting the historical timeline. Do you lead to glorify yourself, or for a purpose greater than yourself?

Leadership is about trust, stewardship, care, concern, service, humility and understanding. If you build into those you lead, if you make them better, if you add value to their lives then you will have earned their trust and loyalty. This is the type of bond that will span positional and philosophical gaps, survive mistakes, challenges, downturns and other obstacles that will inevitably occur on your leadership journey.

If You Don’t Care About Those You Lead – You Have No Business Leading Them
You don’t change mindsets by being right, you do it by showing you care. Logic and reason have their place, but they rarely will overcome a strong emotional or philosophical position. Trying to cram your positional logic down the throat of others will simply leave a very bad taste in their mouths. This is a very tough lesson for many to learn, but a critical one if you take your duties, obligations and responsibilities as a leader seriously.

The best leaders are capable of aligning and unifying opposing interests for a greater good. You won’t ever become a truly successful leader until you understand a person’s need to be heard and understood is much more important than satisfying your need to impart wisdom (see: Shut-up and Listen). I’m going to make this as simple as I can; leadership is all about the people – nothing more & nothing less.

It Doesn’t Matter Who’s Right
Being right isn’t the goal – accomplishing the mission is. It’s not about being right it’s about achieving the right outcome. If you can only lead those who agree with you then you will have a very small sphere of influence. Stop and think about this for a moment – history is littered with powerful leaders who have fallen, failed, or who have been replaced, usurped or betrayed. Fear doesn’t engender loyalty, respect or trust – it breeds resentment and malcontent. A leader not first and foremost accountable to their people will eventually be held accountable by their people.

Let me be clear – I’m in no way espousing form over substance. This is not solely an issue of likability, but one of trust and respect. That said, you will rarely find likability absent where trust and respect are present. Smart leaders put their people first and keep their commitments. They understand that promises made are meaningless, promises broken are costly, and promises kept are invaluable. It doesn’t matter where you went to school, how smart you are, or what your title is, if you want to succeed as a leader, take care of your people.

As always, I welcome your thoughts in the comments section below…

The Myth of Potential

The Myth of Potential

The Myth of Potential

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer,N2growth

Here’s the thing – we all have potential, maybe some more than others, but we all have it. Potential is easy to recognize, but not so easy to realize. Most of us intrinsically recognize the gift of potential, but many simply choose to do nothing about it, and sadly, it’s the rare few who will maximize their potential. The problem with potential is society has deemed it to be a fungible commodity. People in today’s world trade on potential as if it were performance – it’s not.

Most people are fed a steady diet of potential from the moment they’re born. Parents, teachers, coaches, and eventually employers all contribute to the problem by overrating potential as a certain predictor of future performance. Potential affords no surety of outcome; it merely offers hope. While hope can clearly serve as an inspiration, it can also quite easily become a delusion. Leaders would be well advised to place less stock in potential and focus their attention on effort and outcome. We must stop looking for leaders and recognize the leadership skills of those who exhibit more than just potential. Good leaders don’t promote people hoping they’ll perform – they promote people after they perform.

Ability and aptitude are only gifts if understood and used. The cold hard truth is you’re not special because of your potential, you’re special because of your dogged pursuit of your potential, and you’re even more special when you achieve your potential. Don’t tell others how gifted you are, provide them with tangible evidence you know how to use your giftedness – show them.

The world is awash with potential. We don’t need more potential. We should not be starved for potential leaders, but we should be very, very hungry for real leaders. Leaders should recognize and acknowledge the unique potential in everyone, but avoid actions which create rewards based solely on the existence of potential. Smart leaders are much more interested in high character, high achievement, high engagement, and high performance than high potential. Reward performance not potential.

Where people get confused is potential has little to do with success. In fact, many studies have been done which show little correlation between potential and actual attained success. What the studies do show is a high correlation between work ethic, performance and success. Realizing potential takes focus, determination, and dedication – it takes work. In my experience working with some of the world’s most talented CEOs, it was/is their drive not their potential which had the greatest impact on their success. Potential absent drive will simply go to waste.

Potential is unrealized attainment – nothing more and nothing less. The key to converting potential into attainment is commitment. So my questions are these: are you committed? Are you committed to put in the energy and effort necessary to realize your potential, or will you squander your potential? It’s much easier to talk about your potential than it is to realize it, but then again, outstanding achievement has never been easy.

Thoughts?

 

Recruiting vs Talent Management

Recruiting vs Talent Management

Recruiting vs Talent Management

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth 

I recently participated in a panel discussion about the future of the recruiting industry, and quite frankly, I was surprised with many of the prevailing attitudes and thoughts surrounding the topic at hand. As is often the case, I was the contrarian on the panel, and while I probably shouldn’t have been shocked, it was the fact most recruiters seemed to believe the status quo was fine, the future was bright, and they didn’t see the need for change that perplexed me. In today’s post I’ll examine the future of recruiting from a bit of a different perspective than many in the executive search business…

Those of you who read my work with any amount of frequency know how strongly I believe business is fluid, dynamic, and ever evolving. Furthermore, you are likely just as familiar with my position that a static business, which doesn’t constantly innovate around the changing needs of the marketplace is the same thing as a dying business. While many recruiters and executive search firms may think they’re exempt from the aforementioned business principles governing sustainability, they would be sorely mistaken to be so brazen in their attitude and approach.

The fact of the matter is both employers and job seekers continue to become more demanding in their requirements of one another. This phenomenon is occurring during a time where employment markets worldwide have never been more competitive. My question is this; Does this sound like an environment where service providers (namely recruiters) can stand idly with a business as usual attitude?  I think not.

The reality is in maturing and complex market environments clients’ demand more from their service providers. Executive search firms desiring to remain competitive must focus on increasing their value added benefits in order to stay in the game. Those recruiters who have incomplete service offerings, and who don’t completely immerse themselves in understanding the culture and environment at their client companies will find it difficult to eek out a living moving forward.

While my personal practice is focused on providing leadership advice and counsel to Fortune 500 CEOs, as the senior operating executive at our firm I also have oversight responsibility for our talent management practice.  From my perspective, I can’t imagine not integrating services throughout the talent management lifecycle. The identification, recruitment, deployment, development, retention, and succession of talent are clearly issues best addressed in an integrated service offering. Approaching talent management in a fractionalized approach is an inefficient and flawed process.

I am so committed to the beliefs espoused above that our firm engineered its talent management practice in a fashion which offers clients a broad array of service offerings. The simple truth of the matter is that it aligns our agenda with that of our clients, and makes for solid long-term relationships driven by much more than placement fees.

Here’s the thing – “recruiters” while filling an important role, simply don’t add the value a sophisticated client will desire in the future. Those recruiters looking to grow their business must transition from candidate sourcing to embracing a comprehensive approach to talent management aligning their interests with the long-term objectives of their clients. Executive search firms not working with their clients pre and post placement have failed to understand recruiting is no longer a business, but simply one component of a much greater process. Anybody can make a hire, but that’s not the end game – rather it’s just the beginning.

Thoughts?

What Would You Do

What Would You Do?

What Would You Do?

By Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

What would you do if you didn’t need to work? Golf, travel, volunteer, spend time with family and friends, teach, go into politics – the list of options are virtually endless. A friend of mine called me today, told me the sale of his business had closed, and then informed me he had enough money to never need to work again. He told me he was calling to ask what I would do if I didn’t have to work again. I was impressed with his logical pursuit of advice and counsel, but wasn’t at all surprised that he was searching for a bit of direction. While many entrepreneurs tirelessly seek their exit by disposition, few have spent a great deal of time planning what life after work looks like. In today’s post I’ll ask a few questions and share a few thoughts with the goal of causing you to think about what defines you.

I want to begin today’s post with an excerpt from my book “Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual:“

“By the time you reach the CEO level you should be striving to move beyond success and towards significance. You need to use your network, your wealth, your experience and intellect, as well as your passion to create a legacy that transcends your title. Having the advantage of hindsight, I can say with great certainty that who you are a a person is infinitely more important than the job you hold. There are few things in life as thought provoking as witnessing what by all outward appearances seems to be a successful executive, but as you begin to peel back the layers of their carefully crafted veneer you quickly come to realize they are little more than an empty, bitter, and frustrated person. They work their entire career chasing some illusive form of fulfillment only to fade into the sunset with nothing more than an empty lifetime of regrets as their reward.”

While my friend is the farthest thing from the illustration provided in the aforementioned quote, I have seen far too many people fall into this category. My hope in authoring this piece is to have you adjust your thinking when it comes to the definition of success. My clients usually tend to be successful individuals prior to finding me. My goal is to simply help them leverage their success into significance over the course of our dealings. The sad reality is that far too many people either confuse success with significance, or they are so focused on success that they are actually blind to the meaning of significance.

Just take a look around and you’ll see that most people use their knowledge, resources, and experience to acquire things in an attempt to satisfy their personal desires, which in their minds constitutes success. Contrast this with the people that use their knowledge, resources, and experience to serve and benefit others, which by my standards constitutes significance.

Sure, for those “who get it” success and significance are one in the same, but for most professionals success begins and ends with the achievement of a certain list of personal goals with little regard to the impact on others. These people confuse success with significance, and regardless of their wealth and professional accomplishments, they fail to accomplish the true greatness that only comes through making significant contributions to something other than one’s self. I don’t care how your resume reads, what your net worth is, or what your W-2 shows – what’s important is your underlying motivation as evidenced by what you do with what you have.

I am always impressed by those who choose a life of service over personal glory, or those who understand how to leverage their personal success into significance. While most of my clients have acquired significant material possessions, they just don’t live their lives according to a “he or she who has the most toys wins” philosophy. They don’t give because their accountant told them to, or solely for estate planning purposes, they give to make a difference. They don’t throw trivial contributions to a variety of charities to see their name appear on donor’s lists, they make substantial contributions (usually with little if any self-promotion). It all boils down to motivation – are you only pursuing fun, fame, fortune, and recognition, or are you seeking to serve and benefit others with what you have?

It is my opinion that when you start to define your personal success by the value you add to the lives of others you have arrived as a mature human being who possesses true influence and has become a person of significance. My challenge to you is this – set the chinning bar very high for yourself by reevaluating your goals and objectives to ensure you are on a path towards significance. Don’t allow yourself to become blinded by your success, rather leverage your success in an attempt to make a lasting and significant legacy for which you and your family can be proud.

So, what would you do if you never had to work again? What defines you? C ‘mon you know you’ve thought about it – share your thoughts in the comments below…