Are You My Mother?
I found myself reading this sweet childhood book, again, for the 100th time this week to my girls and wonder why they loved it so much. I mean, it is alarming to think that this little birds mother disappeared, not really searching for her lost baby bird. Did my girls really think it is was funny? What would they do if they got lost? Would they really not know me enough and wonder who their real mother was? Reading this book, got me thinking about this little confused bird and his random association to different creatures. I mean, come on. You can’t decipher that you are a bird and not a dog, tractor or cow? Did you not see what your mother first looked like? How about your squawking brothers and sisters?
My hope is my kids know that I am their mother and the rules, love and our family culture is one that they want. However it makes you wonder about the way we are with our employees as well. Could showing up different every time your employees go looking for you, just like the little bird experienced when trying to find his mother, create distrust? Could your employees disloyalty and sluggish behavior be your fault?
Leading employees is a role, that when absent, will show up in low productivity, loyalty and growth. What do those signs really look like?
Low Productivity: Do you remember when your accountant was talking about expenses vs revenue and the gap we are trying to create? That gap, is what those number people call margins. Margins are created when your expenses produce the best quality product, as fast as possible and you make the most money you can. Margins tell you if you are truly a success or failure. Employees who are not productive, sluggish or slow, disengaged or not inspired will just equal lower margins and hence less money for the owner.
Low Employee Retention: Have you found yourself frustrated by the revolving door of employees that have come through recently? Does it seem like you are always hiring? Beyond being located in a region with low unemployment, loyalty could be a cause of employees never sticking around. You can’t really blame them when you are showing up as a random, vision-less, stick in the mud, giving them no hope of a future or who you really are.
Slow Growth: Was it really your dream to see success the day you are ready to retire? Was your dream that your business was actually going to be able to support your life? Slow growth is sloooooowwwww growth and nobody has time for that. Now don’t get me wrong, growth takes time, however waiting to see success on the day you hand the keys over to someone else is going to be exhausting and tiring. Why not speed things along and enjoy your business, while leading your business?
Who Are You?
I know, I know the big emotional, sappy coaching question, that makes you wonder at times if you need therapy vs. business systems. Yet, this is the ultimate business system that sets you, your business and your culture in such a way that attracts people. You know who you are a leader, when you attract the right people who will respond to that leadership. Quite frankly, I don’t care you want to be or really are. No, what really matters is that you find it, you stay consistent with it and you allow people, employees and clients, to experience it.
Values: This is about what is important to you, what you believe in, what makes you, you. It may be from how you were raised, what you feel is important, what brings you joy and what you want out of life. They are what lead your deepest decision making and how you raise your kids. Your values.
Vision: Have you ever inspired someone with a dream? Whether it is the beach trip you are going to take over the weekend, the neighborhood garden you are going to help plant or the opening of a new location, a vision is meant to inspire people to follow it. The same goes for your employees. Without knowing where you are going to take the company, the opportunities you are going to create and the potential for their own growth to occur within that, nobody has anything to follow. They may meander with you down a gravelly path for awhile, but if it appears the meandering may occur forever, they leave. They create their own vision and go find some place else to fill it. Expressing your vision, allows your employees to understand who you are and what you are trying to lead them to.
Brand: A brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or leader from its rivals in the eyes of the customer or employee. Branding initiated from livestock branding and was adopted to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s by means of a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin. In leadership, the brand is represented through colors, look, communication style and leadership presence.
What is standing in the way of you finding your true self and letting employees finally be exposed to the leader you want to be?