A Leadership Story
(Editor's note:) I've used this space on some days to write about leadership. Personal and professional leadership skills are attributes that can propel people to new levels of success and can move groups, families or organizations to accomplishments that may be even more than the most positive member could envision. The power of synergy is that strong.
But from the other side, a lack of leadership can cause that same group, family or organization to drift aimlessly along, never reaching the true potential buried under the stress and lack of direction. Today I'm passing along some thoughts shared by a friend facing such a situation.
"I came to this retail establishment with a history of customer service experience along with years owning a successful independent business. In all honesty, I took this job because I knew the owners. They have several locations and have been successful in this second generation venture. I came in with the expectation of working hard, as I always have, and delivering a full day's effort in exchange for a day's wages.
Like so many work environments, I noticed the usual scenario. Some worked much harder than others. Some were adept at appearing to be busy, all the while doing as little as possible. This was fine as long as the first group compensated for the latter.
But I also saw a big red flag. There was a repetitive history of new people being influenced by one employee. This particular employee had been there for years and fell into that second group.
I was asked to take on a leadership role to fix this problem. At first I declined, but when asked again, I accepted. I knew it wouldn't be an easy culture to change. The level of resentment and discontent between the two groups was made more evident when my position as manager was announced.
There was immediate resistance from this long time employee. While the owners knew he was the problem, they didn't like to fire people. They asked me to use my past experience to fix the problem. I've read "The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership" by John Maxwell, and have used those lessons for years. They would be tested in this effort.
There were times when I questioned having taken this role. It stayed with me when I went home. It was in my mind on weekends. Decisions made by me at work were being quietly maligned in hidden corners by the one person who didn't want to see me succeed. Because if I was successful, his easy days would change forever.
But I had made a commitment to the owners. I was taught early on to finish what I start and to give my best everyday. So I dug deep into the wisdom of leadership books I've read over the years and stuck to my own principles.
My efforts were quite simple. I would very calmly lay out my expectations for the team. I would advise them that they could always ask questions or voice concerns. But most importantly, I would quietly, yet forcefully lay out the vision for my team of employees.
And I would continue as I always had to be the very best employee I could ever be. Everyday. Those would wanted to be part of the positive force would be drawn in and those who didn't would be left behind.
Slowly change for the better began to appear. There were setbacks, but by being resolute, determined and decisive, the constant negative, back room chatter was being exposed in better light as divisive and inaccurate.
For all of you in similar situations, stay the course with your duties or your organizational leadership roles. Stick to your basic principles of doing the right things for the right reasons and trust your skills.
And as the editor of this web site has mentioned more than once, read empowering books."