INSIGHTS (on leadership/self-leadership)
Television/movie star and director, Bill Hader, has a reputation.
It’s the kind you want, actually. Hader is known for being a director, the kind of leader, that everyone wants to work for – actors, production assistants, lighting technicians, you name it, they all sing his praises. Because he’s a visionary? Because he’s nice? Because he’s really funny and keeps things light on the set? People say all of those things about him, but it’s none of those things about him.
So, what then?
As Hader says himself, he shows up to work every day super-prepared, so he can be decisive in what he wants.
He knows what a drag it is when a director shows up on set, uncertain in what they want, making actors do take after take, the crew stay hour after hour. Instead, he fosters the shortest work days film crews have ever experienced.
The lesson, then, becomes obvious. Never underestimate the power of showing up prepared so you can be decisive. Indecision paralyzes an organization. It creates doubt, uncertainty, lack of focus, and even resentment. Multiple options linger, sapping an organization’s energy and killing a sense of completion. Timelines stretch while costs skyrocket. Those costs can include a quicker, more aggressive competitor eating your lunch while the indecisive leader considers whether to use their fork or spoon.
Ron Thomas, a Chief Human Resources officer, likens indecision to the plight of the wildebeest: “The wildebeest waits at the edge of the water trying to decide when to cross the river. However, each time, there are some in the herd that will make a decision and be the first few to attempt the crossing. They’re the ones that consistently get to the other side. The indecisive ones that wait until the masses jump in suffer a higher fatality rate by the crocodile.”
Do the work to be ready to decide, then make the call. People will call you, the kind of leader they’d run through a wall for.
IMPERFECTIONS (a mistake many make)
One of our greatest sources of regret are all the things we didn’t do. The things we never tried. The risks we never took. Commit to this one-word antidote to regret instead:
As actor Alan Alda said:
“Be brave enough to live life creatively. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself.”
The desire to live up to our fullest potential is one of the most fundamental sources of internal motivation. It’s what drives athletes to compete and win at higher and higher levels while they’re still able. It’s what drives a single mom to hold down two jobs and take classes at night. It propels an accountant to take the stage for the first time on open-mic night at the comedy club. It pushes a pizza delivery person to save up to buy her own franchise.
But when we know deep inside we aren’t driving to achieve our fullest potential, it can drive us to distraction. “Is this it?” we wonder to ourselves. It nags at us that we may not be becoming all we were meant to be. Regrets start to seep in.
Unless you embrace the idea of discovery. Discovery opens up the avenues of possibility for you to find out what you can become. We all must make choices as we try to live a meaningful life. Choosing a journey of discovery, rejecting the notion of settling, and venturing forth to live up to your fullest potential is as powerful a source of meaning as actually achieving your potential.
IMPLEMENTATION (one research-backed strategy, tip, or tool)
Today’s workplace is filled with enough potential unwanted conflict and tension, so it’s important to do whatever you can as a leader to mitigate that. A consultant from the Nuero-Leadership Institute offers a helpful acronym to keep in mind: SCARF. It spells out the most common “social threats” an employee faces – serving as a prompt for you to head each one off.
Status: Is the employee getting the same respect as others?
Certainty: Does the employee feel like they have the information they need to do their job and some assurances of what will happen?
Autonomy: Does the employee have the ability to influence their own actions and decisions?
Relatedness: Does the employee have a sense of connection with co-workers?
Fairness: Does the employee have the same opportunities as co-workers?
Do the SCARF check from time to time to foster a warmer, more success-inducing environment.