Leadership 101: Converting Leadership into Reality

The majority reading this are in some form of leadership capacity - even those who don't lead people!  That's right, leadership doesn't necessarily mean you have to be the boss of another.  Let's say you're a mechanic, and all you do all day is fix small engine equipment.  You have no direct reports; it's just you and the small engine equipment.  You're the small engine whisperer.  You can still lead as you take ownership (CORE VALUE) of all small engine equipment and lead the charge in all things small engine: preventive maintenance, repairs, registering new equipment, etc.  You become the guru of small engine world.  When something thinks small engine, they think of you.  You own that dimension of what we do.  That's leadership.  

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” - Warren Bennis

Converting a vision to a reality is an important element of effective leadership.  It's where the rubber meets the road.  Vision is hugely important as it sets so many things into action - but it's up to the leader to create an environment for that vision to become a reality.  Let's park on that term ENVIRONMENT for a moment.  

Environment: defined by Merriam-Webster as: "the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded"  Conditions by which one is SURROUNDED.  As leaders, we set those conditions.  While our team is at work, we shape their environment.  That's why culture is so important.  That's why constantly reminding our team of our core values and credo is so important.  We need to create an environment where our vision can become a reality.  You as a leader in our company are responsible for translating the companies vision into a reality for those in your charge.  So, what is the vision?  Before reading on, can you answer that question?  Take a moment.

Vision: The vision at Crawford Landscaping is to deliver extreme quality, world-class customer service, have an unwavering commitment to honoring our word all while being good stewards of what's entrusted to us.  How do we do that?  By constantly promoting this vision to our team, making day-to-day decisions with this vision in mind, and holding people accountable.  Simple.  

Communicating the vision: Does your staff know our vision?  Do they know the importance of quality?  Do they know that even the lowest guy on the crew plays a vital role in producing quality and making sure our vision becomes a reality?  We've had tenured and experienced foremen who've forgotten our vision and commitment to quality and as a result have been terminated.  You're either on this train or your not.  Period.  We need to be communicating this daily and holding those that do not produce quality, deliver exceptional service and who fail to do what they say they will accountable. 

Day-to-day decision: you make decisions every day - are those decisions consistent with our vision?  Are you making decisions to train up your staff to produce the quality we talk about?  Are you following up in a timely manner and knocking the socks off your clients with exceptional customer service?  Are you honoring your word and turning proposals around on time?  Make sure your day-to-day decisions are being made through the lens of our vision: quality, service, honoring our word, safety.     

Holding people accountable:  hear me clearly when  I say this: leaders need to hold people accountable.  We do our best to create an overly-friendly and supportive environment at Crawford - it's extremely important to us that people enjoy working here.  But one person not doing what we need them to do can create a big problem.  It's up to the leader to provide proper accountability to teach and train our team to do things the Crawford way.  Some people respond differently to different forms of accountability.  I for instance never did well with negative correction.  If you corrected me in a negative way in high school, I'd tell you to play in traffic.  Not kidding. Much has changed since then, but I didn't like someone telling me in a negative way what to do.  On the other hand, put your arm around me, tell me you value me and think I can do something, and I'd go through a wall for you.  

As leaders, we need to (a) understand what motives our team members (notice I said team members not team; you need to know how to motivate each individual in a way that motivates them the most) and then (b) motivate them accordingly.  That should be the first level of correction.  If that doesn't work and the team member continues to not do what he or she is told, then a more stern talking too is necessary.  If that doesn't work, then a formal Correct Action Report should be filed notifying the team member of the desired corrective action and the consequence of not following orders = termination.  We need to weed these folks out that don't subscribe to our vision.  We're doing them or us no favors if we don't.  Good leaders make this happen quickly.  

At Crawford, it's my job along with Keith, Gerardo and the MOG (Phil, Mike, and Shawn) to set the vision.  It's our leaders job to translate that vision into reality.  Leaders that do that will be rewarded.  Leaders that don't, won't be around long.  

Make it happen!