Anyone who thinks the next 100 days are going to be anything like the last 100 days is in for a surprise. This is why we’re all new leaders all the time and must continually inspire and enable others to do their absolute best, together, to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose, leveraging five questions across Behaviors, Relationships, Attitudes, Values, and Environment (BRAVE leadership) from the outside in:
- Where to play? (Environment – context)
- What matters and why? (Values – purpose)
- How to win? (Attitude – strategy)
- How to connect? (Relationships – communication)
- What impact? (Behaviors – implementation)
One of the most important choices you make as a leader is deciding where and when to accept a position, and many do not conduct the appropriate due-diligence before accepting an offer. Zappos’ Tony Hsieh likened this process to playing at a poker tournament. According to Hsieh, “My big ‘ah-ha!’ moment came when I finally learned that the game started even before I sat down in a seat.”
As a leader, you must understand the context in which you’re operating and interpret and create context for others. Start with your organization’s history including the founders’ intent. Then understand your current situation and recent results. Add to that thinking about possible future scenarios for your business and competitive conditions to inform your where to play choices.
CEO Connection has been running CEO “Boot Camps” since 2005. Virtually every long-serving CEO who has addressed the group agree that the number one job of a CEO is to own and drive the company’s vision and values. Remember, happiness is good. For most people this involves a combination of doing good for others, doing good for themselves and doing things they are good at.
It is imperative for you as a leader to define the value you will create and the principles you will follow to get there. A critical piece of this is moving from theoretically elegant values that no one really believes to guiding principles actually guiding what people do.
Strategy is about choices. You must decide how you are going to win, where you are going to focus your efforts, and where you are not going to focus. Domination over time requires a long-term view and ongoing discipline. Success in a niche like Tony McDowell and Finch Paper requires flexibility. Innovating like Steve Jobs and Apple requires a relentless passion to keep one step ahead of everyone – on a continual basis.
Start with your overarching strategic posture so everyone understands which part of Porter’s value chain you’re going to hang your hat on (Design – Produce – Sell – Deliver – Support.) Then agree sub-strategies so people know where to invest to be best-in-class, world class, strong or just good enough. Make sure those are linked to your fundamental culture choices.
Everything you do or don’t say, act on, listen to and observe communicates, 24/7, forever. You can choose a single, simplifying message purposefully and leverage it in all your communication, strengthening relationships along the way. Or you can let people interpret and misinterpret things as they see fit.
Indirect communication is probably sufficient to make those complying follow policies. If you want people to contribute, you’ll need to direct communication and guidelines. And if you want people to commit to the cause, you must connect with them emotionally and give them the freedom to co-create your future in line with your guiding principles.
Environment, values, attitude and relationships all inform behaviors. Like P&G’s John Pepper, you lead with your feet, with what you do, more than with what you say.
Leaders are defined by their followers. The only way to achieve your vision, in line with your values, in the context you choose, is through the attitude, relationships, and behaviors you model and engender in your followers. It’s not about you. It’s about your cause. Be BRAVE yourself and help them be BRAVE individually and together in a winning BRAVE culture.
Follow this link for an overview of George Bradt’s New Leader’s Playbook and click-throughs to all the articles on executive onboarding and BRAVE leadership.