Every parent has experienced it. Those moments when your children are doing something wrong, but you just don't even know exactly how to describe it. All you know is that you want them to stop, and stop now!
In these moments I want my kids to change their behavior, but I do not want to slow down long enough to describe the right way I want them to act. It never fails when I tell my children to stop something they see no problem with they respond with the same question, "Why?" Which generates that response from me I vowed never to use because of how many times I heard my parents say it, "Because I said so!"
If you think about it, that phrase is a big cop-out. It is me not taking the time to define right behavior and only scolding the poor, solely based on emotion and preference. Often times leaders exercise the same practices with their teams. We will expect certain behavior from our staff but fail to slow down long enough to define it. Then we react in the face of less than desirable action. This keeps our team walking on eggshells, us frustrated and everyone loses.
Not long ago I took our staff through a process of defining the right behaviors. We spent weeks doing this. We described what we love about working on our team, narrowed them down and formed them into values. Our values are not theory, they are behavioral. This is how you act. Because simply being on our staff is not enough. Getting hired is not enough. There are things I need from you. These are behaviors that ensure you will thrive on our team.
While it is not a quick process and can sometimes be awkward, you need to determine your team's values. How do you want your staff to behave? The faster you put this in writing, the faster your frustration will recede. By clearly stating this is how I want you to behave you free your team up to self-regulate and thrive. You also paint a picture of the type person you need to hire, because if someone lives your values before they are on your team, they will naturally live them on it as well.
Here are the expectations I have of our team. Each is followed by the staff value that we created in summary. I hope this inspires you to take the same journey with your team.
1. I need you to be more passionate about God than you are about being a leader.
Leadership is trendy. I majored in leadership in college. It is one of the fastest growing tracks among MBA students. While I appreciate leaders who aspire to be leaders, that really is a bit of a misfit in my world. Serving in ministry, we follow a leader who led by serving. Jesus put himself in the last place and others in first. He says that our greatest achievement is to do the same. I need people on my team to be in love with that model. I need them to care more deeply about the depth of their relationship with Christ than they do the heights to which they may rise while serving Him.
Staff Value: Love God. We are passionate about Christ and life in the Spirit.
2. I need you to get better.
Can I be honest? It is sometimes difficult for people who are talented and great at what they do to admit there is room to improve. While this is true, great leaders remain grounded knowing they will always have much to learn. Even Warren Buffett admits to spending up to 80% of his work day reading, learning, and thinking. No matter how good my team is, we can grow. I love self-educators. People on our team who read and study on their own have high value in my eyes. I want them studying other models, asking for help and forming relationships with people who do their job better than they do. When hiring someone I will never move forward with a person who is not teachable. Leaders are learners.
Staff Value: Keep Improving. We will be teachable, we will grow and be willing to relearn what we already know.
3. I need your life to be in order.
I am not saying that someone's life needs to be perfect. We all know that is not reasonable. What is expected is that a life has order. The opposite of order is chaos. Long-term, highly effective leaders do not operate in chaos. While their life is not flawless, they fight to keep internal peace by establishing habits that bring order. Lives of order lead to health. Prioritizing our walk with Christ, relationships, health, finances and so on remove stress that rob from leadership effectiveness. Do you find yourself constantly late, always out of breath walking up stairs or apologizing for a disheveled car any time people get in it? Then form some habits to create order. Step back from this and ask yourself, "Would I want to follow someone who seems to constantly be in a state of chaos?" Probably not. Here is a secret, neither does anyone else.
Staff Value: Live Healthy. We will prioritize family, relationships and personal well-being.
4. I need you to be productive.
Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, says, "Innovation is rewarded, but execution is worshipped." Part of his success is an understanding that productive people are the most valuable leaders. Your voice is amplified when you have the ability to act. I do not want my team to be filled with planners...I want them actionable. Every day they need to show up and move the ball down the field. I do not need them to score touchdowns every week, we just need first downs every day.
Staff Value: Get It Done. We execute with excellence, consistency and speed.
5. I need you to protect the team more than you protect yourself.
"Looking out for number one" is an immature practice in a team setting. When an individual "wins", teams lose. Great team members are willing to put their own egos and drive aside for the better of the whole. Are they required to do this every day? Usually not in major ways, but always in some way. We have to be willing to love the team more than we love getting our way. We believe in doing whatever it takes to work towards unity. Usually this means having conversations where we disagree and sticking it out until we find common ground. Can I be honest? Sometimes this means shelving an idea because it may create disunity.
Staff Value: Fight For Trust. We strive to resolve issues.
6. I need you to enjoy what you are doing.
Do you remember the last time you engaged with a leader or employee who seemed obviously miserable? Of course, you do! Because you try not to go back there ever again! Misery is miserable. We are repelled by people who carry a scowl as their countenance but are drawn towards those who seem happy. Our team thrives because we love what we do. It oozes into every exchange we have in our roles. Do we bump into struggles? Yes, we are human. However, we work hard to introduce fun and joy to our jobs. People love our team because we take what we do very seriously, but never take ourselves seriously at all.
Staff Value: Have Fun. We will not sit behind our desk with a mean face on.
7. I need you to handle change easily.
In the early 1900's New York City had a problem with horse manure on the road. Horses were the transportation of the day. Then, automobiles were introduced. New York City responded by voting to ban cars on their roads. Why? Because it was different. Most people would prefer manure in the streets instead of change. Leaders are agents of change. If a person struggles with change, they will struggle to lead. We ask that those on our team not only be ok with change, but they deal with it with zero drama. In fact, they need to be drivers of change. If I am constantly the one pushing for a new way to do things, then we are not getting better. I am not that good!
Staff Value: Embrace Change. We will be flexible and open to new things.
What are the behaviors you value? How do you want your team to act? What do you need from them? Define it. Better yet, let them help you define it. Clearly stating what you expect will set everyone free to be productive and be more valuable.