There’s promoted and there’s prepared and there’s a real chance both don’t exist in the same new manager. So, before you say yes to a promotion or let an up-and-coming leader accept your promotion opportunity, make sure they have the answers to these questions. The questions seem easy, but they reveal the underpinnings of what drives actions in an organization. They uncover the principles by which behavior is being guided and getting clear on those principles is number eight on our list of 2019 top leadership tips. Yet, no matter the value of principle discovery activities, most leaders struggle with how to do it, exactly. Easy. Answer these questions and the way things are really done around here will become clear. Without that awareness, making changes or improvements, or asking for employees to be innovative is futile.
Can Leaders Ever Mess Up?
All leaders would prefer to be good and some need to be perfect, but what happens in your organization when one messes up? Listen carefully to the answer to that question because what is revealed in it speaks to how senior leadership fosters learning and values practice and development. Do you need to hit the ground running like a pro or is there any grace for building a foundation and learning new skills?
Meeting a Deadline or Producing Quality Work?
Many times, the questions that provide the most clarity are based on comparison. Does the organization place a higher priority on meeting deadlines or on producing the best quality work possible? Does it depend on the client or maybe the project or product? What is valued here may later guide who’s made responsible for the outcomes of poor craftsmanship and if you’re a car seat manufacturer or airplane engineer, for example, this is much more than a problem.
Who Gets the Credit?
Whether you’re seeking to know your own organization or sharing insightful tidbits with the soon to be promoted, the question of credit seems silly to some leaders. Yet, if your boss is clear that no matter what the team does, the outcomes are his for the taking, resentment is or has been building for some time now. If you believe in giving credit to the idea’s or project’s innovator, loyalty is the outcome. Giving or taking credit are actions based on principles and all leadership is principled, you simply need to know what they are to navigate your company culture.
Are Customers Ever Fired?
In nearly all industries, at some point you’ll hear complaints about certain customers in the break room or an after-hours employee event. The companies without this chatter are rare and yet, the principle to uncover is how much is too much to take from any customer? Is the line drawn at the utterance of a curse word? Can the customer completely milk the system? Does the customer who asks for the manager always get his or her way at that level? If so, as a new leader, prepare for your authority to never hold and to always look like the bad guy here. Firing customers is not the goal in most organizations, but knowing whether they ever are, will tell you how much employees are truly valued.
10 Hour Workday or Happy Employees?
Some employees are truly happy when working all hours of the night and day, but the answer you seek with this question is where is the line? What is the principle driving how much we ask of team members and leaders in the hours they work, priority placed on personal life events, reaching out via text, call, or demand all hours of any given weekend? Sure, you can choose not to answer, but knowing the consequences and principles you might be violating is valuable to the future of your employment.
Ever Say No to Business?
Is there ever a point when, as an organization and leaders of it, you find a customer is not a good fit and walk away from their business? On occasion this is due to customer behavior, but this question is actually geared toward when that potential customer is a prospect. If business is never reconsidered or turned down, no matter the cost or impact to the employees doing the work, then this is a principle that clearly puts profits above people. This doesn’t make your company evil, but is merely a principle of which to be aware.
Number 1 standard?
This final question reveals as much as the first six put together. When you are a principled leader practicing principled leadership, as all leaders are, (whether they realize it or not) these unwritten rules are operating in the background of every decision. The key is to find out the top priority principle, rule, or standard? Is it the customer is always right? Is it employees come first? Is it we always do what we say? The standards will be different for every company but finding out what is top priority will help a new leader avoid violating important rules inadvertently.
Ready to Take the Become a Better Leader Challenge?
Each Monday Moment with Monica shares a Become a Better Leader Challenge relevant to that week’s topic and this week, your challenge is to start asking questions. Whether you’re a new leader looking to be promoted AND prepared or a leader who is seeking to prepare others, uncover these key answers and identify quickly the rules of the road on which you and your organization are driving.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week and of course, stay Contagious!
Monica Wofford, CSP develops leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm designs and delivers leadership training for those managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.