What Guides Your Leadership?

Ask I spoke in depth with an officer at Marathon Oil about one of my clients, our discussion naturally shifted to his leadership philosophy and how it comes into play with his direct reports. I want to share the five principles from a leadership model pinned to the wall in his office. They’re simple, powerful, and struck a chord with me.

1. People want to do a good job and want to win.

This principle may sound really basic, but it may not be something you think about day-to-day, especially in fast-paced, stressful situations. So, the next time you find frustration creeping up on you, stop and take a deep breath. Whether you believe it or not, consider for a moment that the person you are frustrated with actually wants to do a good job. If you adopted that perspective, how might it change how you think about their behavior and how you approach the situation?

2. People want and deserve to know where they stand with their supervisor.

I have to say that I can appreciate the difficulty most people have giving honest, constructive feedback—especially after leading Performance Management & Career Planning at Deloitte. A lot of managers and leaders dread the process and have concerns about whether the employee can handle the feedback: Will the employee have an emotional outburst? What might go wrong?

But, as a leader, what if you viewed feedback as something people want and deserve to have? It might shift your mindset from worrying about your discomfort to providing something of value and service to your employee.

3. Winners produce better bottom line results.

Research demonstrates time and again that “winners” (high performers who are engaged) contribute tremendously to the organizations in which they work. They creatively look for better ways to do get the job done and often elevate the performance of their entire team. So, as a leader, ask yourself, “What 1-2 things do I need to do to create more winners?”

4. Managers have more impact on performance than they realize.

Most people don’t leave jobs or companies; they leave their managers. I can’t tell you how often I see high performers leave organizations to work for a leader or manager they truly believe in—someone who has demonstrated that they care by supporting the employee’s career goals and personally investing in their success.

Leaders with true followers typically instill in their employees a genuine desire to go above and beyond. At the end of the day, this translates into a level of commitment, loyalty, and performance that is hard to replicate.

5. A manager’s job is to produce winners.

Ultimately, management and leadership are all about setting your employees up for success. Great managers and leaders build a strong commitment to their organizations by investing in getting to know their employees, demonstrating that they care about their aspirations, and helping them build their capabilities. Remember that this doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it does require consistent focus.

I hope this list has stimulated some ideas for you. Before you immerse yourself into the next thing on your to do list, take a few minutes to think about what principles guide your leadership and one action you will take to reinforce just one of those principles this week. Who knows, you may end up with a list that you decide to pin up on your office wall too!