"You Can't Grow A Beard In A Moment Of Passion"
Updated: Mar 31, 2022
Grow A Beard - Right Now!
That's ridiculous - isn't it? Growing a beard is something that takes some time, not to mention the proper DNA, age, health conditions, etc. to make it happen. I can tell you that personally, I could not grow a proper beard - no matter how much time you gave me - to save my own life... can't be done.
The title of this piece comes from a quote by Gilbert Keith Chesterton (G.K. Chesterton) an English writer, philosopher, lay theologian and literary and art critic. He used the phrase to point out there are things which differentiate a deeply held value from a thought that takes place in a moment of inspiration or passion... which is a very important truth!
Your Staff Knows The Important Things Are "Different"
When I say your staff knows what you deem important, I'm not talking about the latest business buzzwords or the contents of a leadership article you might have read. You might be enamored with a thought or an idea and you might even be able to speak about your topic with "passion", but your team knows the really important stuff is different. The important stuff will have taken root and been given the time to grow and mature into an unmistakable feature of how you do whatever it is that you do. Important things generally start as an itchy organizational "stubble", then go through that awkward "do we keep this or get rid of this?" phase and - over time - will become something that is groomed and taken care of. Truly important things take time and become a distinguishing feature of the organization.
The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing The Main Thing
Hopefully you have heard of Stephen Covey - the author of "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". One of the many important ideas he shares in that book is that in every aspect of our life, "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing". This implies that we know what "the main thing" is - or else how can we keep it in its proper place? Let me ask you that question... what are the core, non-negotiable elements of your business that must be kept as "the main thing(s)"? Does your staff know what these things are? Do they agree that these things must be kept "front and center" in how your organization operates? I'll give you a simple litmus test for this question - observe your staff's behavior and you will see what has been communicated as "most important".
Our organizations can have lofty vision and mission statements, aspirational "values" posters and even "world's best" swag you give away but often our employees aren't incorporating and embodying them into the way they do their work everyday. People often push back on this idea but the simple truth is there's not alignment between our "most important" things and employee behavior, it's not the employees who are the problem. Your primary role as a leader is to ensure that everyone 1) knows what is important to your organization, 2) knows why it is important and 3) how to tell if that important value is actually being accomplished. Here's a list of important things many organizations would say they value:
Making a difference
Are these the things you see exhibited in your team or staff's day-to-day execution? If the answer isn't a quick, strong "Yes!", it's time to work on that beard...
Modeling "The Main Things"
There's an old adage that goes like this: "Values are caught, not taught". This is the opposite of "Do as I say, not as I do" - something every parent everywhere quickly learns does not work.
Just like growing a beard can not be done in a moment, the core values of an organization must be put in place and nurtured over time through leading by example. Is punctuality something you want your team to value? How punctual are you to a meeting someone else scheduled? Is persistence a value you want your team to view as "a main thing"? Then you need to show persistence, which by definition involves consistency over time. Continuous improvement? Are you willing to do the slow, hard work of making this the way your business operates? Participating in the "escape review" meetings? Working through root cause analysis and supporting the Quality Manager so that the right people actually show up to the sessions that make continuous improvement possible? Modeling the things you believe are important may be the single most important thing you can do to move your organization forward.
No Investment of Time = No Beard
As discussed in past Brite Ideas, we are all prone to the wishful thinking that there are some sort of magic formulas or shortcuts that will allow us to transform our business into a well organized, highly efficient and effective powerhouse without putting in the time and energy required to lead by example over time. We desperately want to be able to grow a beard in a moment of passion. The bad news is that many people spend a great deal of money on the next fad or promise of a quick transformation. Reality check: it's going to take more than passing out a few "transformational" books at an offsite to get your team aligned and committed to the most important things for your organization's success. You need to lead them there!
Maybe you need a coach? Maybe you need someone to help you distill what your "main things" are and how you are going to model them to ensure your team will embrace them and begin to execute accordingly in their day-to-day activities? It's valuable to have an outsider's perspective to ensure you are being honest with yourself about topics like these. And the good news? If you are able to distill and instill "the main things" into your organization, you'll find that you achieve the outcomes you desire with less wasted energy and stress - that's a heck of a win/win scenario!
If any of this has made you think "Hey - maybe I could use some help in these areas" - please reach out for a free, no obligation initial consultation.
Thank you for investing your time to read this - let's make the future a better place to be!
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