People who are driven tend to urge others to move quickly and can be annoyed when people lack a sense of urgency.
The alternative is to remain “low-key” when it’s time to execute. On business teams, this is common when the leader/manager errs on the side of staying hands-off, saying things like, “I don’t like to micro-manage; I like to let my people have autonomy and feel empowered.”
The motive may be good, or the leader may not be driven, but either way, the message from the leader is “I am uncomfortable encouraging others to increase the pace.”
This is especially common on volunteer boards, or in some non-profits that utilize volunteer labor for their efforts. We’ve all seen this; the board president or director rarely pushes or holds people accountable, and allows task after task to fall behind, saying things like, “Well, everyone is a volunteer; we don’t want to burn them out” or, “People are busy, and I’m not their boss.”
Then, those same leaders on why people aren’t getting more done say, “I feel like I’m the only person who cares around here, because nobody takes any initiative.”
M Boother Ryan Walker talks about working with driven VP, Amber Harper, on Small Business Saturday:
“What I like about Amber is that she covers all bases, and is direct and driven in an effective way,” Ryan says.
Every year, there are surveys that surround SBS to measure its impact. “We take this research seriously, and I head up much of it. Like most research work, emails can start flying around, with lots of questions and what-ifs, and overlapping thoughts. Amber provides a nice balance of speed and efficiency when helping to manage the several different teams that are involved.”
Ryan quotes Amber: “Getting these questions solved is the most important thing for SBS research right now; we can’t move forward until this is figured out and its important questions don’t remain unanswered for long.”
Ryan says: “Others might beat around the bush like ‘Say, could you maybe think about being a little more timely with the responses.’ But Amber gives deadlines and pushes for speed. It was the opposite of low-key, passive-aggressive, beat-around-the-bush leadership. She made it so that I knew exactly what she wanted and when.”
Ryan re-organized the project, and Amber gave him the power to do so. He compares their DiSC styles: Amber is a CD, valuing accuracy and challenge, and Ryan is a D, valuing results and action. He says, “I can be direct, but I sometimes struggle with prioritizing as a D, and she helped me put this ahead of some of the other projects I was treating just as urgently.”
According to Ryan, Amber lets folks do their own work, but is never afraid to assign the tasks when needed. After a call or meeting, there’s no ambiguity in terms of next steps.
“I really like that Amber calls, rather than emails, when it’s time to iron things out,” Ryan goes on. “They might be 30-second calls, but they really work for me. She’s really good about that.” She understands that email is for the convenience of the sender, not necessarily for the recipient’s needs.
When it’s time to execute, to get results, leaders need to be driven.
Being driven is a leadership behavior that helps drive Momentum during the Execution process of the Work of Leaders.
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This is the thirteenth post in an 18-part series. Throughout the series, I’ll be providing real-world negative examples from a variety of settings.
For positive examples, we’ll look at one specific case study: the Small Business Saturday initiative from American Express. Small Business Saturday has become part of the holiday shopping lexicon (positioned between Black Friday and Cyber Monday) and reminds us to “Shop Small” and keep our dollars local. It’s been tremendously successful and is a huge initiative, but there’s a behind-the-scenes story that lifts up best practices in leadership we can all adopt; not every leader or team member involved is a high-level executive at American Express. In fact, much of the effort was a product of the work of a specific team at M Booth, a mid-sized award winning PR firm. Follow along to learn more. To start at the first post in this series, click here.