Simon Sinek – one of the greatest leadership experts is engaged by worlds’ largest corporations to educate their executives. Besides, he is also one of the reasons I started this blog. The first post is named by his book „Leaders eat last“ and in almost each of my posts, you can find quotes from his books. Instead using words to describe his presentation skills it is enough to watch any of the clips on his official Youtube channel. Also, it is Sinek who gave sense and form to all these qualities I deeply feel any true leader should have; he is the reason for the changes I launched; He is also the reason for all the turmoils my managers currently face, since they cannot adjust to the new circumstances.
Since he believes in the power of photographic memory and illustrations, he wrote – to be more specific – he drew the book named „Together is better“ in which every single page is drawn by hand, whereas, the whole book ’smells’ of optimism as he says. One of the chapters in his book „Leaders eat last“ is dealing with the term „alpha“ and how it is related to leadership. In order to bring it even closer to his readers, he even made an animated illustration I would ask you to watch before you continue reading this blog:
After watching this illustration, I hope the sub-step from the retail map called ’Visualision’ looks much clearer to my colleagues from front lines. A human brain is simply made in such a way always to memorize images and symbols prior to letters and numbers, to memorize associatively faster than repetitively. If it looks strange to you that your 2-3 year old son knows all the car producers logos, without even being able to speak fluently – be sure the fact I just mentioned above is the main reason for this, as well as the fact that a father has taken the leading role in his upbringing :-). Due to this fact, every time I want some of my associates to understand my message completely, I use drawings and metaphores.
Let us get back to the ’alpha’ phenomenon clip. On one hand, I believe that everything that has been said there makes perfect sense, that leaders already ask themselves if their colleagues see them as alphas? On the other, those who are not ’alphas’ and who disrespect their leaders – are being joyful, since they got another confirmation they were right. But, life is such, that it is not always easy to put all the wisdom of leadership into one Youtube clip. To be straightforward, I believe some of my leaders immediately started to think of themselves as ’alphas’ after seing this clip, since they are protective towards their team members…in fact, while writing this – two of them immediately crossed my mind, but it does not necessarily mean they are ’alphas’. It is not at all that I think of them as bad leaders, it is just that by being ’overprotective’ they sometimes may inflict more damage to their people by not exposing them enough, directly diminishing their chances for development and promotion. This is why it is so important to estimate, when you as a leader are expected to protect your people, and when it is better to let them fight on their own. It is the same as when a bird, at some point, pushes its young from the nest, because otherwise, the youngster would never learn how to fly, but on the contrary – it would probably die.
However, what I could set as universal rule, is that -whenever comes to ’hygienic’ issues, such as mistakes in salary calculation, variable fees, taregeting or similar issues – leaders should take the initiative and help their employees. Moreover, a true leader will not only take the initiative, but will by all means stand behind his attitude and insist with his superiors to accept it. The experienced leaders will – even before they take over the initiative – tell their employees that the problem will be solved in their favour, since their request is justified, honest and logical and will be explained to their manager as such.
Some leaders however, in such situations, tend to hide behind their superiors by stating that they were not present when the decission had been made, that they did not know, that they had to double check…etc, which authomatically make them lose their integrity. This practically means that the colleague you once treated like this, will pass around you in the future, every time he has a problem, and go to someone else who can really help him. This is one of the rules, but are there any more?
For all the other issues, I use a universal rule named ’ common sense’. There are many factors to stir you in one direction or the other, such as how long you have been a team leader, what is the atmosphere within the team, is there a true teamspirit within your team or the initial positions are still being taken, are you seen as ’alpha’ amongst the members of your team…etc. Sometimes you will need to take over the responsibility when it comes to most ordinary things, such as organizing your team to go to a restaurant, but sometimes, you will need to leave much more important decissions to your team members – so they can take them as their own, not as yours – which authomatically brings greater dedication to work. A true leader must have socio – emotional intelligence or the others will actually lead his team, whereas he will be the sole observer.
Leader should particularly react when the things get worse, when it seems like there is no exit and when people start to lose their motivation. One of the common mistakes leaders without integrity make – is to address to their team members asking them for a solution or a plan. I often get goose bumps everytime I hear the sentence…’ and what are you going to do about this?’. As if it is not enough for people being in a hopeless situation and yet they need a so called ’leader’ to remind them about it. Imagine a coach asking a player what is he going to do in order to win the match, which tactic is he going to use or who should enter the game. Oh yes, I know, Argentinean coach Sanpaoli asked Lionel Messi on the World Cup in Russia who should enter the game. This is why they made such a bad result on the championship. On the other hand, the Croatian coach was brave enough to send home one of their main players, the star in Italian Milan FC, because he refused to enter the game from the bench and such determination led his team to the finals! This is what one of colleagues, named Miloš – wrote about in his comment, and unlike the rest of it which I disagree – this is the part I will reluctantly have to agree with.
So, my dear leaders it is you, but no one else, who are expected to offer the plan B to the people you lead; cheering them on WhatsApp groups mentioned before is neither a support nor will bring any result. I believe we demonstrated this in the best way we could, last month in Montenegro, and we proved that even when we do not succeed completely in somoething we do – our colleagues will certainly know how to appreciate it.
Although I am pretty inspired to write further, I see that my better part is getting a bit nervous, since we are currently on a long-awaited vacation. I am grateful to her since she had patience and understanding for letting me write to my faithful readership (that includes her as well), while being on a vacation.
The topic I launcehd here is a never-ending story and I will spend hours and hours to deal with it the way I want, but I will not give up, because, as I said earlier, we are in the middle of a big change, there is no coming back and the colleagues are getting evermore bolder, while managers are geting evermore confused. They will certainly have to change and adjust to new circumstances, meaning they will have to be ready to listen much more than talk, to ask for the opinion much more than to give instructions.
If so far, some of the colleagues has come to you and in open discussion in one on one meeting told you what he did not like with you and when you disappointed him, this is the clear sign he had already been speaking to me and was advised to tell his leader freely all that had been bothering him. Listen to him carefully, do not opose him, unless you are one of those who will break a mirror once you see your image in it. Be sure that the very same colleague doing what he does – does it for your own benefit, regardless how different this may seem to you that very moment.
Long live retail!