In the book, “How to Stay When You Want to Quit,” Maddie shares “The Four Musts” with Max. Though demanding and requiring consistent refinement, these core principles offer a foundation for robust leadership. Of course, there are other components, like technical and job-specific skills, but you’ll be hard-pressed to have a high-performing team without these four musts.
1. Strong, Pervasive Leadership
There must be a strong leader and strong, pervasive leadership. Charisma is not leadership, although it can be a helpful tool to gain an audience’s acceptance quickly. Effective leaders share a passion for and a record of accomplishments. A person or a group of people who are honest, forthright, markedly visible, and approachable demonstrate strong leadership daily. Leaders fulfill their insatiable need to be out in the field regularly. When not walking on the front lines, they talk with people who work there in town hall-style meetings and one-on-one. They remember that just as the shepherd is there for the benefit of the flock, leadership is there to serve the people, and they take that responsibility seriously.
Remember: Leadership is there to serve the people.
2. A Repeatable, Compelling Vision and Sense of Purpose
The organization must have a repeatable, compelling vision and a sense of purpose. It should be a clear and concise singular vision. Every activity that the organization tackles must be able to foster a closer linkage to that compelling vision. It must be memorable and repeatable so that every message, action, and strategy supports the purpose within their obvious connections. The clarity of the vision should be worded and promoted so that others can understand it, support it, be excited by it, grow some passion around it, and be inventive in discovering new ways to achieve that purpose.
Remember: Leadership is about inspiring people and waking them up, not tiring them and putting them to sleep.
3. A Sense of Overwhelming Optimism
There must be a sense of overwhelming optimism. The compelling vision is not only the day-to-day, here’s what we need to do and why, but is also our place on earth, our legacy, and the good we wish to do. Living that is what creates a legacy. Knowing that is what helps create positivism. That positive approach has to be all-encompassing. Tolerance of rampant apathy or negativism is a weakness. If optimism is not visible, alarms should sound, and priority should be given to overcoming the obstruction. This doesn’t forego the crucial role of devil’s advocate and challenging viewpoints — but to leave negative remarks or feelings unchecked, even in the simplest day-to-day transactions, is to enable the contagion. Counter the virus with positive encouragement and recognition.
Remember: Pollyanna behavior can be just as dangerous, but negativity is an acid that corrodes everything.
4. A Regular Diet of Meaningful Recognition
There must be a regular diet of meaningful recognition. Positive reinforcement, thanks, and praise are the nutritional components of a healthy workforce, the helium that lifts the organizational balloon to new heights. It is a currency that many organizations are afraid of spending, yet its value can be limitless. Without it, or withholding it until the perfect moment, can result in, at worst, a bankruptcy of human potential and, at best, leave people with a feeling of emotional deficiency. All people want to do a good job, regardless of which motivations they declare to be driven by; the rewards of learning new experiences, enhancing important relationships, or legacy building. People will reward those who notice what they have already contributed with even greater performance.
Remember: Many people think about thanking people for a job well done — but thinking it is not the same as doing it. The best of intentions are still only intentions. To make an impact, you must actually do something.
Implementing the Four Musts in Your Leadership
Implementing these principles of leadership requires a thoughtful and consistent approach. Here’s how you might put them into action:
Strong, Pervasive Leadership:
- Lead by Example: Set an example of hard work, honesty, and approachability. Be visible and actively involved in day-to-day operations.
- Regular Communication: Hold town hall-style meetings, one-on-one discussions, and open-door policies to foster communication with employees.
- Servant Leadership: Emphasize that leadership is about serving the people. Encourage other leaders to be attentive to the needs and concerns of their teams.
A Repeatable, Compelling Vision and Sense of Purpose:
- Craft a Clear Vision: Develop a clear and concise vision statement that resonates with your team and can be easily repeated and remembered.
- Alignment: Ensure all organizational activities, strategies, and communications align with the vision. Regularly remind team members of how their work contributes to the vision.
- Inspire Passion: Encourage others to be passionate about the vision and to find innovative ways to achieve it.
A Sense of Overwhelming Optimism:
- Promote Positivity: Create a culture that fosters optimism by emphasizing the organization’s purpose, legacy, and positive impact on society.
- Address Negativity: Actively address negativity or apathy when it arises. Encourage open discussions but counteract excessive negativity with positive encouragement.
- Leadership’s Role: Embody optimism and lead by example in maintaining a positive attitude.
A Regular Diet of Meaningful Recognition:
- Recognition Programs: Implement regular recognition programs that acknowledge and reward team members for their contributions.
- Timely Feedback: Provide feedback and recognition promptly rather than waiting for the “perfect” moment.
- Cultural Integration: Make recognition and appreciation part of the work environment, emphasizing its value to individual and team motivation.
Remember, these principles should be consistently applied and integrated into the organization’s culture. It’s also essential for leaders to adapt their approach based on the specific needs and dynamics of their teams and the organization as a whole. Leadership is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and commitment.
Reflection on THE FOUR MUSTS
1. Are you a strong leader, and do you provide strong, pervasive leadership?
2. Do you have a repeatable, compelling vision and sense of purpose?
3. Do you have a sense of overwhelming optimism?
4. Do you provide a regular diet of meaningful recognition?
Praise for How to Stay When You Want to Quit
I read “How to Stay When You Want to Quit,” and it was full of helpful anecdotes that turned my negative thinking into more constructive/pragmatic thinking, not only about my job but also my place in the world as a whole. His writing is cleverly written and super informative. Highly recommend!
BE THE KIND OF LEADER WHO GIVES A C.R.A.P.
This direct and practical guide is your ticket to becoming a supportive and inclusive leader who makes a positive difference in your team and organization.
About Karl Bimshas
Karl Bimshas is a Boston-bred, California-chilled Leadership Consultant and Writer. As the founder of Karl Bimshas Consulting, he provides customized leadership development resources and accountability partnering for busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.
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