Keeping it Real, Get Dirty

I have been working with some folks with understanding how their leadership, communication and training is going within their organization. There are some painful realities that when you hear or read them, you as a leader have to think, “wow, do I really know what is going on here?” There are always a few individuals in an organization that question the leadership. When it is about 25% or more, well that could be a real problem. When I was looking at this situation it made me think about all the times my organizations provided feedback about our culture within the organization. Why was my situation different? What was I doing differently? How can I keep it real?

My experience comes from both the military and a large enterprise with manufacturing and information technology background. So, my manager and leadership style has varied based on the situation. When I was in the army officer, we also followed a leadership principle that made sure we used our unit in accordance with its capabilities. We want to make sure that we overwhelmed our enemy in battle. Never did we want to go into any situation not ready for what we would find. Take that leadership principle and apply it to the real world, you would make sure that the people that are performing the work are capable of doing the work. Being incapable of performing the work, will only frustrate the workers when they fail.

As the leader, you need to understand what your team is capable of doing and not doing. You need to see this first-hand. What better way to see it first-hand is by actually doing the work. Look at the TV show, Undercover Boss, it is an eye opening experience for the CEO to actually perform the tasks. Forget all the personal stories and how they are helping the individuals. That makes for great TV and shows compassion. For this topic focus on understanding the jobs that are out there and how they get done. That knowledge of their work can help you as the leader in many ways.

  • You will learn what is truly needed to perform those tasks. Which can help you better assign your resources to get the job done.
  • You will make sure to not assign the work to someone that is incapable. Stopping the frustration of the worker and the team as a whole.
  • Know the work simply enhances your credibility and the respect your team will have for you.

How many times have you heard or said, “If he only had a clue?” It comes from the fact that the boss just doesn’t knew what the organization or individual is capable of accomplishing. Next comes the “I can’t believer I was asked to do that.” I would be naïve to think that my teams have ever said that before. Sometimes, I don’t always get it. Sometimes, I am trying to stretch an individual or the team. When I have made that mistake, I quickly own up to it. It is necessary to stand up and say, “my mistake, I will make sure that I do a better job.” Next time, I usually get in there with my team and help. Help get it done, help understand better and help make things better in the future.

If you as a leader want your teams respect, get down and dirty. Get out of the office, roll up those sleeves and do the job that your team was asked to do. You can’t always do that, but make time to do it every once in awhile. It is called stay in touch with your team. For me, when I was in the army, I had no choice. I had to do it with my troops. When I saw what the value was for me and my platoon, I made sure that I would continue this trend moving forward. When I was first a production supervisor, I made sure that whatever role was on my production floor, I was certified to run the equipment. When I was promoted to manager, I made sure that I scheduled time on my calendar to go out on the floor and work right along with my supervisors teams. The lessons I have learned from just spending time with the teams has been more valuable than any classroom exercise or book.

Keeping it real works. Try it! Do you have any good (or bad) stories to share on keeping it real?

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