Twice in my career, have I sat in a meeting where an executive has harangued his employees about not caring as much as he did.
And, both times, the people who cared the most handed in their resignations within hours.
The executive was furious that the employees were not as concerned as he was. The point he was trying to make was that the employee should care about the business beyond the extrinsic rewards that the company provided. That this company, this employment opportunity was more than a job. The executive was frustrated that he was working with people who didn’t feel as connected to the mission as he did.
And in many ways, the minute the executive said that he had also admitted that had failed as a leader. If you feel the need to call out your team, a team you assembled then you failed.
And it got me thinking about caring.
As a leader, why people do the things they do is imperative so you can motivate them. Everyone’s motivations are different. Some people believe in the mission, some people do it for the money, some do it for the commute, and some do it for the sheer joy of doing it.
Your job is to figure out what motivates them and make sure that you align their rewards with their motivations.
Your job as a leader is to connect people to the mission every single day.
Your job as a leader is to connect people’s motivations to the mission every single day.
And the minute that connection breaks, you failed to do your job.
And I get why the executive felt frustrated. He had failed as a leader, and it was evident. And he was vocalizing his frustration at being unable to connect the company mission to the employee’s motivations. And he was taking it out on his team.
When that happens, and it will, what I found works better is taking a deep breath, and then asking your team what’s wrong. Ask your team why the team does not feel connected to the mission. Ask the team what all need to feel connected. Speak 1×1 with each key member and understand their needs.
Leadership is hard, and we can fail at being leaders, and when we fail our job as leaders is to recognize that and do the hard work to be great leaders again.