In college, my friends and I had a saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough eat ice cream.” It seemed a good solution to nearly everything at the time. And as a result, we all moved in the direction of gaining the proverbial “freshman fifteen,” namely 15 extra pounds of weight. Now, my choice is a different line of thinking when tough days happen.
For those of us in leadership positions, there are many tough days ahead. And we have important choices about how to engage people and how to help them through these current and forth-coming challenges. One thing I have been focusing on this summer is to remind leaders that a big part of their work revolves around helping people fit in. As we work on clarifying purpose, painting the picture of where we are going, and building solid plans for how to get there, we, at times, get so busy that we forget to define for all involved how they contribute to making this all happen.
When working on the one to one level, leaders need to clarify for their direct reports the following:
- what is their role, strategically and operationally
- what are their responsibilities when it comes to the implementing the current strategic and annual plans
- what are your expectations and their goals within the current plan
- how they are to measure their progress, i.e. their relationship to the balanced scorecard or other forms of organizational metrics.
While a bowl of ice cream on a hot day may be more fun, doing the above is worth the time and energy. Tough days are happening now and will continue in the future, but good leaders know that it is important to help others figure out how they fit into the bigger picture. Then, they will commit on a deeper level.