One of the things I have always believed, is that as Leaders, we always need to do the right thing, and this is something I have always tried to do throughout my career.
This is an interesting approach, because you also need to answer the question, right for who? For the me, for the company, or for the team.
If the answer to this question is doing whats right for me, then this can put us into conflict with our teams and our companies.
I remember I worked at one company where we were running a significant cost reduction program, and one of the leaders who had a $11om budget refused to participate, because he didn’t want to cut his budget because he felt it reduced his position, his prestige.
This clearly put him in conflict with the company because he was happy to spend more than was needed, just because he needed to be in control of a $100m plus budget.
He justified this by saying that his budget was $110m and he wouldn’t not exceed it, that he would probably end up spending between $108-109m and therefore didn’t need to cut costs.
What he failed to see in this was, that whilst he claimed he was fully supporting the cost reduction program, but just not in his area of control, this then showed his behaviour as non authentic, he talked the talk, but he didn’t walk the walk. People could clearly see this, and it consequently reduced their trust and respect in him. He was clearly leader who was doing what was best for himself first and the company second.
In another example, I worked in a company where we had to make significant cost reductions, again. One way to do this was to change the travel policy, instead of flying business class all flights would now be economy. This was the right thing to do for the company, it would save us over 66% as the majority of the travel was intercontinental.
The leader who implemented this, changed the policy so that everyone below his grade, would have to fly in economy but everyone at his grade or above could still fly in business class.
Clearly the leader did what was right for the company, he made significant cost reductions in the travel budget, but he made the change in a way that didn’t impact him, it only impacted his people.
Again with this approach, the leadership lost the trust and the respect of the people. Here it was clearly demonstrated that the leadership would take care of company first, then themselves and lastly its people.
My approach is always the same, do whats right first for the company, then whats right for the people, and lastly whats right for myself.
With the priorities set this way I can look people in the eye and openly explain why we are doing the things we are doing.
This helps build trust and respect and without these our ability to lead is significantly reduced.