If winning in business feels so great, why does it take so much work to get people to play the game to win? If getting things done is the only way to make forward progress, why is it so difficult for us to tackle the tasks on our To-Do lists? Procrastination, resistance to change, leadership compromise, lack of clarity, and indifference exist at varying levels in all companies. But when one or more of these detractors gets out of hand, the contamination spreads throughout a company’s culture, wins turn to losses, and getting anything done becomes a struggle.
Like anything worthy of pursuit, winning and getting things done is a process. Many leaders think it’s about pushing people harder. Some think “better consequences” stimulate better performance. Winning and the collective ability to get things done rest in the leader’s ability to conduct a complex orchestra of people, resources, and systems to achieve clearly defined goals and outcomes. Pushing people to work harder and do more without the right training, systems, and understanding of the goals and outcomes is a recipe for stress and dysfunction. Throw in some really cool consequences and you have the perfect cocktail for demoralizing people and wrecking a culture.
Here are my six no-compromise steps for winning and getting things done:
- What’s the goal and where did it come from? “Do more” is not a goal. No one fights for “do more.” Winning is about hitting the bulls-eye and crossing the finish line before time runs out. Abstract goals are worthless. Teams need a target – something they can see and understand. Many leaders are notorious for plucking goals from thin air. They can’t explain the rationale behind them and wonder why the team doesn’t take their goals seriously. A goal can take on new meaning simply by stating, “This goal represents break even plus 5%. We need to hit this number to pay the bills.” No goal – no energy. Individual goals without a team goal means there will be winners and losers on your team, and that wrecks cultures.
- What are we playing for? Goals for revenues and hitting critical performance numbers are important, but they only represent half the story. Inspiring, rallying, and creating a sense of urgency in the team are the true tasks of a leader. In every episode of Survivor, Jeff Probst says, “Wanna know what you’re playing for?” It may be a piece of flint to make fire or a tarp for shelter, but the reward kicks up team urgency and commitment to win to the highest level. Sometimes, just getting a win is enough. However, having a stake in the outcome feeds the desire to win and get things done. Team bonuses, some compensated time off, special privileges, or just a really fun celebration all crank up the energy. Earning a new benefit, special training, or new equipment all represent a stake in the outcome.
- What’s the plan? OK, you have a justifiable and worthy goal. Your team likes what they’re playing for. So, fearless leader, what’s the plan to make this happen? Goals, especially stretch goals, need a playbook – a plan. A plan brings meaning to a goal. A plan brings clarity to how goals will be achieved. A plan can make a pretty crazy goal seem achievable. A plan gives a team confidence and motivation by converting a goal into bite-size pieces. If you want to bring life and energy to your goals, you must have an execution plan. Nothing complicated. No pages of charts. Just a simple step-by-step strategy outline will do. Plan to win. Don’t plan to lose. It’s that simple.
- Do what by when? Your plan for hitting a goal must include specific actions and timelines. Marketing promotions to be completed by [date]. Skill training completed by [date]. Products/supplies ordered and in-house by [date]. Hire more staff by [date]. Goals and getting things done are achieved by orchestrating multiple projects and actions into one cohesive outcome that, if executed according to plan, will reward you and your team with a win.
- Who owns it? Fact: If no one is responsible, it doesn’t get done. If everyone is responsible, it doesn’t get done. Every project and action plan must have an owner – someone responsible for getting it done right and on time. Never have a planning meeting end without specific individuals taking ownership of the projects and actions that must be done.
- Who’s beating the drum and keeping score? Winning is about maintaining focus, momentum and sense of urgency. Winning also needs a scoreboard. Beating the drum and keeping score is where leadership’s relentless communication comes in. Many leaders balk at having fast daily huddles, but if goals are won one day at a time, doesn’t it just make sense to do daily huddles? What’s going to keep team members informed and on task more – 365 daily huddles a year or 52 weekly meetings? Posting scoreboards without huddles is pointless. Text message and email updates are cyber garbage. Huddles and scoreboards work in concert to create wins and to get things done.
No-Compromise Leaders set justifiable goals that are worthy of their team’s commitment and energy. They plan to create clarity and urgency. They break plans down into executable segments attached to deadlines. Team members are assigned or take ownership of the executable segments. They beat the drum to ensure that the pace is fast enough to achieve the set goal. And No-Compromise Leaders keep everyone’s eyes on the scoreboard. There is nothing like watching all of your efforts come together in a win. High-fives and woohoo’s for all!
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