Instead of the Great Resignation, what if your organization can experience The Great Inspiration?
Across more than twenty years in senior leadership positions with a Fortune 20 telecom, one of the most important lessons I learned was that you could judge the success of a leader not by how many followers they had, but by how many leaders they developed. Following the example of others who had acted either as my mentor or sponsor (more about these important roles in an upcoming post), I made it a priority to help as many people as possible to achieve the position they aspired to.
Helping leaders advance wasn’t in my job description per se. But I took great satisfaction in helping capable leaders to mature and grow their innate capacities and strengths. Now, as COO of the Achieve Institute, it would be fair to say that developing leaders is definitely part of my job description. Applying the Achieve System was an integral part of my career success. And as I was one of the Achieve Institute’s earliest and largest customers at the time, I know my experience and feedback helped inform the system’s evolution and enhancement.
When I wrote The Fearless Leader, I opened the first chapter on authentic leadership with the observation, “Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit their leaders.” We’ve all seen this play out a million times: talented, highly regarded employees who leave our ranks out of disillusionment with their immediate manager or higher leadership.
At a time when there is a glut of qualified workers vying for jobs, a short-sighted organization might shrug at such a loss, murmur, “Shame, oh well,” and post a job opening online without attempting to address the issues that caused the employees to quit.
But in fact, we don’t have a glut of qualified prospects. What we have is “The Great Resignation” – and study after study showing unprecedented numbers of dissatisfied employees unwilling to remain in their current jobs. Price Waterhouse Cooper’s most recent survey found some 38% of employees are actively looking for a new job and MSN reports two in three tech employees expect to have a new employer 12 months from now.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but burnout and intense dissatisfaction are playing a big role. Harvard Professor of Economics Lawrence Katz called it a “once-in-a-generation `take this job and shove it’ moment.” Of course, an employee already at the job-shoving stage is probably irrecoverable and you might instead put your energies into planning how you will do better going forward. Such a plan might include asking yourself, “What’s required to become a leader who attracts – and keeps – the best talent?”
As addressed in my book, it’s not rocket science. But it’s not easy, either. For starters, you must build trust. You do that by leading from an authentic place. Without trust, no one will believe what you have to say and why you’re saying it. You can only achieve authentic leadership when you secure absolute trust. The only way you gain confidence from your team, your supervisors, or even your friends, is if you are real. These people must know that you’ve got their backs. And they must know you’re willing to have daring discussions when needed, that is, to tell the truth even when it is scary.
Once your employees or team know you’re going to help them move mountains by removing obstacles out of their way so they can do their jobs, they’ll work incredibly hard for you. It’s all trust based. If they don’t trust you because they think you’re doing it for your own benefit, you’ll never secure the trust you need to lead effectively.
There’s more. To be a leader who attracts and retains the best employees, you need to understand your relationship to challenges, to success, to failure, to fear, to happiness, to the unknown – and more. You must understand your own core beliefs and attitudes, and you must make these relationships and attitudes work for you. And of course you must be able to inspire, to energize and galvanize your team.
By now you might find yourself frowning and wondering, “Can I do all that?”
And the answer may be, no. Or more accurately, not yet. Because sometimes as leaders we are too focused on what we need to do, and we are not paying enough attention to who we need to be. That is, we fail to realize that to get the results we want, we’re going to have to change our way of being. How we show up is an important part of the successful leadership equation.
Changing who you are being is a big ask and definitely a team lift. Even with mentors, coaches and incredible peer support, it’s not always clear how to get from where and who you are now to where and who you want to be.
That, frankly, is one of the reasons I joined the Achieve Institute: this kind of development is too important and too desperately needed to be left to chance. The world is calling for a new kind of leader—decisive and confident, effective and innovative, aware and kind – and I love being part of building that new cadre of leaders.
Without an intentional effort to manage the critical dynamics mentioned above – our relationship to challenges, to success, to failure, and so on – these elements may work against us. Applying the Achieve System ensures they’ll work for you: you’ll know how to win and keep your employees’ confidence, not as a tactic or a gimmick, but as part of your own DNA as an authentic high-performing leader.
The Achieve System allows you to address the challenges of authentic leadership with systematic and comprehensive rigor, so that you can become the kind of leader who attracts, retains and inspires the best talent. While other organizations struggle with the Great Resignation, what if yours can experience The Great Inspiration?
COO, The Achieve Institute