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  • Writer's picturePatrick Novak

Want your Leadership to Fly? Don't Wing it.

Everyone wants to see their business take off and do well. So many different factors go into keeping a firm running, and a team of various skillsets is required to get the job done right. Just like when you're getting ready to take a trip, everyone from airport security to the pilot has prepared to make sure you have a smooth flight. The same variance is needed as your company grows. You must be able to rely on people who have different capabilities. More importantly, leadership needs to be able to correctly recognize the qualities and potential skillsets to best complete the mission. This responsibility doesn't (and shouldn't) always rest with the owners or CEO. It also shouldn't be callously outsourced without proper consideration for how you intend to cultivate your corporate culture. So, what are some ways you can curate the best for your corporate nest.

The first step is to visualize what kinds of skillsets and personalities you want to have flying around the office, and what types your firm will not tolerate. It's simply a matter of knowing where you want to go. A fun way of describing this vision is to use the same strengths or weaknesses we find in nature, to educate the workforce in a very visible way on the various roles you are encouraging them to play (or conversely asking to stay away).

For the purposes of this exercise, let's look at two birds that solve problems and two birds that create them. The birds of virtue for this instance are the owl and falcon, and the birds of vice are the vulture and ostrich. By studying each of these, we can learn how to avoid workplace failures with ease.

Trust the Observant Owls

Some of the most important members of your team, are those who have the composure and wisdom to gather as many facts as possible for executive action. They are always in a great position to actively listen and look carefully at all the details. You'll often find these types are the last to speak in a meeting, but the first to take notes on what everyone is saying. They are very keen on asking the right questions, because they know they don't have all the answers. How you engage these resources is vital and their counsel should be highly sought after. They are part of your decision making matrix that helps to expand the aperture, and thus the responsibility for how an organization finds the right path. Showing employees that you value trust, truth, and a factual consideration for operational excellence, is the best way you can create more leaders throughout your company.

  • Value employee wisdom as a paramount skillset in your workforce and reward those who intelligently address corporate conundrums.

  • Encourage more staff to ask questions until the organization is fully knowledgeable of their options for the best course of action.

  • Ask your staff to always first observe and ask questions, prior to making a decision that could have corporate-wide implications.

Embrace the Falcons of Foresight

Emails, phone calls, text messages and customer requests are all instantaneous forms of communication that have created an insanely fast pace of business. The expectation is that in order to be competitive, these inputs must be engaged and managed with an equally accurate and effective speed. The staff that move quickly and accurately are the falcons of your flock. They have very specific business objectives and know that when they're the first on scene, the team will achieve the dream. They are highly efficient at their jobs and streamline their entire environment to serve customer needs at a moment's notice. Besides speed and discipline, they also have superior vision to see far ahead of the competition. It's vital that management takes on their counsel for future opportunities or threats, because ignoring so can lead to massive corporate regrets. If you're seeking to create a team that knows how to get to a goal in record time, make sure you have some of your best falcons up and flying.

  • With the speed of business, you need highly motivated specialists in your workforce to get the job done effectively, and quickly.

  • When hiring for vision, make sure you allow staff to create their own line of sight to complement the overall goals of the organization.

  • Avoid creating unnecessary executive bottlenecks that inhibit the speed of those in your workforce who are hunting down new opportunities for the firm to capture.

Avoid the Culture Vultures

A "committee" of vultures is defined very simply, as a group of vultures (amazing what you learn by watching the Discovery Channel). Like most predatory animals that prey on the scraps of others' success, they have to create a group to reassure themselves that what they're doing is best. Acting alone for these birds is not something they are accustomed to doing. Sometimes you see this happen in the workplace where manipulative staff need to create groups to support their subversion. This unsuspecting group is often led by a counterculture vulture, or someone who is unable to compete to eat. They are the types that only tear down, and are some of the worst corporate birds around. They often create unnecessary strife, drama or slowdown to distract from what they cannot do. After creating issues, they gather with their committee or cohort and hope to pick apart the leftovers from the real workers on the team. It's not surprising that they have weak beaks and claws, as they can't operate from a place of strength. Since these types drain corporate resources, morale, and so much more - it's best to move quickly to get these the culture vultures out the door.

  • Never accept poor behavior in the workplace, it only means you will be absolutely and completely responsible for the mess in the nest.

  • Although it might be difficult to get rid of the troublesome staff, not doing so is always the worst when it comes to streamlining your corporate leadership math.

  • As a leader - if you're worrying about what a vulture might do when faced with what's true, it only shows you don't have control of what is in front of you.

Mind the Avoiding Ostriches

The final bird we'll look it, is certainly one of the most unique. It's the largest of the land birds and since it can't fly - it must run away when a problem comes by. There is a myth about these birds putting their heads in the sand to avoid trouble though, when in fact they actually just lay low. This misconception comes from adult ostriches overly protecting and caring for their protégé birds in the sand. In the workplace, one of the most egregious examples of ostrich-like behavior comes when executives are too cowardly to deal with their own issues. It could have to do with termination of staff they hired, skipping a meeting for a problem they failed to solve, or just too scared of being called out for doing the wrong thing. Some people might misclassify this behavior as "chicken," but even the chicken gets more respect for crossing the road. An ostrich takes off fast when faced with even the slightest issue, which is why they are one of the biggest threats to creating a successful workplace culture. Staff see this and model the same behavior. It breeds an environment where accountability becomes an impossibility. If this style of leadership lingers on, it's only a matter of time before the other more competent and capable birds become long gone.

  • Set an example for your workforce which makes clear that running from your problems out of fear, only guarantees that issues plaguing your firm stay near.

  • While not every bird needs to fly, every employee needs to know that burying their head in the sand when they see something wrong, never makes it right.

  • Address corporate issues as soon as they happen, no problem in 2021 can be outrun.

Birds of every feather, must fly together

Now that you know what birds should stay or go - it's time to lead your team towards an efficient workflow. You must let them take off and trust they'll give more than they take. Never forget to make it fun and let people explore different roles to see what fits best. For the birds making a mess or creating stress, it might be time to let them go from the nest. For the rest, it's time to let this strategy fly and see who passes the test!


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