Leaders and Responsibility

The Power of Alignment

After my WordSesh talk about Code Architecture yesterday, Chris Lema gave a business talk on “The Power of Alignment”.

It’s a great talk about the expectations people and business organizations have, and why relationships don’t work out all the time due to miscommunication and false expectations, or misalignment as Chris defines it during his talk.

Is Life Fair?

A similar idea was covered in another post called “The problem isn’t that life is unfair – it’s your broken idea of fairness“. The author reveals the misconceptions of most people and their expectations of the real life. The false ideas teachers and parents share with their children, and the wrong sense of justice more people have due to that.

It’s a painful thing to believe, of course, which is why we’re constantly assuring each other the opposite. “Just do your best”, we hear. “You’re only in competition with yourself”. The funny thing about platitudes like that is they’re designed to make you try harder anyway. If competition really didn’t matter, we’d tell struggling children to just give up.

But never fall for the collective delusion that there’s not a competition going on. People dress up to win partners. They interview to win jobs. If you deny that competition exists, you’re just losing. Everything in demand is on a competitive scale. And the best is only available to those who are willing to truly fight for it.

Two Way Street

There is another false idea of leaders and high performers and the way we treat them. Working with experts and leaders is really challenging – they are opinionated, act directly and often aggressively (hustling), take action without hesitating. This is what we want from them, but are we ready to commit and work with them, help them without putting all sorts of obstacles for the work we need done?

Leaders are demanding. They have high expectations and they require a productive and effective environment. You cannot put a leader in a lazy pool of nine-to-five workers, and expect from him to solve all of your problems. Unless you hire him as the absolute authority in your team, be it a team leader or a CTO.

The 51%

High Performers Fly High

I got obsessed with Shark Tank lately – the rockstar reality show on ABC with five entrepreneurs investing their own money for different startup ideas and small businesses. Putting this show on air is an incredible opportunity for small businesses to get investment and popularity, and also an inspiration for younger smart people to start thinking out of the box and generate ideas.

Two of the sharks are Daymond John and Kevin O’Leary, both billionaires with several successful businesses each. What I noticed early in the process that they were striving for 51% equity stake (or more) from most businesses they were interested in investing at. At first I thought it’s greed, and then it struck me: it’s the power of making decisions.

Taking Ownership

Progressive people need ownership. This is simply a requirement to avoid obstacles on the way. If you trust your leader and want the work done, ownership of a task is needed. This could be a leadership position of a team, or even mentoring someone else, but don’t go for the “team effort” or “splitting the job between the two of you”. Ownership means authority of a decision, with reduces the overhead in communication, speeds up the process and increases the productivity.

Have you ever worked with organizations with a board of directors or multiple owners (decision makers)? You know that it’s a nightmare and leads to hundreds of complications for getting a simple job done. Do you remember working on team projects at the university with a slacker or two on your team? You need to get their job done, which eats up a lot of your time and energy and gets you less motivated to get that done on time or with the highest possible quality.

Ignoring the silent ownership request by leaders is “doing it wrong”. High performance need their own autonomy to get the work done and help you – get that sorted out and start looking for more high performers.

Your thoughts?