On The Bus Called Leadership
“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” ~Jim Collins
Typically we are raised to believe there are rules in this life and a schedule by which we must follow. It’s the moment when you realize that honestly that’s not true, you truly begin to live. Yes… don’t get me wrong there are things that are against our beliefs and cultural norms.
But those other rules of what defines success, or when is the right age to get married, or doing something as young as possible makes you MORE successful than others, or running the rat race and making it to the top is the only way to obtain success – these are the programmed rules that many are raised with and it becomes part of our psyche.
One of mine was a specific annual income would bring me happiness and a feeling of accomplishment. It turns out… once I met that goal, I simply thought ok — CHECK! now what?
When I was in graduate school one of my professors, whom I lovingly called Fergie… would stretch my thought process about life and education. CONSTANTLY! He and I would have long debates where he would ask me to name one truth about the world and then he would debunk it.
I think he thoroughly enjoyed this, his seventy some odd years had prepared him to debunk everything and I mean everything! Death and change… if memory serves… were the only two that he didn’t have an argument against.
This education about life and my chosen profession opened up a world of possibilities… a freedom if you will. One that has been proven time and time again. (See the above statement about salary… reaching that goal and realizing it did nothing… brought me even more freedom.)
I think the same is true for leadership and management. Name one TRUTH that is true for all managers and leaders…Go ahead… TRY…..
Not so simple is it. My guess would be exactly what Fergie taught me….Change occurs…. that is the only TRUTH.
This though presents the challenge…. Leadership…. is like the Rubik’s Cube. Few people can solve the entire cube. Some are able to solve one side, maybe conquer two sides. But solving the entire puzzle is saved for just a chosen few.
And then there are those…. you know them…. the ones that peel off all the stickers, move them around, stick them back on the cube and proclaim success (hence faking it!).
All the theories, philosophies, processes and best practices are there to guide you as a leader and manager, but they as a truth cannot solve the entire puzzle.
Leadership tied to management, has as many if not more sides to it as the Rubik’s Cube and the ability to get all the sides working together to create the perfect scenario is the ULTIMATE GOAL. And that…. is why we cannot name just ONE TRUTH for all leaders.
Some focus on personality traits of leaders.
Some the understanding of different groups of people.
Others conclude that outside variables and situations dictate the effectiveness of the Leader.
Then others, who break leadership into two dimensions, task and/or consideration.
All theories and proposed truths about leadership are one-sided solutions…. all just like the cube. The theories and “truths” meet one, two or maybe even three sides to solving the cube. But in order to truly master the entire cube, you have to approach and utilize pieces from all the theories and thoughts on leadership, depending on the moment, yourself as a person, core beliefs of the organization you work for and the team you are working with.
The quote above by Jim Collins is one that I agree with but my introduction to is was not a positive one. An old supervisor of mine read the book and the next day came into a staff meeting and began moving people’s seats on the bus. It was hugely disruptive and was only solving the one side of the cube. (please note: there was not a problem with this staff)
This went on for two years…. whenever you were finding your groove, you would get moved to a new seat on the bus. At one point, I’m not sure if anyone was in the seat behind the wheel of the bus.
It was reactive and was being used as a truth to management vs. a process in the overall approach to leading and managing an amazing team. It was disastrous and became a running joke within the organization. Bus Jokes Galore….
What did you do to get sent to the back of the bus?
Did you see how he got run over by the bus?
I’m pretty sure they never made it to the bus stop.
Don’t buckle your seat belt… you will get a new seat on the bus next week.
Who’s driving this bus?
The danger is when we believe there are rules in this process and a schedule by which we must follow in order to create a cohesive and productive team. The danger is when we throw out the ULTIMATE LEADERSHIP GLUE…. and only focus on one side of the Rubik’s Cube.
What is the Ultimate Leadership Glue? RELATIONSHIPS
Make no mistake about it, RELATIONSHIPS – are at the foundation of all that we do as managers and leaders.
And I’m not talking about FAKING it. NO peeling the stickers off… NO reading the newest book on leadership and throwing everything out the window to use the latest buzz word. NO proclaiming you care about your staff, only to create a work environment based on fear and competition.
Nope, I’m talking about getting to the CORE of Leadership and that is true, genuine and honest relationship building.
Because, at the end of the day, CHANGE will occur and you as a leader, need to be able to inspire teams to bring about and implement that change.