A few weeks ago, I was mentoring a new team leader and after answering a few simple questions, I was finally asked, “Luis, what’s your management philosophy?”
I loved the question. It was direct and wisdom-seeking in nature. I relished the opportunity to share my story with an ambitious, up-and-coming leader.
As I gave an in-depth response to my mentee, I had a flashback to a particular moment in my career. It was 2004. I was a new manager at the time, still learning how to effectively lead my collections team to their monthly goal, and I remember my department manager declaring, “Luis, I need your team to collect their variance by the end of the day. I don’t care how far behind you are. Go out there and push them more.”
I remember thinking: after several months of consecutive goal achievement, countless 60+ hour work weeks, and what seemed like an infinite number of outbound collection phone calls, how much more could I push my team? Was that all my manager could say to inspire me to victory - “push them more”? I waited, desperately, for more direction, hoping and praying for some sort of support. But, none came.
I was spry and energetic, yet very green as a manager at the time. My lack of experience implored guidance and leadership from someone more seasoned than I was at the time; yet, my manager didn’t provide that guidance for me. Instead, I was left with an empty directive: “Push them more.” Vague and meaningless. In the end, we missed our goal.
Over a decade later, I credit that moment as a major turning point in my career. That example of poor managerial inspiration became the precipice for my core belief as a professional leader, and it’s based on a quote from the great John C. Maxwell:
In essence, the mistake my manager made was not in telling me what to do (Go!), it was in not taking an active role in guiding me to the solution (Let’s go!).
Let’s take a moment to consider some of the options we have as leaders when faced with similar situations. What do you do when you have a talented, inexperienced team member struggling to achieve the goals you set for them? How do you avoid the “Go!” mentality and focus your efforts on establishing a “Let’s go!” leadership style?
Here are some techniques to consider:
Share - Give your team member specific examples of what you have done in the past in similar situations. This is the wisdom they are seeking when they come to you as their leader.
Engage - Make and take the time to develop your team member by engaging them in an open dialogue. Ask them, what do they think they can do better? What isn’t working? What has worked for them in the past? Do they have new ideas? Empower them to find their own solutions through open dialogue.
Lead by example - Be bold! Step out of the ivory tower (your office), strap on a headset, take a phone call, make a sale, solve a customer issue! Do something to inspire your team by actively helping them achieve their goals. They will appreciate and respect you more for it.
I, personally, have used the above techniques to achieve record-breaking results with each and every one of the teams I have been fortunate enough to lead. In every interaction with my team members, I applied the “Let’s go!” approach, and as my career progressed and I managed more and more people, I acquired a passion for developing future leaders. Thanks to that approach, along with the guidance of many leaders and mentors that took the time to invest in my professional growth, I was able to develop into a confident, venerable leader, not just a manager.
If you model these leadership behaviors, not only will you earn the respect of your entire team, but your intangible efforts will reflect in their positive performance.
So, to all of the leaders out there, there’s only one thing left to say...
- Luis Jimenez, Managing Partner, Lincoln Barretta Consulting Group LLC