Does your leadership garner the level of trust and loyalty from your team in difficult situations? To steal a page from our armed forces, are you the kind of leader that inspires people to get in the trenches or do they scatter when the going gets tough?
I always believed at my core that the only way I could develop valued relationships in business is to be the kind of leader that would never abandon my team when things got challenging. In advertising but probably true for many businesses, people invest themselves creatively and almost always are subjected to forms of rejection. Whether it’s a picture or a word, people can be merciless in their critiques. If truth were told, the Agency Creative Director painstakingly reviews each picture and word for their relevance and business-building potential. It’s in those moments of challenge, a leader needs to emerge and support their team. Many shy from the debate. Some believe you shouldn’t “Fall on your sword”. I never really understood that expression. I always felt if I had a sword (excuse the metaphors—but great work) I was going to use it to slay because in the end I believe in the power of great ideas.
So how do you know if your people trust you to protect them when the going gets tough?
1. Are you willing to face-off with your boss? Your Client? Your partner? This is not a strategy for those with a weak stomach. You often lose something in the interaction but what you keep is worth far more – your integrity and loyalty within your team.
2. Are you capable of shielding others and forsaking yourself? Again, it sounds noble but it’s really not about nobility. It’s about standing up for someone else regardless of the hits you might take.
3. Do your respect the people you represent? Both on your team? At your Clients? Sounds easy but, again often is gratuitous. The only way to truly be effective is if you believe in the intentions of the people that surround you. There’s a different lesson in that one for a later post!
4. Are you willing to be support an idea that might be different than your own? Ideas are fluid and true leaders recognize that they can come from anywhere and by anyone. The importance is your ability to recognize and support interesting thinking.
5. And of course, at the end of the day, what’s your headcount on throwing people under the bus at the eleventh hour? I’ve watched countless people cut down others at the presentation table. It’s sloppy. It’s says more about the person doing the cutting down then the person being slaughtered. But that said, an important decision is a moral one – which are you more comfortable doing?
When you choose to be in the trenches defending your team’s position, you get dirty. But, when your team emerges victorious, there’s nothing more satisfying.
CEO, The BAM Connnection