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Decisive Leadership Required

Feb 5, 2021 6:30:00 AM

Decisive Leadership - Cropped

Uncertainty is chronic.
Instability is permanent.
Disruption is common.
We can neither predict nor govern events.

As Jim Collins writes in BE 2.0, a ‘new normal’ doesn’t exist. “There will only be a continuous series of ‘not normal’ episodes.”

GULP. What to do?

It’s never been more important for leaders and their teams to be rapidly improving their readiness. Those most prepared, and willing – the ready – will be able to adapt and thrive. For the unready, whether they realize it yet or not, the future will be a scary and unpleasant place.

Leaders must act clearly and decisively. Accountability and discipline will be key. So will humility, vulnerability, and fairness.

As Collins considers his work over the past thirty years, he comes back to what might be the principle he’s most closely associated with: first who, then what. Successful organizations will be the ones with the right people (RP) in the right seats (RS) on the bus.

Right people are those fully aligned with your values. These are “the willing”. The right seat is one they “get, want and have the capacity for”. We must continually provide our teams opportunities to learn and grow, so they have an understanding of, and capacity for, what lies ahead.

Collins recently said he’s now convinced the most important metric for an organization is having 90% of its key seats filled by RPRS individuals.

From experience I can say that this doesn’t happen by accident. At Gibson, we’ve drawn on the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) tools and training to provide a system of accountability for our people.

Make no mistake. It all starts with the leader (of the organization, team, or business unit). They must be personally accountable, focused on results, without excuses. Their #1 job is what EOS refers to as LMA: leading, managing, and accountability.

Leaders cannot compromise when it comes to right people. Help those who aren’t the right people find a new bus to ride. Only invite new riders on who match your values. This will demonstrate great clarity to your entire organization that your values really do matter.

At Gibson, we love people who:

  • Create a great experience
  • Do the right thing
  • Play for each other
  • Pursue growth
  • Own their future

It’s hard to fit in here if you don’t bring a great attitude and always give your best effort!

Leaders must also take an active role in helping their teammates find the right seat, preparing them for a future seat, and sometimes recognizing a seat no longer exists.

It’s imperative that leaders are humble and vulnerable. A future with a continuous series of “not normal episodes” requires curiosity and constant learning from all. Being able to admit to your team that you don’t have all the answers and you’re willing to challenge long held beliefs will encourage them to do the same.

Clear and results-focused communication is a must. So is modeling the right behaviors and habits that lead to the desired results.

Leaders need to be in touch with their people in new and different ways. The days of being shoulder-to-shoulder with your team five days a week are gone forever. Yet being aware of their needs and proactively supporting them takes on even more importance in a virtual environment.

Helping your teammates find their edge, utilizing their highest and best talents, will bring them great joy and energy. Even if at first, it’s tough to acknowledge a change in seats is required, you will ultimately get their best work and highest productivity.

Through it all, uncompromising accountability cannot be understated. Be tough, but fair. This means being willing to have difficult conversations in the moment, suppressing our built-in selfish human desire to avoid conflict.

Lastly, don’t forget why you’re doing this, why they’re doing it. What is your Just Cause? Does your team know it and feel it?

For Gibson, we help our people find their edge. And go on to own it in ways that are far bigger than us.

In turbulent and unpredictable times, decisive leaders will act by ensuring they’re only traveling with the willing. And they’ll devote themselves to getting those right people in the right seats where they can thrive, while constantly helping them prepare for the journey ahead.

Topics: Executive
Tim Leman

Written by Tim Leman

Tim is Chairman and CEO at Gibson. He joined Gibson in 2005 as the Director of the Employee Benefits Practice and became a principal in 2007. He was named President in 2009, CEO in 2011, and elected Chairman of the Board in 2014.

With Tim’s leadership, Gibson has been selected as a Best Places to Work in Indiana, named to Principal’s 10 Best list for employee financial security, maintained its status as a Reagan & Associates Best Practices Agency, recognized as one of 20 Indiana Companies To Watch, and named to the Inc. 5000 list. Read Tim's Full Bio