If You Want Better Results, Be a Better Leader
Winners like to win. This is just as true in business as it is sports. In business, it’s up to leaders to arrange the game in such a way that their teams can win and celebrate success. When leaders don’t know how to set the game up to win and celebrate, they risk losing their best talent—people burn out, not to mention get sick and tired of a goal post that is constantly moving. There are few things in business more important than attracting and retaining exceptional talent. The good and bad news is, as a leader, you have both the power and the responsibility to create successful teams.
Here’s the truth of leadership success: Your staff wants to perform for you. All you need is to show them how to win.
Many business leaders fall into the trap of smack-talking their teams instead of speaking about their teams with respect and reverence. Too often, if the team is “not getting the job done” the leader or owner seems to blame the team instead of looking inward at the leadership. In reality, more often than not, it’s the other way around. Assuming you’ve hired skilled people who are right for the job and you’re working with a high-performing team, then lack of performance falls on you as the leader. Consider this: your people WANT to do a good job, they just NEED great direction.
For the last 10+ years, Legacy Creative has worked hard for our clients. Most of the time clients are happy. However, sometimes there are missed expectations. We’re all overachievers here, so we always want to deliver a finished product that will delight the customer. We want to get paid when we provide value, and we can’t stand being lazy or delivering subpar results.
What we’ve learned is that when the clients aren’t happy, it’s usually due to one of two things: either we didn’t ask enough questions to really understand what they wanted OR they didn’t know what they wanted so they couldn’t tell us. It’s nearly impossible to have a happy client when the client isn’t clear about what they want, and this is true of all leadership. How can anyone possibly be expected to deliver results that delight unless the one giving instructions is crystal clear about what they are asking for?
As a leader, it’s your job to get as clear as possible about what end result you expect from your teams. This is true if the team is internal staff, a vendor, or an agency. The clearer you are, the more likely you’ll get the result you’re looking for with the fewest revisions and as close as possible to the budget.
When you’re working with anyone, get really clear about what you are asking them to do before you engage them. Before you hire, know what you want. You should be able to write it down, draw a picture or a flow chart, and give instructions that are clear enough that the person about to do the rest of the work is able to ask enough detailed questions to figure out what you are asking for.
Giving fuzzy and unclear instructions will get you messy and uninspiring results. Spend a little more time slowing down and getting to understand what you want so you can explain it to the team that will do the work. Here is a great hack if you want to get really clear—put this at the top of any of your proposals:
In 2 bullet points, please state:
1. What is the opportunity?
2. What do you want from me?
At Legacy Creative, there are two primary places we use this concept: when hiring a team and when selecting clients to work with. All these years later, and after a few mess-ups of projects and mismatches hiring teams, we’ve learned to seek people who seek clarity.
Clients who know what they want and are willing to ask for it are exciting. When we’re talking to a possible client, if they aren’t clear in initial conversations or able to answer questions to get clear, it’s generally a good sign to bow out before anything gets frustrating.
When hiring, we crave people who ask questions that show they seek clarity on the delivery of products so they can do the best job possible and have a win. It’s better to set up the game for everyone to win, otherwise, the best talent that’s ever walked into your office will walk right out and find someplace else they can win and celebrate.
Here’s a clarifying question you can ask yourself as a leader: Where can you show up as a better leader and unleash your teams to deliver results that delight you the first time around?
If you’d like a little hack that we use at our agency, you can snag our How to Work With Overachievers that we use on our team to remind us to ask the right questions and get clear before we start a project. This isn’t always everything we need to ask, but it’s a great start.