How do you set the bar?

Showing up early. Working through lunch. Being the first at every meeting. Staying at the office later than the rest. Working on Saturday.

When I was much younger I knew these were the skills that would help me get ahead. I had learned by watching my Grandfather run a business he started with his bare hands. He was from a different era where people grew up faster and hard work was seen as strength. So when I was starting out in the working world I knew to watch for managers/leaders who had similar skills as they were the one’s I could learn the most from. Turns out they had more to teach than I thought but I had to pay attention to their mistakes.

As a leader if you are driven and exhibit the skills I listed above, odds are there will be people you work with and/or lead who do not operate at your level. It can be very easy to get frustrated and maybe even a little jaded against the others. I mean, c’mon. When these other people were hired couldn’t they see that your performance is the standard by which they are measured?

Without trying to sound like the old guy shaking his fist at the kids on his lawn, I must admit that our world has changed. Not for the better or the worse, it just is what it is. Just think about how our lives have been made easier by technology to the point where some of the most dangerous and hazardous jobs are an order of magnitude easier than they were twenty years ago. Now the mantra is work smarter not harder and find more “down time.” This isn’t just an issue with millennials or the next generation coming up, this mindset is spreading across the age barriers. But they aren’t all slackers and they do want to succeed. So how do you activate people with this new mentality?

The two main mistakes I see in frustrated leaders is that they haven’t fully accepted how the world has changed and they haven’t realized the need to communicate where their bar is set to those around them. (Actually when they do it’s at peak frustration and doesn’t go well. Perhaps you can relate.) I believe that to succeed as a modern leader you must go one step further and make the time to communicate where you want the bar to be set and then…ask your team what they need from you to get there.

By asking them to help set the bar you’ll be better able to measure and coach their success, you’ll find opportunities to share your own experiences for them to learn from, you’ll spend less time babysitting/micromanaging, and they’ll have a greater sense of buy in to the entire process as they’re putting in the hard work themselves. It’s a win win for all parties.

Are you managing your team as if they are you from years ago or are you communicating in ways that can inspire and engage? Drop us a line and let us know if we can help change the conversation for the better!

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