Leadership Frequency: What’s Acceptable vs Exceptional
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This week I’m talking about leadership frequency. When I say frequency in this context, I don’t mean “how often,” I mean the choice leaders make to focus on high-level versus low-level behaviors and outcomes. I’m talking about wavelength.
High-frequency leadership concerns itself with high-level ideas, high-impact initiatives, and high-performance priorities that elevate and move the team and organization forward. Low-frequency leadership focuses on the bottom; behavior problems, attendance, dress code violations and other low-level concerns.
“Focus on the best, get the best. Likewise, focus on the worst and you get the worst.”
Focus on the best, get the best. Likewise, focus on the worst you get the worst. Where are you directing you and your team’s focus? Don’t be a bottom feeder.
This is an extremely important choice because leaders have a lot on their plate. Wasting time policing bad behavior, for example, is not the highest and best use of your energy and time as a leader. Making this shift in mindset about your leadership style can shape the way you approach your team and role entirely. It can also do the same for your team in how they show up and approach their work.
What’s acceptable vs what’s exceptional
As a leader, you have the opportunity to frame your team’s expectations around how they think about their roles and how they’re personally showing up. Setting a high bar that clearly defines what’s acceptable is important. Along with that, it’s also extremely valuable to articulate what exceptional looks like and to establish a clear gold standard for everyone to aspire to and uphold.
To be an exceptional leader, you must establish these guidelines and adhere to them with consistency. You also have to make it clear that anything that takes place below the bar of what’s acceptable is grounds for being either coached back up above the bar, or if need be, removed from the team.
You can deliver the promise to your team that your time and energy as a leader will be spent focusing on and supporting high-level performance and behaviors that elevate and move the team and organization forward, instead of focusing on policing bad behavior and other low-frequency things that are a waste of everyone’s time. And mean it.
There are a couple huge benefits to this:
“High-performers are excited and motivated by higher level conversations and outcomes.”
- High-frequency leadership fosters higher accountability and self-regulation. If you inspire your team as a high-frequency thought leader, and set a high bar that they are expected to rise up to, they will become more accountable for themselves and each other, and self-regulate their own low-level behavior and performance.
- High-frequency leadership breeds exceptional performance. As a leader, if you are focusing constantly on the worst behavior of your worst employees, then not only are you wasting your valuable time but you won’t bring out the best from your high-performers. They’ll end up feeling bored, alienated, or ignored. High-performers are excited and motivated by higher level conversations and outcomes.
Sidenote. A common trap that low-frequency leadership often falls into is creating sweeping policies that punish excellent employees for the poor behavior of bad ones. Nothing is more morale squashing to great employees than losing privileges or gaining additional oversight that feels like being babysat due to the poor performance of mediocre coworkers. Do not do this. Address issues individually and at the source.
Commitment, not punishment. Greatness, not mediocrity
I want to clarify that this is not about allowing or ignoring poor behavior, or being on a power trip to punish people and fire them at will. It’s truly about creating a commitment as a team and as a leader to direct the focus of everyone on the team to highest and best use of everyone’s energy. And when you do need to address issues, be direct, decisive, and clear as you coach people out of mediocrity and into greatness.
When you do this right, and adopt a high-frequency leadership style, you and your team will spend more of your valuable time being exceptional and awesome together.
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This article was created by keynote speaker Galen Emanuele for the #shiftyestribe. Free leadership and team culture content centered on a new focus every month. Check out the rest of this month’s content and subscribe to the Shift Yes Tribe at http://bit.ly/JointheSYT