We often talk about servant leadership, and I have begun to think why do we say “Servant” before leadership? Isn’t Leadership being a servant leader? The two are or should be synonymous and if you aren't serving with courage, you aren't leading. And sometimes it takes great courage as leading your people also means you are taking your people to places they normally haven’t been. The goal is to push them to new elevations that no one else has taken them nor has expected of them, and we must talk about that.
In the last week, I have had the opportunity to mentor and challenge two awesome young growing leaders with some of their “people” problems. These two young courageous leaders have passion, high core values, great expectations and an extreme love for people and growing them. In both cases, they had team members that aren’t following the operations critical non-negotiable core values and both were working through the process of painful decisions. They were at different stages in the process of non-compliant team members, one is yet in the stage of lining out full clarity of work expectations, strict adherence to the non-negotiable core values and the operations mission. The other was passed this point, and in the final stages of “letting someone fly away”. The tough part for both, is both of these courageous leaders know these team members may or may not be capable of meeting the operations high expectations for them, and if that is the case, we as leaders must do the kind thing for these people, and “let them fly away”. You see, what high achievers learn over time, is not everyone wants to be a high achiever, and many people are simply okay with mediocrity. And for Rockstar high flying leaders, the two versions don’t mix. As I say, “Donkeys don’t mix with thoroughbreds”. And over time mediocre people don’t like high achievers and high achievers don’t like mediocre people.
We as leaders must understand this. It took me years to figure out that donkeys and thoroughbreds don’t mix. I thought I could change them. But we as leaders must be okay with those facts. And we must be comfortable with knowing and helping these people find a place for them in which they will be much happier. Not everyone wants to work their very hardest to be the very best version of themselves, and that is okay.
Our first job is to have a rigorous enough hiring process to not bring mediocrity into our operations. And if we fail at this, which we do and will, then it is our second job to inspire and motivate these people to see if they can and want to be a part of a high achieving operation. It is our job to see if we can bring out people’s innermost best and challenge them to continue to grow to be the best possible version of themselves. If we do that, as stated earlier, with providing them clear expectations, our non-negotiable core values, and our operations mission and noble purpose, and we find that they don’t want to fly high and be the best version of themselves possible, it is up to us to help them “fly away” and find a place in which they will be much happier in.
The key to this story is, these two fine young courageous leaders are going through these steps, but because they absolutely love and care for their people, this process is very painful to them. They know what is right, they have a gut feeling how it all will end, but the process is painful. And as other mentors and leaders, it is up to us to help walk them through the process. We must help justify the process and help them be convicted that what they are doing is the right thing even though it is painful. Being a leader is painful like a dagger in the heart and emotionally life sucking at times. But as long as you are following a set of moral and ethical core values with complete and transparent clear communication, walking through each and every step with more clarity, and are carrying out a noble mission, then stand convicted on your high expectations! Be at peace that not everyone hates mediocrity like you and move forward!!