I can’t remember if I talked about this before, but I’ve been given a new job . It’s a great little thing – I run a distribution area and supervise the warehouse of finished goods and shipping to customers. It’s a relatively simple exercise if I’m honest – mostly making sure people stick to the processes and trying to improve the processes themselves. Of course, you sometimes get problems to solve along the way, but it’s OK.
I looked at the company I work for, took a moment to think and then came up with this little manifesto for how I want to be. This isn’t my multi-million selling idea, it’s a simple one which I believe holds the key to me not sticking my head up my bottom when I’m supposed to be leading the people who work in my team.
GRACE – we need much more of it. As a world, grace is a concept of which we see little practical application. From world leaders striking deals over climate change policy, to banks, to footballers negotiating their pay, we see a lot of greed and self interest but very few people willing to give up something for no gain. Yet when we deal with other people on a daily basis, it is often the small favour here or there that makes everything flow. I’m not talking about oiling the wheels in a corrupt and greedy fashion, but just making the lives of those around us easier rather than more difficult. This goes up and down the chain of command as far as you can personally reach. Do not be afraid to cut someone some slack now and then.
OBEDIENCE – I come to work every day and they pay me. The least I can do is meet their expectations of me. If those expectations are unreasonable, that’s a different thing to them being irrelevant. Sometimes you just need to get on with the job in front of you. If my team see me obeying my manager and the rules in place around the factory even when I disagree with them, they will be less inclined to ignore my instructions. The only reason I’d ever break this is where my action or inaction would be illegal or unsafe. Any misgivings I might have need to be raised with the person issuing the instructions, not used as an excuse to avoid the task in the first place.
ACCEPTANCE – People are idiots. Some are more of a liability than others. Accept this. Do not use it to make excuses for them, but realise that they will let you down. Be reasonable. That way when you stuff everything up in a big way, they won’t be able to turn around and add to the feelings of failure by showing you what a hypocrite you are. Accept the mistakes and work to correct them. Make it OK to approach you with a problem or a dropped ball. Otherwise, you risk having bad work hidden by scared or apathetic team members.
LEADERSHIP – I don’t know quite what this looks like yet. I’m too busy taking care of the other three. We have expectations placed upon us as a team, and individually. Every one of us turns up to work every day to complete our allotted tasks. The actual leadership has little to do with babysitting the process and much more to do with keeping people motivated and engaged. Then you can take some decisions and move forward, knowing that your team can see what you’re trying to do and will be honest with you.
One day sometime in the future I will look back and suspect all this stuff I just wrote was navel-gazing twaddle. Until then, it’s the best I have. I’ll let you know if it gets me anywhere.