Leaders tell me they want their people to be engaged, motivated, capable, and to be accountable. They want their people’s performance, their productivity, their ideas, their energy, and their discretionary effort.
And why wouldn’t you?
The research tells us, and you would know from your own observations, that if you grow your people, invest in their development, show them leadership, share a purpose and goal… you will have a team of people, an organisation of people, who give you all these things.
So why is it then that leaders make decisions not to invest in growing their people?
Why do they choose to take no action and instead put off development?
What is the opportunity cost of this?
There is simply no logic. How can leaders be so strategically short-sighted… they want the outcome without putting in the investment. It simply does not work like that.
You want outcomes? Then make the right decisions and take the action to get them.
Otherwise, your people will leave, or be incapable. Either way, you don’t get what you want. And that is not leadership. That is a failure to lead.
Big leadership is what is required right now: big decisions and big action to create a future, one that is sustainable and relevant.
The three keys to great leadership during turbulence and change are:
- Focus specifically and only on the important
- Communication; and
- Build capability
There’s nothing surprising about any of these 3 things. What is surprising though is what appears to be the lack of leadership interest in the third key factor: building capability.
Building capability, equipping your people not just for now, but also for the future. Giving them not just the capability, but also the confidence to be part of the solution, the confidence to participate, the confidence to contribute.
Leaders are facing one of the most critical talent shortages in memory. Certainly, in my living memory. Never before have there been such widespread talent shortages across industries, across levels, across countries. Leaders need to do something differently. You need to get the right people, and then you need to keep them.
And all the evidence points to the importance of building capability as part of your retention strategy. This is more than making your people capable to do their jobs, it is about them having the feeling, the knowledge, that they are valued, that they are being invested in. This is key to keeping people engaged, motivated and loyal, wanting to be part of what you do. If you are a leader who does not invest in your people, why would they invest their loyalty in you?
Some of the conversations I am having at the moment seem to be very short-sighted. They are not strategic. They are focused on “Let’s not spend money on training, coaching, conferences, learning and development, leadership development….. building capability today.” “We will reconsider for next year.” “We will revisit this in another 6 or 12 months.”
You know what? Next year is too late. Another 6 months is too late.
The opportunity cost, the cost of inaction, of not making that commitment to invest in your people today, to build their capability, to help them to know that they are valued, that you are acknowledging them and that you want to grow them; the opportunity cost of that is going to be greater than you can pay because you have a capability shortfall and a talent shortage. You can’t just go and find another person, particularly not at the same level, who is prepared to give you the same level of effort and energy and time.
Leaders need to step up and make the big important decisions now. You need to plan and complete. You need to build capability both for now and for the future, because without it, you don’t have a future. Either because you don’t have the right level of capability to create solutions, options, and opportunities, or because your people have left. They have gone somewhere else where leaders do invest in growing their people.
It never ceases to amaze me that leaders think saving a few dollars now, in the scheme of things a drop in the ocean where they would get many times a return on investment, is a good decision. No, they choose to defer that. They procrastinate, they prevaricate, and then they wonder about the results they get. They wonder about dropping engagement, lower performance, decreased productivity, reduced connection, dropping retention, lower levels of loyalty, as people seek the things that are important to them.
Employees … people … want more from the experience of being and working in your organisation. They want more out of the experience of partnering with you as their leader, and you need to give them that.
So, my question for you is: what are the big decisions that you need to make?
What are the actions that you need to take to ensure that you are building capability and creating the possibility of a future for yourself, your tribe, and your organisation?
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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