On Your Mark, Get Set, Lead

business starting block


This has been a very interesting week. Early in the week, I was fortunate enough to speak to a group of college students working through an organization’s summer intern program. Later in the week I conducted a local seminar that was attended by managers and supervisors with decades of management experience. What a wide gap in leadership and life experiences.

These young interns had anywhere from six months to two years of college remaining. At the end of college they will seek employment. When asked how many wanted to pursue a position of leadership, all hands were raised.

I truly believe the most important leader we will all experience is the first one. They can place you years ahead or years behind other leaders in your first six months as a new leader. This can be overcome later in a career but why not start out ahead instead of catching up.

If you have read any of our website you know we believe in two mindsets of leadership: the boss employee and the Leader Owner Mindset. My hope is that each one of these interns has the opportunity to initially work with a strong Leader Owner Mindset Leader.

Here is how I hope it plays out for each intern:

Education: Each new leader is given the tools and training to be successful in their position. They must be familiar with every leadership tool available. These include but are not limited to: Training, Establishment of KRA’s (Key Result Areas), Praise, Communication, Listening Skills, Feedback, Constructive Criticism, Performance Improvement Plans, Different Levels of Discipline and Termination.

Engagement: The company culture, expectations, progress, suggestions for improvement and praise are discussed and documented with the new leader on a regular basis. If this takes place and is also required of the new leader with their team, it will become a habit that will be carried through a career. If not, it will also be a habit that will be carried through a career.

Accountability: After Education and Engagement, the new leader must be held totally Accountable for results. If total Accountability is required, it will be passed through every level of the organization.

We have a few simple questions that can determine the level of Education, Engagement and Accountability in an organization.

1. Name one example of improved profitability or customer service as a result of your intentional actions in the past 12 months. ________ (Ability to answer quickly determines Intentional vs. Accidental Leadership. Note: Does not include solving day-today problems.)

2. Number of hours spent in training in the past 12 months? ______ (Measures Education and Development)

3. Not counting annual reviews, how many documented one-on-one discussions of the company culture, vision, expectations, personal progress or praise have occurred in the past 12 months? ____. (Measures Engagement)

4. Number of team members placed on a performance improvement plan or level of discipline in the past 12 months? ____. (Measures Improvement and Accountability)

Improve these answers; improve Efficiency and Morale.

I hope each intern will someday write this letter.

Question: What are some of the lessons you remember from your first leader? (Good or Bad)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.