In my previous BizGuide, entitled: Company Success Factors, I identified a “winning can-do attitude” to be one of the key indicators of a company’s future success. The bottom line is that successful people do not accomplish their goals single handedly but rather by assembling and building a great team, motivating them regularly and leading by example through action. My perspective is that this “can do” spirit has to start from the top.
Management, in practice, is the process of achieving company objectives through the efforts of a group of people and other resources. This process consists of a number of interrelated functions including, planning, organizing, directing/leading and controlling.
While planning, organizing, and controlling functions can be automated with tools, effective leadership hinges on attitude and soft communication skills. Your team’s motivation levels will affect their performance when carrying out tasks, differentiating the directing/leading function from the other three. In order to reach the company’s goals, the CEO, and the full management team have to create a winning can-do attitude environment that will inspire and motivate everyone in the company.
The first step to creating a winning attitude is to establish it as a pillar within your company’s high level goals. Set the expectation that each individual contributor should promote and practice a winning can-do attitude. The absence of it is not an option. Clarity of this as a corporate objective should compel each member of your team to decide between joining and rowing in the same direction or getting off the boat.
Individual beliefs can be either a positive motivator or a psychological barrier for a person to achieve their goals and develop a winning attitude. An interesting case in point is the four (4) minute mile barrier that, for many years, no athlete was able to break. Many did not believe that running one mile, or 1,760 yards, in less than 4 minutes was possible. It wasn’t until 1954 that Roger Bannister, a medical student from England with a strong positive attitude, broke this barrier by running a mile in 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds. Since that event, the barrier has been broken by many runners proving it to be a more of a psychological barrier than a physical one.
I’ve identified some of the key parameters that form the foundation of a can-do winning environment in any company.
- Ask for Forgiveness Not Permission – When timing is of the essence, your team must feel, and be, empowered to take actions and make decisions based on facts and analysis, rather than waiting for a decision from upper management.
- Solve the Headache with a Pill – When presented with a difficult situation; ask your team to always identify a number of potential solutions to the problem. This allows them to be included in the resolution, and shortens the time it takes to solve the issue.
- Find One Way to Solve the Problem, Not Nine Ways to Say No – Simply put, this is the power of yes! Encourage your team to be solution oriented and remind them to look for the key that will open the door instead of focusing on the difficulty associated the specific lock itself.
- Stay Action Oriented – Follow the advice of Wayne Gretzky, the famous and highly successful NHL hockey player, who coined the phrase: “You miss 100% of the shots you do not take”. In 1998 Nike, the shoe company launched a new marketing campaign with the slogan “Just Do It”. Both of these quotes provide a clear and concise message, emphasizing and promoting the importance of being action oriented.
- Under Promise, Over Deliver – Each employee must be aware of the baseline expectations for their positions. The baseline should represent the floor in terms of performance when carrying out their tasks rather than the ceiling when executing and delivering on their activities.
In addition to creating an environment to embrace the can-do attitude, the CEO and the management team also need to continually motivate their team via personal and public acknowledgements of outstanding performance. Remind your team that they were selected to be in the company because they are good at what they do, that they are highly capable of excellent performance, and most importantly, to believe in themselves. As Christopher Robin told Winnie the Pooh “you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
It’s worth noting that creating the environment is only one piece of the puzzle to enable individual contributors to develop and practice a can-do attitude. The more important factor is that the person has to have the belief in their ability to make the right choice and be able to take the necessary steps to become a can-do individual.