“Leaders don’t force people to follow-they invite them on a journey.” -Charles S. Lauer
The fundamental question behind the desire to manage rather than lead is, “How can I get people to do what I want them to do if they do not want to do it?” Failure to answer this question is what leads so many managers to lead by force and threat of force. The answer to this question is simple. You must create a vision for your staff, which allows them to achieve what they want by achieving what you want. This is what I will refer to as a shared goal, vision, or sense of purpose. I have discussed the idea of selling a sense of purpose in the past. Today I want to go deeper into how to develop it.
“As a leader you should always start with where people are before you try to take them to where you want them to go.” -Jim Rohn
The first step in developing a shared goal is to understand the goals of your staff. You are aware of your goals. Before setting out a roadmap to achieve them, you must know where your staff is starting. Their goals could be as easy as making more money or more complex. These goals could include the ability to work more, less, in a nicer restaurant, or with more motivated people. Some staff members could be looking to advance into other positions while others want to make more when they work to allow them to work less. Once you understand these individual goals you can create a vision that allows them to achieve them by working towards your goal.
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” -Dwight Eisenhower
Once you have a grasp on what your staff wants to achieve, you can sell them on your goal. If you goal is simply to increase sales, you must show them how their goals will be achieved by doing so. A student or single parent can work less because they make more per shift. A full time server can get more hours because more servers will be needed each shift. To fill the void new servers will need to be hired creating the need for more trainers. It may even create a new management position (or two if you are so successful you get promoted.) My father’s first rule of life is, “No one will fight your battles for you.” Your staff will not work to achieve your goals. They will work to achieve a mutual goal if it benefits them.
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” -Max DePree
With a goal in place, and a staff convinced it will help them, everything else will begin to fall into place. With every change you implement you must relate it back to how it moves everyone closer to the shared goal. If a new promotion is introduced, explain how it will drive sales and help them. When prices go up, explain how it will better help you provide them with the tools they need to do their job well. Everything must relate back to the shared goal. If you cannot find a way to relate a change back to the goal, reanalyze it. You cannot advocate competing goals. Either a change helps you achieve the goal or it should not be implemented.
“Leadership is getting someone to do what they don’t want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve.” -Tom Landry
This does not mean scrapping an idea just because it is unpopular. Extra cleaning projects, discounted entrees, new uniforms, and a myriad of other unpopular ideas might be vital to achieving the mutual goal. Nothing great is ever achieved without sacrifice. Accept that your staff does not enjoy a particular change while emphasizing that it will bring everyone closer to their goals. Having a shared goal will not make every idea popular. Showing how it moves them towards the shared purpose will make it a far easier pill for them to swallow though.
“Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.” -Edwin H. Friedman
Once you have developed a shared sense of purpose, leadership comes naturally. You are no longer seen as someone who is managing a staff. Instead you are leader showing them the way to achieve a goal. In order to maintain this image, there are several more keys to remember. You still must always lead by example and empower others to do their best. As you continue to improve on your skills as a leader the people around you will find themselves getting better as well. Still the first step is creating the shared goal.
This is one part of a six part series on leadership. The overview of the series and links to the other parts can be found here. You might also find useful my previous series on “how to motivate servers” or one of my other posts on management.
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