Saturday, September 10, 2016

Bigger, Broader, and Deeper

What is the mindset of a successful organization? And, how does a leader set a standard of excellence that never dissolves? Recently, the answer punched me right in the face. As I listened to my daily podcast, author and pastor Craig Groeschel said, “Leaders must think higher, see broader, and care deeper.” At last, a eureka moment. He was not just describing a leader’s mindset, but he was describing the effects of effective leadership on an organization. This was ABSOLUTELY profound. As leaders of an organization, we must do three things every chance we get. We must inspire our people to

1. Think bigger (higher)
2. See broader
3. And care deeper

Think bigger. I honestly believe that the first step in growth is to have a think bigger mindset. As an educator and professional, I must continually try to think bigger and aspire for better. Thinking bigger is not just a leader issue, it’s an everyone issue. In the best organizations, everyone develops this think bigger and higher mindset. Let’s face it, if I’m the only one thinking higher than that is not leadership, that’s a personal goal. We have to inspire and challenge our people daily. We must communicate where we are and where we want our organization to go. We must incessantly reflect, then continue to chase the finish line.

“Every organization’s default mode is complacency.” (Groeschel, 2016) Now I realize this sounds harsh. And, maybe you're thinking, that’s not us. BUT STOP. There is some truth here. It is really easy just to show up to work, do your job, go home, and then do it again. When this routine sinks deep, then growth stops, and you have fallen into complacency mode. And just for the record, I have operated in the zone many, many times. As leaders, it is our job to live differently, see more, operate with an owner’s mindset, and inspire greatness. We must ask ourselves daily IF DEFAULT MODE IS COMPLACENCY THEN WHAT ARE WE DOING EVERY DAY TO IGNITE PASSIONS AND MAXIMIZE PERFORMANCE?

In short, we must challenge everyone to think bigger.

See Broader. The organization becomes EXPONENTIALLY stronger when our people see what we see. Sometimes as leaders we operate as owners and see the big picture. Our people will never perform this way unless we openly communicate our vision every single day. When staff members begin acting as owners, instead of employees, they see changes that need to be made before the leader does and create channels of upward communication. Let’s face, it is their boots on the ground; and they if effectively communicated, see the changes needed to grow the organization. However, these changes are never recognized unless you instill an owner’s mentality in your people.

One of my favorite stories involves an overflowed sandwich shop during lunch hour. As a guy waited in line to order a sub, he watched as two sandwich makers worked calmly to fix sandwiches (and by calm I mean they were taking way too long) while another employee ran frantically back and forth cleaning tables, pouring drinks, checking out people, and fixing sandwiches when he could. So when the patron got to the front of the line, he asked, “How long have you been the owner?” What he was watching were two different mindsets. The employees were satisfied with producing whatever they did at a slow pace. After all, it is not their store, and they are only getting paid by the hour. On the other hand, the owner showed extreme ownership over the store’s success. He saw key issues and fixed them. So often I think leaders see problems, fix them, then move on; which produces followers. In this system, people overlook issues and wait for the leader to fix it. However, what we must create is a new mindset, an owner mindset, where leaders produce more leaders. When an organization is focused on growing more leaders with owner-like mindsets, then the entire organization gets stronger.

Care deeper. The third truth is simple, where is your heart? Have you ever been around someone that you could just tell their heart was not in it? Of course you have, and no matter the disguise they try to mask it with, it’s obvious. When we care deeper, operate with more passion, purpose, and compassion, people notice; and this is infectious. What I have learned is that deep care of you people trickles down to their treatment of others. For this very reason, caring deeper maybe the single most important element in this formula. People who care, do not see their jobs as work, but rather a passion. One of my favorite quotes is from Simon Sinek, a leadership expert. He said, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.”

As leaders, we must invigorate our people to treat others with love. We must kindle a passion from within everyone because caring deeper is infectious. In education, this care can be felt by students, parents, and the community; and as educational leaders, we must inspire this type of heart, or as we tell our staff routinely, “You have to burn HOT!”

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