Twenty years ago, I was promoted into a significant leadership leap in my career. I doubled my salary and tripled my responsibility overnight, and it set up my next ten years like I didn’t fully realize at the time.
I was 32.
And I received some of the best advice in my life from my first leader at FranklinCovey. This will be controversial for some readers, because it may be counterintuitive to what you’ve been taught, but I repeat, it’s the best professional advice I’ve ever received.
Shortly after my promotion, which made me the youngest associate in the firm to ever hold this role and level of financial responsibility at the time, the leader who had recruited me six years earlier called me and said:
“Scott, you need to be very thoughtful about how you spend your time going forward. The fact of the matter is that fifteen years from now, nobody working for you will remember if you crushed or missed your second-quarter EBITDA goal. Exactly nobody will remember if you missed or made your margin goals or top-line growth expectations in your third fiscal year. The people reporting to you will remember how they were treated. How their skills grew. How their income increased. How they were able to provide for their families, take vacations, make memories. Fund college and life-saving surgeries. That’s what your legacy will be. How they were able to build and develop their brands and expand their influence because their business acumen grew or they became more self-aware of their blind spots—because you had the courage to tell them."
This is what you will be remembered for.
Now, you can’t leave that legacy if you’re not in the role. So to stay in the role, you need to meet (and exceed) your second-quarter EBITDA goal. You must crush your margin or top-line growth expectations, because if you miss them continuously, you won’t have the role, the influence, the budget, or the authority to invest in and build people’s careers. Without the job, you can’t change lives.”
I’ve never forgotten this, and hopefully those who have reported to me see some congruence in the concept I’ve shared and how they felt reporting to me.
We’re on the front side of a tsunami of transition. The hostage holding is over. With the post-pandemic economic boom, your colleagues now have choices. And if you’re not re-recruiting your associates now, you will most definitely be spending all your time recruiting new ones to replace them in a few months.
Don’t forget your main contribution as a leader.
You’ve been warned. Govern yourselves accordingly.
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