How Leaders Create the Reliability Advantage

This is a guest post by Lee J. Colan, Ph.D. Lee Colan and Julie Davis Colan co-authored The 5 Coaching Habits of Excellent Leaders. They also co-founded The L Group in 1999 to equip and inspire leaders at every level: personal, team and organizational.

 

The Reliability Advantage

Consider this scenario: It’s early February. Jack Samuels, a sales director for a large logistics company, just landed back in Chicago and is now driving to his suburban home from the airport. He pulled off a successful pitch to a new customer in Dallas earlier that day, his final ticket to punch before the promised promotion to a VP role. The thrill of victory is running through his veins as he considers not only the pitch but also how he arrived on time against all odds. As he sits in standstill traffic with worsening road conditions from ice, Jack reflects on his team. Team members pulled off a big win by reliably performing their roles despite a series of obstacles, and it yielded the desired result for all involved.

Jack’s mind drifts to all the others he had to rely on today to make the pitch possible. He realizes that he couldn’t have even made it to the meeting in Dallas without a series of people from the airline team doing their jobs reliably: the curbside attendant quickly checking him in and tagging the big box of presentation boards to beat the 30-minute deadline, the gate agent persistently paging his name to ensure he was not left behind, the flight attendants politely hustling passengers into their seats, the de-icers timing their process just right, the pilots doing their dozens of checks to ensure all were safe, the baggage guys who loaded and unloaded his big box of materials, and the maintenance and food service teams who are invisible to Jack but, no doubt, played a part.

Then Jack’s appreciation deepens as he thinks of their monumental task of delivering reliable performance many, many times each day through hundreds of teams and thousands of team members. He is motivated to boost his personal reliability each day so that he can inspire more reliable performance from his team, an even bigger team with his pending promotion.

You might have experienced a similar scenario at some point where, like Jack, you could see and appreciate the connection between personal and team reliability and its profound impact on the customer.

 

“Reliability is a team sport.” -Lee Colan

 

We all inherently value reliability. It goes way beyond our air travel needs. Every day we value:

  • Reliable cars that save time and money on repairs.
  • Reliable mail that gets delivered on time.
  • Reliable investments that deliver expected returns.
  • Reliable cell phone service to stay connected.
  • Reliable vendors who show up on time.
  • Reliable restaurants that serve quality food and give good service.
  • Reliable friends and colleagues who do what they say.

Each of these outcomes we value is achieved by a team even though, in some cases, an individual is delivering the service.  Reliability is a team sport, and like any team sport, it requires a good coach.

Of course, we all know the results of dealing with unreliable people and teams. They cost us more time and money, two things we all would like more of. Further, unreliability costs us more frustration and more stress, two things we would all like less of.  Our organization has coached, trained and equipped more than 100,000 leaders to elevate their leadership since 1999.  It has been evident that being an excellent coach is central to being an excellent leader. So, it’s no surprise that much of our time is spent helping clients become better coaches, and ultimately better leaders.

 

“You must be personally reliable before you can coach your team to generate reliable results.” -Lee Colan

 

From Reliability to Profitability

4 Ways to Get Appreciated at Work

 

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  -William James

 

Undervalued

 

Usually, I would run into my friend at the gym.  He was always full of energy, smiling, and lifting more weight than seemed humanly possible.

One day, I was leaving when I noticed him arriving at the gym.  He was walking slower than normal with his shoulders slumped.  His trademark smile was missing.

Though I really didn’t have time to talk, I asked him how he was.

“I’m good,” he responded, a bit too quickly and with an even less convincing acting job than he realized.

 

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  -William James

 

“Want to grab a cup of coffee and chat for a minute?” I asked.

We sat down at a table with our coffee.  I’m not one to waste much time and jumped right to the issue.

“What’s up?  You are clearly down.  Why?  What’s going on in your life?”

“I don’t know.  The Preds lost last night.”

I knew him well enough to know that his hockey team losing a game was not the cause of his change in attitude.  Here was a guy who would regularly bounce off of walls with his energy.

I didn’t even need to say anything.  He could read skepticism in my face.  If he missed it, I would recommend he check his vision.

“Ok.  I just feel unappreciated at work.  I turn something in, and I just get overloaded with more and more.  Every once in a while, a little recognition would be nice.  Maybe a bonus?  Heck, even a beer would be cool.”

Appreciation.  It’s what William James says is the greatest human need.

Stay at home moms (or dads):  you know what this is about more than most.  Thankless chores.  Constant demands.  And the world shows little respect for your efforts.

 

“I praise loudly. I blame softly.” -Catherine the Great

 

Reasons Your Boss Does Not Appreciate Your Work

 

There are many reasons you may be unappreciated at work.

Here are a few:

You’re not doing a good job.

You’re boss doesn’t realize the work you are doing.

Your boss is overworked and overwhelmed.

Your boss is a jerk.

Your boss isn’t skilled in recognizing others.

Your boss has childhood issues and needs therapy.

 

I shared with my friend some ideas for him to consider:

You should change your perspective.

More work may equal appreciation.  Your boss may be recognizing your good work by giving you more work.  He may not be expressing it in the way that you want to hear it, but for some people this is how it works.  More work = great job!  When you think of it that way, you may find ways to utilize this for your benefit.