We all like to think that everything would be better if we were in charge. But is it that easy? And until you get your shot, what should you be looking for? How can you spot the kind of people who can help bring out the best in you and your team.

Show Notes:

  • Nearly All Men Can Stand Adversity, But If You Want to Test a Man’s Character, Give Him Power. – Abraham Lincoln
  • Lots of People Want to Be the Noun Without Doing the Verb. — Austin Kleon, Author, Artist, Poet & Designer     
  • The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves
  • As a Leader You Owe Your Team 3 Basic Things:
    1. A Vision of Where You’re Headed
    2. Input to that Vision
    3. The Tools & Environment to Fulfill that Vision
  • The Vision Thing
  • 3 Simple Rules to Grow a Great Team:
    1. Support Your Performers
    2. Deal with the Rest
    3. If You’re Not Dealing with the Rest, You’re Not Supporting Your Performers
  • There’s a Difference Between Leading and Managing
  • I’ve Got Vision and the Rest of the World Wears Bifocals.

– Butch Cassidy, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

  • com, @NavigatingTheFustercluck

Transcript:

Welcome to Episode 3 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about leadership, or at least what passes for leadership these days.

We spent our first 2 episodes of Navaigating the Fustercluck talking about office politics. And mastering office politics is how a lot of people climb the ladder. Some by using them for good, most by gaming the game and manipulating people. (Sorry, but it’s true.)

Now let’s assume that you’re one of the good guys who managed to survive the gauntlet and grind of office politics in one piece and somehow end up as King or Queen of the Hill. You will now owe it to your fellow survivors to lead them and lead them well. Here are some things to keep in mind for when that day comes. You may also want to see if your current leadership is measuring up.

Nearly All Men Can Stand Adversity, But If You Want to Test a Man’s Character, Give Him Power.  – Abraham Lincoln

Welcome to leadership! After all that time thinking that you could do a better job than those in charge, now you get to prove it! It won’t be easy. It can, however, be rewarding. One of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. That’s why you take it on. To grow. Yourself, and most importantly, your team. And ultimately, your business. So, when things go wrong, remember this: look in the mirror first. Question your character before anyone else’s. People will respect you for it. And you’ll respect yourself.

Lots of People Want to Be the Noun Without Doing the Verb.                                    — Austin Kleon, Author, Artist, Poet & Designer     

Some people think a title brings semi-retirement. Two-hour lunches. Days full of finger pointing and pontificating. While in reality, leadership comes with much more than a title. It comes with responsibility. And stuff to do. Lots of stuff to do. That doesn’t mean micro-managing. It doesn’t mean trying to do everything yourself. It does, however, mean taking action. Of course, it helps if you actually have a vision and mission to act on. Lacking that, there’s usually an abundance of busy work created to mask a lack of productivity with activity. The exact wrong kind of action.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Command and control. Top-down. Authoritarian. Whatever you call it, old-fashioned management has not gone fully out of fashion. Now not many will admit that they follow this philosophy, but you may well experience it at some point or another. Just don’t practice it. It’s demoralizing, demeaning and won’t make your business a place people stay at or seek out. Fear is the enemy of creativity, so don’t aid and abet the enemy.

As a Leader You Owe Your Team 3 Basic Things:

1)   A Vision of Where You’re Headed

2)   Input to that Vision 

3)   The Tools & Environment to Fulfill that Vision

It’s simple. People need a sense of direction, some serious say (but not necessarily a veto) in mapping out which way to go and the culture and resources to make it all happen. Sadly, most outfits go 0-3. Why? Because #2 & #3 are contingent upon #1. And sadly, few in leadership roles provide such basic direction.

The Vision Thing

So what does a clear direction look like?                                                                     
Here are a few examples:

To provide access to the world’s information in one click. – Google                       
(Yep, they’re nailing it.)

Our mission is to create the most talked about work in the world. – Crispin.   (Earned media is the best media, so yes, earn more than anyone else.)

Fail harder. — Wieden & Kennedy                                                                             
 (When you’re competing against it more and more, it makes sense to take on a Silicon Valley attitude .)

We sell or else. – Ogilvy                                                                                                   
(Got it. It’s all about results. Work that works.)

3 Simple Rules to Grow a Great Team:

1)   Support Your Performers

2)   Deal with the Rest

3)   If You’re Not Dealing with the Rest, You’re Not Supporting Your Performers

Seems simple. Yet so many executives allow underachievers, outdated vets and personal pets to bring down their core team, taking focus off the work and placing it squarely upon their refusal to support their performers.

You can tell your performers to mind their own business, but in the end, it is their business. Their hours and energy covering for others, their trust that’s been eroded and their pride that you’ve now converted into festering frustration and embarrassment. As Gruenter and Whitaker say, The Culture of Any Organization is Shaped by the Worst Behavior the Leader is Willing to Tolerate. 

There’s a Difference Between Leading and Managing

Leadership is about seeding vision and change. Management is about feeding and watering that vision. Both are crucial. Both take brains. Both require action. Allow either to grow stagnant, and there’s trouble. Why? Because neither works without the other. It may all start with strategy, but without execution, you’ll never get to where you’re going. And without strategy, you may be headed in the exact wrong direction all together, no matter how well people are playing their individual roles. It’s up to your leadership to make sure things are headed in the right direction. And when necessary, change course.

Let’s Take a Short Breather…

…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast, or narrowcast with one final thought on leadership:

I’ve Got Vision and the Rest of the World Wears Bifocals.

– Butch Cassidy, Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

We’re attracted to visionary leaders. The ones who see things differently. Who make us feel that we’re part of something special. Eventually, however, they step

back or step away altogether. And who are they replaced by? Another visionary leader? Rarely. Leaders are usually replaced by managers. And like a driver so worried about staying on the road that he can only see past his hood ornament, managers miss the changing scenery and exits. Their GPS fails to reroute, and the business starts to veer off course. The business slowly gets lost. Then suddenly crashes. Without vision, it’s inevitable. Find a place that has vision, people, or you’ll crash with these folks!

Well, that about wraps up our third episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.

Tune in next time as we delve deeper into the topic of leadership. I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, here at Deaf Mule Studios. Thanks for listening in to our 3rd show. Until next time, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at Navigating F. And remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.