Let Go of Who You Think You Are and Become Who You Know You Need to Be

Some people in formal leadership positions try to use fear to control others. Why? Because they themselves are afraid. They fear failure (and success), they fear the employees, they fear customers, and they fear the “higher ups” be they on the board, The Street, or upper management. This fear turns them into petty tyrants who spend their days “putting out fires” and aging prematurely.
What’s the alternative? Well, there are many options. You can go as high as the man who co-Founded South West Airlines, Herb Kelleher, and love your employees (ironically, Southwest is based at Love Field and their stock symbol is LUV). But there are intermediate steps available and that may be where to start. Try these on for size:

Juice 1: Find out what the core values of your team are and start talking about values every single day. Nothing is more boring than a quarterly meeting about numbers (no juice there).

Juice 2: Connect your team to a Higher Purpose. Things like putting a man on the moon (Kennedy), making the sky open to everyone (Kelleher), making cars affordable for everyone (Ford) or providing over the top customer service (Zappos). Answer this question: “why in the hell are we doing what we are doing beyond just making more money?”

Juice 3: Connect yourself to your team. Herb Kelleher, was totally connected to every employee in Southwest Airlines. Tony Hsieh of Zappos has a cube right in the middle of the Call Center. General Stanley McChrystal went out on night missions with his special operators (he refused to stay in the rear with the gear). There is no juice in sitting behind the desk and then lumbering out for drinks because you’ve had such a “hard day.”

Go for the juice. Let go of who you think you are and become who you know you need to be. That is what leaders do. You can do it too.