I believe in humility and gratitude. So often in life, we forget to just stop and be grateful. In business, we are on this continuous quest to obtain more. It’s a compelling merry-go-round that leads us round and round. But there is a better approach, one that will fulfill you. It’s that of being a humble and gracious servant to your clients, stakeholders, and teams.
In the first part of my career, my job was to push my teams. I was charged with delivering the technical portion on time, in budget, and to the requirements. Push. push. push. I was young, ambitious, and a Type A driver. My mind was on measuring performance and results. It never occurred to me that I could achieve more by focusing on the soft skills. While I helped my teammates, project results were my guiding principles. I was so blind.
As my career advanced, my focus shifted to empowering people. It’s a different mindset, one that measures how a person grows over time.
What about results? Stick with me and I’ll reveal a secret that will blow your mind.
The Project-centric Focus Culture
Most of the corporations I’ve ever worked for had a project management culture. What do I mean by that? Everything is centered on and measured by the project’s metrics. Think about how you measure a project. You measure them by budget, timeline, deliverables, changes, and customer feedback.
Look at those metrics. No, seriously take a hard look at them. Do you see your team in any of them? Do you see anything about helping your teammates grow? Is there anything in there about improving the quality of our “work life?” How about improving processes? No. It’s all about the project.Pro Tip: The people on your team do not operate like projects.
But projects have a short lifecycle. They last weeks, months, or, in the case of many of ours, years. Still, they are not infinite. Rather, they are short-term focused.Pro Tip: A better business strategy is to grow your team and culture. Invest in your people. Click To Tweet
The people on your team and in your company do not operate the same as a project. They are feeling human beings who need to be fulfilled. They need to be valued and appreciated, just like you do. They need to know that what they do matters and is making a difference. They need to feel connected. And they need to grow. People are long-term focused.
The People-centric Focus Culture
One day the light bulb turned for me. I got off the merry-go-round of project-centric focus. I wanted to give my time to helping people. I shifted into staff management and then leadership. My world changed.
What about results? I knew you were still thinking about results.
When a company shifts its focus to empowering and building their teams, something magical happens. At first, the results may dip. That’s scary for the bean counters and those who measure by projects. I remember a lot of heated discussions on the direction we were going and how short my leash was.
But then something amazing happened. Our costs went down as our productivity went up. People spent more time upfront, thinking about different alternatives and solutions. They spend less time on the road and in a reactive mode. Innovation went up.
At first, it was gradual. Then over time, it continued to exponentially grow. And here’s the kicker. It was sustainable.Write this down: You deliver results by the people on your team. Grow each team member.
Why? People do the work. You serve your clients and market by the people on your team. Write that down. Never forget that companies deliver results by the people on your team.
By focusing on our people, they grew in their abilities. Their dedication grew. They were more aligned to the company’s vision and mission. Their minds and creativity explored new ideas that we had never realized. We were building a culture where people wanted to give of themselves.
As a leader, I was a servant to people. I was grateful and so incredibly humbled by the response and results.
Learning Humility and Gratitude
Then I got sick. We watched them take everything from us, a lifetime of stuff was wiped away. Our home, cars, savings, company, my career, and everything was gone. The next few years broke me down.
I thought I was humble. I thought I knew what appreciation was. I thought I was giving and caring before I got sick. Boy, was I so wrong. I still cared about stuff and my position in life.
Chapter 2 of my life stripped me down to the bare nuts and bolts of survival. Our missing ingredients were gratitude and humility.
I experienced gratitude for the first time when I sat outside and watched a bird in flight. When someone thanked me for answering his software question, I was truly humbled and honored. I get it now. It’s not about me at all. It’s about those you serve.
The formula we had before I got sick worked and helped our company to grow. But we could have done more. We could have been better servants to our clients and people. I see that now. The missing ingredients were gratitude and humility.
Be a Humble and Grateful Servant
Let me help you now. Listen up.
Stop focusing on just project-centric metrics, performance, and results. This focus is one-sided and short-term. It’s the wrong strategy.
Instead, focus on building your teams and culture. For each win, stop and give praise. Be appreciative of each person who helped. Even the little wins are worthy of giving praise. Listen to me. Stop focusing on just project results. That’s the wrong strategy.
When you build a company that lives by this creed, your company will grow and do so much more. You will build loyal, happy employees. By empowering them, they will delight your clients. It will amaze you what your team will accomplish.
Happy Teams Happily Do More
Happy, empowered teams happily do more. They are loyal, creative, and innovative.
And what happens when you build a loyal team? They go the extra mile to make the company profitable, increase quality, and stay. Did you catch the last one? Happy teams stay, which reduces your turnover.
Turnover is very costly and disruptive. You’ve invested a huge amount of knowledge capital into each person. If they leave, you’ve lost.
Here’s one more thing that you get. Ready? You are contributing to a better world. Maybe that sounds fluffy and doesn’t jive with your MBA sense. Okay, I get that. But happy teams do more. Write that down and focus on it.
Put your ego aside. It’s not about you. Have humility. Be grateful to each person on your team. And tell them often. Listen to me. Life is short. Build something of quality and meaning in this world. Go do it now.