What do we mean by “Earn Your Position?” Doesn’t the simple fact that you’re already in your position positively establish that you have earned it? The short answer is, “No.” The opportunity and the responsibility to earn your position begins anew every day.
It is very easy to turn a leadership position into an administrative function, where you efficiently facilitate the status quo and “deal” with issues as they arise. You may sometimes appear quite busy in a flurry of activity, which can often resemble productivity, but still somehow your business always ends up where it began. Nothing fundamentally improves, and in fact, performance slowly but consistently deteriorates over time.
There’s a simple way to determine if you’re really earning your leadership position, or if you’re merely the Director of Chair Rearrangement on the Titanic.
Ask yourself these questions: “How is this organization different (more capable) today, than it was a year ago?” “How is it different because I was here?” And, “What improvement would not exist today had I not been in the leadership role?”
If you don’t have good answers to these questions, then you are not earning your position. And if you do, then make it more granular. “How is this a safer place to work because I am the leader?” And if you are truly making an impact, your people will be able to answer that question, about you, as well.
Leaders must have strong opinions about the things that matter in a business. By strong opinions, we mean your decisions and actions make it clear to everyone what you consider important. Everyone knows your expectations. If you’ve done this effectively with safety, then your people will be able to answer specifically the question as to “how they are safer and less likely to be injured doing their job?” Even more, they know the part you played in enhancing their safety! Imagine the goodwill generated for an organization and a leader by people who know that you have their personal wellbeing as a top priority. What more solid foundation could you lay than for your team to know that their health and lives matter, and that they matter to you?
Take advantage of your opportunity to earn your position and win the hearts and minds of your people every day. And don’t start with top or bottom-line issues, either. Those are important, but they are not foundational. Start with the need that everyone must have met first – their personal safety and wellbeing.