We’re A Team, Not A Family
There are many words I’d use to describe my husband, Garry. He’s passionate, intelligent, insightful, witty, honest, and sacrificially kind. But he’s not nice. In fact, I don’t think anyone has ever used that word to describe him. I don’t mean to say he’s mean, but his actions and words are just not nice.
Here’s an example: In leading our firm, BASE4, he has to make tough decisions with clients and team members alike. The “4” in Base4 stands for our four values: humility, honesty, respect, and fun. Together we work on talent management via the servant leadership model whereby the role of the leadership is to serve team members with the tools they need for success– namely, empowering them with the right training, freedom, and opportunities to grow professionally. We have a world-class training department and team members can try out their talents and skills without timecards, micromanagement, or hierarchical red tape.
With this freedom comes the responsibility to show initiative and be a self-starter.
All of these decisions come out of the servant leadership model, but servant leadership isn’t nice leadership. At the end of the day, a true servant leader speaks truth when someone is not giving 100% of their best efforts or when tough calls need to be made. And speaking truth and making hard choices isn’t nice- even when it’s honest and right. Servant leaders simply prioritize empowering others to be their best–instead of being nice.
We’re a team, not a family.
When it comes to business, many leaders shy away from tough calls. They don’t say what they think, challenge mediocrity, or expect people to grow. They often just hint at necessary changes or don’t bother to notice stagnation in individual team members.
When you break down such “nice” leadership, it comes from a place of arrogance: not expecting of others what you expect from yourself.
What is it about being leaders that makes us believe only we can give 100% through the challenges; that only we have the special ability to learn wildly new skills or increase our productivity, efficiency, and quality of our craft? I call it arrogance, and instead of seeing our teams as our equals, we lower expectations and accept less-than.
Not only does such arrogance damage your bottom line, it also hurts your teams.
People want to rise to awesome challenges and increase their own professional abilities. They desire triumph and expect to develop themselves, in work, life, and leadership. Helping your teammates reach these milestones takes radical humility– believing others are just as capable as you of dynamic growth trajectories. It takes honesty- respectfully calling out when team members and clients do not live up to their end of the deal and calling them higher. Success for us and our teams means choosing leadership that serves, coaches, and inspires– and usually it’s not nice.
Drs. Garry and Jodi Vermaas