There are well over a million different public charities and foundations registered in the United States. With all of that generosity and unselfish giving comes an important question…“Why?” Why do people give? Why do they participate? Why do they contribute?
Contributing to something bigger than ourselves, in small or big ways is elementary to our DNA. It is part of what makes us human. We are born with an ability to step out of our daily existence and assess the world around us in order to determine where and how we can best help out. We act upon this ability for many reasons, but for most of us there is something deep inside that drives us to contribute to individual causes that are bigger than ourselves. We connect with specific beliefs, ideas, and needs on very personal, emotional levels. Essentially, contributing is a part of who we are.
Winning Leaders understand that this type of connection must also be felt within their organization as well. They know that in order to create a team of highly focused, passionate, and consistently performing individuals, they must act to create high levels of commitment in their team members to keep the internal fires burning.
So what creates this commitment? One element that helps to create commitment in the core of each of our team members is providing each of them specific ways to contribute. Each person desires to contribute to the efforts of the overall team, but they only want to if they feel that it is ultimately important enough to pour out their blood, sweat, and tears day in and day out. They must believe in the cause so deeply that they would never dream of turning their back and walking away from it.
Winning Leaders close Performance Gaps through creating a shared vision for their entire team by laying a foundation of belief every single day. There is not a moment for them that goes by without inspiring or motivating the team around the elements that connect to this vision. They create stump speeches, they make the business cases, they explain and demonstrate specific processes, and they explain the “why’s” of change. They move individuals to a highly committed level by giving them reasons to perform every single day.
These leaders allow and encourage everyone to contribute at a high level beyond just doing the mundane, everyday tasks. They involve them, they challenge them, and they delegate important tasks and responsibilities to them and then empower them to take action. These leadership behaviors show that the team members are valued, respected and expected to be actively involved in decision-making through their contributions, opinions and observations.
They are consulted with on most issues that directly impact them, the organization and their customers. They want and need to have a voice and the Winning Leader gives them that voice. They yearn to play a bigger role in the future of their team and these leaders give them those roles.
Winning Leaders understand, embrace and act upon their team’s yearnings to contribute. They ask questions of their team members before they make important strategic decisions. Certainly, when the time comes to make the final decisions, the Winning Leaders step up and do so with confidence, strength, and E.D.G.E. (Energy, Decisiveness, Greatness, and Expectations), but before they do so they weigh all of the information at their disposal. They review the data, facts, and the opinions from each of their team members. They talk to the people who live on the front line with the customers to hear what is happening…really happening…in the field. They take all of that information and use it to communicate a clear, believable, and passionate vision. It is that shared vision that their team members will believe in, become committed to, and ultimately act upon.
Teams will contribute to the things that they understand and believe in. Competence, confidence and belief create the commitment that delivers action. It is up to us, as Winning Leaders, to lead our teams to take action by providing them with the knowledge, the skills and the belief in the things that are most important in our worlds. We do that by solidly and proactively closing the Knowledge and Importance Gaps. We must then provide the cultural expectation of “contribution” to leverage the passionate commitment of the hearts, minds and spirits of our team.