Updated: Aug 25, 2019
“Just do it!”
Haven’t we all been there? Haven’t there been times in our lives as leaders, parents, coaches, etc., where our team members keep challenging us, questioning us, or pushing us around the reasons for us asking them to do something? As a result, we try to explain, we try to reason, we try to inspire, and the whole time our minds are thinking, “Just do it!”
This is very common, especially if we are the type of leader I like to think of as the “Direct and Inspect Leader” who essentially tells his team what to do and then follows up to ensure that they are doing it without a lot of the soft skills necessary to motivate people around the “whys” behind the required action.
“Direct and Inspect” is an old philosophy, most likely driven through generational differences from the “Greatest Generation” and “Baby Boomer Generations” that many of us grew up in. My dad said, “Go get me a wrench” and I went to get him a wrench. I didn’t question him. I didn’t think about it. I just did it. That is how I was raised. In today’s world of the GenX and GenY workforce however, the “Just Do It” approach delivers minimal results and maximum frustration.
Today, more than ever we need to tap into the hearts and minds of our team before we ever can impact what they do with their hands.
Do we need to provide high quality training and teaching to our team members? Yes, of course we do. Skills and knowledge are the foundation of behavioral performance. We all need to know what to do and how to do it; these build competence, and with competence come confidence and commitment. If we don’t understand something or we haven’t practiced it enough to the point where we have developed strong habits that perform at a high level, we will always feel unsure of ourselves, and therefore won’t be fully committed to doing it.
Past the basic learning process that we all go through however, is something that has a much more powerful influence on our team’s behaviors. That is the area of importance. In all generations, but even more so today, our team members need to understand and agree to a task’s importance before they ever feel compelled to do it. They need to know the “why” behind it. They need to feel the “why” behind it. It must be so crucial in their way of thinking and feeling that they proactively, intentionally and emphatically tackle it. If it is something that they just feel is another unimportant duty, they may still do it because you told them to, but they won’t put their hearts into it and will, therefore, deliver mediocre and inconsistent results.
Often times we attempt to impact our team’s spirit through information, facts, or details. Reasoning with someone in order to get them to buy into the task won’t always work however. Trying to impact emotions through intellect is trying to impact one side of the brain by using the other side of the brain and this is extremely difficult and nearly impossible.
The best way to involve emotions to create importance is to understand each team member and the overall culture of the team as a whole. What is personally important to them? What is driving the current areas where the team is winning today? What are those specific motivators that get the team members up each morning? As a leader, we need to look for these things, dissect them and understand them so that we can repeat those motivators around the things that are most important to our business. In other words, we need to observe. We need to ask questions and we need to listen. We need to care about our team and give them what they want and need to do their best job possible.
“Just Do It” just doesn’t do it anymore. For ourselves we just need to be present for our teams and just give them the attention and support they deserve. Then they will feel the importance and just take action.