In Action, Leaders, Vision

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” – Ben Stein

I’ve been reminded on several occasions this week of a common struggle among business owners & leaders (at least it’s common to the ones I’ve been around). Most individuals leading organizations want their people to be happy, which is certainly a noble and worthwhile idea. Of course we want our employees to be happy and engaged and productive and all those kinds of things.

The struggle comes from too many leaders going too far. Employees grumble about something and immediately management feels like that have to make some kind of concession to keep the peace. This happens over and over again. Eventually the leaders have gone so far that they are no longer happy with the business. They’ve sacrificed values or profitability or culture or growth or some other thing that’s valuable to them, and the result is they aren’t happy. And guess what – their employees keep on grumbling!

As a leader, you have to create the organization that fits your vision. While keeping employees happy & engaged is important, in the end some people just aren’t a fit. If your employees aren’t happy about something, successfully solving the problem doesn’t necessarily mean they stay. Sometimes people need to go, and as a leader you not only have to be OK with that, but you might have to encourage it.

Take time to clearly lay out that vision. Make sure you understand what’s really critical to you and what you are absolutely not willing to compromise. Once you know it, make sure you communicate it throughout the organization so there is no question what you and the organization are about.

I’m not suggesting that if the vending machine in the break room has Pepsi and your employees want Coke that you fire them all. What I’m saying is you cannot create an organization that exists solely to make employees happy at the expense of everything else.

It’s your business to lead. You can and should be flexible, and adaptable, and concerned about employee happiness. But in the end, your job is to create an organization that is what you want it to be.  Not everyone will want to be part of it, and that’s OK. Wish them good luck, tell them good bye, and get back to work.


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