This quote from Brene Brown is echoed in some way by each of the leadership and organizational design thought leaders. Her main point is that as a leader your first job is to make sure people know what results you want them to achieve and why.

Is it to make money? Is it to scale, be acquired, and be rich? Is it to change the experience of your customers?

Jeffrey Hazlett, CEO at the C-Suite Network, told me, “CEOs think in terms of either their organization is about making a profit, or they have a purpose. Neither in and of themselves is wrong. Both make money. Both have an impact, and both can be motivating for the right people.”

That comment struck me hard. Being agnostic about purpose or profit is good. However, too many executives fall short in picking one and then ensuring everyone knows the best outcome and why. 

I am working with a leader who told his team “We must be flexible and fluid”. When asked what the boundaries around the work look like to maintain efficiency while practicing flexibility – I got crickets. I can be very flexible and fluid, but it might cost the company more money, is that what they want?

If people have to decide between reducing cost and spending more to fulfill a customer’s expectation, where’s the line?

Why is this important? Because it is in the day-to-day… down in the trenches decisions that matter to your people. If you want them to take ownership of the work, then be clear on the outcome you expect. Anything else causes confusion, demotivates, and disheartens your people. 

Over time, it creates so much frustration because of the rework and expense of time, effort, and attention that you’ll see people do the bare minimum if they stay and good people leave. 

In other words, be clear about your expectations. As a leader, your impact can be seen not only in the day-to-day tactical work, but also in setting strategy goals. By committing to being a more intentional communicator, you will find your team’s motivation increases proportionally.