What if I told you that the worst thing a leader can do is focus on the bottom line? Would you believe me or would you have your doubts? I mean, after all, many leaders are fired because they fail to raise the bottom line, right? This is as true for coaches of professional athletes as it is for top CEOs in any company. If the teams don’t win, the coaches get fired. If the company doesn’t make money, the leaders get fired. The bottom line matters—you know it and they know it. If it matters so much, then doesn’t it make sense for leaders across the board to focus on raising those damn numbers?
No—at least not in the way we usually think about it. Far too many leaders—and coaches—come into a failing company or team and anxiously focus on getting the wins, saving money, cutting costs and getting the maximum they can out of their employees/players. CEOs worry about overtime, benefits, bonuses and getting the maximum output from their employees. Coaches focus on whipping the players into shape, working them to the bone and critiquing them to perfection. And while all of these measures are a part of leadership, ideally they are the ripple effect of great leadership—rather than the focus. When leaders focus on outcomes, they lose their staff and players along the way. They also lose in their fight to increase that bottom line.
The best leaders know that the way to run a successful business has little to do with cracking the whip, checking the numbers and running a “tight ship.” They understand, to their core, that the secret sauce of great leadership is creating a great work environment in which their players/employees are motivated to give their best work. When you create a work environment in which employees can thrive, it leads to:
• A strong sense of loyalty from staff, who will then work harder for their leader and their team.
• Greater collaboration among employees and teams, which subsequently pushes the envelope for developing new and innovative products and, in sports, plays.
• Increased creativity, because employees feel safe enough to take risks and engage in out-of-the-box thinking.
• An increased retention rate and therefore wiser, more experienced staff.
• The ultimate goal: an increase in the bottom line.
Creating great work environments are as vital in your home as they are at work or on the field. Human beings thrive when they feel safe, supported, encouraged and connected. If you’re in a leadership position and you want to stand out, focus your attention on the atmosphere, not the bottom line. If this is your first and foremost objective, the rest will take care of itself.
Challenge: As a leader, focus on the environment you create. Crack down on any toxicity (e.g. good ole boys, mean girls, sexual harassment, etc.). Encourage out-of-the-box thinking and view failure as learning. Allow the ripple effect of this decision to solve the problem with the bottom line.