“You’ll always feel like you do now, so be wary of your shadow.”
These were the words that Dane Hudson, ex-Global CFO of Yum Group (owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) in response to my favourite question, “What is the one piece of advice you would give yourself at the age of 24, knowing what you know now?”
Often the answer I get has a similar theme – “Be more aggressive” or “Trust your instincts” but this time was different. Dane smiled at the perplexed look on my face and explained further. As your company gets bigger, your reputation in the marketplace grows and you get more and more staff under you – your positional power grows.
Positional power is the power that people see you having, not necessarily the power you wield nor the ego you may display but how others view you.
All companies I know of – especially in the early stages – yell from the tree tops how well they are doing, enter awards, win prizes and always sing to the tune of, “Everything is going well.”
Often, however, leaders still see themselves as a person as the same person they were when they started off in business – the fun guy or girl who likes to have a beer with the team on a Friday or joke around with their team.
Now I’m not saying for one second that you should ever stop doing this, but just be aware that as you and your responsibilities grow so does the impact you have on others.
When I have back-to-back meetings all day I remember the outcomes of the meeting and the important things said, but I guarantee that the junior team member in the room they will remember EVERY word I say. This is especially important to remember for you leaders with a growing team as you may just say something as a throw-away comment, but to a junior team member it is recognition that the leader or the boss sees that they are important.
A common one is “Let’s do coffee soon.” If you do actually have the coffee with them – they will be chuffed! On the other hand if you don’t take them for coffee, they will not think that they are important to you, that you are too busy for them and potentially ask themselves, “What did I do wrong?” or, “Why don’t they like me?” This could lead them to become disenfranchised with your leadership and you as a person.
The words, “With great power comes great responsibility” ring true. The same even goes for, “With power comes responsibility.” As a leader, if you are wanting your team to be the best, to be excited to work under your leadership and feel valued, then you must be mindful of every word, every action and everything you do.
You might wonder why on earth anyone would care, but trust me, your team do care, and they are watching.