For years I was under the impression that to have successful transformation, all team members needed to be exemplary performers. Since those naïve days, it has become clear that achieving transformation rests with the executive leader.
The executive leader drives transformation and it does not happen without a clear vision. When the transformational leader creates the compelling vision, even the most mediocre employee rises to the occasion. People in general, get excited when there is a compelling vision and a trusted leader. They will follow and work harder, not because they are a star performer, but because they want to see the organization achieve the vision.
Along with the vision, it is very important to hire for "fit"--fit to the organization's vision, mission and values. If a candidate is highly skilled, but behaviorally is not a match for your organization, don't hire them--EVER. You can teach technical skills to an employee, you cannot teach behavioral fit. Either an employee has the behavioral skills that fit your organizational culture or s/he doesn't. When an employee fits your organization, regardless of the employee's brilliance, s/he helps you succeed in achieving the organization's vision.
If you have inherited employees who don't fit the organization, work with them to help them see the vision and get engaged or help them with an exit strategy. Employees who don't fit the organization's culture help destroy it. This destruction isn't intentional of course, but if an employee doesn't buy the vision, s/he will typically strive to undermine the achievement of it. This behavior shows through apathy or negativity and it impacts team morale. Eventually this behavior impacts the customer and your business. A leader can't afford to have one employee who doesn't fit and isn't engaged in achieving the vision.
Once every member of your team fits and is engaged, you will be able to move forward and accomplish your vision. There is no organization with perfect people and no one person performs like another. Each of us has passion and when it is tapped we do extraordinary things. It is evident with Microsoft, Apple, Starbuck's, and countless other businesses. If you were to enter the inner workings of these environments, you wouldn't find perfect people; you would find people who have passion about the vision and mission of the organization.
The key then is for you, the leader, to behave differently and drive your organization to a new level making an extraordinary difference to the employees and customers you serve.
Are you intentional in hiring each employee for the behavioral fit to the organization? Do you actively encourage employees who don't fit to find a different department or organization where they do fit? Hiring and sustaining employment to those who fit is one of the most difficult leadership habits to incorporate and excel with. However, hiring for fit is mandatory to achieving a vision and exceeding customer expectations. Make it a habit!
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