Do you really want to succeed?
Do you really want to succeed? 150 150 Freyr

One of my dearest mentors once took me aside. We were both athletics coaches, me still active as an athlete, he almost a feet taller than me, fourteen years older. The big man leaned towards me, looked me in the eyes and said: “So tell me Freyr Ólafsson, do you want to succeed?” I mumbled and tried to convince the powerful Olympian that me, this twenty-two year old farmers son, barely reaching the standards of a tiny nation national athletics team, had the will needed. “When are you going to go at it full steam, go all the way?” he asked calmly, with all his weight, warmth and interest. I stuttered and tried to stay calm.

I know Vésteinn Hafsteinsson has asked many people similar questions. Some have stuttered like I did at the time. Others have certainly gone for it and proved that they really wanted to succeed, even become the best in the world in their field. Superb leaders and coaches like Vésteinn have a way to get into people’s core and enlighten them. They ask demanding questions that last and push people long after they’ve been asked. Good coaches and leaders help people to find the will and driving forces within themselves.

The energy is there within you. Only you can find your own will and motivation to succeed. You must dare yourself to take the first step and follow your conviction. You must ignore all those endless voices of doubt, constantly trying to talk you down. Whisk those demons off your shoulders and move forward. A good leader or coach will support you, point you at your demons, help you to keep up your spirit and keep your doubts away!

So now tell me about you, do you really want to succeed? When are you going to go at it full steam, go all the way?!

Why would anybody want to work for you?
Why would anybody want to work for you? 150 150 Freyr

You are well informed, you have university degrees left right and center. Top grades. All boxes checked. You are the outstanding expert in your field. You must be any hiring committee’s favorite. But does really anybody want to work for you? Work with you? Does your people manage to perform well, excel and improve?

Reality is you are not the only leader looking for good people. When the job market offers similar rates and people can pick any place in the world to work, then people look for opportunities which help them progress and improve. People look for leaders who help them to take the next positive step in their career.

My view is that the key for you as a leader, at least if you want somebody to work with you long term, is not necessarily found in your university degrees and expertise. Your grandmother might even be a better source for best practices. Few keywords I link more to my grandmothers than university studies are: Caring and understanding, sincere interest and appropriate distance and autonomy.

1. Caring and understanding
To be able to properly lead others your own well being is important. It is important that you honor and understand your self to be able to honor, understand and feel for your people, to see what are their drives and motives.
Humans are self centered by nature. Even the toughest of the toughest have to admit that they do feel better when their superior understands them, they are supported cared for and understood, like their grandmother would. It is fundamental that the leader knows what is the main driving factor for his people.

2. Sincere interest
If first step is caring and understanding then step two would be sincere and honest interest. As those who have read about The Hawthorne studies know then attention and interest is not only a key to the well-being of staff but also their productivity. This is even more important now when we are getting close to 100 years since the studies started and the ratio of knowledge worker has never been higher.

Do you know why your people chose to work with you? What are his or hers conditions today? Where she or he is heading? Will it possible strengthen your relationship to discuss this openly, as these 7 tips say? If you do show your people the same sincere interest as your grandmother did, then it will increase the odds they will be happier and more productive and your relationship will prosper.

3. Appropriate distance and autonomy
I do hope you experienced warmth, support and positive attitude from your grandmothers like I did, but at the same time the appropriate distance and autonomy in your adventures. Grandmothers sure are wise old women. Studies confirm what they practice in their guidance, autonomy is one of the most powerful trades in managing knowledge workers. Autonomy is more rewarding than financial bonuses when the tasks and roles depend on creativity and problem solving. I do not know if Daniel H. Pink if learned about the importance of Autonomy from his grandmother but I must higly recommend his great book Drive (on Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose) summarized here, in a 10 minute video.

Dear leader, formal education is great. University studies are an excellent basis and hopefully you will never quit your search for knowledge, but do expect your grandmother to continue to have the best answers for you!