When it comes to executing well, employees and team members must believe the leader is 100% behind the mission. That principle was in the news in a big way after the release of Robert Gates’ memoir of his time as Secretary of Defense. One of his claims was that President Obama was never really behind the mission in Afghanistan, and how much that hurt the morale of our men and women on the front lines. It continued with the President’s recent “reforms” of the NSA’s surveillance program. You may have liked the program or you may not have liked it.
But the President repeatedly said he did. In fact, over and over he confirmed his belief that it was critical to national security in an age of terror. And yet – even though he supposedly believed in it, and the program has broken no laws, he made changes. What kind of mixed message did that communicate to our security agencies, and to our country?
The bottom line is that if you’re going to be an effective leader, execution of ideas depends on:
1. The leader must believe in the idea.
2. He or she must communicate that belief to the team.
3. He or she must be willing to take the heat if that idea isn’t popular or doesn’t initially succeed.
Anything less undermines your leadership. Step up. Take the heat. Execute.