First In. Last Out.

“Get familiar with the light switch.”

At one time, this was part of my personal leadership philosophy.  I shared it with others as part of a culture document on how to build a winning sales team.  It was a mantra about effort.

“How bad do you want to be a big-time producer?”

I had big ideas and plenty to learn about the art of leadership.

I was reminiscing with a good friend last week about a time early in our careers when we wouldn’t leave the office on the “early shift.”   The idea was that if you wanted to get ahead, you wouldn’t be on the 5 o’clock sprint for the elevator.  We both could recall being at work and hunkering down until it was considered acceptable to leave.  Culture would guide the right decision about departure time. This was more about perception than performance.

We traded a few stories and both got a pretty good laugh about those days.

I still believe the leader sets the pace, and that intensity and hard effort are required to compete.  I also believe that can look a whole lot different in the new world of work.

Leaders manage for results.  In the absence of results, activity gets a very thorough inspection.

Therein lies the true challenge.  Leadership is situational.  You go with what works best given the circumstances.

Personally I’ve moved away from “First In Last Out.”  Am I softening or simply seeing the world a whole lot differently?

In fact, I gave up on the idea of the office all together.  Initially, when I left the big company to start my little company, office space was a big concern.  Where was I going to work?

The answer to that question has become just about everywhere.  When I’m not traveling, the home office really does do the trick.  I had to develop the discipline to make it work, which did take a little time and trial and error.  It includes starting on time, being accountable to other people and a consistent work schedule during the business day.  I’ve come to find that working this way affords very important stretches of uninterrupted time.  While it felt isolating at first,  it has proven to be my best environment for thinking, learning and creating. When I need face time, collaboration, interaction, support and socialization, I schedule it into the calendar.

It works for me.  The minute it isn’t working, I wouldn’t hesitate to look for office space.

Today it’s all about performance.  Perception is overrated.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

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