Ask Your Staff to Fill in These 3 Blanks | 8/25/22

Tony Moore speaking at AACUC meeting

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla.–Looking to become a leader? Or are you a leader looking to improve? There are four things you absolutely must do, and that’s “L.E.A.D.,” according to one person, who said most leadership training starts in the wrong place.

Speaking to the African-American Credit Union Coalition’s annual conference here, Tony Moore, an expert on leadership who has worked with numerous credit unions, offered those four things during a session titled, “Deepening Our Impact by Being Bold, Mindful and Brave.”

The four things aspiring or current leaders seeking to be better must do, according to Moore:

  • L. Live Your Values

  • E. Embrace Your Purpose

  • A. Attend to Your People

  • D. Deliver the Goods.

Do those four things, he said, and you will be successful. “Fail to do any of those and you will find yourself unsuccessful,” Moore added.

Live Your Values

“Think about a leader who has had a positive impact on your life,” Moore urged his audience. “Someone you work for or a coach or a parent. What was it about them that impacted you so profoundly? I believe there are two ways in which we impact our teams and our organizations: with our competency and with our character.”

To illustrate the point, he pointed to this from Psalms, below, which he said sums up both competency and character.

“It’s always character that people remember; the character of the leader. It is the most transformative part of anything a leader can do,” Moore said. “That’s why we start with living our values. Unfortunately, the vast majority of our leadership training programs lead with building competency.”

Competency without character is what makes for the most dangerous leaders in organizations and in the world, he added.

Embrace Your Purpose

Moore shared a story of how he was coasting through the end of his senior year in college, literally counting down the days and confident of graduating and getting out into the world. That’s when he was called to the dean’s office to discover he was failing one class in which he admitted he had been putting in little effort, and told he wouldn’t graduate. (He would graduate on time.)

“How did I come so close to blowing it? How did I lose sight of my true north, graduating from college?” he asked. “How do we as leaders occasionally lose sight of our true north, why this organization exists, why my team is a part of this organization, what it is we are actually trying to accomplish? The world we have had to navigate the last few years as leaders has caused some leaders to lose their true north.”

True North, said Moore, provides focus, informs decisions and aligns work.

“I often ask, ‘How is ‘this’ going to help us get ‘there’?’ If it isn’t, we need to stop doing ‘this’,” he stated.

A True North, according to Moore, needs to be very simple, and he recommended it fit these criteria:

  • It should fit on a t shirt.

  • It should be aspirational

  • It should align opportunities, competencies and commitment.

“And it requires you to be bold, be mindful and be brave,” he added.

Attend To Your People

Moore recalled how he received his first leadership position many years ago for the same reason so many do: he was doing a good job. But there was no emphasis on any leadership skills he might have had or could be developed, he related.

“They just said I was doing a good job, so they put me into the leadership role,” Moore said. “My boss said just keep doing what you have been doing. What I had been doing was all the work, so I just kept doing all the work. Thankfully, our team made some progress in spite of me. One of the most common rewards for doing good work is more work. So, someone decided I should have two teams. That one did well, but not as good as the first one. So, someone decided I should have three teams. It started falling apart quickly. But like a lot of leaders I thought it can’t be about me, it’s about them. But that was not the answer.”

Instead, Moore said he found that answer when he was sharing his experience with a person who would eventually become a mentor and who asked him, “Tony, would you work for you? Would you follow you? Would you put up with what your teams have been putting up with?”

As Moore noted, “It hit me hard. I realized I would not work for me. I would not put up with me.”

Fill in the Blank Realizing he had to do something different, Moore said for the first time in his life he realized the importance of attending to people. He said he returned to work, apologized for his leadership shortcomings, and to get a conversation going he asked his team members to answer three questions:

  • I would like Tony to stop (fill in the blank)’

  • I would like Tony to start (fill in the blank)

  • I would like Tony to continue (fill in the blank)

“The best thing you can do with any team is set intent and then align expectations,” Moore said.

Deliver the Goods

Moore said the first three practices above will not amount to anything if a leader does not “deliver the goods.”