This is the most important lesson leaders must learn in order to be successful. Sure they have to have the technical skills to get the job done, a strong understanding of how the organization works; however, nothing takes place of being able to understand this simple idea!
I had breakfast with an officer of a Fortune 50 company recently. We were having a conversation about the capabilities of some of the executives in their organization. I asked the question, “who on your staff shows up to work each day trying to lose money for the company?” After a broad smile he looked at me and said “nobody.” Our conversation, then focused on why it is important to find out what people are really committed to? One of the most important lessons I learned early in my management career was a person can become compliant and help, but can really carry the organization if they are committed. I realized that “my” success or failure depended on understanding this. Peter Drucker put it more bluntly – writing: ‘Every failure is a failure of a manager.’” I would take it even further and suggest every failure of leader is to not understand what people are really committed to and then leverage that for the good of the individual and the organization.