“I’m struggling currently in a work environment that has a lack of strong leadership, direction and employee support. What advice do you have for me to maintain my enthusiasm and drive under these conditions?”

That was the gist of a nice thank you note after a recent keynote speech to a group of managers, directors and executives. Here are my three recommendations for Terri:

1. Easy way out – find another job! In this market where there is a constant battle for finding, developing and retaining top notch talent, if you possess the knowledge, experience, talent, and drive to make things happen, there is no reason to stay in an environment that is not supporting you. Be gracious and never burn a bridge, but politely draft a game plan to move on.

2. Slightly more difficult – change the organization! Identify internal sources of influence – managers who do get it and can, although slower than most of us would like, change the culture. Support their efforts through small, SWAT-team approach create success stories of how strong leadership and direction, along with employee support create results, drive performance and deliver execution.

3. Most difficult – change yourself! Introspective leadership is by far the most demanding and challenging for all of us. We can complain about how the organization doesn’t support us and there is a lack of strong leadership – and in many instances, we’d be right. But you know what; it’s near impossible to boil the ocean! It is fairly easy to boil a cup of water! Start with you – your business card says “Director”, which makes me assume some kind of a leadership position. What are you doing to build a relationship-centric team? How are you setting the example for strong leadership, direction and support of your subordinates, peers and superiors? Your enthusiasm and drive has to come from within and depend less on external / environmental influences.

Option one always works – for about 6 months! As soon as the honeymoon period is over in the next job, you’ll realize that different organizations often have very similar set of challenges when it comes to building strong business relationships. When was the last time you heard an organization offer a business relationship building course as part of the new hire training program?

Option two works – only if you can in fact identify a champion with enough reputation capital to make strides toward cultural change. When you do find that person, become so indispensible in the value-add you create daily that they’ll never want to let you get away – see the article in the June issue of the Relationship Economics newsletter on “The Right Arm.”

Option three will be the most impactful. Only by continuing to grow personally and professionally you’ll become a better manager, a better leader; a better human being. Strong intracompany relationship begins with a healthy self – what can you do differently, because only a change in our behavior will have a lasting impact on our business.

One last piece of advice – read Marshall Goldsmith’s best seller – What Got You Here Won’t Get You There!

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