Tag Archives: Building Trust

Knowing & Becoming Known…A Challenge for the New Boss

new_boss_tshirt-p235578270226180427qj9t_152It’s never comfortable being the newcomer. This is especially true when we start a new job, and even more so if that job involves leading an organization or taking charge of an already established team.

Three words come to mind when I think about this: Culture, Trust and Change. These are big issues and huge, if you happen to be a new boss. How you address them will often make the difference between a reasonably smooth leadership transition and a very shaky one.

For instance, inserting oneself into an already established culture requires some delicacy and some time spent in learning how people think; what they value; and the assumptions they operate from.

As well, most organizations work from a platform of earned trust rather than assumed trust. As such, if you are an unknown commodity, there will be skepticism about your motives, and the effect your presence will have on the status quo. While we like to think people will readily embrace change, we know that it just isn’t that easy. But, the reality is that change comes with every new leader and the immediate challenge is to find ways to send the message that this is a good thing…or at least, the right thing.

All this needs time and work. The point is, in this world of speed and technology, we have to find ways of accomplishing things faster. That includes expediting the process of knowing and becoming known. The question is, how?

Well, it’s a tricky one…but like most things, not impossible

There is, for instance, the New Manager Assimilation Process, which is a structured way of speeding up your collective orientation. Specifically, it is designed to help new managers quickly establish positive working relationships with their direct reports while also building a solid foundation for the future.

But, whether you decide to use this kind of formal process or a less informal one, know that the first few days, weeks and months as leader, will lay the foundation for how you will work and be perceived in the future.

When I think about inserting myself, as leader, into an established group, these are some things that come up:

Listen

People like to know they are being heard. As a new manager this is particularly important. There will be things they will want me to know about them. There will be other things they will want me to know as well, like what they are proud of, or what worries them. And, they will have ideas to share that will help shape how we move forward together.

Respect what went before

As the new one in town, there will be things that were established before I arrived that will have a lot of value. Rather than take a ‘new broom sweeps clean’ approach to my new role, I would take some time to learn what is good about the way things are.

Be clear about my vision and purpose

As an unknown, people will be curious (and possibly anxious) about what I see as my role; what I want to accomplish and; how my personal beliefs and values align with their own. In short, they will want to be able to see themselves in the picture I create. The more often and consistently I communicate these things, the quicker I will become known.

Be accessible

This is not just about keeping my office door open. It’s also about making myself emotionally available and showing my humanness. I would want to give people an opportunity to know me as a person as well as a boss.

Ask for help

It doesn’t matter what I bring to the new organization, there will always be things I’m simply not going to know. Asking for help gives me the opportunity to learn… and others the chance to show me what they know.

That’s what I think anyway.  What do you think?

 

Note: This post was originally published in November, 2011

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Filed under Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Shift, Leading Teams, Organizational Effectiveness

Trust: If You Build It, They Will Come…and Stay

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Trust. It’s a small word and yet, it holds the key to success in just about every walk of life. And, it’s one of those things that is often hard earned yet easily destroyed. That makes it precious.

From a corporate perspective, we all pretty much know that building trust in organizations is key. But what does it look like when it’s in action? Well,

here are some ideas around what we might see in an organization that has successfully built high levels of trust.

As a Boss, people are open and candid with me. They trust that I’m not in the business of shooting messengers or punishing anyone for giving me straight and honest information about myself or anything else for that matter. People working with me, are not afraid to be creative or try new things. And, when they make mistakes, they own up to them and are willing to share their lessons with others. As a boss too, I strive for transparency in my dealings with others and that means I talk to them, ask for their opinions and listen to their advice. I feel well rewarded and highly regarded.

As part of a team, I don’t waste time engaging in gratuitous political maneuverings. I focus instead on building solid and positive relationships with my colleagues for my benefit, and for the team. I trust them to do the same. I make sure I fulfill my responsibilities to the team and the organization and take pride in both what I produce and what the team produces. My team and I enjoy working together and pitch in to do whatever work needs doing, even if it is technically “not my job”. I always get the credit I deserve for the contributions I make. I feel that I belong.

As an individual contributor, I make sure that I understand my role in the organization and if I am unsure, I ask someone who can teach me. Similarly, if I have knowledge that someone else does not have, but needs, I am not hesitant about sharing what I know. I trust that sharing will give us all the power we need to do our jobs well and succeed. I feel competent and important.

As a sales person, I believe in my product. My clients’ needs come before my own. Many of my clients have been with me for a long time. I continue to work to earn their ongoing loyalty. I am not afraid to approach my boss if I think my client has needs that could be met differently. I offer my ideas freely. I have earned my clients’ respect. I do not feel the need to compete with my colleagues except in a way that challenges us all to do better. I feel productive and successful.

As an organization, we continue to experience growth in our business. Our client base is strong and increasing. Our employees are actively engaged in building and supporting our business. We value their contribution and make every effort to acknowledge their accomplishments in a variety of ways that have meaning for them. We feel confident about the future.

Okay, so some of this might sound a bit utopian. I mean, I used to have a boss that hid around corners at lunch hour trying to catch people taking more than their allotted time for lunch. While hopefully, bosses who behave like that are going the way of the dinosaur, I suspect a lot of work has yet to be done to build the kind of trust it takes to bring all of the scenarios I describe to life.

Nonetheless it is perhaps something to strive for because the price of under-valuing, (or worse, not doing), the work of building trust in organizations is very high indeed.

I am reminded, strangely, of a little clip from the movie City Slickers where Jack Palance’s character, Curly, talks about the “one thing” that holds the secret of life. Here it is:

When it comes to the secret of successful organizations, I tend to think that the “one thing” is trust.

What do you think?

*Note: originally posted in February 2010

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Filed under Building Relationships, Employee engagement, Leadership, Leadership Development, Organizational Effectiveness

A Case for Being a “Nice” Boss

‘Nice’ is not a word that is often used to describe successful leaders. But, it’s really all about how you look at it.  This post, from 2012 attempts to shift the perspective about ‘nice’ from one of weakness to one of strength.

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My uncle, now deceased, used to have a little wooden plaque hanging on the wall of his den.  It read, “It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice”

I was reminded of this the one day when I caught myself being not nice to a young man who was conducting telephone surveys for an insurance company.  Specifically, I allowed my disdain for unsolicited telephone surveys to affect the way I spoke to him.  That wasn’t fair.  And it definitely wasn’t nice.  So I apologized and then did my best to separate my dislike for the survey from my empathy for someone doing an honest and thankless job.

It occurred to me then that nice, at least in corporate settings, is often the victim of our contempt and in fact frequently equated with weakness.  The perspective is that people who are nice are pushovers. They lack character. They are spineless, maybe even incompetent.  When we ask people to describe a leader, they invariably say things like, strongdecisive, visionary, and courageous.  Rarely are they characterized as ‘nice’.  Indeed in some organizations we even expect our leaders to bring with them a measure of unpleasantness.  It goes with the territory.  After all, they are busy people. ‘Nice’ doesn’t get the job done.

But to me, ‘Nice’ gets a bad rap.  In fact, it has an important role to play in organizational success.  It could also use some repositioning in terms of the way we think about it.

So let’s try it.

What if we decided to equate ‘nice’ with strength instead of weakness?  What would it look like?  Well, here’s what I’m thinking about that:

When “nice” = “strength”…

It would look like Kindness  ~ We’ve all heard it.  “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” It’s an old American proverb with an enduring ring of truth.  And really, it takes just as much time to be mean as it does to be kind.

It would look like Truthfulness ~ Here’s where ‘nice’ grows teeth. Sometimes engaging in difficult conversations and telling people what they need to hear to make better choices is much nicer than avoiding or misleading them.  Often, taking the easy way out is very far from being nice.

It would look like Respect  ~ To me, respect asks us to behave like adults and treat others like adults too.  There is no room for condescension or patronizing behaviour in my definition.  It’s simply not nice.

It would look like Generosity ~ Generosity is often about letting go of something we’d rather keep for ourselves.  It is a demonstration of regard and a vote of confidence.  It takes strength.  And, it’s a nice habit to adopt because generosity can be catching.

It would look like Clarity ~ Being clear about what we need and what we expect is part of the package, especially if we intend to use those expectations as a benchmark for performance appraisal at some point.  Otherwise, it’s not fair and especially not nice.

It would look like Empathy ~ Seeking to understand how things are for others is a primary role of the leader.  It’s the way s/he “tunes in” to the work environment and engages people, not only in conversation but also in playing a willing part in fulfilling the organizational purpose.

It would look like Civility ~ Good manners are certainly part of being nice.  We may think we don’t have time for this. We are too busy.  I assert, however, that for workplaces to be ‘livable’ they must include courteousness.  People work better together when they treat each other well.  It’s as simple as that.

The truth about being “nice” is, it really doesn’t matter what you call it.  It’s not about the word.  It’s about the behaviour that the word suggests.  If we choose to look at being nice as a weakness, we will continue to discount its value in the workplace.  We will cling to the notion that “nice ‘guys’ finish last” and  keep on accepting objectionable behaviour from leaders who believe it.

So let’s remember those words from the American Playwright, Wilson Mizner, ~ “Be nice to the people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down”

That’s what I think anyway. What do you think?

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Filed under Building Relationships, communication, Employee engagement, Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Style, Leadership Values, Uncategorized

Leadership and Faith

Talking about faith in the workplace can be a bit tricky.  Often when we hear the word we automatically think about religion. But faith is not always about that.  It can simply be about believing that something is possible.   That’s what this post, from March 2012, is  about.

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Faith. It’s not a word I’ve heard used a lot in my working life.  Perhaps it is because it has a tinge of uncertainty about it that many in traditional organizations tend to view it with misgiving.  It is an important word though… especially important if you want to achieve something; rise above something; or stretch beyond the boundaries of your current understanding.

This occurred to me  when I went to see the movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.  This story is about a very wealthy Sheik who loves to fish.  He owns a castle in Scotland and part of his vision for the future of his people is to make it possible for salmon to live and thrive in theYemen.  It seems like an impossible dream to everyone but him.   And yet, he continues to pursue it and to believe in it.

The truth is, Leadership asks a great deal of us.  It often demands that we strike out into the unknown and convince other people it’s a good idea.  It asks us to trust that some things do not come complete with scientific or rational explanation.  It asks us, too, to believe in our own abilities: the potential and ability of those who work with us; and in the value and viability of our vision, even at times when that vision seems unlikely enough to be unattainable.

Faith also asks this of us.   And, it makes room for great things to happen.

It allows us to ‘step off cliffs’  ~ Building and growing a business requires us to take chances.  Sometimes these are measured and well researched and sometimes they constitute a leap of faith.   I think the success of the latter often depends on how fervently we believe in our imagined outcomes. Those who doubt either themselves or their ability to realize their imagined outcomes rarely see them come to fruition.

It allows us to let go ~ Simply put, when we place our faith in the ability and good intentions of others, we are free to concentrate on other important things.  Of course, part of letting go includes successfully transferring our vision of the future to others but, once done, it allows them the freedom to think, create and produce great results in ways that we might not have imagined.

It allows us to see mistakes as reparable ~ When we really believe in what we are doing, mistakes become part of the learning and growing process.  Indeed, if our faith in the direction we are taking is strong, the setbacks we will inevitably experience will find a way of teaching us something useful.

The bottom line is that faith in organizations is an essential part of growth and exploration.  It belongs in the workplace.  It does not guarantee success but it allows for small, and sometimes very big, victories.   And, like stepping stones in a stream, these victories eventually lead us to the other side where we can look back and marvel at the journey and maybe even go fishing in the Yemen.

That’s what I think anyway. What do you think?

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Filed under Leadership, Leadership Development, motivating & Inspiring, Organizational Effectiveness

360 Survey On the Wall…I Hardly See Myself at All

This post, from January 2012, challenges the 360 degree feedback process first popularized in the 1990s. Too often, rather than use such a  process as a springboard to having important conversations, we make the process itself the focal point thus diminishing its usefulness. 

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I’m not a big fan of surveys.  That includes, (dare I say it?), the 360 degree performance assessment type survey.  I know, they are meant to be a useful tool but to me, no matter how carefully put together they are, the result is rather like a distorted mirror in the Fun House, not very clear and not particularly accurate.

On the face of it, 360-degree assessments present as simple processes; something like the one Bob here is undertaking. (The clip is 62 seconds)

The trouble is, there are often a number of factors at play that skew the results one way or another.  Here are only a few examples of what I mean.

  • When Bob’s boss asks him to complete a survey at a time when Bob is not best pleased with him, his objectivity flies out of the window and his responses are coloured by the way he’s feeling at that moment in time.
  • Bob would like his colleagues to complete their survey about him favourably so he completes their surveys favourably too.  It’s kind of a quid pro quo thing. You know?
  • The questions all ask Bob to respond by choosing from a range of ratings from poor to outstanding.  While he has a pretty good idea what each rating means to him, he has no idea what they mean to others and what standards they work from when they complete the survey.
  • Even though there may be room for Bob to explain his ratings, usually he doesn’t, because frankly he doesn’t have time.  He still has more surveys to complete for several more of his colleagues. So he just ticks the boxes and hopes that will be enough to satisfy the process.

So, while I agree that “good information helps Bob make better decisions”, the information gathered from a formal 360 process runs risk of being inaccurate and therefore, not really that useful.

The question is, what is Bob to do?  How will he find out how he’s doing if there is no formal process to tell him?

To me, the answer lies in his willingness and ability to consistently focus on three things:

How he talks to people and how he listens ~ If the communication between Bob and his Boss; Bob and his colleagues and; Bob and his team is honest, clear and empathetic, there will be enough trust among them for him to simply ask how he’s doing without having to go through a formal and anonymous process.

How he builds relationships ~ in my mind, the health of any business relies on its ability to build relationships.   This requires people like Bob to work well with those around him; to understand their challenges; help them; and solicit their help too.  Building relationships ensures that the quid pro quo among colleagues has meaning that goes beyond the notion of “I’ll tick your’ like’ box if you’ll tick mine”.

How much he cares about helping others to learn and grow ~ In my book, people who spend time coaching and providing learning opportunities so that others can be and do better usually know when they are doing well.  For them, great performance comes from their ability to help others deliver great performance too.  If Bob were to do this, he would have no need of a formal feedback structure.  He would be giving it and getting it.  Every day.

So okay, maybe I’m being a bit Utopian.  I know there are still many organizations that struggle with all three of these things.  It is not an ideal world.  I’d like to think though that rather than relying on complicated and expensive 360-degree performance processes to guide them, more workplaces will spend their time talking, listening and simply building relationships well enough to make them unnecessary.

That’s what I think anyway.  What do you think?

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Filed under Building Relationships, communication, Human Resources, Leadership Development, Organizational Effectiveness

Leadership: A Case for Being Nice

This post, originally published in January, 2012  touches on the idea that certain words evoke  images that can colour our attitudes and behaviour.  “Nice” is one such, often much maligned, word.  

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My uncle, now deceased, used to have a little wooden plaque hanging on the wall of his den.  It read, “It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice”

I was reminded of this the other day when I caught myself being not nice to a young man who was conducting telephone surveys for an insurance company.  Specifically, I allowed my disdain for unsolicited telephone surveys to affect the way I spoke to him.  That wasn’t fair.  And it definitely wasn’t nice.  So I apologized and then did my best to separate my dislike for the survey from my empathy for someone doing an honest and thankless job.

It occurred to me then that nice, at least in corporate settings, is often the victim of our contempt and in fact frequently equated with weakness.  The perspective is that people who are nice are pushovers. They lack character. They are spineless, maybe even incompetent.  When we ask people to describe a leader, they invariably say things like, strongdecisive, visionary, and courageous.  Rarely are they characterized as ‘nice’.  Indeed in some organizations we even expect our leaders to bring with them a measure of unpleasantness.  It goes with the territory.  After all, they are busy people. ‘Nice’ doesn’t get the job done.

But to me, it gets a bad rap.  In fact think it has an important role to play in organizational success.  I think too, that it could use some repositioning in terms of the way we think about it.

So let’s try it.

What if we decided to equate ‘nice’ with strength instead of weakness?  What would it look like?  Well, here’s what I’m thinking about that:

When “nice” = “strength”…

It would look like Kindness  ~ We’ve all heard it.  “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar” It’s an old American proverb with an enduring ring of truth.  And really, it takes just as much time to be mean as it does to be kind.

It would look like Truthfulness ~ Here’s where ‘nice’ grows teeth. Sometimes engaging in difficult conversations and telling people what they need to hear to make better choices is much nicer than avoiding or misleading them.  Often, taking the easy way out is very far from being nice.

It would look like Respect  ~ To me, respect asks us to behave like adults and treat others like adults too.  There is no room for condescension or patronizing behaviour in my definition.  It’s simply not nice.

It would look like Generosity ~ Generosity is often about letting go of something we’d rather keep for ourselves.  It is a demonstration of regard and a vote of confidence.  It takes strength.  And, it’s a nice habit to adopt because generosity can be catching.

It would look like Clarity ~ Being clear about what we need and what we expect is part of the package, especially if we intend to use those expectations as a benchmark for performance appraisal at some point.  Otherwise, it’s not fair and especially not nice.

It would look like Empathy ~ Seeking to understand how things are for others is a primary role of the leader.  It’s the way s/he “tunes in” to the work environment and engages people, not only in conversation but also in playing a willing part in fulfilling the organizational purpose.

It would look like Civility ~ Good manners are certainly part of being nice.  We may think we don’t have time for this. We are too busy.  I assert, however, that for workplaces to be ‘livable’ they must include courteousness.  People work better together when they treat each other well.  It’s as simple as that.

The truth about being “nice” is, it really doesn’t matter what you call it.  It’s not about the word.  It’s about the behaviour that the word suggests.  If we choose to look at being nice as a weakness, we will continue to discount its value in the workplace.  We will cling to the notion that “nice ‘guys’ finish last” and  keep on accepting objectionable behaviour from leaders who believe it.

So let’s remember those words from the American Playwright, Wilson Mizner, ~ “Be nice to the people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down”

What do you think?

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Filed under building awareness, communication, Employee engagement, Leadership, Leadership Development

Leadership and Straight Talk

This post is from June, 2011

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I happened across a movie the other day called Straight Talk.  It’s about a young woman who was accidently hired by a radio station to be an Agony Aunt.  This young woman, (played by Dolly Parton), was delightfully guileless and dished out her unadorned advice with clarity and good humour.   For example, her counsel to one caller who was obviously playing the martyrdom card went something like this: “Get down off the cross honey, somebody needs the wood!

It made me smile.  And, it also made me think about how important straight talk is in leadership.

Straight talk in organizations, when delivered with sincerity, tends to achieve understanding quickly. It brings clarity to confusion.  It allows for quicker problem solving. It values truth.  It builds trust. It grows integrity.

And yet, in so many organizations, we are incredibly bad at it.

There are probably a lot of reasons for this.  I suspect most of them have something to do with internal politics, bureaucracy, or perhaps a belief that the more complicated or obscure the language, the more important the message.

Whatever the reason, to me, creating an environment that values candid and respectful discussion is a leadership imperative and a key to building sustainable organizations.

So how might we go about establishing this straight talk environment?  Well, it could begin with establishing some principles, not unlike these:

Principle # 1: Talk to the Organ Grinder, not the Monkey

When we talk to the wrong person (or people) about something, we often do it to gain support or sympathy for our position.  It doesn’t usually solve anything and can create ill feeling and unnecessary speculation.

Principle #2: This organization is a jargon-free zone

I’m a fan of simple language. Business jargon (or any kind of jargon for that matter), may sound more intelligent or important but it has this tendency to get in the way of understanding.

Principle #3: Feedback goes stale. Serve while fresh. The longer we take to share information with each other, the less value it will have for us.  Ask permission… then deliver it when it’s fresh.  For one thing, it’ll be easier to remember and that usually makes it more useful.

Principle #4: People are not punished for speaking their minds

Often people are reticent to speak up for fear of ridicule or some other subtle form of punishment.  Taking the hammer out of the communication toolbox allows for more open and meaningful conversation.

Principle #5: Everyone has something important to say.

Adherence to this principle makes a promise to those who may be reticent to speak up, that their opinions count.

Principle #6: Listen first…talk later.

Listening is part of having respectful and candid conversations.  It allows for good questions.  Good questions invite thoughtful answers, which in turn, increase the quality of conversations.

Principle #7: R-E-S-P-E-C-T in this organization is an important noun and verb

This principle (otherwise known as the Aretha Franklin principle) pretty much speaks for itself.  Without it, the chances of establishing a culture of straight talk are pretty dim.

What do you think?  What would principles would you add?  How do you achieve straight talk in your organization?

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Filed under Building Relationships, communication, Leadership, Leadership Development, organizational culture

Leadership and the Anatomy of a Good Apology

John Wayne, (or one of his many characters), once said, “ Never apologize, Mister. It’s a sign of weakness

He may have been right in many things but in this, he was mistaken.  Apologies, the good kind, take a lot of courage and humility to pull off.   There is nothing weak about that.

But what constitutes a good apology? And, what can we expect when we make it?  Here’s what comes to mind for me.

A good apology starts with the right motivation ~ The most sincere reason for making an apology is simply to express deep regret and a desire to make a wrong, right again.  Anything else, like apologizing because doing so will make us feel better, is not much of an apology at all.

A good apology involves exposure and vulnerability …our own.  Apologizing well means that we have to lay aside all of our ‘built-in’ protective devices.  In other words, an apology accompanied by an excuse or a deflection of blame isn’t going to cut it.  To make it real, we have to reveal ourselves as the imperfect beings we are.  That’s the scary part.

A good apology includes willingness to make amends ~ We can’t unsay hurtful words or undo hurtful actions.  But if we show intent to listen and make an effort to repair the damage we’ve caused, the possibility of restoring trust is that much greater.

Of course offering an apology, even a good one, is only the beginning.

So what can we realistically expect from those to whom we apologize?  Well, here it is in one word.

Nothing.

We can expect nothing because those who hear our apology have the right to decide how they are going to respond to it. Chances are, if it is offered sincerely and with genuine intention to make amends, the work of reparation can begin.  But there are no guarantees.  Sometimes we simply have to learn to live with the knowledge that we have inflicted a hurt for which we are not forgiven…and accept the consequences that come out of that.

Having said that, I can think of two things we can expect from the process of rebuilding a broken trust

It will take a long time ~ There are no quick fixes here.  Rebuilding trust requires consistent proof through word and deed that re-establishing damaged relationships is a priority. It takes patience and consistent effort.  And, it is not for the offender to say when it’s over.

Those who offend are never in the position to choose the depth or breadth of their consequences. ~ For instance, during Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, he said, “I deserve to be punished.  I’m not sure I deserve the death penalty”

To me,  whatever his punishment, it is not up to Mr. Armstrong to decide its nature or severity. His apology is only a good one if he is willing to let go of control and accept whatever consequences come from his offence.  I think that’s true for the rest of us too.

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The Bottom Line

If you are a human being, at some point you will have said or done something for which you need to apologize.   If you are a leader of other human beings, this will be especially true because, like or not, you are a role model and as such, the magnifying glass is on you.  So, when you mess up, the apology needs to be a good one.

That’s what I think anyway.  What do you think?

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Leading By Example and Some Mistaken Beliefs

Someone once said, A good example has twice the value of good advice.”  With that in mind, I offer you a refreshed version of a post I wrote in 2009 in the hope its value to you also merits a repeat performance. 

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Many people have written about the importance of leading by example. Yet in spite of its apparent simplicity, there are still many times when we manage to muck it up.  Perhaps it is so simple that we take it for granted.  Or, perhaps it is that some of us have mistaken beliefs about what leading by example is really about.

Here are a few possibilities that come to mind for me:

· Mistaken Belief #1 – Leading by Example is a 9-5 pursuit

I suspect that some leaders make leading by example a project rather than a way of being. In other words, they appreciate that in order to engage people at the office they have to serve as a role model and so they create a model of personal behaviour that may have little or no bearing on who they really are. In effect, they put on their office persona in the morning along with their business clothes and take it off again when they get home and change into something more comfortable. This practice is not sustainable over time and I can only imagine how exhausting it must be.

The bottom line: If you don’t represent yourself honestly where ever you are, the example you set will not ring true for those you want to influence the most.

· Mistaken Belief #2 – You can get people to do as you say, and not as you do, as long as you don’t get caught

In our condominium complex, there was a man on the board who is President of his own company. He served on our Strata as Chair of the Building Committee, a pretty important role.  Some time ago, he sent out a communication to all owners to advise us that putting weather stripping across our front doors is strongly discouraged because doing so interferes with the flow of air to the suites.  He advised those among us who had installed weather stripping to remove it immediately.

Days later, after receiving this rather forceful message, my husband had cause to place a note concerning condo board business under this man’s door.  He was unsuccessful in doing so because apparently, the Building Chair has installed weather stripping.

The Bottom Line:If you have ever had the idea that you can say one thing and do another and not be found out, think again.   Believe me, you will be busted. And, when you are, the trust and respect that others have for you will be compromised.

· Mistaken Belief #3 – People will only pick up and emulate the behaviours you want them to adopt

No matter who we are, as long as we are alive, someone is looking to us for an example of how to behave. Even if we have never been placed in a formal leadership position, we influence those around us simply by being there. And, being human, we are not always going to act in exemplary fashion. We can only hope to align our behaviour in accordance with what we value most and accept that sometimes others will pick up something from us that we would rather they hadn’t.  It happens.

For example, a long time ago, I was invited to attend a lunch in the Head office executive dining room.  I was very surprised to receive the invitation because as a fairly junior personnel assistant, it was a bit of a lofty thing to happen for me.

The purpose of the lunch was to entertain a party of Chinese students. On meeting them I began to realize why I might have been chosen to participate.  They were all rather small and I, also being rather small, seemed to be the only bank representative who could look them straight in the eye without having to sit down.

The table was beautifully set. However, the challenge for me and my lunch companions was that it was rather high, and the dining chairs, in contrast, rather low.

In spite of this, the lunch unfolded quite well…until the waiters delivered dessert, strawberries served in a tall stemmed glass, rimmed with sugar. It didn’t take long for me to discover that if I actually wanted to eat these delicious strawberries, I would have to stand up.  The other diminutives around the table seemed to be in the same predicament.  I noticed them looking at each other but none was so brave as to take a chance and grab a strawberry quickly while no one was looking.  And so, at what I considered to be a strategic moment, I took up my spoon, stood up very quickly, popped a strawberry into my mouth and sat down, just as quickly, to chew it.  My new, and equally undersized companions followed my lead until soon, we were all popping up and down until we bore a striking resemblance to an um-pa-pa band.  Needless to say, I was never invited back to the executive dining room.

Bottom line: It is a mistake to expect that people will not, at times, follow an unintended lead. It happens.  Forgive yourself and move on.

That’s what I think anyway.  What do you think?

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Filed under Building Relationships, communication, Employee engagement, Leadership

Are You Motivating the Wrong Person?

This week I’m pleased to introduce Jessica Edmondson as guest writer on You’re Not the Boss of Me. Jessica is a big fan of Dale Carnegie and his ideologies about leadership. She enjoys learning from leadership best practices.  And, she believes that considering different perspectives on what good leadership means enhances our ability to be effective as leaders. I tend to agree.

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When it comes time to motivate people and effectively delegate tasks, there are all kinds of approaches that work – and many that don’t. You don’t need a business management degree to understand that motivation is different for every person and that the key is to make sure you are motivating the right person in the right way. In other words, as Dale Carnegie wisely advised, “If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.” 

The most effective business manager is the one who can identify and work with individuals’ different personality types and work styles. Effective leaders who take the time to understand what motivates their team members are typically the ones who get the best results from their employees.

Sometimes, however, leaders will steer their energies in the wrong direction, either by trying to motivate the wrong person or by delegating tasks or responsibilities to the wrong person. This can happen unintentionally, the result of our common bias to favor like-minded people over those who hold opposing opinions or viewpoints.
Let’s look at a couple of common problems and examine how we can make adjustments that produce the best results without letting our biases get in the way.

Delegating to the Wrong Person

Delegating is beneficial to an organization only if it’s done strategically and with clear objectives. Leaders who delegate well not only provide their employees with key opportunities to improve their skills and demonstrate their competence, but also they give themselves the time they need to better perform their own tasks.

But trouble can arise as a result of delegating to the wrong person. It’s critical for leaders to take the time to get to know their team members so they can match strengths and skills with the jobs that need to be completed. If a task is assigned to someone simply because this person should be able do it, this can affect the productivity of the whole organization, potentially putting careers of both managers and team members on the line.

Unconsciously Practicing Favoritism

Supervisors and workers alike tend to gravitate toward others who are similar to them, whether it’s because they share a common work style or have matching opinions about a business’ objectives and vision. People do this outside of work, as well, perhaps because they think it’s easier and keeps them inside their comfort zone.

In the workplace, a manager may assign the same duties to the same people over and over again, simply because “that’s the way it’s done” or because this person did the same task well once and can be counted on to do it well in the future. This type of favoritism, however, will likely discourage the bypassed employees, who may want to try their hand at something different.

As with misplaced delegation, favoritism can breed resentment and jealousy, and lower morale among the team members. While it may not be a comfortable exercise, it is important for supervisors to examine whether or not they are favoring certain employees simply because they are easier to motivate or because they may be easier to connect with than other workers.

Ultimately, motivating employees and team members is about creating opportunities for them to demonstrate and enhance their skills through work that is meaningful, intentional and clearly defined. By addressing biases, leaders allow themselves to know how, why and when to motivate the right people for the right work.

What do you think?

Jessica Edmondson contributes on Management and Online Business Degrees for the University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education, Inc. 

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Filed under Employee engagement, Leadership, Leadership Development, Management, motivating & Inspiring