Remember your very first day on the job? Your shoes had a shine like the tiles on the Space Shuttle and the crease in your slacks could have diced celery. The air was somehow fresher, the birds chirpier. You had been hired. You'd been given a chance to excel, a chance to make a difference.
Now contrast that with this morning.
Are you motivated to wake up every morning and go to your job with full enthusiasm?
After a while, most people end up making one compromise after another until they've resigned themselves to mediocrity. It's darned hard to keep that first-day buzz going.
BUT…there's no reason you can't choose to recover a good measure of that first-day feeling. You can motivate yourself to strive for excellence, and put it to good use in the service of everyone whose lives you touch on a daily basis. And, you can love your job again.
It's all about making the choice to do it.
Why You Need to Get Motivated, Find Your Enthusiasm, and Love Your Job Again
Have you ever met a two-year-old who wasn't enthusiastic? We come prepackaged with it. And then…
What happens to us?
What happens is that we make a choice. Some of us choose to make the effort to stay in touch with our inner enthusiasm and love our jobs. Others find reasons to lose touch with it--boredom, responsibilities, challenges, fatigue.
But here's the problem: Enthusiasm is the lifeblood of all success. Without it, nothing great happens. If you choose to lose touch with your inner enthusiasm, you are choosing mediocrity. It's really that simple.
Sure, there are plenty of reasons to curb your enthusiasm. But there are just as many reasons to find it again including celebrating your incredible good fortune. In the process you can make that fortune even better.
Here's How to Find Your Enthusiasm
Step 1: Start with the fact that you're not dead yet, that you were born at all, that you have a job, and that compared to a lot of folks, you have a pretty darn good job.
Step 2: Now take a close look at the circumstances of this good job you have. Write down your five biggest complaints and spin them into positives. For example, "My boss micromanages me" can be reframed as "My boss cares enough about me to step into my work when I need help."
If you've truly committed to finding your first-day buzz again, you should be an awful lot closer to it now than you were ten minutes ago.
All this rethinking and reframing has removed a HUGE energy drain from your life--one you were probably unaware of. It takes massive amounts of energy to continually reinforce your own sense of victimhood. Excellence is MUCH less expensive. Now that you feel lucky instead, what on Earth are you going to do with all that energy?
How about playing the Big Game you signed up for?
Now, you just filled yourself up with a lion's share of this precious thing called the human spirit, and it will not invest in mediocrity. So play the meaningful, bighearted game you always dreamed of playing, and leave the mediocrity to others. Get motivated and start loving your job again.
About the author:
Roxanne Emmerich is renowned for her ability to transform the "ho-hum" attitudes of leaders, executives, business owners and entrepreneurs just like you into massive results-oriented "bring-it-on" attitudes. To discover how you can get motivated and love your job again, check out her new book – Thank God it's Monday.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Remember your very first day on the job? Your shoes had a shine like the tiles on the Space Shuttle and the crease in your slacks could have diced celery. The air was somehow fresher, the birds chirpier. You had been hired. You'd been given a chance to excel, a chance to make a difference. Now contrast that with this morning. AreRoxanne Emmerich Articles
Burnout. Too many priorities to tackle. Insufficient resources. Difficulty motivating volunteers or staff. These are the challenges facing executives and managers of non-profit organizations and agencies. Non-profits are having the same problems as for-profit corporations, such as concerns of recruiting and retaining excellent staff, with the added difficulty of fewer resources to execute tasks and to attract employees. In addition, those organizations receiving grantor funding must provide greater assurance that they will be able to deliver on the funded project goals. The work of non-profit organizations is vital to our society, but how do we inspire, motivate, and support the leaders of these important agencies? One of the most proven and cost-effective methods for enhancing loyalty, retention, and the accomplishment of goals is Coaching.
According to Daniel Goleman (2006), psychologist and award-winning author of Emotional Intelligence (EI) says, nonprofit leaders can incorporate different leadership styles in their relationships with employees. The leadership style used least by nonprofit leaders is the Coaching style. In a nutshell, Coaching leaders encourage employees to establish long-term development goals and help them conceptualize a plan for attaining them. The ongoing dialogue in a coaching relationship ensures that employees know what is expected of them, and how their work fits into a larger vision of where the organization is going. Coaching is a relatively new and promising tool for leadership development for non profit leaders who find themselves in an increasingly challenged and often isolated role, according to a national study of nonprofit executive leadership conducted by Compass Point (Wolfred, Belland Moyers, 2001). Statistical surveys and anecdotal evidence alike support Coaching as a great instrument for advancing nonprofit leadership and improving nonprofit organizational effectiveness. Leadership Coaching requires exceptional leadership and questioning skills to be effective. At no point is leadership more important than in assisting others in defining their performance issues and identifying the underlying causes. This Situational Leadership style provides the needed structure to guide leaders in working with their clients.
The underlying principle in Situational Leadership is that Executive Coaches should adjust their leadership styles to their client’s readiness level (ability and willingness) to perform a given task. Leadership is the amount of task behavior (direction) and relationship behavior (support) given by a leader. To be effective the Coach must adjust the way in which they lead their clients based on their level of readiness for each task that they are expected to perform. Leadership coaching is a unique application of the principles of Situational Leadership that guides leader coaches as they work with their clients.
The Situational Leadership method from Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey holds that managers must use different leadership styles depending on the situation. The model allows you to analyze the needs of the situation you’re in, and then use the most appropriate leadership style. Depending on employees’ competences in their task areas and commitment to their tasks, your leadership style should vary from one person to another. You may even lead the same person one way sometimes, and another way at other times.
Blanchard and Hersey (1985) characterized leadership style in terms of the amount of direction and of support that the leader gives to his or her followers, and so created a simple matrix.
The lowest readiness level (D1) for an individual or group is described as not willing and not able to do a given task. The appropriate leadership style (SI) is that of providing high amounts of task behavior (direction) and low amounts of relationship behavior (support). The next readiness level (D2) is described as willing but not able. The appropriate leadership style (S2) is that of high amounts of both task and relationship behavior.
The next readiness level (D3) is described as able but unwilling in that the individual lacks confidence or commitment. The appropriate leadership style (S3) is that of high amounts of relationship behavior and low amounts of task behavior. The highest readiness level for a group or individual to do a given task is willing and able (D4). The appropriate leadership style is that of low amounts of both relationship and task behavior.
Within the learning organization there is a focus on developing new ways of thinking and working (Senge, 1999). A coaching culture is the framework of any learning organization. These organizations are characterized by relationships of trust, collaboration, insightful guidance, and a focus on assisting people to maximize their potential. Learning organizations differ from others in that they have shifted from a focus on performance to an emphasis on sustainable growth. People are given the opportunity to enhance and strengthen the concept of ongoing learning and development by creating a culture where coaching thrives.
Regardless of which enterprise the Coach is engaged in, he or she requires a solid knowledge of the organization. The coach has to be aware of its climate and culture, the current challenges it faces, its current learning and development programs and its people management programs and philosophy. Although the importance and usefulness of conducting a Coaching Needs Analysis alone is not sufficient for the Coach to embark upon working in an organization. In the same way, neither process knowledge or proven ability to work with personal mastery skills will equip the Coach to work effectively in an organization.
The Coach has to be familiar with various models of organizational change and the model or framework, either explicit or implicit, within which the particular organization operates. If a Coach chooses to work within an organizational environment, it is recommended that he or she adopt a systemic approach, that is, one that recognizes, acknowledges and can work with both internal and external factors that impact on the organization and its individuals. The Coach’s role may be to focus on human processes in the organization, on organizational design, developing and enhancing job competencies, or on coaching individuals through technology change programs.
The Coach as change agent is a person who is formally conducting a change effort. The change agent is involved in all steps of the process of change. Coaches are required to both change the level and standard of personal and professional skills sets, attitudes, thinking, beliefs, values, motivation of an individual or group, in order to help them (and their organization) perform even better and derive greater satisfaction from their everyday work life and their careers. Coaching is fundamentally about achieving behavioral change (what people do and say).
Coaching Leadership works well when employees want to advance and achieve their potential. This type of leadership doesn't work as well when employees are resistant to learning or changing their ways. In such situations, nonprofit leaders have to dig below the surface to understand what's causing the resistance. They will often discover that the resistance stems from a misunderstanding of the process: unlike many so-called "performance improvement plans," which are thinly disguised warnings to improve one's performance or face some undesirable consequence, the professional development plan with its clearly defined milestones and measures of success is designed to help employees succeed.
Coaching can occur one-on-one or in groups, on the telephone or in-person. When considering the cost of replacing and training key staff members, volunteers, and leaders, it is one of the most proven and cost-effective methods for enhancing loyalty and retention, the accomplishment of goals, and the power to transform organizations and their communities.In her article, “The Case for a Coach,” in Association Management, April 2001, Sheila
Maher outlines some of the advantages of coaching for non-profit leaders, managers, and volunteers. Maher’s experience coaching key staff officers at various associations has demonstrated that coaching provides:
• The ability to lead with vision rather than just manage day-to-day activities
• Reduction of over-commitment and stress
• Continued strategic thinking even when pulled in many directions
• Maximized staff effectiveness rather than micro-managing
• Using time more effectively
• Improved interpersonal skills in dealing with difficult people
Mary Beth Bos, CFRE, in her article “Leading on the Frontlines with a Coach on the Sidelines,” Customer Development Solutions, quotes a social services executive, a human services executive director, a foundation CEO, and an arts executive director on what they obtained from coaching. Their descriptions can be summarized as:
• Feeling “heard” and being self-expressed
• Establishing a vision, encouraging ownership, fostering partnership, and improving pacing
• Improved ability to be pro-active, accessible and open to staff
• Building cooperation and team-spirit, increased respect from others, and a stronger ability to handle issues before they reach a crisis stage
In addition, the non-profit leader--whether board member, volunteer, executive, or department manager--benefits personally with improved health and well-being, greater life balance, less stress, and greater productivity. The organization benefits from a more well-rounded, loyal, and dedicated leader with a clear vision, better strategies to reach goals, improved relationships with and outside the organization, improved morale, and a more successful plan of work. They are also more efficient and work in a manner consistent with the agency’s goals and plans. Even the volunteer leadership of a non-profit organization can benefit from coaching when it affects one’s individual career.
Blanchard, K.H. & Hersey, P. (1985). SLII: A situational approach to managing people. Escondido, CA: Blanchard Training and Development.
Goleman, D. (2006). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. Bantam Books.
Goldsmith, M. & Lyon, L. (2006).Coaching for leadership (2nd Ed). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Peters, J. and Wolfred, T. (2001) CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, San Francisco. See also Teirney, T. (2006) The Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit. The Bridgespan Group; and Bell, J, Moyers, R. and T. Wolfred (2006) Daring to Lead 2006: A National study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership.CompassPoint/Meyer Foundation.
Senge (1999). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. Currency-Doubleday.
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Burnout. Too many priorities to tackle. Insufficient resources. Difficulty motivating volunteers or staff. These are the challenges facing executives and managers of non-profit organizations and agencies. Non-profits are having the same problems as for-profit corporations, such as concerns of recruiting and retaining excellent staff, with the added difficultyMaxine Scott Articles
Leaders tend to invest a tremendous amount of time, money and energy in long-range initiatives and various organizational designs to achieve a competitive edge. However, no sooner than these initiatives hit the market, they became almost obsolete. Often, it appears that current organizational designs are too complex to blend in with unforeseen markets trends or too weak to quickly and effectively adapt to ongoing technological advances. While constructing relevant organizational designs may be difficult and time-consuming at best, it is hard to imagine how companies settle for the typical, ad hoc organizational structures that have no stake in assisting the company in its ability to reinvent itself when the need arises; or take advantage of emerging opportunities.
This paper describes the importance of organizational design and how 21st century organizations can use organizational design to increase their competitive advantage. It discusses the challenges and requirements of effective organizational design and describes three areas of considerations as the impetus for future reconfiguration efforts. These areas of emphasis include: 1) Investment in leadership knowledge and the knowledge worker; 2) Elimination of organizational boundaries; and 3) Implementation of strategic initiatives.
Definition of Organizational Design
According to Dumais (2011), organizational design is not simply about structure and organization charts. It is also not about balance sheets. The true essence of organizational design -as a process- rests in the relationships and interconnectivity between people, work, formal structures, informal practices, and cultural behaviors, both internally and externally. Moreover, it is about the way in which an organization manages and coordinates its human, administrative and operational resources to benefit from unique capabilities over the long-term. Deborah Jenks (2007) surmises that in the 21st century, the role of organization design has been redefined because organizations can no longer adequately compete using traditional structures. Jenks reminds us that the world has become global and complex, and organizations must not only accommodate that complexity, but become authors of it to remain competitive.
Organizational design is a fluid process oriented toward achieving results based on current and future environmental, economic and global influences. Gilmore (2007) posits that organizations exist to realize the purpose of achieving a competitive advantage. Daft (2007) agrees that it is this purpose and direction that helps shape how the organization is designed and managed. To wit, executives must appreciate their role in organizational design “because they see their decisions as high-leveraged, and see effective organizational design as a source of notable improvement in a world of temporary advantage.” Thus, organizational design, at its core and fundamental base of assumption, refers to the principles and tools leaders use to develop business entities in a more superior manner than their competitors.
Requirements of Effective Organizational Design
In today’s global and competitive digital age, research suggests that there is a tremendous need for organizations to work faster and achieve more with much less. During the 20th century, most organizations gained their business structure from an industrial system that viewed profits as the only bottom line indicator. Therefore, organizations approached their business development from a hierarchical, authoritative, vertically integrated alignment. Of course, this structure had its place and purpose. However, as technological advances expanded, the demand for a more agile, flexible organization design leaped into the discussion and created the need for 21st century organizations to consider a broader perspective. The challenge, then, became the requirement for organizations to “respond effectively and rapidly to customer demands with the ability to achieve a unique competitive advantage (Gailbraith, 2002). These challenges take into account an organizational framework, which Galbraith refers to as a “series of design policies controlled by management and influenced by employee behavior.”
Gailbraith calls this framework the ‘Star Model.’ The Star Model includes five categories of emphasis: strategy, structure, processes, rewards, and people. But at the heart of this strategy is leadership. Galbraith believes leadership must develop the strategy, which then propels the organization in a winning direction. He also believes that through effective leadership, power and authority will be properly placed and exercised; and excellent processes and procedures will be implemented to correctly direct the flow of resources and information. Furthermore, he notes that strong reward systems invigorate people to perform. Meanwhile, human resource policies are developed to address employees’ skills and mindset. If realized, all of these efforts underpin an organizational design that embodies the responsibility of leaders who make good choices and sound decisions that have a profound and positive impact on the organization’s competitive advantage. In spite of great leadership, however, inherent challenges will continue to abound and, if not properly checked, can adversely affect the complexities of change within the organizational structure. The next section discusses what some of these challenges are and how they can be addressed.
Inherent Challenges of Organizational Design
During the 20th century, organizational designs were generally based on the “keep it simple” philosophy. The primary structure was often defined by a Chief Executive Officer and a number of hierarchal Vice Presidents who served as department heads or business unit leaders. The guiding principle was the efficiency of the organization which often utilized information technology systems to reengineer business processes and spur growth of the bottom line. Employees were required to navigate around production systems, processes, and changing business needs. “What is the profit margin?” was the all encompassing question. Yet, Handy (1990) describes a current period where the changes being experienced by organizations and individuals in the 21st century are different than those experienced in the past.
Handy (1990) asserts this difference is a phenomenon he terms “discontinuous change.” He concludes that effective organizations work differently when they are indeed interested in sustained growth. In other words, 21st century organizations embody certain business structures that not only look different, but exemplify different working habits, different age profiles, and different traditions of authority. This requires a certain organizational design which supports an environment of flexibility and quick self-adjustments aimed at an esteemed sense of purpose. Bryan and Joyce (2005) note that trying to run a 21st-century company with 20th century organizational models puts a significant burden on how well a company performs. They surmise that current organizational designs hamper modern corporations with hard-to-manage [decentralization], thick silo walls, confusing matrix structures, e-mail overload, and “undoable” jobs. Yet, this organizational dilemma offers opportunities for design change and structural reinvention that has the potential to generate positive outcomes in the 21st century.
Considerations for Organizational Design in the 21st Century
If done correctly, effective organizational design provides the framework for developing a company’s capabilities. At every level, the design helps shape not only the company’s profits but its people and their willingness and ability to improve their performance over the long term - utilizing their inherent knowledge, experience and expertise. I believe companies can significantly reduce the challenges of organizational interactions and improve the overall quality of their internal collaboration by implementing three interrelated design principles: 1) Investment in leadership knowledge and the knowledge worker, 2) Elimination of organizational boundaries; and 3) Increasing the organization’s strategic initiatives.
a. Investment in Leadership Knowledge and the Knowledge Worker
David Nadler and Michael Tushman (1997) assert that the only real sustainable source of competitive advantage left in our volatile environment is in the organizational architecture (design) – the way in which an organization structures and coordinates its people and process in order to maximize its unique capabilities over the long-term. The time to make changes is before they are needed. As a result, successful organizations create flexible architecture that can accommodate constant change. Flexible architectures and designs that leverage competitive strengths will remain the ultimate competitive advantage deep into the 21 century.
Jim Murray states that in the 21st century, the very nature, speed and complexity of change will alter the way organizations address their internal functions as well as their global reach. If that is indeed the case, then the nature of leadership also requires reconsideration. What made the leaders of yesterday will not make the leaders of tomorrow. Murray notes that in the past, the leader was a “doer.” Yet, the leader in the 21st century must be a “planner,” not only charting the organization’s strategic direction, but recognizing and leveraging the organization’s capabilities; while further creating, harnessing and developing intellectual capital. Rather than simply deploying organizational assets, the 21st century leader focuses on increasing the organization’s capacity to achieve greatness through agility and resiliency.
Additionally, knowledge leaders in the 21st century must understand how to share information and build social networks rather than rely on stale hierarchies or silos to generate a competitive edge. They must be able to distinguish between the costs of paying people from the value of investing in them. They must cultivate and expand their expertise in the context of human strategy; that is, they inspire smart people to work smarter by making tacit knowledge more explicit, and understanding how to train people, as well as embracing the limits to training (Murray). In the 21st century, knowledge leaders are expected to not only be good at contributing direct and distinct knowledge to the organization, but also for developing the knowledge talent of others. Hence, the knowledge worker is a vital partner in organizational design for the 21st century.
Bryan and Joyce (2005) cite Peter Drucker as coining the phrase "knowledge worker" to describe a new class of employees whose basic means of production is no longer capital, land or labor, but the productivity of knowledge. Drucker’s vision is of professional employees who are knowledge generators rather than commodity or capital generators. He puts forth the notion that these intellectually skilled and educationally talented workers are the innovators of new business ideas, making it possible for companies to deal with today’s rapidly changing and uncertain business conditions; thereby producing and managing the intangible assets that are the primary way companies create value (Bryan and Joyce, 2005).
1) Elimination of Organizational Boundaries
The 21st century business is in the midst of a social and economic revolution, shifting from rigid to permeable structures, while creating something new: the boundaryless organization. Boundaries are necessary to prevent chaos, yet it is imperative that they allow greater flexibility and fluidity of movement between people, processes, and production (Askenas, Ron, Ulrich, Dave, Jick, Todd and Kerr, Steve, 2002). In fact, there are a number of studies that suggest the purpose of leadership in the 21st century is not about making money, but about the process of making sure the right people are talking to one another about the right things and have enough resources and flexibility to do what needs to be done. This means that unproductive designs are discarded and vertical structures that prohibit professionals from working horizontally across the whole of the organization are ignored. The elimination of organizational boundaries make it easier for workers to exchange knowledge and collaborate with other professionals both internally and externally. The new organizational design of the 21st century recognizes the value of people and their capacity to generate ideas across organizational boundaries.
Nadler and Tushman (1997) make a very succinct point about organizational design and capacity for workers to interconnect, especially outside of the proverbial company walls. They note that the role of organizational design in contemporary 21st century corporations is to streamline and simplify vertical and linear structures. Traditional lines of supervision, they suggest, tend to create barriers, which block the willing transfer of knowledge and hinder important bilateral relationships. Thus, they conclude that the organizations of the 21st century do not resemble organizations with vertical and linear constraints. Rather, their appearance is of fluid and dynamic groups similar to cross-functional work teams. Each group has an assigned membership; but they also have the ability to draw temporary members into the group for special projects and share their resources with other groups in an environment of fluidity and flexibility. Having the ability to interact and overlap across operational lines results in leaner, less vertically and linearly oriented designs.
2) Increase Efforts in Strategic Initiatives
One definition of strategy initiative includes a process whereby an organization takes various actions to gain and maintain a competitive advantage. To this end, leaders invest enormous energy in understanding their current organizational designs and engaging in long-range planning processes to adapt, evolve and adjust. That being said, Bryan and Joyce (2007), contend that most leaders overlook a golden opportunity to create a durable competitive advantage and generate high returns for less money and with less risk by failing to make organizational design the heart of their corporate strategy.
At the corporate level, this puts forth the notion that companies must manage their short and long-term earning in a way that integrates their spending on strategic initiatives within the overall budget, so they need to adopt a systematic, effective approach of making the necessary trade-offs. This is what Bryan and Joyce calls “dynamic management.” Dynamic management helps organizations in the areas of decision-making protocols, rolling budgets, and management procedures. These opportunities make it possible for companies to manage the portfolio of strategic initiatives as part of an integrated business approach. (Bryan and Joyce, 2005).
In the last century, we witnessed national monolithic organizations choosing a strategy of “going global.” Organizations grappled with how to morph hierarchical and American headquarters –centric structures-- into organizations that worked effectively across borders and with empowered workforces (Jenks, 2007). And, while de-centralization, diversity, and teams became local and global issues, the old success factors of size, role clarity, specialization, and control have been replaced in the new paradigm with speed, flexibility, integration, and innovation (Jenks, 2007). What does this mean for organizational design in the 21st century? Simply put, a new organizational model for today's big corporations will not emerge spontaneously from the obsolete legacy structures of the industrial age. Rather, companies must design new models from a holistic point of view; using new principles that take into account the way employees behave and the way professionals view and embrace value and culture. Big companies that follow these principles will get more organizational mileage - at less cost - from the managers and the professionals they employ and lean on for vision and execution. In the process, they will become fundamentally better at overcoming the challenges—and capturing the opportunities—of today's rapidly changing environment both at home and abroad.
Askenas, Ron, Ulrich, Dave, Jick, Todd and Kerr, Steve (2002). The Boundaryless Organization, Breaking the Chains of Organizational Structure. Josey-Bass. San Francisco, CA.
Byran, Lowell and Joyce, Claudia. (2005). The 21st Century Organization: Big corporations must make sweeping organizational changes to get the best from their professionals. The McKinsey Quarterly.
Byran, Lowell and Joyce, Claudia. (2007). Better strategy through organizational design. McKinsley Quarterly. Retrieved from https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Better_strategy_through_organizational_design_1991
Daft, Richard (2007). Organization Theory and Design. Thomson South-Western, Mason: OH.
Dumais, Paul. The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations. weLEAD Online Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/2011%20Archives/Feb%2011/pd-february11.pdf.
Galbraith, Jay R. (2002). Designing Organizations, An Executive Guide to Strategy, Structure, and Process. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA
Galbraith, Jay R. (2000). Designing the Global Corporation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gilmore, Bridget (2007). The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations: Capitalizing on Intellectual Property. Retrieved from http://www.cioindex.com/cio_career/ArticleId/1303/The-Role-of-Organizational-Design-in-21st-Century-Organizations-Capitalizing-on-Intellectual-Propert.aspx
Handy, Charles (1990). The Age of Unreason. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing
Jenks, Deborah F. (2007). The Role of Organizational Design in 21st Century Organizations. weLEAD Online Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.leadingtoday.org/Onmag/2007%20Archives/september07/dj-september07.pdf
Nadler, David A. and Tushman, Michael L. (1997). Competing By Design, The Power of Organizational Architecture. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
About the author:
Jacob Kelly is a Doctorate candidate in Strategic Leadership at Regent University
This material is copyright protected. No part of this document may be reproduced, in any form or by any means without permission from weLEAD Incorporated. Copyright waiver may be acquired from the weLEAD website.
Leaders tend to invest a tremendous amount of time, money and energy in long-range initiatives and various organizational designs to achieve a competitive edge. However, no sooner than these initiatives hit the market, they became almost obsolete. Often, it appears that current organizational designs are too complex to blend in with unforeseen markets trends or too weak to quickly and effectiveJacob Kelly Articles
Abraham Lincoln wrote: "Extemporaneous speaking should be practiced and cultivated; it is the lawyer's avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business, if he cannot make a speech."
When Lincoln spoke of extemporaneous speaking, he did not mean making totally unprepared speeches--"winging it" we might call it today. Few speakers can trust the moment or raw talent for a good speech. Very, very few.
Years ago I knew a woman who had a brief career as a keynote speaker. Several times she boasted to me that she never gave a prepared speech. She told me the audience deserved something new every time. She liked to believe that it was a good thing that her every utterance was something new, something never heard before, never thought of before. It occurred to me that she herself may never have thought of some of the things that she said. Many of her thoughts were new to her, too.
For a while she was in demand because she was a high-energy speaker, witty and intelligent, and well informed about corporate life.
But she relied entirely on her wits, and the moment. Clients never knew what kind of speech they would get. Sometimes her presentation would be brilliant. Other times embarrassing.
Today she is out of the speaking business.
I know another speaker who took a different path. He is witty and intelligent and well informed too, but he prepares carefully every time--even when he makes an announcement at a local meeting or introduces a relatively unknown guest speaker.
"You never know who's forming an opinion of you," he once told me. "I never have been able to understand how a professional speaker could even think about getting up to speak without preparing." Neither can I. Not surprisingly, this speaker is in demand year after year.
In case you'd like to acquire the reputation for giving great extemporaneous speeches, here's a checklist of what to do if you are called upon to make a short presentation. (A keynote presentation has additional rules, but adheres follows these basic principles, too.)
One. Know what your opening sentence will be. If this opening sentence can be witty and short and safe, good. If not witty, then short and safe. By "safe," I mean something that you know will work, not something that might ricochet.
Two. Create a script, if not on paper at least in your head. Know the main points that you need to cover—when, where, and why if an announcement. If an introduction, who the speaker is, what are his/her credentials, and why his/her message is worth hearing. If you are called upon to acknowledge or recognize a number of people, for god's sake, prepare a list in advance. You will almost certainly omit someone important if you don't.
Three. Know how you will conclude. When you are getting up to speak, have in mind how you will end. For the short presentation, the close generally is more important than the beginning. Don't just trail off or abandon control with Q & A. If you do Q & A, keep back something strong for your conclusion-- a thought-out sentence or quote or a very short and apt story to illustrate your point.
Lincoln knew and observed those rules. We know because some of his notes that he used in the courtroom have been preserved. Lincoln would prepare a rough script--how he would open, the illustrations he would use, the points he would make, and how he would conclude.
Moreover, Lincoln spent a lifetime acquiring material that he could plug into his speeches--ready-made modules to fit the moment. He memorized poems and Bible passages. He immersed himself in newspapers and books and written sermons. He knew thousands of jokes and humorous stories and even carried a joke book with him so that he could adapt traditional stories to local situations.
Lincoln spent a lot of time preparing for his extemporaneous presentations.
It's a mistake to sound too slick, too smooth, too over-rehearsed; but it's a greater mistake to sound unprepared, inept, and unprofessional. Let all speakers who ‘wing it' prepare for painful crashes. There are more winds that hurt speeches than help them.
About the author:
Gene Griessman is a professional speaker, executive coach, and author of The Words Lincoln Lived By and co-author of Lincoln Speaks To Leaders: 20 Powerful Lessons From America's 16th President, with Pat Williams and Peggy Matthews Rose. Griessman's website is http://www.presidentlincoln.com.
Abraham Lincoln wrote: "Extemporaneous speaking should be practiced and cultivated; it is the lawyer's avenue to the public. However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow to bring him business, if he cannot make a speech." When Lincoln spoke of extemporaneous speaking, he did not mean making totally unprepared speeches--"winging it" wGene Griessman, Ph.D. Articles
In today's economy business leaders can't afford to accept under-performing personnel in their companies. Yet, in a recent survey 44% of them reported being unhappy with the performance results of their employees.
In order to solve a problem such as this, employers need to first identify the cause and then create viable options for applicable solutions. There can be many reasons why employees under-perform and some leaders may point to poor attitudes, low motivation and individuals' inability to work with others, or accept and adapt to change.
Although those reasons may be absolutely valid on the surface, there are always underlying issues that have led to the causes identified by the business leader.
There are only two aspects to evaluate with under-performing employees. It's either due to an individual's:
1) ability, or
2) their attitude.
In either instance, the employee is not at fault.
There are three primary mistakes business leaders make that prevent employees from being engaged in their workplace and contributing at higher levels.
1) The organization has not given the employee a reason to be engaged and motivated, or to contribute more than minimum effort.
2) The organization has created an environment that is actually de-motivating and dis-engaging.
3) The employer failed to hire the right person for the job or to ensure the person hired is working in a role that fits their talents, skills and interests.
Business Leader Mistake #1 - Not Giving Employees a Reason to be Engaged, Motivated & Contribute
Many business leaders mistakenly believe that providing someone the privilege of a steady income and certain quality of life via a paycheck should be enough to create a motivated employee.
Yet, studies continue to show that salary and benefits, although important for providing base levels of motivation, is not enough to generate higher levels of engagement.
Many managers and leaders say they are frustrated with the feeling they have to continually find ways to light a fire under their people to get them to do what needs to be done. Instead they should be investing energy in connecting to their employees on a personal level to instead find ways to light a fire within them.
One extremely effective way to do this is to apply the Employee Motivation Equation.
The Employee Motivation Equation begins with creating an inspiring vision for the company that employees at all levels will be excited to contribute to. Daniel Pink, in his 2010 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us identified "Purpose" as one of the key motivating components for a 21st Century workforce.
Business Leader Mistake #2 - Creating a De-Motivating Environment
In any new relationship there is always a honeymoon period where all the parties involved have good feelings about the possibilities moving forward. It's the same when a new hire joins a company.
Unfortunately, a survey of about 1.2 million employees at mostly Fortune 1000 companies in the early part of this century conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, and revealed in 2005 that in 85% of companies, employee morale sharply declines after an employee's first six months on the job, and continues to fade in ensuring years.
In a significant number of companies, as this Sirota research shows, something is occurring in these work environments that causes an enthusiastic and engaged employee to change their attitude.
Many factors can be attributed to this drop off, some of which include:
a) Poorly communicated job descriptions and responsibilities causing uncertain performance expectations for the individual,
b) Inequity in managers addressing inappropriate behaviors and poor performance of co-workers,
c) Managers that play favorites and communicate disrespectfully in the workplace,
d) Lack of positive feedback for contributions made
Business Leader Mistake #3 - Making a Wrong Hiring Choice
In the haste to fill positions, often those making the hiring decisions fail to invest enough time in making sure the new hire is a good fit for the position. A "good fit' includes assessing skills, talent and job experience perspective, plus checking into the potential new hire's personality, including beliefs, attitudes and motivations.
Additionally, sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances employees are asked to fill roles not originally intended, and for which their skills and talents are not the best fit.
In these situations, despite the employees best efforts they are unable to meet desired performance expectations, and both the employee and the employer become disenchanted with the relationship. Yet, the onus must be on the employer to get it right when inviting someone into his or her work culture.
Before proclaiming employees are unmotivated, and/or unwilling, to perform to expectations and bring positive attitudes to the work environment start evaluating these three workforce mistakes from an organizational leadership and communication perspective to see if there is room for improvement.
About the author:
Skip Weisman is The Leadership & Workplace Communication Expert. Skip works with the leaders and teams in small to medium sized businesses and not-for-profits to improve communication, collaboration and teamwork in a way that delivers champion level results. You can find out more about Skip’s work at www.HowToImproveLeadershipCommunication.com .
In today's economy business leaders can't afford to accept under-performing personnel in their companies. Yet, in a recent survey 44% of them reported being unhappy with the performance results of their employees. In order to solve a problem such as this, employers need to first identify the cause and then create viable options for applicable solutions. There cSkip Weisman Articles
The world is becoming a smaller place. Many businesses, in order to thrive, must enter the global marketplace and become global organizations. As a result, the people in these organizations will cross cultures and encounter all the complications that entails. By providing insight into communicating effectively with people from other cultures, this article will be a help to leaders of emerging global organizations and their people in avoiding culture clashes.
Key to Success – Mindfulness
To communicate effectively, we must be thoughtful and look closely at the unique attributes, attitudes and behaviors of people before making predictions about them. In other words, we must listen and understand from where the other person is coming.
Many of our communications are habitual as we hardly pay attention to our communication behavior. However, when we face a new situation, such as a cross cultural encounter, we seek clues to guide our behavior. As we become comfortable in the new situation, we revert back to more habitual communications, and are no longer mindful of the other. We often categorize people with whom we communicate based upon physical and cultural characteristics, or their attitudes and beliefs. The problem with categorizing is that it creates blinders in us that prevent us from truly hearing and knowing the people with whom we are communicating.
To improve the effectiveness of our communications with all people, in particular, people of other cultures, we need to be aware of how we communicate – we must be mindful. Awareness of our communications and the related competence can be described as a four-step process: 1. unconscious incompetence – we misinterpret others’ communication behavior but are not aware of it; 2. conscious incompetence – we are aware that we misinterpret others’ communication behavior but choose not to do anything to change; 3. conscious competence – we are aware of what we think about communication behavior and modify our behavior to make the communications more effective - we become mindful of our communication behaviors; and 3. unconscious competence – we have practiced the skills of effective communication and it becomes second nature to us.
Cultural Considerations in Communications
Low and High Context Cultures
Some cultures are low context and some are high. This refers to the communication process. A high-context communication process is where most of the information being communicated is in the physical context or in the person and not in the message. A low-context communication process is where the information being conveyed is in the communications – clear and direct. The United States is a low-context culture, where communications are direct and complete. We have sayings such as “get to the point” or “say what you mean” that clearly demonstrate the low-context. On the other hand, Japan, China and Korea are high-context cultures where people make a greater distinction between insiders and outsiders and where the individual communicating expects the hearer to know what is bothering him without being specific. There are advantages to high context cultures in that people raised in high-context systems expect more of others than do the participants in low-context systems. For us low-context communicators, we want things clear and out on the table, and we get annoyed by communications done in an indirect fashion. The point here (and I will get to the point for us low context people) is that it is important to understand the form of communications that predominates in a culture in order to correctly interpret and understand the behavior of those with whom we are communicating.
Monochronic and Polychronic Cultures
A monochromic culture is one where people have involvement in one event at a time. A polychronic culture is one where people are involved in two or more events at the same time. In extremely monochronic cultures, people focus on a single task or project and see anything outside of the task or project as an interruption. Conversely, in more polychronic cultures, people have involvement in several activities, moving back and forth between them easily. In a polychronic culture, an unexpected customer dropping in would be considered part of the normal flow of tasks and not considered an interruption. In Arab nations, it is common for a leader to have several people in his office discussing and working on separate and unrelated tasks. For us monochronic Americans, we have our agendas and work through each item, one at a time. It would be a large distraction to be in an office where we have business to discuss with someone and there are five other people transacting different business, and all happening at the same time. Again, the point here is that it is important to understand the predominate mode of operation in the culture in order to correctly interpret and understand the behavior of those with whom we are communicating, so we can adjust ourselves.
Most Needed – Organizational Glue and An Environment of Trust
Edward Hall says that culture is communications and communications is culture. Whether a husband-wife relationship, a friendship or in an organization, success is dependent in large part by the effectiveness of communications. As can be seen above, adding a cross cultural dimension makes effective communications more challenging. What can leaders do to encourage effective communications? First, they can make sure that their organization has in place a core ideology which brings its people together – the glue that holds its people together. Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book, “Built to Last,”, define the core ideology as “that which provides the bonding glue that holds an organization together as it grows, decentralizes, diversifies, expands globally and attains diversity.” The core ideology is made up of two things: core purpose and core values. The core purpose is the fundamental reason for being – the importance people attach to the organization’s work. It is the organization’s identity. Core values are those essential and enduring tenants that have intrinsic value for and are important to the people inside the organization. The core ideology holds the organization’s people together, like glue, no matter from what culture they are, by unifying people toward the achievement of the organization’s purpose.
A second thing leaders can do is to create an environment of trust. Trust is the first and foremost leadership attribute, as determined in the GLOBE Study of 17,000 people in 62 countries. Trust comes from being in relationship, where people see us in action and see that we are not in this leadership thing for ourselves, but that we are pursuing a higher purpose. It is determined by the leader’s communicative and supportive behaviors, as the amount of information received about the job and the organization helps build trust in top management and direct supervisors. Trust takes a long time to build, and it can be lost in a moment by one significant and selfish act. People watch leaders. People are looking for leaders who do what they say they will do – this is integrity. They look for leaders who do the right thing at the right time for the right reason, as stated by . Bruce Winston in his book, “Be a Leader, for God’s Sake.”
Trust theory has established that leader behavior has a great deal to do with creating a culture of trust. It has also established the importance of trust in organizational effectiveness. An important role of the organization’s leaders is the establishment of relationships characterized by confidence, trust and reliance. As determined by Jeffrey Cufaude in his 1999 article entitled “Creating organizational trust”, the following factors are associated with a culture of trust in an organization: the depth and quality of personal relationships; clarity of roles and responsibilities; frequency, timeliness and forthrightness of communications; competence to get the job done; clarity of shared purpose (core ideology); direction and vision; and honoring promises and commitments.
Edward Hall concluded that his many years of study convinced him that the real job is not understanding the culture of another, but that of your own. Culture has a huge impact on how we live our lives. If we are to relate effectively with people from other cultures, then we must know how our culture impacts us. One of the most effective ways to learn about ourselves is to take seriously the cultures of others. By doing this, it forces us to pay attention to the details of our lives and what differentiates us from others. It gives us a sense of vitality and awareness. It keeps us continually learning and growing as people. Effective communications results when we walk in the shoes of another. This means making ourselves vulnerable with other people, something people are more willing to do when they work in a culture of trust.
About the author:
Paul Dumais is Director of Asset Management and Investment Planning at Iberdrola USA, a family of electric and gas utilities serving customers in New England and in the State of New York. He is second year student in the Doctorate of Strategic Leadership Program in the School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship at Regent University. Mr. Dumais holds an MBA from the University of Southern Maine. He lives with his wife Kathleen in Webster, New York and may be reached for comment at email@example.com
The world is becoming a smaller place. Many businesses, in order to thrive, must enter the global marketplace and become global organizations. As a result, the people in these organizations will cross cultures and encounter all the complications that entails. By providing insight into communicating effectively with people from other cultures, this article will be a help to leaders of emergingPaul Dumais Articles
Mastering the Art of Asking Questions is essential if you want to succeed. It's not simply a matter of getting in the habit of utilizing questions in your interactions with people. It's really about learning how to ask the right questions at the right time.
Whether you're having sales conversations, coaching conversations, or working to develop others, learning how to ask good questions can be the difference between success and failure. What does asking the right questions at the right time mean? It means asking questions in such a way as to better understand the other person, their needs, and their motivations.
Since the questions asked and the flow of an effective conversation varies from person to person and from situation to situation, the best way to illustrate the Art of Asking Questions is by way of example.
Here is a sample sales conversation, conducted by someone not skilled at the Art of Asking Questions:
Hi Bob, I'm calling about the great widgets my company sells. Do you have a few minutes to speak?
Great! Are you familiar with our brand?
"No, not really."
We offer widgets that solve a number of problems and have some great features. The new V210 - our mid-grade model - consumes 20% less energy than our competition and is 10% smaller. It comes in three different colors - red, black and white. Can I schedule a time with you to come by and show it to you?
"What's the price?"
It normally sells for $199, but I can offer it to you at a 25% discount - only $149.
"Do you have something you can send me?"
Sure... what address should I send it to?
"123 Main St."
Great! I'll give you a follow-up call in about a week. OK?
"Yes, that would be fine."
If you've been in sales, you already know the outcome of that conversation. The likelihood of closing a sale is slim and the salesperson will no doubt continue to try to reach the prospect again until they get discouraged and give up.
The next example is the same conversation conducted by someone who is better skilled at the Art of Asking Questions, but is not quite there yet:
Hi Bob, my company helps companies like yours solve their widget problems. Do you have a few minutes to talk?
Do you currently use widgets in your business?
"Yes, we do."
Have you been pleased with the ones you have?
"Well, for the most part we are, but nothing's perfect."
The newer design of widgets have a number of improvements over older models. Would you like to hear more about some of the improvements?
Well, feature 1... , feature 2..., feature 3... We have a number of different models available. Do you have a budget in mind?
"Well, we haven't been actively looking up until now. Can you send me some information?"
I'd rather come by and show you first-hand so you can really see what I'm talking about. Which would be better for you, Tuesday morning or Wednesday afternoon?
"How about Tuesday morning."
Great! I'll see you Tuesday morning then!
While it is possible that this salesperson may make a sale, it's far from a sure thing. Even though the prospect set the appointment, the salesperson really doesn't know anything about the prospect or the prospect's motivations.
The conversation would unfold very differently if the salesperson was skilled in the Art of Asking Questions:
Hi Bob, my name is Paul and I help companies like yours solve any widget problems they have. Do you have a few minutes to talk?
Do you currently use widgets in your business?
"Yes, we do."
How often do you use your widgets?
"Pretty much every day."
To what extent? How much?
"About 3-4 hours every day."
It sounds like you rely on them pretty heavily.
What aspects of your widgets work best for you?
"Well, for one thing they've been really reliable. We've had them for over 4 years. Also, we need the automated feed feature and that's been a life-saver. And the supplies are easy to find and affordable."
Sounds like they've served you well. Have you had any problems with them?
"Well, the only problem we've had is that they sometimes misfeed."
When you say they sometimes misfeed, specifically how often does that happen?
"Only once or twice a day."
Are there any features or functions you wish they had?
"It would be nice if they had a bigger bin so we didn't haveto re-stock them so often."
Anything else? Would it help if they could automatically stack the finished product?
"Can they do that?"
Ours can. I think it would make sense for us to get together. I can show you a widget I have that has a 99% reliability record, high-speed automatic feeding without jamming, a large bin, and automated stacking. Do you have about 25 minutes on Tuesday morning or would something like Wednesday afternoon work better for you?
"Let's do next Tuesday morning."
As you can see, the last sales conversation unfolded very differently than the prior two. In the last conversation, the salesperson asked good questions - questions which uncovered what mattered to the other person, along with some motivations for making a change. (We didn't have time in this article to uncover all the motivations.)
Having a conversation like this helps the prospect to clarify what features he needed and highlighted problems and desires. Both parties knew exactly why they were getting together and the likelihood of closing a sale was extremely high.
When you master the Art of Asking Questions, you learn to ask questions which uncover motivations and you'll do a better job of selling, coaching, and developing others.
About the author:
Michael Beck is a Business Strategist and Executive Coach. For more articles on leadership, personal effectiveness and personal productivity, please visit www.michaeljbeck.com.
*image courtesy of photostock/freedigitalphotos.net
Mastering the Art of Asking Questions is essential if you want to succeed. It's not simply a matter of getting in the habit of utilizing questions in your interactions with people. It's really about learning how to ask the right questions at the right time. Whether you're having sales conversations, coaching conversations, or working to develop others, learMichael Beck Articles
Because of thunder storms in Atlanta, the flight from Dallas to Atlanta had been delayed twice. On the third attempt, we were boarding and I felt hopeful of actually getting off the ground. My hopes faded fast when the tired-looking flight attendant came down the aisle quietly announcing that if we were not permitted to take off in the next 15 minutes, the crew would have exceeded their 16-hour work day and we would have to taxi back to the terminal and await another flight.
We were not given permission to take off, the crew's time expired and as we taxied back to the terminal I felt mixed emotions. I kept thinking, "But we were right there ready to take off. How could 1-1/2 more hours matter?"
Just as airlines are concerned about overworked pilots and flight attendants, employers should be concerned about overworked employees. Why? Errors, accidents, and low productivity for a start.
My mixed emotions as we taxied back to the terminal are similar to the signals our culture sends today about long work hours. In one breath we agree with employees having a pity party about how hard they work and with the other breath, we award employees a "red badge of courage" for having the guts to go the extra mile.
A study by the Families and Work Institute concludes that overworked employees should be taken seriously. Employees who are overworked are more likely to exhibit anxiety, make mistakes at work, harbor angry feelings about their employer for expecting them to be on the job for long hours and resent coworkers who don't pull their share of the load. The study documents that nearly half of employees who feel overworked report that their health is poor and 8 percent of employees who are not overworked experience symptoms of clinical depression compared with 21 percent of those who are highly overworked.
Helping Employees Feel Less Overwhelmed
What can the organization do to help employees feel less overworked while still finishing their tasks in a given day? Using time efficiently at work is an individual and an organizational issue. On the organizational side, managers can help employees reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by:
- Training employees in time management principles
- Discouraging the practice of eating at the desk and working through lunch
- Insisting employees taking vacation time
- Permitting flexible work hours when appropriate
- Encouraging non-interrupt zones in the day when workers can focus on their tasks
- Assigning tasks well in advance of the drop dead date
- Helping Employees Be More Effective
A tried and true principle states that to be efficient, you must first be effective. For instance, the maker of buggy whips might be highly efficient in manufacturing techniques, but if no one buys the buggy whips, the process is not effective.
To encourage efficiency and effectiveness, managers can:
- Have clearly stated goals with built in deadlines
- Insist employees make a daily "to do" list
- Make certain equipment works properly
- Supply the necessary materials for job completion
- Train employees on software packages that enable more efficient work
Ensuring the above items are taken care of is essential to help employees leverage their time while in the office and be more productive.
Realizing a Productivity Culture Change
Managers should make a concerted effort to grease the wheels of productivity, and not be the stick that gets caught in the tire spokes, catapulting the rider from the trail. By attending to these issues, managers can help workers feel less overwhelmed and enable them do more in less time. You'll like the results.
About the author:
Karla Brandau is CEO of Workplace Power Institute. She offers keynotes, workshops, and retreats to move your organization forward in the chaotic environment of the 21st Century. You can contact Karla at firstname.lastname@example.org visit her blog at www.FromTheDeskofKarlaBrandau.com
Because of thunder storms in Atlanta, the flight from Dallas to Atlanta had been delayed twice. On the third attempt, we were boarding and I felt hopeful of actually getting off the ground. My hopes faded fast when the tired-looking flight attendant came down the aisle quietly announcing that if we were not permitted to take off in the next 15 minutes, the crew would have exceeded their 16-hourKarla Brandau Articles
The greatest victory any leader can enjoy is mission or task accomplishment. That is what we are here for and the standard by which we will be measured but before we achieve that lofty goal, before we get to celebrate that success, we have to do something toward getting our people to do the things we want them to do. That, of course, is what leadership is all about but too often that is where the seeds of failure are sewn and where we miss the opportunity to assure a complete and overwhelming success.
For good or for ill our people are a reflection of our leadership and if marginal successes and marginal victories are what we are celebrating and what we are accepting, I can promise you the paradigm will hold true and that staggering collapse across the finish line that you use to mark the successful completion of a task or project, will show itself in how your people mark their own milestones and wins. Not begrudging any success but aiming just a little higher, pushing just a little further, both assures the win and sets a standard for something just a little better. Excellence is nothing more or less than our not accepting the norm or commonplace and holding out for something better. As leaders we get to define success, though too often we are not taking that time or insisting on anything beyond the ordinary. If you are asking for ordinary I am guessing that is just what you will get. I am suggesting that as long as we’re asking, we might as well ask for something better.
One of the scariest and most challenging things any leader will ever face is putting the fate of a task or project in the hands of another human being. As leaders we are tasked with delivering results every day, in every task, project or mission we take on and in the final analysis we are either effective leaders and deliver the goods, or we are something else. Our success or failure will always be tied to how effectively we lead, empower and motivate our staff. If we are finding ourselves in that “something else” category, maybe it is time to take a look at how we lead.
The very best staff member you could ever ask for is one who will do all the things you would ask, with the initiative to go one better and do the extra things that would assure a quality result delivered ahead of our expectations. There is no doubt that this is a rare bird in most work places but that is more a reflection on our failures as leaders than it is testament to the rarity of the species. Our people are what we make them. Behaviors like initiative only occur in work places that support and empower their staff members. Initiative only exists where it is encouraged and when there is enough confidence to act and to step beyond what is expected. It is not the responsibility of a staff member to show initiative, it is our responsibility as leaders to encourage and reward this type of behavior when it occurs. Extraordinary is always the result of leadership that empowers people toward something better, with the confidence to act.
In our setting expectations for something better, it is very important that we paint that picture for our people. In training, in planning and in communicating, we do everything possible to support their efforts toward this new frontier, correcting our course as necessary and celebrating our victories along the way. George Patton once said “Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results”. Initiative and the courage to act we had talked about only comes in an environment that encourages innovation and imagination in finding solutions. There is a risk in delegating responsibilities to other staff members. To whatever degree we are able to train them, to whatever degree we are able to communicate our expectations, we mitigate that risk and create an environment that goes beyond what is expected, assuring success, time and time again. A side benefit to our empowering our staff members is in their confidence. A confident worker is one who displays that initiative we had talked about and one who will make suggestions and share ideas and grow and learn and become more productive. There is no doubt that there are risks through all of this but that journey from good to great is never without challenge or setbacks but it is always worth the effort. Effective leadership is the key.
In staff surveys I have seen over the years and in productivity studies I have participated in, I am amazed and astounded at how often I run into whole populations of staff members who don’t know what is expected of them. Nearly as often I hear from business owners and senior managers that they are frustrated with the lack of initiative and willingness to act they observe from their staff members. As a leader it is easy to blame your staff when things are going wrong but if you are failing to set expectations for excellence and if you are failing to train and encourage their efforts, any shortfalls or failures rest squarely on your shoulders. If you, as the leader, are not defining success, how can you reasonably expect your people to deliver the results that you were looking for? When I ask this question I am nearly always presented with a “common sense” argument that seems to say that our people should know what is expected and that ‘we shouldn’t have to babysit them’. Really?
I am one of those old dogs that happen to believe in people. I believe that if we do a good job in defining our expectations for our staff members and if we train them in such a way as to assure their ability to perform the things we are asking of them and encourage them and celebrate their successes, most people will go beyond what you had wanted and deliver that high end success we should all be looking for. There are exceptions; those rare and misguided individuals that, despite the explanations and training and encouragement, just don’t ever seem to get it. Another important aspect of leadership is in our recognizing those among us who are not willing or not capable of delivering on the tasks and responsibilities we have laid in front of them. As painful as it might be, they have to go. I would tell you to be patient and give them every reasonable chance to succeed but if they are not contributing to your success, for whatever the reason, then they are hindering it and you need to move on. Remember, the leader’s greatest responsibility is task or mission accomplishment. Nothing or no one can stand in the way of that. People always need to be given the opportunity to do the right thing and if you have helped them define that, they might just surprise you.
In ‘Leading Change’ John Kotter said “Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there.”
Who have you motivated or inspired today?
About the author:
Brian Canning is a regular contributor to weLEAD and a business analyst working in the federal sector. For the past thirty years he has worked in the automotive repair industry, most recently as a leadership and management coach with the Automotive Training Institute in Savage, Maryland. After serving as a tank commander with the 1st Armored Division in Europe, he started his career as a Goodyear service manager in suburban Washington D.C., moving on to oversee several stores and later a sales region. He also has been a retail sales manager for a large auto parts distributor, run a large fleet operation and headed a large multi-state sales territory for an independent manufacturer of auto parts. His passions are history, leadership and writing.
The greatest victory any leader can enjoy is mission or task accomplishment. That is what we are here for and the standard by which we will be measured but before we achieve that lofty goal, before we get to celebrate that success, we have to do something toward getting our people to do the things we want them to do. That, of course, is what leadership is all about but too often that is where tBrian Canning Articles
To produce healthy plants it takes the right amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer, and care. Too much water or too little sunlight may hurt your plants. The best gardeners learn through experience and reflection what flowers need to grow and develop. In a similar way, seasoned leaders know what it takes to help people and organizations achieve their potential. They provide the right amount of direction, discussion, coaching and feedback to help people succeed. They have a balanced approach in areas like the following:
1. Task and People
The seasoned leader focuses on both the task and the people. Some leaders are too task-focused. For example, Ralph led a group of seven people. With him it was all business. No small talk or reaching out to people as people. For him the only thing that mattered was results. On the other hand some leaders are too focused on pleasing people at the expense of solving problems and getting the work done.
2. Talk and Listen
What’s your ratio? We have all met leaders who are ineffective because they don’t listen. Remember the God given ratio—two ears, one mouth. On the other side of the equation I met one leader who was a great listener but his employees didn’t know where he stood on key issues. The seasoned leader engages in the appropriate amount of both talking—stating their views and listening to ideas of others.
3. Plan and Do
Planning is important, but so is execution. Some leaders over plan and under execute. Of course some leaders do just the opposite. They’re busy having meetings, doing power point presentations but making no improvements in the operation. Is there a “right” balance? It depends. In some situations an hour spent planning makes the implementation go more smoothly. In a crisis situation you may have only 60 seconds to plan—quick action is required.
4. Results and Process
Some leaders only focus on results. In meeting after meeting they ask, “What’s the bottom line?” Results are important but so is process—how things are done. However, putting all your attention on process is also wrong. Results count! The seasoned leader focuses on both what is being accomplished and how it’s being accomplished.
5. Firm and Flexible
There are times to be firm and there are times to be flexible. The overly flexible leader is unwilling to take a firm stand. They are wishy-washy and often flip flop on their position. On the other hand, the overly firm leader is rigid and sees every issue as black and white. Seasoned leaders have the wisdom to know when to hold the line and when to be flexible.
6. Coaching and Letting Go
An important part of a leader’s job is to coach people on how to be more effective and efficient. However, there is an important difference between too little and too much coaching. Too much can frustrate initiative. On the other hand, too little coaching and guidance can cause failure. Sometimes failure can be the best thing, life lessons often come out of failure. Other times it can be catastrophic – in the case of accident, injury, or other severe loss. Seasoned leaders know the difference between providing too much and too little coaching.
7. Facts and Feelings
Getting the facts is important. But tuning into your feelings is also important before making important decisions. Some executives fail to identify the danger signals because they repress their feelings as if feelings are something to be avoided. I like the way author and blogger Mary Jo Asmus stated it in a recent blog— “Connect with your heart when your head wants to rule. Connect with your head when your emotions are threatening to take over.”
8. Work Life and Family Life
Some leaders get totally consumed by their job and neglect their family. In his book, Better Under Pressure, Justin Menkes, interviewed Ralph Larsen, retired CEO of Johnson and Johnson. In the interview Larsen stated, “…you’ve got to make sure that you have the right balance between your work life and your family life, that you take care of your family and kids so you don’t have chaos at work and at home.”
What would you add to this list?
Seasoned leaders know the importance of balance. But finding the right balance doesn’t mean moderation in all things. Rather it means being versatile and flexible. It means using the appropriate mix of various ingredients to help people grow and blossom. Great leaders have the wisdom to know what actions are needed and necessary to achieve success.
Kaplan, R.E. and Kaiser, R.B. “Developing Versatile Leaders.” MIT Sloan Management Review
Menkes,J. Better Under Pressure. Harvard Business Review Press, 2011.
About the author:
Paul B. Thornton is the author of numerous articles and 13 books on management and leadership. His latest book, Leadership—Off the Wall, highlights the guiding principles some well-known business and political leaders keep on their desks or post on their office walls.
In addition to being a speaker and management/leadership trainer, he is a business professor at Springfield Technical Community College. In the last 20 years, he has trained over 10,000 people to be more effective managers and leaders. You can find out more about Paul at www.PBThornton.com and contact him at PThornton@stcc.edu
*image courtesy of Simon Howden/freedigitalphotos.net
To produce healthy plants it takes the right amount of water, sunlight, fertilizer, and care. Too much water or too little sunlight may hurt your plants. The best gardeners learn through experience and reflection what flowers need to grow and develop. In a similar way, seasoned leaders know what it takes to help people and organizations achieve their potential. They provide the rightPaul B. Thornton Articles
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- Servant leadership
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