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Via LinkedIn : They say that great leaders are born and it is a quality that cannot be taught. Even at an early age, some children have a unique ability to command attention and lead while others exhibit follower, introvert or supporter qualities. Often times, the leaders, at an early age, become the managers and leaders in organizations later in life.

It would be preposterous, however, to say that all the five year-olds who demonstrated leadership qualities in your kindergarten class now have a corner office and play golf every Tuesday. Truth is that not all people who have leadership qualities make it into a leadership role in their career – and we can all name managers in the corner office that certainly do not belong there. Organizational psychologists say that employees do not quit a company; they quit a manager because they simply do not see a favorable outcome in working for that manager. Looking across different industries, there are several qualities that make managers great and thus are a true asset to the organization.

Lead by Example – Managers may conduct themselves with a “do as I say and not as I do” attitude. This includes showing up to meetings late, being ill prepared for meetings, being disrespectful to underlings or demanding that others complete reports or slides for a presentation that he/she will be presenting. Your employees look to you for leadership. When a manager behaves in a matter that is anything other than a leader, respect can be easily lost with little chance of restoring it.

Set Expectations – Too many times employees are not clear on what is expected of them. The last time some employees may have seen their job description was when they applied for the job. Most employees get an orientation, but it never really speaks to expectations to their specific role. Managers need regularly meet with their employees and set what expectations and goals are for each employee. Regular and frank feedback, both good and bad is needed so employees understand what they are measured against as well as how to adjust their skill set and ability to execute based on the current state and current needs.

Be Genuine – One of the biggest complaints of employees is that their manager is too busy “managing up” or playing the game rather than managing their business. It is as important for a manager to be real with his/her employees as it is to be a leader. One recent horror story I heard was of an employee who asked for and received permission to work remote several days a week since she had just adopted a child. Within the course of one business quarter, the manager reversed her decision putting the employee in a horrible position of choosing between her job and her child. At the same time, this very manager worked remote every Friday. Employees are real people and they have lives outside of work that can impact work. Sickness, divorce, family issues and loss of a loved one are all real life events. A good manager recognizes this and works with the employee to find the best solution that can help mitigate the issue and where both work and personal needs can co-exist. Working with the employee will create less impact at work while also rewarding you with an infinitely more loyal employee than before this life event.

Support Your Staff – Investing in your staff is more than simply sending them to a development class. One of the questions I routinely get is what I look for when hiring an employee. I always look for someone who knows something more in an area than I do. Creating an arsenal of relevant team talent not only strengthens your group but it also motivates your direct reports because of their subject matter expertise. When a direction is taken that is agreed upon by your team, it is essential that you, as the manager, back-up your employees. The worst outcome is when an employee has reason to believe that his/her manager has their back only to learn that the leader has waffled in order to be a player in the political corporate game.

Remember Your Roots – Not long ago, I met Robert Herjavec – a multi-millionaire featured on the well-known TV show Shark Tank. At the event, Robert was undoubtedly the most successful and wealthy person in the room. It stood out (to me) to see vice presidents from various companies carry themselves with all the bluster and swagger that they could muster while Mr. Herjavec carried himself as an average “business-man”. He never forgot his roots or where his family came from. We all can recall our first day on the job, our first junior position and reporting to managers both good and bad. As a manager, remembering your roots and treating your directs in the way you would want to be treated yields better results than intimidating, alienating and de-motivating employees that mostly want to do the right thing for themselves and for the company.

Your employer saw something in you and you in them – which is why you are now working for them. If you manage staff, you have the added responsibility of training, motivating and managing your staff to produce stellar results. While you rely on your “directs” to get the job done, they rely on you to lead. Are you doing the right things to promote success of your staff, your company, and, in turn, you?

Via LinkedIn : One can create a constructive approach towards change within an organization; however, if pluralistic views are unaccepted, constructive change is difficult. Kant (nd), suggests that if individuals are required to change, it may take some time to do so because people are accustomed to doing things in a particular manner. Individuals are resistant to change, especially if they have been tenured in an organization and perhaps a particular field. Watson (1982) noted that it is common for managers to perceive resistance negatively, and, as such, employees who do resist change are classified as disobedient; therefore, managers are prone to treat their employees as obstacles – dismissing potential valid concerns towards proposed changes (Piderit, 2000). More importantly, attitudes towards change challenge status quo, management’s ideals and management seniority, which lead towards the dismissal of potentially valid organizational concerns by employees. Unfortunately, this perception of resistance is misunderstood and regarded as disrespectful or unjustified, unknowing that such opposition may be driven by ones ethical principles or personal ideal to protect the organizations best interest (Piderit, 2000).

Hand

 

Watson (1982) suggests that such resistance is just simply reluctance to change and behavioral theorists suggests that such reluctance is influenced by multiple dimensions of attitudes towards the change. Krantz (1999) and Rosenberg and Hovland (1960) argue that attitudes are organized along three dimensions – cognitive, emotional and intentional. The benefit of identifying and using such multidimensional understanding in describing employees various attitudes towards organizational change is that one can conceptualize each as a separate unit, which will allow the comprehension of employee’s reactions along the various dimensions (Piderit, 2000). This provides a richer view to which employees may react and respond to change. In addition, Pratt and Barnett (1997) argue that ambivalence is essential in stimulating unlearning which is a precursor towards change. Similarly,Weigert and Franks (1989) argue that ambivalence can offer a foundation to which motivating new action occurs, rather-than performing old routines (Watson, 1982). Therefore, pluralistic views are essential in identifying unconsidered alternative behaviors. However, many organizations are caught in paradoxes in which employees refrain from expressing issues and problems. Such employees face unforeseen consequences in challenging corporate policy and perceived managerial rights and organizations are typically intolerant of opposition; therefore, employees are reluctant to communicate issues and problems to management (Ewing, 1977).

Do not rock the boat, just do your job…

Although Watson (1982) advocates for pluralism, it appears that many organizations and management create conditions conducive to silence, which has negative consequences towards change. Redding (1985) suggests that many organizations implicitly advocate that employees should not “rock the boat” through challenging corporate guidelines or managerial rights (Morrison and Milliken, 2000). In addition,Ewing (1977) and Nemeth (1997) found that organizations are particularly intolerant of opposition and therefore, employees refrain from engaging in upward communication in presenting problems, issues and ideas. As such, multiple viewpoints are neglected and the health of the organization suffers (Argyris and Schon, 1978).

managements fear of negative feedback and implicit beliefs

If pluralistic views are important for decision making, and such theory is expressed in literature, then why do management lack such behavior? Morrison and Milliken (2000) argue that ‘organizational silence is an outcome that owes its origins to (1) managers’ fear of negative feedback, and (2) the set of implicit beliefs often held by managers’ (Morrison and Milliken, 2002: 708). Brockner and James (2008) noted, based upon the work of Staw et al. (1981) that ‘organizations and the people and groups that comprise them, react to the stress and anxiety elicited by the interpretation of strategic issues as threats’ (Brockner and James, 2008: 99).

Interestingly enough, Staw et al. (1981) noted that stress and anxiety leads towards the limitation of the amount of information that is processed and how that information is actually processed. Therefore, subsequent to and during a crisis, stakeholders are less likely to be tolerant to information that challenges status quo. As such, individuals attempt to evade negative feedback (Ashford and Cummings, 1983) and if they do, then it is ignored or dismissed as inaccurate or attack the credibility of the source to deem it as unjustified (Ilgen et al., 1979). Further, this behavior appears to be strong with managers (Argyris and Schon, 1978) and subordinates (Ilgen et al., 1979) as they attempt to refrain from vulnerability and/or incompetence.

Morrison and Milliken (2000) argues that particular conditions foster such behavior such as the lack of subordinate identification as one progresses upward within the organization, the conceptualization of “management knows best”, the belief about employee self-interest and the belief that employees lack understanding of the operation and financial condition of the organization. Such rationalization by management refrain employees from involving them in the decision making processes. More importantly, Ilgen et al. (1979) suggests that managers are more likely to dismiss or discount feedback from employees if such feedback differs from their own.

Fear

 

Such organizational silence and highly centralized structure establishes a negative organizational climate which hinders employee upward communication. Morrison and Milliken (2000) argue that this affects employee’s cognitions, attitudes and behavior – employees feel unvalued, have lack of control and have cognitive conflict. In order to capitalize upon the ideal pluralism structure, it is essential for that system to permit employee communication without recourse. If not, management may diagnose employees as disengaged, self-interested, and opportunistic, which may lead towards inaccurately holding them accountable for outcomes that are purely managements causations (Morrison and Milliken, 2000). More importantly, the lack of pluralistic views prevents growth and, perhaps, establishes competitive disadvantages.

Unfortunately, perhaps, management true behavior contradicts what is perceived to be communicated due to the violation of social norms.

Via LinkedIn : Last week we talked about the 4 Stages of Learning. This week we will talk about the 4 things your team needs from you, as a coach, to be unconsciously competent in their performance.

1. The Vision. This is simply crystalizing what they bring to the organization. It is not a mission statement or a daylong seminar. It is helping people see themselves as an integral part of the team. It’s creating a picture of what it looks like when they are “up to speed” and operating at maximum capacity. It is also called “futuring” them. This is not just communicated one time. It is consistently communicating the outcome and anchoring them to something bigger than what is currently happening.

2. The Plan. What exactly is needed for them to be more proficient in their position? What do they need to be better at? What action is needed for their growth? Is it research? Talking to other employees? Studying? Talking to clients? Reading a particular book? Reading internal memos? Taking a class? Attending a seminar? Finding a mentor? Being a mentor? Also, what is a reasonable time line for their learning curve? That should definitely be part of the plan. I’m not talking about a micro-managing plan. I’m talking about a plan with specific touch points over time. Where should they be in 1 month, 3, 6…1 year, etc? Having a plan doesn’t mean it is in stone. The plan can evolve but having a “track to run on” creates security for the people you lead.

3. Repetition. Let’s add feedback as well. Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. I heard Cindy Bristow, founder of Softball Excellence, once say “only perfect practice makes perfect.” So true! If you don’t meet regularly with your people and give them the feedback, they will just get better and doing it wrong. You must provide constructive criticism and have the crucial conversations needed to move people to stage 4. Learning the art of crucial conversations is a skill that must be learned by great coaches. Telling your people the truth about their performance, and being consistent with your counsel, is non-negotiable. Coaches that dodge tough conversations can seldom get the most out of the potential of their team.

4. Lastly, you must be a cheerleader. What? You didn’t sign up to be a cheerleader? You don’t have the time, energy, or the patience to get people up to speed? Then you have 2 options. 1. Surround yourself with very competent people that can serve as a buffer and help you or 2. Continue to lose great people to other opportunities. I know this might seem harsh but the most important job of a leader is to develop other people. Spending time helping other people grow in their position is the true job description of leadership. The payoff? Parlaying your knowledge and finding the right people that will be able to grow the company or team has infinite possibilities. It will provide exponential growth. Not doing it, is one of the reasons leaders and companies fail.

This is what your people need. Some of you can provide all 4 and some of you will hire it out. It matters not, which one you do….as long as you make sure the people on your team get all 4. Which one are you best at? Which one will you start working on? The answer to that question is the difference between cultivating mediocre and top performing people.

Excerpt from the Best Selling Book….”What Exceptional Leaders Know”, co-authored with Wally Schmader

Via LinkedIn : One concept that has been getting a lot of attention lately is organizational trust. In many of today’s biggest and most respected companies, there is a trust deficit, where employees, mid-level managers, even senior executives lack the confidence to do their job. As leaders, we need to have confidence and trust in our people, and we need to create an environment where innovation, creativity and self-assurance attract the best and brightest. Businesses grow best when employees grow with it, yet not trusting is the number one mistake leaders make. Strong leadership depends on a qualified team, their decisions and their ability to get things done.

Why Trust Is Important

Avoid Burn Out: It’s nice to know that the work you delegate or the team you assign can get the job done. But there’s more to trust than knowing a positive result will occur. Without trust and confidence, even the best leaders flounder, as they can’t keep the pace necessary to sustain a growing, thriving organization. There are only so many hours in each day and leaders who lack confidence in their team try and inevitably fail to do everything on their own.

Retain Great Talent: If you deny your people the freedom and flexibility to use their own judgment and to pursue their work confidently, the good ones will leave. Without a little latitude, and the ability to “break a little glass”, employees will feel frustrated and unsatisfied. Those that do stay will never go above and beyond, resulting in a mediocre organization where “exceptionalism” is nowhere in sight.

Build Future Leaders: A primary role of any leader is to develop future leaders and grow the organization forward with the best and brightest. If the mindset is to look inward and do everything alone, by definition, you limit your ability to hire great people, retain great people and build a team that can grow revenue and profits.

The greatest, most successful leaders build high performing organizations by trusting their team.

Failure to delegate is the number one mistake leaders make, not recognizing that a strong support system is critical for success. Balancing delegation with risk, having qualified people to delegate to, and giving them the latitude they need to create and excel is fundamental. Besides, one of the greatest things about leadership and trust is the fact that once you make a decision, you always have the opportunity to make more. No leader or organization can have long-term success without building a team of successful leaders. Growth, both personally and organizationally, comes primarily by developing leaders and employees whose efforts, talents and results are expanded geometrically. In virtually all situations, “we” is far more powerful than “me!”

Via LinkedIn : Some people may seem like born leaders, but the truth is, they were influenced and trained by existing leaders.

When it comes time to fill a leadership role in your company, don’t look any further than your existing employees. With the right training and coaching, you’ll easily be able to find the perfect person to promote who’ll continue to build upon your company vision.

Training starts with the leaders you have now, such CEOs and top managers. Today’s leaders help mold the leaders of tomorrow.

Look For A Successful Track Record

Many companies reserve leadership training for the employees they’re most likely to promote. Finding these individuals is sometimes difficult. The first step in choosing potential leaders is to analyze the employee’s track record. How have they handled difficult situations? Do they assist their co-workers, even without being asked? Do they offer helpful suggestions? How well have they performed their duties and any projects they’ve been a part of?

The better an employee performs in their current role, the more likely they are to excel in a leadership role. While this isn’t the only criteria, it’s a good starting point.

Start With An Assessment

An employee might want to be a leader, but hasn’t had the opportunity to step into a leadership role. To both train and assess the employee’s abilities, assign them a project, which requires them to manage a team. Offer constructive advice along the way to help guide them. Not only will you discover their existing leadership skills, but also you’ll be training them at the same time.

If you’re not certain about whom to train, send out an email to employees asking who would like to participate. Projects can then be assigned at different times to assess and train for those who are most interested.

Incorporate Regular Training

One of the easiest ways to train leaders and recognize which employees are best suited for higher-level positions is through regular training sessions. Not only will leadership training help employees become more confident in their own roles, but it helps motivate them to become future leaders. Training can be done through coaching sessions, in-house or off-site seminars, inviting leadership speakers and utilizing webinars. The training can either be mandatory or optional.

Look Beyond The Obvious

Extroverts tend to be promoted more often because they naturally stand out. Introverts are sometimes overlooked. Don’t focus on training just the extroverts. Many introverts are highly effective leaders. They just tend to be more quiet and reserved. Focus on both personality types to create a better variety of leaders who’ll work well with all types of employees.

Go From Idea To Reality

An essential part of training leaders is teaching employees how to turn ideas into realities. If you don’t have a project to help employees train on, use fake projects instead. Ask employees to not only come up with an idea to improve the business or its products, but also to create a solid plan on how to turn those ideas into a reality. This teaches employees important innovation and managerial traits.

This is a hands-on way to get employees excited about leadership and help you see who works best in leadership roles. These fake projects could be offered monthly as a fun way to train employees and even gain new profitable ideas.

Conclusion

Your company is full of potential leaders. All they need is the right training and motivation. Talk to employees, analyze performance and provide the training they need to reach their full potential. This continual process will help improve your business and the effectiveness of every employee.

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