Do you have balance in your personal life? We don’t control much. Our personal balance is one area we have total control. Build balance in your life.
Leading requires a great deal of physical and emotional energy. You have to persuade and say “let’s go” to people who don’t want to go. You make tough calls directly affecting the lives of other people. You solve difficult problems. You serve as a mediator, encourager, and coach. For this we need balance so we can re-energize ourselves.
Balance is about making the right choices. We all make many choices every day starting first thing in the morning. Do you eat a healthy breakfast? Or do you start with a specialty Starbucks loaded with extras?
As the day goes along, our decisions get more complicated and difficult. Our choices don’t come with all the facts leading to simple conclusions.
Our balance begins with an accepting self-image. Realistically acknowledge who you are and where you stand. Have a healthy self-respect.
Know what you stand for. Be aware of your values. Be confident they are ethically sound and bring out the best in you. People respect the leader with strong values and will enthusiastically follow their lead.
When you have a positive self-image and strong values you don’t need to make compromises to please others. Your choices even when difficult will be understood and respected by your team.
Leaders face stress and strain every day. Positive mental attitude is a key trait of successful leaders. A positive attitude is a tough attitude making it possible to resist great strain without coming apart. A tough mental attitude keeps us from losing heart. We do not fall into doubt or give up in despair.
Attitude defines us. We have choices every day regarding the attitudes we embrace. Do you frequently complain or are you positive always looking for solutions? A positive attitude does not magically happen. It needs to be cultivated and strengthened.
How do you create and maintain your attitudes and balance? Marshall Goldsmith in his latest book, Triggers, discusses how our environment imposes continual stress on us. He suggests building a personal structure to recognize and then control how we react to circumstances outside our control. A good book to read.
Leaders with balance are realistic about their self-image, have strong values and a positive attitude. They manage their environment as they recognize and react appropriately to challenging situations that arise every day.
Trust is a two way street. You are trustworthy; your people trust you. Your people are trustworthy; you trust your people. The relationship is symbiotic. Both take positive leadership.
In this article let us focus on how we develop trust in our people?
There are two foundations. First hire outstanding people; people that fit your culture and exhibit your values.
Second help employees reach their potential with a strong development program. People are the change agents in your organization. To change results you must help your people develop the expertise to carry them out.
Once you have the foundations your leadership is key to trusting your people. Good is the enemy of great. We accept mediocre when we aspire to meet industry average. Strong people expect to be highly successful. Mediocre is not in their DNA.
Build a culture where excellence is expected. One way to do this is to develop best thinking in your team.
Best thinking is a continuous thought process. When you share and build from a combined base, you end with knowledge greater than the sum of the parts. Communication is open and honest, positive and constructive, leading to a trust relationship.
We build trust by giving people responsibility and authority to succeed. Employees want to participate in setting direction and to know their work is valued. An effective leader understands sharing power is the most effective way to get their intellectual and emotional commitment.
Lastly develop your trust by building a culture where accountability is expected. Trust the team to do the work and hold themselves accountable. Avoid becoming the accountability taskmaster. In this environment people don’t fear personal attack and retribution.
Strong development programs are foundational. Build an “I’m always learning” culture. Make a personal commitment to improve 1% per month. Through compounding we double our effectiveness in about five years. Trust grows exponentially as you watch others continually grow and improve.
Mutual trust is a necessary component in building a high performance organization. You become an organization managed by an enthusiastic, motivated, confident team working together to reach the vision of the organization. The increased value you and your team build personally and organizationally is impressive and long lasting. Over time you develop strong “unfair” competitive advantage.
What is leadership culture? Leadership culture is simply the total of the behaviors all the managers in the organization use to affect performance. It is the way we interact with employees and others on a regular basis.
Leadership culture comes from the collective style of those in formal leadership positions and are the random result of multiple individual styles. Individual leader styles are based on life experiences that have impacted us over time. For example personality, how we were raised, our environment and the modeling of those who have managed us. These styles are subjective in nature not based on any formal research in managerial behavior.
Given this eclectic foundation our leadership culture is likely to be negative and inconsistent as it is to be consistent and outstanding. We can all recount stories of how some managers in our organization were more or less ineffective. Employees notice the difference and it affects their performance. Consequently we will not maximize productivity, achievement or results.
Research by Daniel Goleman, etal in Primal Leadership found that company culture defined as the way people feel about working at a company accounts for 20 to 30 percent of actual performance. Goleman further determines that approximately 50 to 70 percent of how employees perceive the company can be traced directly to leadership culture. Leaders create the conditions that determine our ability to work effectively.
Is there a personal leadership style that surpasses all others; one that is demonstratively superior? Yes there definitely is a superior leadership style. I call this style the Developer leader. He is focused both on results and people.
He collaborates and encourages employees to participate in determining direction. He develops a culture of mutual trust, respect and self-expression. He takes active interest in people development and team welfare.
Of all the leadership styles the Developer leader is by far the most effective in generating superior results, developing “unfair” competitive advantage and reaching his vision.
A common goal of all leaders is to build organizational value. The effective leader builds value by focusing on important but not urgent activities. These are his high payoff activities. They improve effectiveness. Less successful leaders focus on efficiency not effectiveness.
How would you define efficient? How would you define effective? Take a moment to consider your responses.
Efficiency commonly means getting a job done quickly, on budget and without loss.
Effectiveness means performing activities that help us make long term change for improvement.
Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.
Which do you believe is more important? Which will produce the greatest results, efficiency or effectiveness?
Of course we want both. However to build long term value, the correct answer is effectiveness. When you spend time doing things right, but not the right things, you will not get the results you expect!
Every day “crisis managers” are always working on tasks that are urgent or seen to be urgent. They work on problems not opportunity.
An effective leader focuses on important activities driving results that increase future success. Nothing dramatic happens if he doesn’t attend to them; he just won’t progress to the next level.
Effective activities are usually not urgent. They do not act on us; we have to act on them. It’s the old 80/20 principle. The more time we spend on these activities the more successful we become.
If our High Payoff Activities are important how many of us know what ours are? How many of us have given them concentrated thought and written them out? How many of us set measurable goals to meet them?
From a team perspective, how many of us help our key people determine what their High Payoff Activities are? Have we assisted them to set goals to meet them
Leaders are successful when they build strong personal focus on high payoff activities. They are successful when they assist their team to establish their own high payoff activities. Together they develop opportunity.
The culmination if these efforts is positive: sustainable results, improved competitive advantage, in short increasing value.
The old adage “if we do what we’ve always done we will get what we’ve always gotten” is commonly carried out in how we develop ourselves and our people. There is a direct relationship between development and the bottom line.
When key people improve performance they and their organization become more efficient. Percentage wise small changes in performance have a greater percentage impact on profitability.
Successful leaders understand the connection. They understand development is a high payoff activity.
People development and capital improvement programs both require investment. The challenge is to realize a positive ROI. The main difference: capital programs are numbers driven, people development programs take the leader’s involvement, effective communication and personal accountability.
How do we help people strengthen? Effective communication is a key to successful development.
Employee reviews are a standard method of communicating. Reviews are usually infrequent and ineffective. We spend too much time with our opinion and suggestions. The employee is not truly a part of the discussion. Once completed there is little follow-up.
A more effective process is to meet regularly with your key people -15 or 20 minutes once a month will do. Initially ask what areas they would like to improve and how they would go about it. Let them make a plan with actions steps and timing. Resist the temptation to say “yes but…” its their plan.
In follow-up meetings review their progress. Focus on successes and areas of roadblocks. Remember you do not want to take on their problems. Be a conduit for ideas, support and resources.
An effective leader keeps focus on the plan, demonstrates personal interest and encourages the employee to hold themselves accountable.
If we improve just 1% a month in about five years we will have doubled our effectiveness. Successful leaders make development a cornerstone of their organizational culture. Over time success breeds more success and development becomes a continuous activity.
Properly led, improvements enhanced by development build organizational value and “unfair competitive advantage.”