Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Leadership Bottom Line

In early August I began a four-part series discussing what people are looking for from their leaders. Last week I posted a portion of my newsletter from a few weeks ago discussing the second pillar - showing compassion. Below is an excerpt from one of my earlier newsletters that began the series and discusses the first pillar.

Building Trust - the Bottom Line

In a recent interview I was asked what I considered to be the bottom line of effective leadership. Without hesitation I responded that it is building relationships of genuine trust with those who are following us. From experience I have learned that people from whom I’ve won trust will follow me even if they are not sure where we are going.

Last month I referred to Gallup’s book called, Strengths Based Leadership. In their extensive research to determine why people follow, they discovered four main reasons, the first of which is trust. In Kouzes and Posner’s book, The Leadership Challenge, their research established that the trait most people are looking for in a leader that they would willingly follow is honesty – i.e. a person they can trust. My experience and the research agree. Trust is a solid foundation for significant influence.

How does a person establish and maintain trust? Although a hard question to answer definitively, here are some keys:
  1. Be trustworthy - This seems obvious, but this is where many people fall short. Do you keep your word? Are you a promise keeper or a promise breaker? Is integrity a word people would use to describe you? Read more...
Seize the day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Can Leaders Show Genuine Compassion?

The following is an excerpt from one of my recent newsletters. In this edition I discuss the second of the four most consistent things that people look for in their leaders - showing compassion.

Great Managers Care
Of all the soft skills this one is probably one of the hardest. As leaders, we are taught to keep the lines between business and personal very clear. Showing compassion can tend to push us across that line pretty quickly.

Research is showing, however, that the great managers really do care. And employees are responding very positively to that kind of attention. Here are a some of the benefits of showing genuine compassion as reported by Gallup:
  1. Employee loyalty - they are significantly more likely to stay with the organization

  2. Substantial productivity increases - getting more done with the same resources

  3. Greater employee engagement - they are much more involved in the mission of the organization at a meaningful mental and emotional level. This (along with great productivity) is important because Gallup has also been able to show a direct link between employee engagement and company profitability.
Here are a few, simple ways to show that type of compassion:
  • Make simple, casual inquiries about the person's home/family life - and really listen to the answer.

  • If you see that the person isn't feeling well, give them permission to go home and rest.

  • Send a hand-written note of support and encouragement to the family during tough times.

Sign up for my free monthly newsletter entitled, "Growing Leaders for Growing Organizations."

Seize the day!

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Gets Talked About Gets Done

A number of years ago I had a CEO who was a turnaround specialist say to me, "What gets talked about gets done." That is something I have remembered ever since.

In other words, what we as leaders talk about consistently is what people realize must be important. If the boss is that focused on it, everyone figures there is a reason for it and starts thinking and moving in that direction, sometimes even unconsciously.

Recently, I had this confirmed again in a book I am reading called, Master Leaders by George Barna. In it one of the leaders was quoted as saying that in his work with Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup Company, Doug had said that "the most important thing he does as a leader is to share the mission and vision of Campbell Soup Company wherever he goes."

One of my former employers/mentors used to say, "I know they've got the message when they're rolling their eyes at me because they've heard it so many times before. Until then it's not enough." He called it over-communicating. It worked.

Leaders need to communicate clear, consistent, compelling messages to their constituents. If they don't stay focused and keep the organization moving toward a clear target things will get fragmented very, very quickly.

So, what have you been talking about lately to your folks? What verbal drum have you been beating? Is it focused on the thing that is most important to your organization's success? If not, it's time to change your tune.

Seize the day!