THE RELATIONAL STAGE For the New Leader, the Seasoned Leader, or Manager of a Company! (Without relationship, there is NO influence!)
At this stage the leader realizes that “PEOPLE” are the focal point and mission of their leadership. Because this is perceived as the “touchy feely” stage, many would like to avoid or skip it completely, but it will create a litany of problems if they do. It has to be about PEOPLE and PRODUCTIVITY for the leadership equation to work.“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Is the motto of this stage!
In the Relationship Stage:
- The leader has a growing understanding of their personal purpose and influence.
- The leader is growing into a “secure person” who isn’t out to prove anything, or “be” someone. They are comfortable in their own skin, not trying to impress anyone, or feed off of anyone’s approval or affirmation of them.
- The leader, at this stage, has learned that the must develop their most appreciable asset, PEOPLE!
- The influence of the leader is because they have established interdependent relationships.
- People feel the leader cares about them at this stage, their needs and dreams as an individual, as much as they care about the work they do.
- The agenda is to bring out the best in their employees, while assisting them to fulfill their mission and personal aspirations through their position.
- The leader knows the names and faces of their people, while continuing to discovering more about them each day.
- One can tell they’re at this stage because people contribute and participate willingly when it isn’t expected of them.
- There is an open door policy where communication is welcomed rather than squelched or avoided.
- The leader is open to new ideas, is flexible, and willing to change if it is a win-win for everyone.
- The leader knows how to tactfully deal with challenging people. They don’t avoid issues that need to be addressed, correcting problems and people before they escalate.
- The leader listens more than directs. And when he does speak, people listen intently.
- The leader is able to admit mistakes, taking ownership of his responsibility without blame shifting, cave dwelling (avoidance), or attacking.
- At this stage they can become overly confident in their influence, which may lead to egocentricity if they don’t advance to the next level soon enough.
THE CHALLENGE: If a leader stays on this level too long they wear out by trying to impress and please people. They will become frustrated because they are spread too thin. Therefore, they must learn to relinquish control and delegate, or they will burn out.
I have a client who has a fabulous business with great potential. The problem is that the employees feel like “slaves on a plantation.” Everything is done on an urgent time-line with continual revisions. No one ever knows when she’ll blow through the door with a whole new agenda. One root cause of her mindset, was how she viewed the role of her employees. This was a vital piece of the puzzle for our change initiative! Her premise was that they were there to do whatever she wanted or needed, whenever it was important to “her” never taking into consideration their ideas, efforts, or even paying attention to what had already been accomplished. Before working with her, she had high turnover and extremely low morale. This is pervasive in companies with level one leaders at the helm.
Once she began viewing her employees as valued partners and contributors, and not as “slaves” to beckon to her every whim, they began working as a team. People now feel valued, and their time and efforts are respected. This was accomplished simply by changing her “perception”. She now takes a minute to see how they’re doing. She looks at the report left by the previous shift and listens to their updates. (If you as a leader help accomplish the personal “mission” of your employees through your business initiatives, you will obtain a greater level of employee retention!)
Next, we created a system to run on. Now, creating structure is one thing, following through with it takes discipline, but is well worth the sanity of your whole team if everyone follows it! What did she do that changed things?
- Took a moment each day to pay attention to the “people” who worked for her by listening to them, valuing their initiative and work, and taking into consideration their ideas.
- Instituted and followed a strategic initiative by thoroughly communicated what work had been accomplished, what was still needed, and who was doing what.
Here are two more Level One competencies that will move you up the ladder of leadership/management influence!
Yes, there is more work needed in this company, but two dramatic, yet simple changes completely changed the moral of the workplace, and people no longer dread coming to work.
Your Coaching Plan:
- Stop, look in the eyes of your employees while asking questions to ascertain how they are, and then check in with them to see if they need anything.
- Together, with your employees, create a system, a strategic plan to operate off of that you, as their leader, commit whole-heartedly to follow, setting the example, while requiring them to implement as well! It will mean absolutely nothing, and will nullify all your efforts, if you don’t follow it thoroughly yourself.
The Leadership Skill of Being Approachable and Personable
At a company party, when we were in our early 20′s, the head of my husband’s large firm walked toward us. We revered this man as our industry leader, and looked forward to chatting with him. As he approached us, my husband said “Hi Mark, how are you?” “I’m not good at small talk” he replied, as he walked right past us. I watched my husband go that night from being 6’2″ to being 6 inches tall. I’ll never forget how that made us feel. It’s no wonder this company eventually imploded. I think this was the event that eventually sent me on my quest to understand what “great leadership” is, and isn’t. In fact, most of the great books I’ve read on leadership/management will tell you that great leaders MUST master the art of small talk! It’s small talk that says you’re taking a genuine interest in the other person. By asking questions to understand who they are, and what they’re about, you validate them as people worth taking a moment for. If you want to grow in your leadership skills and influence, then learn to relate with the every individual, by taking the time to learn about them, their interests, their hometown, family or hobbies. Napoleon Bonaparte not only knew the names of most of the men in his ranks, he learned the battles they fought in along with small facts about their family so that when he encountered them he could inquire about how they were doing. It takes on going practice, but it will be more rewarding to you in the end, if you’ll come down from your ivory tower, or out of your cave, and touch people right where they’re at. It’s the first step to moving out of level one of leadership, and I believe is the deal maker, or the deal breaker when it comes to your leadership.
YOUR COACHING ACTION PLAN:Next time you go to a restaurant, practice doing small talk with your waitress. You’ll be surprised how little it takes, and how much you can learn. Then walk through the office doing the same. This is called “walk by leadership”, and will elevate your approachability, especially if you are the business owner or corporate manager.
Do You Have This Fatal Flaw of Leadership
One fatal flaw in leaders that will sabotage their leadership influence and kill their efforts, ultimately causing their organization to implode, is being an “INSECURE LEADER”. Unfortunately, I can again speak with great authority and experience on this subject. Although I have always exuded a confident boldness, which gives the illusion of “being secure”, without training or experience I fell into all of the typical actions and responses insecure leaders exude. Worst of all, because of my insecurity, I “needed” people to prop me up with compliments, approval, and value; along with people showing up for attendance at my meetings to support my efforts. (Now this was over 25 years ago.) Before I knew it, I was co-dependent on the very ones I was to serve, equip, motivate, support and lead. Ok, ok, so I was only a volunteer over Women’s Ministries, Director of Camps, Supervisor of Sunday School, Director of VBS, Mission Trips Leadership and ran a Summer Master’s Commission program, they were still leadership roles, and the beginning of my love/hate relationship with leadership! In fact, I could write a book about this topic alone, the INSECURITY of LEADERS. For your sake though, I’ll give you the signs and symptoms of an insecure leader, all of which determine the stage of leadership one is on, this one being the “Title Stage”. More than that, I would love to tell you just what I’ve done that has given me freedom from this deadly flaw. If you’d like to know more, please contact me for more information. It’s my absolute favorite topic, training, and a pre-requisite for completing my Executive Coach Training Course. But let me explain more about the “Title Stage”
(This person has no real influence or skill, just a leadership position) They may be a new leader or manager, or one who has had little or no training or understanding regarding the mission and scope of leadership.
At this stage of development they have been appointed and given a title. The titled leader often uses a military, autocratic style of leadership that worked for the traditional generation, and during a war. And yet, if this is the only basis for someone’s authority and influence then they:
- Tend to be dictatorial, autocratic, demanding and controlling in their style
- Most of their actions and reactions are due to being insecure.
- When problems arise they are quick to blame shift without finding out all the facts, for fear that blame for the problem may be placed on them.
- Will make assumptions, again without the facts.
- Are defensive.
- Can’t take responsibility and have difficulty apologizing.
- Get their identity and security from the “title” and being “in charge”.
- Tend to lead by rules, protocol, flow charts and tradition.
- May have been appointed to a position regardless of their skills, talents or leadership influence.
- Expect people to “just do it” because, well “I said so”.
- Will have low moral throughout the organization.
- Will discover that people won’t engage and participate beyond their stated job description. They aren’t motivated by their work, and will only do the bare minimum.
- Use intimidation, threats and manipulation to direct people.
- Want everything to revolve around them, and what they want and need.
- Have people that feel disrespected, unimportant and frustrated.
- Have people who are not empowered to take charge themselves, and receive no rewards for any extra initiative. Instead they may intimidate the one trying to lead.
- Don’t allow their people to question anything, or ask the deeper questions to discover the real problems, issues, or hindrances of the organization.
- Believe that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. This results in unmotivated people who are discouraged.
- Micromanage due to their lack of trust.
“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.“ Max DePree
YOUR COACHING ASSIGNMENT:
Take this list above and put a 1, 2, or 3 next to the sentences, 1 meaning least like and 3 meaning most like, and evaluate where you are today. Want to really “GET REAL“, make copies of it, and have those closest to you rate the sentences about you! Then be alert to the next posting, I’ll talk about what you need to do to go to the next level OF “LEADERSHIP INFLUENCE”.
STILL WANT TRANSFORMATION: Contact me to learn about my fall coaching programs AccidentalLeader@comast.net to acquire the accountability to become the person you know you can be!
- Don’t take any time to get to know any of your staff, barely know their name, or call them by the wrong name.
- Don’t listen to your employees when they bring up an issue. Ignore their concern and then let your body language show that you’re displeased. That way they’ll never bring up anything again.
- Expect your employees to know their job requirements, even though you have never explained the parameters of the work, their realm of authority, to whom they report to, or who else they need to collaborate with. – Just expect them to be mind readers!
- Only thank them or show appreciation when you want them to sacrifice more or, work overtime. They won’t get that this is manipulation.
- When those who are loyal, and genuinely want to see you to succeed bring you a concern or issue, be sure to take it as criticism. Assume they want your job; or are positioning themselves to take over the organization; want control; or have other ulterior motives.
- Walk by your employees, and when they stop to talk to you explain, “I don’t do small talk” and just keep walking. Better yet, have your office manager send out a memo explaining to your employees how important you are, and therefore they are not to expect you to stop and talk to them, that you are too busy. They’ll then get the message they aren’t important, and realize their “place” in the organization!
- Be sure you’ve already chosen your favorite person for any new position, before you actually post the job. This way when other employees, who have been hoping and praying for a new position to open up, come to the interview, you won’t be swayed by their enthusiasm, emotion, or recent credentials they’ve recently earned to make themselves more valuable to the company.
- Institute rules and standards for the whole staff that are really directed toward one person. By all means save yourself from any confrontation by never dealing with the problem people. Allow them get away with BREAKING office policy, or better yet, let some get away with it, and others not. This way you can have different standards for different people, and play favorites.
- Place blame, then ignore them, talk poorly about them, without ever checking or corroborating the facts of the matter. Certainly never give them an opportunity to explain their side of the story.
- Never respond to their e-mails, or when you do, be sure to do it a week late. This way they’ll learn not to bother you with this form of communication.
Unfortunately, all leaders have done one or more of these at one point or another in their career. Those that learn from these particular mistakes, and work to eliminate this kind of negative behavior, while at the same time are adding excellent people skills to their management/leadership style, are those who won’t just surviving in this difficult day and age, but will thrive. When it all gets down to it, the important thing in business is PEOPLE. Those people that are your customers or clients, as well as those who work for you. Treat them well, and your business will flourish!
I DARE YOU TO TAKE THIS LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
I never said a complete thought but that the conversation was overridden, and my train of thought either finished by him or completely aborted. And, I can guarantee, he was clueless as to what he was doing. I could tell he was use to being given free, complete reign of every conversation, and why not, he was THE BOSS their leader. Highly intelligent, moving at the rate of the Daytona 500, with more vision and energy than most exude in a life time. I’m use to this. It’s the typical MO of my success driven entrepreneurial clients who are the leaders of their world. Works 24/7 with endless ideas and metabolism. But with all the fervent, feverish drive, they’re usually missing the very glue that keeps people energized and willing to continue with enthusiasm to play on their team.
I’m guilty many times myself. I’ve spent years learning, practicing and failing using this “ONE” grand leadership skill that can transform not only the person, but the very climate of an office overnight. When you use it, you become the most brilliant person anyone has known. People will not only like entrepreneurial,leaders,leadership, leadership skills, listening, leadership influence you, they’ll think you’re just fabulous, even when you’ve never mentioned a word about what you do, or who you are. I’m sure you already know, it’s the are of LISTENING. Now, I didn’t say hearing, I said listening. You can hear the train, answering the phone, and hearing the headlines on TV all at the same time. But listening, that’s an art. Think you already do it? We’ll see. Take the 48 hr test. Yes, I said test. You think you’ve got it so together? Take the next 48 hours and go on a fast. No, not from food, from talking about yourself. I dare you. Don’t give an opinion, don’t share an accomplishment an idea or any vision. Don’t talk about yourself. That is, of course, unless you’re asked a question, but even then, be brief and amazing with your answer. Keep a log. Write a slash every time you fail, but don’t give up. We’ll talk next time about the value and benefits you’ll receive. Then let me know how you do. And if you’re really hot stuff, try it for a week. Then we’ll know just how much you want Leadership Influence!