5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of January 16, 2017
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Each week I read a number of leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five (plus one more) articles readers found most valuable last week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.
How to Improve Trust With One Word by Mary Schaefer at Lead Change Group
If you have ever visited a new doctor, dentist or other medical professional, you might find yourself in the exam room wondering:
Will they respect me or talk down to me? Will we have enough time or will they seem hurried? Will we have the same values?
I’m thinking about a recent experience. I realize now my underlying question is, “Am I going to be treated like a human being or just another case in a folder?” Trust in being seen and heard is paramount for a strong, collaborative relationship.
My Comment: As a leader, your most important asset is your credibility. Can your people trust your competence? Can they trust your motivations? Through a recent experience, Schaefer discusses the vital role of empathy in maintaining trust with your team. It doesn’t take a huge degree of skill – one word, or a few, sincerely said, will make all the difference.
How to Give Feedback that Builds Trust in a Relationship by Randy Conley
Giving feedback to someone is a “moment of trust” – an opportunity to either build or erode trust in the relationship. If you deliver the feedback with competence and care, the level of trust in your relationship can leap forward. Fumble the opportunity and you can expect to lose trust and confidence in your leadership.
My Comment: I echo Conley’s assertion in this article that people not only need feedback, they deserve it. They’re trying. They can’t possibly know what they’re doing well and what needs improvement without feedback from you. Conley offers a great set of guidelines you can use to be more effective with your feedback and build trust. To go deeper and give feedback that leads to improved performance, use the INSPIRE model in Winning Well.
This article of mine was the most popular one I shared this week.
Whether you are a team leader, a mid-manager, or even the President, CEO, or Executive Director there will be times in your career where you are asked to meet goals that you did not speak into or, in some cases, even disagree with.
As Julia noted, people often react negatively when they have goals ‘shoved down their throats’ – goals that may have been set by people who may not have all the facts and didn’t ask for input.
The good news is that you and your team can still thrive in these situations – there are ways to motivate your employees when you don’t set the goals.
How to Reduce Employee Turnover With 7 Critical Leadership Skills by Annabelle Smythe at Lead Change Group
Poor leadership is often at the root of high employee turnover.
In fact, according to a recent CMOE infographic, nearly 50 percent of employees were likely to leave their jobs if they didn’t feel recognized by their managers.
While these types of statistics are disheartening, they also reveal an opportunity that the best leaders take advantage of. Developing specific leadership skills for the workplace can support employee retention by increasing performance, job satisfaction and a whole host of other factors.
My Comment: The connection between an employee’s immediate supervisor and their level of engagement is well-established. It’s one thing to understand it, but a much more difficult task to look in the mirror and honestly assess how you are leading and if you’re providing what your team needs to be energized and productive. Smythe gives you a good list of what to do to improve your employees’ engagement. The tough part is knowing how to do it (which is one of the reasons we wrote Winning Well – intuitively you probably know most of these things are important. Knowing how to do them, however, is a challenge for most managers.
Leadership 101: Narrow Your Say-Do Gap by George Deeb at Entrepreneur
I was recently in a client’s office, and they had an interesting collage of words and images hung on their wall, trying to summarize the culture they wanted to create for their employees. One section stood out to me. It said “Narrow your say-do gap” next to the word “Commitment.” I thought it was a great way for the client to manage their team’s expectations. And it must be working. The company has a love affair with their leadership team, evidenced by their employees long tenure with the company and the very high reviews of their CEO on Glassdoor. There are some juicy nuggets in here — something we can all learn as we try to be good leaders with a narrow say-do gap.
My Comment: There’s quite a bit of focus on trust and credibility in the popular articles this week. Deeb’s emphasis on the ‘say-do’ gap is so important. You’ve certainly heard that actions speak louder than words. What do your actions say? Do they reinforce what comes out of your mouth and make you a leader people can depend on? Or do they undermine everything you say until no one can trust you. Many Gamers and Pleasers get caught in a ‘say-do’ gap. If this is you, say less and do more. You won’t offend people by not promising them moon. Say yes only to what you absolutely can do. Build your credibly one kept promise at a time.
Rigid Workplace Cultures Are Holding People Back by Business Matters
The research identified a clear mismatch between employees’ desire for independence and flexibility, and the reality of their current working environments.
Almost three quarters of UK employees say they would like more freedom at work, with more than a third saying they work in a regulated and controlled structure. When asked how they’d like to change their company culture, the top answer was more freedom and flexibility followed by more innovation and creativity.
“Rigid structures, siloed working and overly complex hierarchies are things of the workplace past,” says John Yates, Group Director at ILM.
My Comment: Though this study took place in the UK, many workplaces suffer from the same problem. Employees who are closer to the service or product than anyone else have insights that can enhance customer service and product quality. Too often, however, these insights are stifled in layers of bureaucracy or by managers who feel that they have to control everything to ensure results. We encourage you to ‘trust the trenches’ – get to know the people closest to your customers and projects. Listen to what they have to say.