The Berger Leadership Blog | Corporate Culture Blog
have even started and sold a couple small businesses. Throughout, I have learned that every position takes different leadership skills. No job, company, task, or employee is the same. I believe leaders and managers must practice what I call fluid leadership in order to be successful adjusting quickly to multiple situations and the people involved, and ultimately making final decisions.
A recent post I wrote gave six approaches for inspiring and motivating people – a critical component to being an effective leader. Adding to that, much of what influences others comes from what we say. When you feel inspired or motivated, you remember what was said to conjure up those feelings.
Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, provides a list of three things great leaders say that build trust, which can then lead to inspiring and motivating others. The three phrases are:
"That was my fault." All great and effective leaders know how to put their egos aside.
"I couldn't have done it without you." A much better, and more effective way, of saying thank you.
"Can I get your advice on this?" People think more highly of those who ask for help.
However, as with anything we say, there is another side of the coin – what we shouldn't say. Schwantes provides this list too. Three phases include:
"That's not my problem."
"I'm in charge."
These three phrases, which need no explanation, should never come out of the mouth of a leader.
Remember, Schwantes writes, "Words can be memorable and create immense value for you, or they can leave you shaking your head in frustration." Make sure yours are the former.
As leaders, we need our teams to perform at their best and highest level 100 percent of the time. How do we do it?
Chris Hallberg, author and leadership coach, and former staff sergeant in the Army National Guard, suggests setting the bar high and keeping it there. In a recent interview with CNBC, Hallberg explains that leaders should absolutely serve as a "support system" for their employees, but also need to provide clear, concise and direct expectations. Part of this, he adds, is hiring "A" players.
"My simple definition of an 'A' player is someone who can do twice that of a 'C' player," he tells CNBC. " 'A' players are generally limited to the top 20 percent of a typical team of employees."
I especially like what Hallberg says next: "When you have a high-performing team, you can relax and provide gentle guidance because your 'A' players don't need you to micro-manage. Instead, they need you to help them unblock obstacles, keep the team at top performance (by enforcing agreed upon performance metrics) and make sure everyone is thriving within the company culture."
For employees that may not meet this standard quite yet, Hallberg says it is up to the leader to coach them and bring them up. He suggests giving employees 60 days to fix any underperformance issues. If no improvement is seen (and Hallberg says you should start seeing improvements in the first 30 days if an employee is motivated), then it might be time to help them find a team that's a better fit.
When we set the bar high for ourselves and our teams, we aim high. And when we have teams that aim high, we have people that are willing to go the extra mile to see the organization succeed and flourish – something every leader wants. Follow me on Twitter (@BDanBerger).
Why is this component of leadership, which is completely necessary, so difficult to harness?
Forbes contributor Joseph Folkman explained in a recent article that there are two mysteries that make knowing how to inspire others so challenging: (1) it is hard to know what needs to be done to inspire others and (2) people inspire in different ways.
He lists six of the most successful approaches to inspiring and motivating others. The list includes:
Visionary. Leaders who can create a clear picture of the future and make lofty goals seem attainable.
Enhancer. Those who treat others with the highest level of respect.
Driver. These leaders focus on what the organization needs and expects from its employees.
Principled. Modeling a high level of integrity and encouraging others to do the same.
Enthusiast. A dynamic leader who shows lots of passion and excitement.
Expert. Leaders who bring important information to their teams and can find innovative solutions to issues.
Every leader will have their own approach to inspiring and motivating their employees – what works for one leader may not be the best approach for another.
In fact, Folkman adds, those leaders who use more than one of these approaches "are more inspiring than those who primarily rely on one."
Servant leadership. It is a style of leadership we've all heard of, but what exactly does it mean?
Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, sums it up with words from leadership expert Ken Blanchard: "Servant leadership is love in action."
Schwantes goes on to explain what this means in the business world.
- Love in the business sense. "Crossing over from a traditional management mindset of power and control over others to a servant leadership mindset of love requires full admission that you are there to meet the needs of others before your own; it requires the lucid understanding on a visceral level that your role is to grow people and set them up for success," he writes.
- Leadership love expressed through empathy and compassion. When a leader is pouring into and caring for others, it creates room to respond with empathy and compassion when hardships occur. In the business world, "feeling what another person feels brings both leader and follower closer and trust develops for a competitive advantage," Schwantes says.
Schwantes concludes his post by sharing an excerpt from a study included in the Oxford Handbook:
"Organizations characterized by higher levels of compassion and forgiveness were much less likely to experience [negative attributes] associated with downsizing than were other firms. These results also confirmed that when virtuousness exists in organizations, organizational performance increases. Innovation, customer retention, profitability, quality, and less employee turnover were all positively associated with virtuousness."
Lucky for us, servant leadership is a mindset – meaning it can be adopted and put into practice by everyone. Follow me on Twitter (@BDanBerger).
A study out of UC Berkeley found that top performers all have one thing in common: an ability to persuade others.
UC Berkeley management professor Morten Hansen discovered through conducting this study that those leaders who rise to the top of an organization are all skilled at persuasion. The study – which looked at 5,000 successful employees and managers over a five-year time period – identified three ways top performers convince people of their ideas.
These tactics, highlighted in a post by keynote speaker, communication adviser and author Carmine Gallo, include:
Make them upset and excited. One tactic to winning people over happens on an emotional level. Hansen found that those who are skilled at persuasion have people reflect on a shared frustration and then follow up by offering a solution to the problem.
Show it (don't just tell it). Persuasive people use props, photos and/or demonstrations to get their point across – it is much more memorable and impactful.
Make them feel purpose. Hansen found that those who can help others find and understand the overarching purpose to their roles and daily tasks stand apart from other leaders.
These tactics directly relate to our communication skills. Getting people to buy into our ideas is all about how well we communicate those ideas. Improving our communication will not only make us better leaders but can help elevate our organizations – through better customer service, employee satisfaction and more fluid collaboration.
There is a big difference between leaders who are truly great and those who skate by or overly rely on their titles. Leaders who are great are easy to identify – they leave a lasting mark on their organizations and the people who work for them.
"[O]rganizations with the highest-quality leaders are 13 times more likely to outperform the competition in a variety of key metrics, including customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and overall financial performance," writes Leadership guru Peter Economy.
You are who you spend time with. We've all heard this line – or something similar to it – and it's true. When we surround ourselves with positive, good people, we are much more likely to do good things.
Rhett Power, head coach of Power Coaching and Consulting, lists five ways to attract "amazing people" into our lives. His list includes:
1. Be that person. If you want amazing people in your life, then be amazing yourself.
2. Speak it. "Speak what you want," Power writes.
3. Make the connection. Be interested in others. Ask questions and listen to the answers.
4. Add value. Make sure the amazing people in your life know that they are appreciated.
5. Communicate your vision. We all like to be around people who are successful and know what they want.
Power writes that if you put these five practices into place people will want to be a part of the action. As a leader, these five practices will only enhance our skills and abilities as we learn from those who are likeminded and working towards the same goals.
For an organization to be successful, you must have a good team in place. And for a team to function at its highest potential, it needs a leader that knows how to motivate and shine the spotlight on others.
Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, writes that this kind of culture only exists in a workplace where a leader intentionally creates an environment that drives engagement and innovation. He lists six things that leaders can give their employees to make this kind of work culture a reality. The list includes:
They give employees their ear. Schwantes encourages the practice of "stay interviews," which can give a leader fresh insight on how they can improve the work environment.
They give their employees empathy. "A leader displaying empathy will foster strong personal relationships and promote productive collaboration," he writes.
They give their employees rewards and recognition. Doing this will also develop more personal relationships with your teams.
They give their employees space to recharge. This can include encouraging your employees to break up their days with a walk or a fun, short activity.
They give their employees plenty of information, communicating both the good and the bad.
They give their employees fairness. Schwantes encourages more focus on your employees than yourself.
Remember, this kind of culture won't just happen on its own. "It takes visionary, servant leadership at the top creating the environment for intrinsically motivated employees to release discretionary effort," Schwantes writes. And speaking from experience, changing a culture takes lots and lots of communication, time and patience.
Leaders and managers – both essential to an organization's success yet carry out vastly different roles. Or at least they should.
The Harvard Business Review describes the differences in the two roles: "Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual's ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success. Influence and inspiration separate leaders from managers, not power and control."
Said a different way: "Leadership begins where management ends and smart organizations value both and great organizations work hard to make each a part of their team," writes Lolly Daskal. She goes on to explain some of the differences, including:
- Leaders lead people while managers manage people.
- Leaders set destinations while managers navigate the roads to get there.
- Leaders inspire while managers comfort.
- Leaders have vision while managers are about reaching goals.
- Leaders take ownership while managers take responsibility.
- Leaders break rules while managers make rules.
I encourage you to read her complete list here. A successful organization will be equipped with both solid leaders and managers.
Together the two roles complement each other and will serve their organizations and employees well.
A Harvard Business Review survey of more than 400,000 people across the U.S. found that when employees believe promotions were managed appropriately, they are more than twice as likely to work harder and stay engaged in their current organization. The survey, conducted throughout the last year, proves that effectively promoting people throughout your company can greatly enhance your organization's success.
The survey also found that these people – who believe that promotions are handled effectively – are five times as likely to think leaders act with integrity.
With this in mind, before promoting an employee, the Harvard Business Review recommends:
clarifying team members' aspirations;
encouraging team members to apply for new positions within your organization (even if you have someone specific in mind; you might be surprised);
sharing the "why" behind your promotion decision; and
circling back with those who applied for the promotion but didn't get it.
This survey makes clear the importance of getting promotions right across our organizations; a bad manager can be toxic to our workplaces. On that note, Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, writes in a recent Inc.com post four "dumb things" managers – or those in a leadership role – should avoid doing. His list includes:
bullying their employees;
not giving positive reinforcement;
taking credit for their employees' work; and
having little to no concern for their employees' work-life balance.
While pay and work perks are valuable to employees – strong and effective leadership is a requirement. Our job is to make sure we are the best leaders for our teams possible and that we appoint managers that adhere to the same high standards. Follow me on Twitter (@BDanBerger).