Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with a number of companies and organizations, some really good and some – “not so much”. Every company seems to have some drama. Some a little, (and you guessed it), and some a whole lot!
It is normal to have many leaders, managers and front-line team members who bring their different behaviors, personal motivators and emotional quotient to the organization. Once they all come together, the organization becomes a mixing bowl of various tools and baggage.
Some managers and team members do the best they can, while others tolerate this experience until they find something better, and then move on.
So, what is it specifically, that great leaders do to bring out the best in their managers and teams?
Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joseph Folkman, icons in the field of leadership consulting analyzed 3,492 participants in a manager development program. One of the things they discovered is that effective leaders apply four strategies that get quantum results from their managers and teams.
- They interact in ways that make the other person feel safe and supported.
- They take a helping cooperative stance
- They occasionally ask questions that gently & constructively challenge old assumptions.
- They make occasional suggestions to open up alternative paths.
Let’s look at each one and see how you can apply that principle in your business or organization.
- Interact in ways that make the other person feel safe and supported.
What are some of the ways you make your people feel safe and supported in your organization?
Jeff Wiska, Boise Cascade Building Material Distribution Center Manager, is a great example of this strategy. Jeff makes it a point to regularly speak face to face with all of his salespeople, managers and personnel. He takes the time to get to know them and have down to earth conversations with them. This helps to build a feeling amongst his team of being safe and supported.
As you can imagine, they have very, very low turnover in his center.
How about you in your company or organization? How often do you have a face to face, one-on-one conversation with your team? It is amazing how far this will go in creating an environment where your people will feel safe and supported.
- Take a helping cooperative stance.
The type of leader or manager who plays the game of “I got ya”. or who constantly looks for things their people do wrong, are perfect examples of a person who is not taking a helping cooperative stance.
The best way to live this strategy of taking a cooperative stance is to look for ways you can help your managers and team members accomplish their goals. Consistently give them the support they need. Open doors that are closed to people they need cooperation from and cut red tape in the form of policies and procedures that might be preventing them for doing what they are paid to do to get results.
- Occasionally ask questions that gently & constructively challenge old assumptions.
One of my favorite quotes I once heard is,
“It ain’t what a man don’t know that hurts him. It’s what he knows that just ain’t so.”
Good questions are a powerful tool to help change a person’s errant paradigms or assumptions. When a person’s beliefs assumptions prevent them from seeing new possibilities ask them open ended questions that provoke them to see a situation from a different angle.
- Make occasional suggestions to open up alternative paths.
As I always say to my clients, “There are many roads to the mother lode of gold.” It’s true that some roads will get you there faster and with less expense than others. So, when necessary, tactfully point out alternative ways of doing things. One way you could do this is by using an example of how someone else was able to accomplish a goal similar to the one your manager or team member is trying to reach.
Another approach is to ask questions that will draw out from the person alternative ways they could approach the problem they are trying to solve.
As Daniel Coyle points out in his excellent leadership book titled: The Culture Code – The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, the two main things extremely successful companies have in common is that their people feel safe and connected. When these two criteria are present, great things are possible, and the organization functions as a high performing team.
How about your company or organization? Is it performing as well as it should? As it could?
Here is my suggested action plan for you to follow. Get your team together and ask them these two questions.
- What do we need to do as a company to make you feel safe?
- What do we need do as a company to make you feel genuinely connected?
Then do a follow-up meeting with one-on-one sessions with each one of your managers and team members. Ask them the same two questions. Then ask them to give you personal examples of what they mean. Take good notes and prepare to take action.
Once you take action, amazing things will happen, including major progress towards the elimination of all the drama.
Tom Borg is a team performance and customer experience expert who works with organizations and their leadership teams to help them connect, communicate and work together better without all the drama. You can contact him at: (734) 404-5909 or email him at: email@example.com or visit his website at: www.tomborgconsulting.com.
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