Leadership Advance

Leadership Thoughts for Life Long Learners

Archive for the category “Organizational Culture”

The “BEE” Method of Empowerment

I am privileged to lead a monthly small group in our community which pulls business leaders together to discuss leadership principles and how they apply to our current situations.  This last week our topic was on the concept of Empowerment.  While thinking about this topic throughout the week, I have come to believe that Empowerment encompasses three elements, which I will call the BEE Method of Empowerment.

Empowerment always begins with Believing in someone first.  One could argue that it is impossible to empower another leader unless first you believe in them as an individual.  Empowerment begins with Belief in.  When someone believes in us, it sets wind to our sails and frees us to know that our value is not in proving our worth, but in making progress.

Unfortunately, many leaders are convinced that believing in someone is all that is required to empowering an individual.  Nothing is more frustrating in life than having someone believe in you as an individual, yet feeling as though you do not have the proper tools or knowledge needed to accomplish the task set before you.  I may be a very skilled writer, but if I am never given a computer with word processing capabilities, the fact that you believe in my writing abilities means nothing.  We all have natural talents…. the difference between those who achieve and those who don’t is found in those who believe in their talents and are equipped to use the talents for the betterment of all.  This is why the second stage of empowering someone is to EQUIP them.  I see someone with potential that I want to Empower, so I 1) Believe in them, 2) Equip them.

The last part of empowering someone can be difficult for the leader that has pride issues.  The completion of Empowering someone comes when you Believe in them, you Equip them and then finally you Endorse them.  Leadership is influence and influence comes through permission.  When a Leader Endorses someone they are moving their belief into action by giving the one whom they have equipped permission to influence others. The reason this is difficult on the prideful leader is because once an endorsement is made it reflects on our character.  Yet, I have come to realize that it is impossible to create a culture of empowerment without being willing to put your character on the line every once in a while.
“BEE” Empowering – 1. Believe In 2. Equip 3. Endorse

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Yesterday I was struck yet again with the fact that many of the best lessons we learn in life come from ordinary things.  I had such an experience yesterday while I was getting a haircut.  As I made my way to the chair the stylist asked a question that causes stress to rise in just about any guys mind, “How do you want your haircut?”  The answer to this question is the same as every other time; I desire my hair just how it is, just shorter.  Then the stylist asked how much hair I wanted her to cut…. a half inch… and inch?  So, in the best way possible I gave her some pointers and she told me she would cut it and then I could take a look at it and let her know what I thought.
When a few moments were completed she turned my chair around for the final REVEAL.  I looked straight into the mirror in front of me and checked out the front of my hair.  After a quick perusal I looked in the mirror as it reflected an image of the back of my head from another mirror.  The stylist then asked me a question that stirred my thoughts, she said, “Is this what you were thinking?”  In that moment the stylist was looking for me to evaluate the work she had done and give her feedback as to whether everything was exactly how I desired it to be before I left.  To be honest, she really didn’t even need to ask me for feedback because if it didn’t look right I would have immediately said something and had her fix it.  I have to live with my haircut- it affects everything about me, so feedback is not just crucial it is necessary.

This leads me to a simple thought, you wouldn’t even think about getting a haircut, or dressing in the morning without taking a glance in the mirror to get some perspective as well as some feedback as to how you look.  Feedback is crucially important to our confidence.  If feedback is that important, why do so many organizations never create a feedback loop into their culture?  Many organizations operate by a leader casting  a vision of some compelling future and then handing the task of creating that future in the hands of everyone else.  The problem with this is that it leads both parties frustrated.  The leader is frustrated because what is created never ends up looking like what they had in mind and the team players are frustrated because they create something based upon their interpretation of what the leader said, not necessarily what the leader visualized.

I am challenged to become better at creating a feedback loop in the culture of the organization I lead.  Providing feedback is not only important to the overall stress level of the organization, but it will also be a game changer to build confidence in the culture moving forward.  As a leader are you providing feedback, or are your expectations of others performance based upon a dream in your head and not an idea which has been properly communicated with sufficient feedback along the way?

X or Y

The understanding of human relations as it relates to organizational effectiveness has been around for nearly 100 years.  Douglas McGregor (1906-1964) was a huge contributor in this specific field.  One of McGregor’s greatest contributions in regards to organizational effectiveness as it relates to human relations is a theory he developed called Theory X and Theory Y.  These theories are based on a set of assumptions about people within an organization.  Assumptions are powerful indicators which build the framework of how a leader approaches those they lead.  A quick breakdown of each theory and the assumptions made are as follows: (taken from, The Human Side of Enterprise by McGregor and Bennis)

Theory X Assumptions:

1.  People do not like work and try to avoid it.

2. People do not like work, so managers have to control, direct, coerce, and threaten employees to get them to work toward organizational goals.

3. People prefer to be directed, to avoid responsibility, and to want security, they have little ambition.

Theory Y Assumptions:

1.  People do not naturally dislike work; work is a natural part of their lives.

2. People are internally motivated to reach objectives to which they are committed.

3. People are committed to goals to the degree that they receive personal rewards when they reach their objectives.

4. People will both seek and accept responsibility under favorable conditions.

5. People have the capacity to be innovative in solving organizational problems.

6. People are bright, but under most organizational conditions their potential is underutilized.

While reading through these assumptions the leader can immediately begin to identify the power they play in our approach to leadership.  The most healthy organizational environment in my opinion is when the leader can operate from the Theory Y Assumption.  If assumptions are powerful forces in how we approach those we lead the effective leader must constantly be evaluating the assumptions from which they operate.

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