Leadership Advance

Leadership Thoughts for Life Long Learners

Archive for the tag “assumptions”

You Might Be A Nag If?

We have all been guilty of eavesdropping in on a conversation at a restaurant or a coffee shop.  The other day I was guilty of listening in to a conversation between two individuals.  From all appearances it was a manager or employer with an employee.  The main mode of operation from this individual was to take out a microscope on everything that the employee had done wrong.  Mind you, I believe clear communication is important and there comes a time when you need to sit down and communicate effectively and clearly as to what the expectations are in the relationship.  This conversation did not feel like a clear communication moment from leader to team member, it felt more like the leader was “nagging” about every little thing the team member was doing.

While it may feel like human nature to nag for performance enhancement, it rarely…. if ever actually works.  The moment a leader begins to nag is the moment the leader ceases to lead.  There are many reasons why I believe nagging does not work in leadership, here are just a few:

1.  Nagging focuses on what is going wrong as opposed to what is going right.

2.  Nagging makes the assumption that the team member knows what to do and how to do it.

3.  Nagging takes the approach that the leader does not value the individual over the task.

4.  Nagging is more about lifting the leader’s ego than actually moving the team forward.

So, if nagging doesn’t work, what does?  The best way to change behavior is to focus on inspiring change.  Instead of focusing on what is wrong, focus on what the individual is doing right and then transition to raising the bar where they are falling short.  Inspire your team to BE more so that they can DO more.  Leaders will many times skip the human “being” (inspiration) of people and focus on human “doing” (the task).  For example, it is much easier for me to love when I have been loved, it is much easier for me to forgive when I have been forgiven.   So…… LEADER, how does your team view you?  As an Inspiration or a Nag?  Hopefully this blog INSPIRES you to be the Leader your called to be.

Self Fulfillment vs. Self Development

I was reading John Maxwell book, “15  Invaluable Laws of Growth” and was deeply impacted by what he stated in the Law of Contribution.  Maxwell differentiates the difference in living a life focused on Self Fulfillment vs a life focused on Self Development.

Self Fulfillment – thinks of how something serves me.

Self Development – thinks of how something helps me to serve others.

Self Fulfillment – feeling good is the product.

Self Development- feeling good is the by-product.

I do not know any leader that would not list one of the goals of their lives as desiring a feeling of self fulfillment.  Yet, according to these definitions we realize that living with the focus of self development is a much deeper and generous claim.  I have no doubt fallen into the trap of desiring self fulfillment at different times in my life.  Yet, when self fulfillment becomes the goal it sabotages the culture you work in.  The insinuation is that there is a defining moment when we arrive.  The moment we think we have arrived we begin to lose our grip on the progress we have made.  When self development becomes the aim, we never buy in to the mindset that there is some elusive “arrival” and we focus on consistently getting better as we progress forward.

 

 

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?

Are You Being Understood?

Are you being understood?  Consider for a moment, when you speak are others hearing you but not listening to you?   When you give directions, are they clear and actionable or do they need to be interpreted by those responsible for carrying them out?  Do you make unfair assumptions when communicating or do you identify all the necessary information and articulate it?

Communication holds power to either be a great catalyst or destroyer of an organization. While I would not consider myself an expert communicator, I do find a large part of my job responsibility as a leader is to communicate effectively.  While this is not an exhaustive list, I thought I would give you a few things to consider when you are needing to communicate, but you desire to be understood as well.

  • Understand your audience before you communicate
  • Your Non Verbal cues speak louder than your Verbal cues
  • Are you relating the information you are communicating to your listener effectively?
  • If you were given one sentence to communicate your message, what would it be?
  • Individual emotions from the giver or receiver have the ability to translate your message before they are ever internalized. (are you being sensitive?)
  • Effective communication is more about clarity of speech than flowery speech.

Hopefully these few thoughts will help guide you as a leader the next time you need to communicate to an individual or even an entire organization.  It is unfair to hold others responsible for something you have not clearly communicated.  So speak to be understood.

 

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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