You Don’t Have to be Man’s Best Friend
Everyone disdains leaders who are in it just for themselves. Self-absorbed leaders destroy relationships, disengage employees, and diminish results.
Brave leaders build relationships. Cowards use distance and fear to control.
Fear drives disconnection, but strong relationships replace fear with respect.
If you don’t care, the team you lead doesn’t care either.
6 steps to results through relationships:
#1. Explore and understand problems and issues lightly. Many leaders are like hogs on slop when it comes to problems. It’s not bad that you see the bad. It’s what you do after judging that makes you a successful leader. You stink if problems consume your attention. No one loves a stinker.
#2. Get to goals and opportunities quickly, even if you started with problems. Leadership begins when you face forward. Hand-wringers lead anxious teams, but noble goals inspire commitment, courage, and relationship.
#3. Connect goals to reasons. The most important thing leaders understand is the reason behind behaviors. What reasons motivate teammates? People engage for their reasons, not yours. Relationships are built around reasons.
I have a thirty-something female on my team. She has some ideas, but she isn’t clear about what she wants. We’re searching for inner drivers that ignite her passion.
When you find your reasons, passion takes over.
#4. Build on abilities. Strong relationships emerge when leaders connect teammates’ strengths to problems and opportunities. How might you leverage strengths and talents?
#5. Define behaviors. What behaviors work for them? Keep in mind that their way is better than your way, as long as it doesn’t do harm.
#6. Invite others to define accountability. Imposing accountability on others weakens relationships. Self-imposed accountability is the only kind. Trusting others to establish accountability strengthens relationships and expands ownership.
Uncaring leaders lead disconnected teams. Of all the things you do, care first.
How might leaders build strong relationships and deliver great results at the same time?
I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.
Dan many leaders are sadly afraid themselves! Of their bosses, the Board or even about making decisions. But there is no room in Business, Life or a Zoo for fear!
Thanks Brad. Love the inclusion of “zoo!”
The same words always seem to matter: choice, trust, transparent, empathy, self-assessment, reflection, purpose, …
Thanks John. Purpose seems to be rising to the top for me this morning. Specifically, understanding the purpose of others.
I’m thankful you keep coming back.
Wow, what a great list! Reminds me of the quote I have on my Website from Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
I guess, if I were to change one thing about it (which probably aligns with what he meant, anyway), I would replace “teach them to long for” with “inspire them to find their connection with the”…
But his version sounds more poetic.
Also, interesting and relevant to your quote about uncaring leaders (and clients are generally astonished when I point this out), is that “Empathy” is listed before “Warrior Ethos” in the US Army Leadership handbook. Apparently, even warriors and their charges benefit from caring leadership:
4-42 Army leaders show a propensity to share experiences with the members of their organization. When planning and deciding, try to envision the impact on Soldiers and other subordinates. The ability to see something from another person’s point of view, to identify with and enter into another person’s feelings and emotions, enables the Army leader to better care for civilians, Soldiers, and their families.
Thanks Mark. I appreciate your great insights.
It might be good if we remove “motivation” from leadership books and replace it with inspiration.
Completely agree, Dan. To me, true engagement is really about inspired action, and that comes from internal, personal drivers.
Compliance is always a zero-sum game. It is about “not losing” by complying.
Engagement is about inspired action (doesn’t have to be blissful, “pow” inspiration, but just based on desire toward something, and not fear of losing something), and thatrequires some of ourselves emotionally invested. Inspired.
As you point out, relationships can do that. 🙂
All this is important enough that reassessment and finding our own inspiration—even if a leader isn’t helping—can make a real difference in business outcomes and even employee health.
Scans of the brain show the remarkable differences in thinking and brain area use between a focus on the problem or avoidance, vs. solution-based focus and moving toward a desired positive outcome.
It’s not a word game. Both the biochemistry/neuroscience and overall health and business results, are real.
You create great imagery: “Many leaders are like hogs on slop when it comes to problems.” — now that’s perfect for stimulating aversion! I loved this post, because “problems” can be so seductive — and it’s important to become expert at seeing what is right and where the talent we have can leverage our successes….That imagery may help me stay out of the pig sty!! thanks.
Strong relationship is the key to deliver great results. First and foremost part is setting goal and communicating it to others. Defining role and expectation is even more important. People are more concerned about their own benefits. When they see their expected outcomes, they are more likely to engage into work.
This is one part assuming that people are responsible and take self initiatives. But it may not be always similar situations. There are people who show their engagement but actively disengaged into the project. I have also seen people instigating others to mess the things while showing their innocence.
Leaders need to identify such people. They should counsel them and if possible strict measure can also be taken.
Making strong relationship is mutually driven initiatives. Leaders are responsible to make good environment. So, you are right in saying that leaders do not have to be man’s best friend. Leaders need to understand issues and problems. This helps in building relationship. At the same time, spotting forces that shift efforts also need to be dealt.