Leadership that Excelerates Performance
LEADERSHIP THAT EXCELERATES PERFORMANCE focuses on the critical relationship between leadership, employee engagement and delivering an exceptional customer experience as a competitive advantage.
Bill is recognized as the Performance Excelerator™ because of
his uncanny ability to create profound change and deliver extraordinary results
with the most demanding organizations.
As a senior executive with over 25 years experience, he works with senior leaders to navigate change and influence and inspire higher performing, customer-focused cultures that create long-term, profitable relationships with your customers and excelerate performance and productivity with leaders and employees.
If you are like many businesses, you may have a couple poor employees — consistently under-performing.
Some would suggest that they need to be pruned in order for the business to remain healthy and grow. Philosophically I agree — however, before pruning ask yourself why they are under-performing. Here are a couple thoughts for consideration.
Is it because they are a round peg in a square hole. Do they have all the character elements but yet still aren’t successful in their role. Maybe you need to consider a change in role to one where some of their strengths may have the opportunity to shine.
I once had a team member who had all the character elements but just wasn’t succeeding in the marketing area. His attention to detail wasn’t strong, which was fundamental when proofing ads and hitting deadlines. So we moved him into a sales role where he had administrative support. Because of his character and personality, he quickly rose to become one of the top performers in that new role. If we had pruned too early, we would have lost a valuable asset and who knows what we would have gotten in return. If they have the right character — look for a win. Remember, most skills can be taught.
Or perhaps they made an error at a critical time. Maybe they failed to hit a deadline or blew a key initiative — resulting in a loss of confidence. The residual effect over time, is that fellow employees will see them as a weak link. Possibly you will too.
Ask yourself what it would take to rehabilitate that team member. Remember, at one time they were considered a valuable member of the team, but once they have fallen from grace, it may be too much for them to get back on track on their own.
What can you do as a leader to help lift them up? If they are worth saving, how could you help them become successful again. Maybe a special assignment that leverages their strengths. Maybe they just need a show of confidence from the key leader to help them over the hump and let others take notice of your faith. This doesn’t mean you lower your standards or expectations — maybe just a little personal coaching to get them over the rough spot.
My Perspective: Before you prune, make sure that is the best step.
The key thing to remember is that at one time virtually every employee was deemed to be a good fit — that’s why they were hired in the first place. So before you take the harsh step of pruning — look for the upside.
After all, if you spent time working to improve a high performer, you might get a little incremental improvement. However, if you can help a poor performer become a high performer — think of the positive impact on the organization and the time saved to find a new person to replace them.
Then if it still doesn’t work, when you prune you will know you have given them the best of yourself personally — and that is a sign of a great leader.
This is the second in our series of articles that looks at leadership capacity and its impact on organizational growth. The full series will be available for download as a white paper once it is completed.
In our last article, we discussed how leadership impacts your organizations ability to grow. Now let’s discuss some of the characteristics that leaders need to impact the growth of their organization.
There are certain core characteristics the majority of leaders possess. However, there are also an additional set of characteristics that define transformational leaders — leaders that have the ability to make an impact on organizational growth.
It is an organizations ability to develop this next level of leadership capabilities through training programs, mentoring, and skill development programs that put organizations in the enviable position to grow year over year without experiencing dips in performance.
Core leadership characteristics
There are certain leadership characteristics that, while important, do not inspire organizational change and growth that help companies develop into innovative, consistent industry leaders.
Examples of these core leadership characteristics include:
- Good judgment
- Communication skills
- Competence or knowledge
- Interpersonal skills
We hear about these leadership characteristics all the time and in many different contexts. While they are very important for leaders to have, there is another level of leadership characteristics that are “must haves” for transformational leaders. These are the leadership characteristics that make an impact and spur growth.
Transformational Leadership characteristics that impact organizational growth
In order to put your organization in a position to grow effectively and on a consistent basis, leaders with the following characteristics not only make them an effective leader — but also a transformational leader:
- Internal motivation and self-management: Transformational leaders find motivation from within and use that as the driving force to effectively manage the direction of the company. The best natural form of motivation is to love what you do and ensure that your values are aligned with the organization you work with.
- The ability to make difficult decisions: Difficult decisions are a part of being a leader. Transformational leaders do not back away or put off tough decisions. Difficult decisions are made easier when decisions align with clearly defined vision, values, goals, and objectives.
- Check their ego: When placed in a position of power, it is easy to let your ego get the best of you. However, transformational leaders keep their ego in check and do not let it get in the way of doing what is best for business. The benefit of checking your ego ensures you put the company first over personal gain and encourages the best input from others within the organization — because when the company succeeds, you as a leader also succeed.
- Willing to take the right risks: Anyone can take a risk. Transformational leaders take calculated risks that more often than not result in positive outcomes. Trusting your instinct, as well as your team to gather the necessary intelligence is important. Trusting your gut is easier when you have taken the time to research, evaluate and inform your decisions with input from those around you. Failure to take the appropriate risks and make these difficult decisions will inhibit change and your ability to grow.
- Organizational consciousness: Transformational leaders share the collective conscious of their organization. They understand what actions to take to evoke change, spur innovation, and make decisions that will create growth. Since their own values are aligned with the organization they share a joint purpose with the organization and do not just view their position in the company as just a job.
- Adaptability: Transformational leaders are willing to adapt and are always seeking new ways to respond to a constantly changing business environment. They know that the second they stand still is when they will be passed by their competitors; which means they are open-minded to change and lifelong learners.
- Willing to listen and entertain new ideas: It is a rare individual who can build an empire. Transformational leaders understand that success is a team effort and growth is derived from the willingness to be open and listen to ideas from all levels of their organization. Transformational leaders create intentional ways to listen to their team and incorporate their insights.
- Inspirational: People want to be inspired. Transformational leaders have the ability to make those around rise to the occasion. Inspiration comes not just from a formal motivational speech or simple recognition for a job well done, but by treating people as individuals and taking the time to understand what motivates and inspires their team.
- Proactive: Transformational leaders are proactive decision makers. They do not wait around for others to make decisions and then react. They are willing to take risks, try new things and take an innovative approach to growing the organization. However, they also understand how to manage risk and make decisions that are backed by research, multiple insights and are well thought out.
- Visionary: Being a visionary is about setting a realistic and concise company mission, vision, and values that fit the culture of your organization. Transformational leaders have the ability not only to effectively communicate the vision, but also get every person to buy in and work toward that vision by communicating with passion and clearly emphasizing the direction they want the company to pursue.
Transformational leaders constantly strive to have these characteristics. Developing these characteristics is what separates companies that are led by managers versus leaders.
The next article will build on these must have characteristics and examine how leaders can assess organizational leadership to improve their companies’ ability to grow.
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When discussing leadership, we often hear words like teamwork and collaboration. People tend to shy away from words like conflict and disagreement. But are these bad?
Strong leaders encourage disagreement, because it ensures that everyone on the team is using their full potential to ensure decisions are bullet-proofed.
We are all trained from an early age to defer to authority. however, people who are closer to the issue or opportunity often have a different, more informed, perspective than more senior people.
My Perspective: If you are always getting agreement to your thoughts and ideas, then your people aren’t contributing their own valued ideas. As a leader you need to ensure that your team feels safe disagreeing and challenging your thinking. If your team automatically defers to the boss, then you and the team will miss out on critical input and thinking.
Make it easy for people to speak up with a dissenting opinion in a safe environment. Actively ask for their input — and then ask again to demonstrate you are serious about hearing their thoughts. Disagreeing with the boss requires courage, so recognize people when they voice a dissenting opinion and challenge your thinking with good ideas of their own.
When discussing projects, share your comments as initial thoughts as opposed to formed ideas, then ask for input in developing the ideas further. This will encourage people to build on the thinking versus just agree.
Make sure that you don’t react negatively if someone disagrees, even if you think it is a bad idea. This will just shut people down in the future. It’s much better to allow the group to determine that the idea doesn’t make sense based on evaluation — and better ideas that come forward.
Lastly, never confuse dissent or disagreement with disrespect. Disrespect doesn’t belong in any discussion.
When discussing the “How to’s” of building an engaged culture, we hear lots of talk about “reinforcing the positive” and “catching people doing things right”, but what happens when people are doing things wrong and we need to provide corrective direction. Specific steps need to take place to get the person moving in the proper direction while still keeping them positive and motivated.
Most importantly, you must focus on the situation or issue versus the person, while sharing a more appropriate course of action. We all need to avoid falling into the trap of confusing criticism with constructive feedback.
Constructive feedback is information-specific, issue-focused, and based on observations, while criticism is a personal judgment about a performance effort or outcome, usually given is general and vague manner, focused on the person, and based on opinions or feelings
These steps you will help you have more success.
- Describe: Start by describing what the person did accurately and concisely. Be objective and neutral — remember, how we say something is just as important as what we say. Provide specifics of what happened and do not exaggerate or minimize the situation. Focus on the positive contribution.
- Explain: Explain the impact of the behaviour on the customer, team or organization. These need to be observations of what you have seen or heard — not your interpretations or opinions. Observations are factual and non-judgmental. It is helpful to start focused on ‘I’. ‘I notice’, ‘I have seen’ or even I have been told’. This will help keep the discussion issue focused. Avoid using ‘but’, ‘although’ or ‘however’ to link this to the first section. These words create contradictions and send a mixed message that effectively negates any positive message you started with.
- Suggest: Suggest specific changes that you would like to see made and explain what you want the person to do differently. The more specific, the more likely they person will be able to implement the suggestion next time.
- Commit: Seek a commitment to change. Be clear on the consequences of continuing in this vein. Seek an agreement about the new, modified behaviour. In extreme cases, be clear of the consequences of not making these changes — but again be objective and neutral to minimize this sounding like a threat.
Example: One of your team is being described as harsh or bossy when providing direction to other team members.
Describe: Bill, I really appreciate that you have taken ownership of this project and are providing clear, well thought-out input on what next steps are needed. I wanted to let you know how valuable this is to the team and the overall success of the project.
Explain: I notice that sometimes when you provide direction to other team members, you are very quick and specific when giving input — which sometimes creates the impression that you don’t value their input and think that only your way is the correct way.
Suggest: I’d like to suggest that you take some time to understand why they did it the way they chose and what next steps they are considering. Then building on their ideas, share some additional thoughts on how they can accomplish their goal.
Commit: That way, they will feel that you are adding to their thoughts and helping them be more successful. Does that make sense? Would you give that a try next time and let me know how it works?
Feedback should be given, as close as possible to when the performance incident occurs so that the events are fresh in everyone’s minds. When feedback is given well after the fact, the value of the constructive feedback is lessened.
The exception may be when giving negative feedback. Sometimes when a negative incident happens you may need time to get your thoughts in order before you give negative feedback (coming on too strong or in an angry manner will negate any good you hope to achieve). Giving the feedback tomorrow rather than immediately will come across as far more constructive — and tomorrow is still timely.
Lastly — and hopefully these go without saying — your feedback should be person-to-person versus in writing. The very nature of feedback is a mentoring/coaching activity, which should be done verbally and informally. You should also provide positive feedback in the same manner at least as often as you provide corrective feedback.
By focusing on the positive and keeping the discussion fact based when providing correction, you are able to modify and build new behaviours, without challenging their current behaviours. What do you think? Is it worth a try?
Performance Excelerator™ | Leadership Expert| Professional Speaker
Bill is recognized as the Performance Excelerator™ because of his uncanny ability to create profound change and deliver extraordinary results with the most demanding organizations. He works with senior leaders to inspire and develop high-performance teams that deliver exceptional customer service, higher productivity and improve profits.
Bill is passionate about results and works only with clients who share that passion — ready to take steps to achieve immediate, significant and continuous improvement. Whether working with boards or operations teams and employees, his no-excuse approach breaks down the silos and gains consensus and clarity throughout the organization.
Bill Hogg provides dynamic keynote presentations, transformative workshops, and world class executive consulting.
© Copyright 2008 – Bill Hogg & Associates All Rights Reserved
Posted in Articles, Blog, Culture, Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Leadership, Measurement, Recognition, Strategy, Strategy, Tips and Techniques, Training | 1 comment
These are 2 of the most powerful words in the English language — they are equally powerful in any language. They express our gratefulness for the benefits we have received, either in personal or business relationships.
This past weekend was Thanksgiving here in Canada so I wanted to share a thanksgiving story about one of my clients — PRO-TAX, headquartered in Charlottesville Virginia.
I have had the privilege to work with this organization since 2008 and they have consistently demonstrated their values and commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience. And they are working every day to improve and make it better.
This story occurred after a recent trip to their corporate offices to conduct customer research. We spent time talking with customers to better understand their emotional and business needs.
When I returned home I received a hand written Thank You note from the President.
How often do you receive a Thank You note from your clients?
I often speak about the power of a Thank You, but usually when referring to thanking our customer/clients for their business or employees for their efforts.
What a remarkable example of truly living your values.
Thanks to the great group of folks at PRO-TAX for reminding us that we should be thanking all the people in our lives who enrich and add value — not just the ones who pay us money.
My Perspective: Who has contributed to your business or personal life that you haven’t thanked recently. Make a point to do so this week.
Plus, I want to offer my thanks to everyone who has contributed to making this past year so great. Whether as clients, colleagues, readers, contributors or the many bright and engaged people I have had the privilege to meet — thank you for making my life richer.