In Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s book, “Out of the Crisis” (think ‘80’s), he said this:
“The job of management is not supervision, but leadership. The required transformation of Western style of management requires that managers be leaders.”
As a leader, you have a very big responsibility. In order to be a success in this type of role, you need to create an environment of positive growth for your staff and the people that you lead. If you don’t, the people in your organization who want to grow will find it too difficult to keep up a healthy workplace attitude and will eventually seek other opportunities (ie, most people don’t leave an organization, they leave their boss).
Think of a good leader being one who controls the workplace environment much like a botanist would regulate a greenhouse full of differing plant species. Each person is like a plant that needs environmental controls for their unique make-up. If the place is too hot, too cold, too drafty, too dry, too wet, too dark, too sunny, etc., growth stifles and a withering career is not far behind.
But unlike plants, people are not things. People are actually much more complex than things because they come with “baggage” like emotions, histories, families, relationships, health issues, skill sets, and other “attributes” that make them far more difficult to handle. However, some managers still think of people as objects and they treat them as such.
These folks think that you can “manage” people like you manage production, or processes, or inventory, or machines. They take a transactional approach to trying to manage living, breathing, feeling people. The truth is that you cannot manage people, you can only really lead them.
They think: “If you give them a fair day’s wage they’ll return a fair day’s work.” Ahhh, only if it were that simple……
Take Me To Your Leader
Remember this “We’re people, not robots.” This may have been the way your parents or grandparents were treated from generations past. But sorry, this just doesn’t fly in today’s world.
With post-war generations, a more command and control mindset was prevalent in society and the workplace. Both at home and at work, a common saying would be something like this: “When I say jump, you say ‘how high?’” This stems from a large number of the population being surrounded by many with military experience where this was a common modality.
Now, it is far better to treat your followers, people on your teams, like they are volunteers who can leave you at any moment. They have a more freedom-minded approach to working and do not understand a robotic “react-now” mindset.
If we treat people well, they’ll respond more openly with heart and mind (as well as with their back…) Your staff WANT to learn, so you have to keep teaching. Teaching and learning doesn’t stop when someone becomes a supervisor, it just shifts gears a bit. In order to truly contribute, EVERYONE must be respected – supported – and thus – empowered.
And yes, this can be exhaustive. But it is worth the effort!
At The Walt Disney Company (my personal favorite for examples), their approach about leadership is that everyone is a leader – or at least everyone has the capability of being a leader.
There are three types of leaders:
Positional Leadership – considered leaders by virtue of the fact that they’re in a particular position (title) within the organization. This is the leader with the least amount of influence.
Personal Leadership – every staff member can practice personal leadership by practicing what we preach and working effectively with others. There’s no reason that, with the proper overall leadership, that everyone can’t have personal leadership!!
Spontaneous Leadership – leadership by quickly drawing on experience when needed.
In order to have the opportunity to be any type of leader, the overall leadership must empower their staff and remove the barriers that suppress their natural commitment, creativity, and quality service that people are normally prepared to offer.
Stephen Covey says that, “To receive joy and pride in one’s work is the right of all. And it is management practices that prevent it!”
Leaders should draw from their staff’s strengths to contribute ideas, creativity, innovative thinking, and attention to detail.
Just to get you started, try these four things:
- Take advantage of opportunities to coach staff IN THE MOMENT. Remember, the longer you put it off, the less successful your coaching will be.
- Have them reflect, with you, on the situation(s) at hand. Brainstorm different paths to take toward a solution.
- Guide (coach) them toward that path. It’s not your job to hold hands, but to guide them in the correct direction.
- By all means, let them know that you BELIEVE in them. But be sure to hold them accountable for their actions.
In his book entitled Winning, Jack Welch writes that he believes that the vast majority of a leader’s time should be devoted to 3 activities – evaluating, coaching, and building self-confidence in those around him/her.
“Too often, managers think that people development occurs once a year in performance reviews,” he writes, “That’s not even close. It should be a daily event integrated into your everyday goings-on.”
When you constantly convey a shared and meaningful purpose, in time, employees will naturally follow the story you’ve written.
So, what type of leader are you? Are you looking at your people as “talent” that has a natural yearning to grow and prosper? Or are you stifling individual growth by implementing “one-size-fits-all programs, initiatives, and rules that limit creativity and innovative thinking? What can you do to change your personal leadership style to accommodate the strengths, values, and creativity or your team members? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | (727) 568-5433
Image Sources: images.veer.com, farm4.static.flickr.com
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