On Leadership and The Value You Bring Your Followers

Value Proposition

So Leaders: What’s your value proposition to your followers?

The employee is regarded by the employer merely in the light of his value as an operative. His productive capacity alone is taken into account.” ~ Leland Stanford

Compelling Value Proposition

In the world of modern sales and marketing, providing customers and clients with a compelling value proposition is the maxim.

  • Companies strive to engage by enticing potential customers with a vision of what life might be like if their pain were removed or they could achieve their dream.
  • Every effort is expended to nurture the customer until they beg to find out how this dream can be realised.
  • Then and only then is the solution provided and heaven help the company that fails to deliver the promised value.
  • This is not an equal exchange of value because modern consumers expect value greater than the money they pay.

Why then do many employers not have the same value proposition approach to their most valuable capital, their employees?

Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

Making Value Choices

All organisations want to recruit and retain high potential internally motivated staff to achieve the company mission.

>>> So what’s in it for the employee and why should they choose you over other opportunities.

>>> More importantly, what is it you do for them that would make them want to stay? (It is not just about money…)

>>> What is your value proposition for them and how do you intend to deliver it persistently and consistently?

Making Monetary Choices

To paraphrase Vernon Hill at Metro Bank, how do you turn your staff into fans not just your customers?

Telefonica O2 said, “An organisation that does not enlist its own staff to its ‘fan base’ is not maximising its long-term value.

Does it make a financial difference?

Towers Perrin-ISR’s 2006 findings four:

Those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2 per cent over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7 per cent over the same period.

Over a 12 month period, those companies with high engagement scores demonstrated a 13.7 per cent improvement in net income growth whilst those with low engagement saw net income growth decline by 3.8 per cent.

Making Value Propositions

You can find much more on the business benefits of a values proposition to employees in a report to the UK Government “Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement

So, let’s look at the employer/employee relationship at its most basic.

An employee offers their effort and expertise to an organisation and in turn they gain reward most usually but not always in the form of money. Balancing the equation is the hard part. The employee wants a fair reward for a certain level of input and the employer wants the maximum amount of input from the employee for as little as is reasonable to pay them.

It might be expressed as:

Motivation = Perception of benefits minus Perception of costs

The ideal situation arises when an employee invests “above and beyond the call of duty” just because they are motivated to do so by other factors outside of remuneration. Somehow their internal motivation has been triggered and they are self-sustaining. What value can you the employer give to your staff which would likely catalyse this behaviour or at least create the environment for it to develop? Peter Drucker said:

The true business of every company is to make and keep customers.” ~ Peter Drucker

But he also said:

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

If we synthesise the two we might get:

The true business of every company (organization) is to make it easy for its staff to make and keep clients

The Tangible and Intangible Factors

The value given to followers comprises both tangible and intangible factors.

Key contributions might be:

  • Authentic listening
  • Identification of direct interferences restricting employees’ capability to achieve goals
  • Mitigating or removing such interferences

This is essentially the same thinking used daily by sales people to convert a prospect into a customer. Warm the prospect up first with sincere enquiry to identify their pains and dreams and then explain how the pain can be removed or their dreams achieved by your product or service.

You can find a compilation of the personal visions of 12 TED speakers on the subject of inspiring, values proposition-based leadership here.

Sellling The Vision

Ask yourself tehse questions:

  • So, how might your task as a leader alter if you considered your purpose was to “sell” the vision of working (and staying) with your organisation as a value proposition?
  • What value would they receive in “buying” into your offer?
  • How can you maintain, nuance and increase the value they receive in order to keep them?

This does not mean you roll over and give more than you can afford but we are not just talking about the money here. As has been proven so many times the last thing you talk about with sales prospects is the cost the first is what will change for them and by how much. Why would you expect the mindset of your staff to be different?

Your key actions for today

  • In today’s conversations with staff did you add value or take it?
  • Are your organisation’s job adverts value propositions?
  • Review one report’s job description today – on a scale of 1 to 10 is this a value proposition or a description of demands (i.e. tasks and responsibilities).

Further Reading

Drucker on Leadership: New Lessons from the Father of Modern ManagementWilliam A. Cohen PhD

For those will an interest in basic research on the psychology of business:

Harter, Hayes and Schmidt (Gallup, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and University of Iowa) Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Articles of Faith: Strong and Courageous Leadership: The Joshua Effect

This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series
here. Published only on Sundays.

An ongoing misperception in leadership is that a strong leader is an authoritative one. For centuries, it was acceptable that a leader must take control of his team and environment with boldness and a dogged determination to get the job done.

In the generation of our parents and grandparents who grew up at a time in history when more than half the men were veterans, the culture was established that “subordinates” followed a chain of command.

That belief was bred in the generations after, and today we still find leaders who are commanding, controlling, and micromanagers.

Finding a Better Way to Lead

To understand a more effective way to lead, we can find one of the best examples in a warrior leader profiled in the Bible.

Joshua was given authority to succeed Moses as the shepherd who would usher the Israelites into Canaan. What made Joshua a successful leader is that he was able to take the helm without disrupting the original plan. Moses had started the journey and nearly completed it before his death.

But then Joshua was instructed by God to complete the trip. He was told three times by God to “Be strong and courageous” suggesting that his efforts would not be without danger and fear. Sometimes those who are given the opportunity to lead feel that the only way to get through the tough times of a mission is to lead by intimidation, threats, and punishment.

This never works. Those who do find that morale declines as does job performance. Joshua helps us to understand that having authority does not mean being authoritative.

On Real Trust

We find in Joshua 1:10 that he “ordered” the officers of the people to go through the camp and tell them to get ready to cross over the Jordan River and enter into hostile territory. He prepared the men to fight the enemies who would surely come against them as they entered in.

But Joshua reminded the people that he had assurances from God that they would have success. He trusted God. He just needed to get the people to trust him as the leader appointed by God on the heels of a phenomenal Sherpa like Moses. He pulled the teams together and encouraged them to support one another.

Then the most satisfying words that any leader could hear came from the people:

“Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses.”

Then just like God they encouraged him to be strong and courageous.

Winning Loyalty and Respect

How did Joshua win the loyalty and respect of this people?

He had three things working in his favor:

  1. The people knew he had been coached and mentored by an established and wise leader like Moses. He had learned from one greater than he, and he was open to correction and training.
  2. He exuded confidence but not cockiness. He was humble enough to know he would not be able to take the land on his own. He would need the help of his team.
  3. He delegated responsibility to the officers and allowed them to go through the camp and give orders to the people in preparation for the big move. He did so without interference. He trusted his people to do what he’d asked them to do, and then he stayed out of their way.

All leaders can learn from Joshua’s confident and inclusive manner of leadership. He was strong but not overbearing, courageous but not arrogant, focused but not inflexible. Inasmuch as he was all these things, he was also wildly successful and prosperous.

Follow his lead.

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———————
Betty Parker, CPLP

Betty Parker is President of Sharper Development Solutions, Inc.
Her daily goal is to turn Managers into Leaders through Training and Coaching.
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On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Fear and The Under Use of Power

Power Button

Years ago I shared an office in a house that had been converted to offices for independent practitioners. One day, in a session with a client, things admittedly got a little noisy.

The next day, I found a typewritten letter under my door, addressed to “The Occupants of Room 4.”

It read:

“On Wednesday April 16th, at approximately 10 am, there was an excessive amount of noise from Room 4 that disturbed the other tenants. Please be reminded this is a shared building, and noise should be kept to a minimum.”

It was signed by Greg, the physical therapist upstairs. I saw this guy every day on my coffee break.

So What’s Up?

Since I know this guy and saw him every day, I wondered why didn’t he simply knock on my door and ask me to keep it down? Or why didn’t he just leave a note in my box, asking me to be more sensitive next time? So in response, I wrote him a note of apology and agreed to keep it down.

But his method of notifying me really bothered me. Why did Greg have to act so bureaucratic when we had a friendly, collegial relationship. I thought about it for weeks, and then it struck me. Greg felt weak.

He was afraid to approach me directly, so he relied on rules, on legalese, rather than on our relationship.

The Under Use of Power

When we think of the misuse of power, our thoughts inevitably fly to the headline grabbers: the tyrants and bullies, schemers and scammers, or our first boss or sixth grade teacher.

Yet surprisingly, some of the biggest power problems stem from under use, not overuse of power.

Like Greg, not being comfortable with power, not identifying with one’s authority, whether it stems from a formal position, or an informal personal power, can cause just as much conflict and mayhem as does the overuse and abuse of power.

As John Adams said:

“It is weakness, rather than wickedness, which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power.”

Immature Understanding of Power

The cliché, “I won’t be like my mother (or father)” holds especially true when it comes to power. We grow up in a context where power was used on us: by parents, siblings, on the playground, by teachers, and other adults. If we’re lucky, we were the beneficiaries of good, healthy uses of power. Chances are we weren’t entirely lucky.

A common response we develop is to blame power and to determine never to misuse it. But, here’s the thing: The more you hate it, the worse you’ll use it. You can’t enact authority simply by vowing “never to be like others.”

Hating power is the worst preparation you can have for occupying a position of authority.

The challenges I see in my coaching practice more often are the “Greg variety,” more often stem from avoiding using our authority, and trying to minimize our power footprint.

But these following behaviors wreak just as much havoc – albeit a different kind of havoc.

4 Misuses of Power

1) Avoiding Difficult Conversations

Trying to avoid one difficult conversation quickly spirals into a department wide mess.

  • A boss who refuses to deal with the conflict on her team, hoping it’ll just “work itself out,” is at risk of losing valuable team members.
  • Teachers who don’t take control of classroom dynamics let unsafe atmospheres detract from learning.
  • Team leaders who won’t intervene when someone dominates the meeting allow projects to degenerate into frustrating and pointless endeavors.
  • Parents who don’t set limits inadvertently teach their children that they’ll always get their way in relationships, and never develop the self-discipline and frustration tolerance necessary to work towards goals.  

Maybe we’re afraid of conflict, or just want to side step the awkwardness, but if things aren’t already ‘working themselves out,’ chances are they will just get worse without some kind of intervention.

2)  Not Making the Tough Call

Discussion airs issues and is good for creative problem solving, and an egalitarian atmosphere is critical for open discussion. But at some point, decisions have to be made. Too much discussion inevitably plunges a group into conflict. If a leader is vague, uncertain, or hesitant to make decisions, it creates chaos, confusion and conflict for others.

People don’t know what to do, outcomes are uncertain, work is often done for naught. And in the leadership void created by uncertainty, people jump in and fight for the reins.

The group can spend a lot of time sorting through conflicts about direction and inevitably get mired in power struggles. When power is not directly inhabited, it doesn’t just disappear but seeps into the interactional field, and is contested there, without awareness and without facilitation.

It’s an extremely exhausting and taxing process for organizations.

3) Using Too Much Ammo

Feeling like you have too little power often leads to the opposite: using more firepower than the situation calls for. If you underestimate your own rank, and are convinced you’re the weaker party, you tend to increase your fire power.

You use too much ammo out of fear you’ll be defeated, or not getting your point across. Whenever we feel one-down, we use extra force. We don’t see that we come across as an aggressor, and then we interpret the other’s defensive response as proof that they are the aggressor.

We then increase our firepower yet again, and suddenly we’re in a runaway escalation of our own making.

4) Relying On rules

Like Greg, who wrote me the officious letter about noise, reaching for a rule before trying to address things through relationship can create rather than resolve conflict. It stems from feeling weak. Unable to represent our side without an ally, we cc the boss, HR, or others onto the email.

Or, we threaten indirectly, by sounding legal or referring to procedures.

But reaching for rules, guidelines, or procedures when things go awry, or as a way to influence someone, should be a last resort, not a first step.

Just because power can be used poorly, and often is used poorly, doesn’t mean we need to avoid it. We need power. We need strength to be direct, to have tough conversations, to take responsibility, to minimize conflict, and most importantly, as leaders, to develop those around us.

So, are you guilty of misusing power by not using it wisely? Or are you subject to this in your workplace, home, or recreational life? How can you improve your understand of power and use it more effectively as you lead others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Julie Diamond

Julie Diamond is a Leadership Consultant, Coach, and Trainer
She specializes in Designing and Delivering Leadership Development Programs
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog | Skype: juliediamond8559

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On Ice Cream, Mushrooms, and the Three Ages of Leadership

Alexander the Great

Almost daily I see an article or post telling me leadership is situational. One size does not fit all, they say; we must adapt our leadership behavior to suit the context. Ken Blanchard is the original proponent of situational leadership, but the idea has been adopted by businesspeople everywhere.

Left mostly unexplored, however, is one of the most important contexts for a leader:  their age.

The Leadership Career

I’m not talking about chronological age, but rather the stage we’ve reached in our leadership career. Are we just starting out, perhaps a first-time project manager? Climbing through the ranks, seeking to build our influence across the organization? Or sitting at the peak of our powers (however defined), secure in the fact that at least a few bucks stop at our desk? Each stage has its requirements.

In the March 17, 2008, issue of Fortune, there’s an article by Stanley Bing called “The Seven Ages of Business.” It’s a parody of a Shakespearean soliloquy. In it, Bing scans the seven stages of a leader’s life, from “the tiny associate” all the way up to “the chairman, the bee at the center of the hive.”

It’s a terrific article, but I believe the ages of leadership can be compressed to just three: the New Leader, the Rising Leader, and the Tenured Leader. To understand these stages, let’s look at three great leaders of ancient times: their traits, their mottoes, and the foods they might have Instagrammed were they alive today.

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The New Leader: Alexander the Great (356-323 BC)

  • Peak decade: His twenties
  • Famous for: Setting off at age twenty to overthrow the Persian Empire, and succeeding; being one of the first leaders to think strategically about military campaigns and utilize inventive battle formations; gaining the fanatical loyalty of his troops by fighting alongside them and sharing their hardships.
  • Food he’d Instagram: Ice cream. Legend says he invented it. According to Plutarch, while on the march through cold countries Alexander would have his cook mix snow with wine and honey, thereby creating the first iced dessert. If the story is true, we have him to thank for a good chunk of the world’s happiness over the past two thousand years.
  • Character traits: Boldness, creativity, good humor
  • New Leader’s Motto: “Lean in.” For a new leader, Sheryl Sandberg’s advice is spot on. But don’t be a pushy jerk. Instead, be like Alexander: go first, think creatively, and lead by example. If you have an idea for color-changing ice cream, now’s the time to put it out there.

The Rising Leader: Julius Caesar (100-44 BC)

  • Peak decade: His forties
  • Famous for: Working his way up from obscurity; conquering Gaul and a few other regions; using a combination of military prowess, astute alliances, and self-promotional tactics to topple the Roman Republic and become the first supreme leader of Rome and all its territories.
  • Food he’d Instagram: Asparagus. At a banquet at the home of one of his allies, Caesar was served a dish of asparagus that had been mistakenly dressed with ointment instead of oil. He swallowed it with no sign of disgust and later chastised one of his retinue who complained. “He who reflects on another man’s breeding shows he wants it as much himself,” he said.
  • Character traits: Diplomacy, generosity, political savvy
  • Rising Leader’s Motto: “People first.” Caesar was a master of alliances and saw his supporters as his best and surest guard. Like him, rising leaders must take care to build coalitions at all levels and avoid ticking people off. Be prepared to eat some messed-up asparagus rather than insult your dinner host.

The Tenured Leader: Emperor Claudius (10 BC – 54 AD)

  • Peak decade: His fifties
  • Famous for: Being considered an embarrassment due to his limp, mild deafness, and stammer; surviving the purges of Tiberius and Caligula’s reigns; becoming Emperor of Rome at age 51; building roads, harbors, and aqueducts; conquering Britain.
  • Food he’d Instagram: Mushrooms. Canny and careful, Claudius managed to survive the murders and executions that decimated his extended family after the death of Augustus Caesar. Once he became emperor, however, it wasn’t so easy to fly under the radar. A dish of mushrooms—one of his favorite foods—was his undoing. Most accounts say they were poisoned by his wife, Agrippina, who wanted to ensure her son Nero’s succession to the throne.
  • Character traits: Integrity, judgment, circumspection
  • Tenured Leader’s Motto: “Look before leaping.” The biggest trap for a tenured leader is over-confidence. It doesn’t occur to us that our long-time favorite strategies might stop working or that our flatterers might not have our interests at heart. So, proceed with caution. Snarfing down that tasty dish of mushrooms could be a fatal error.

What stories do you have that illustrate the ages of leadership? What other mottoes would you propose for each stage? And which would you rather eat: ice cream, asparagus, or mushrooms?

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Jocelyn Davis

 Jocelyn Davis is Founder and CEO of Seven Learning
She is an Author, Speaker, and Consultant on Leadership Issues
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Articles of Faith: Leading in a Fallen World

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

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This  Articles of Faith series investigates leadership lessons from the Bible.

Check in on Sundays for new and refreshing ways to understand how to be a better leader.
Interested in Contributing? Contact Us.
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When it comes to leadership, Christians are called to a different way to view it, understand it, and live it. The leadership model for Christians is Jesus Christ himself. But for many modern Christians, they are taking the world’s view and understanding of leadership and not the biblical view.

So what’s a Christian to do?

Eyes on the Prize

Rather than living a life “looking in the rear view mirror”, Christians should lead by example with their eyes fixed on the prize on the road ahead. They should live in the present and not in the past. Christians should show love in the reality of a fallen world where hope is craved and leadership comes through grace.

Otherwise, living in the past is like still living with an ex-relationship governing your thoughts. And that will only lead to somewhere unwelcome.

The key to leading is the present is to live in the present with hope for the future.

Being Of The World

The many recent battles facing the Christian faith today are showing how much Christians care about being seen as equals with the rest of the secular world in which they live. To these Christians, I say this: Fellow believers, we are fighting the wrong fight and focusing on the wrong relationships.

Why are we fighting for equality, when the scriptures tell us that won’t happen. We are, in many ways, perpetuating our own struggle.

Don’t be surprised if the world hates you...” 1 John 3:13 NIV

Pretending We Are Locals

We keep calling it the world that we are not a part of (foreigners & aliens) and yet we get up in arms when the same world we are not a part of does something that offends or alienates us…guys, it’s not our world remember!

That’s like being upset about who your ex-spouse is dating. Listen, if you’re upset about what your ex is doing, then you’re not over them!

Do not love the world or anything in the world.” 1 John 2:15 NIV

Coming Together

Instead of spending our time, energy, and effort on things that don’t belong to us; we should be focusing more intentionally on coming together and being the spiritual community and kingdom the bible talks about in both testaments.

But we are too busy looking for common ground outside the faith (where we are told it’s impossible) instead of building common ground inside the faith (where we are told it’s essential).  We are fighting for equality outside of our walls, when we don’t even have unity within them.

A kingdom divided shall not stand.” Matthew 12:25 NIV

Being Right on “Rights”

The ugly truth is this, the reason we fight some much for our “religious rights” is because we want all the privileges of the secular world while not playing by its rules….I have news for us..it’s not going to happen (the Bible is clear on that).

If you love the world the world would love you like you were it’s very own.”

So why do we need to let go and move on from these fights we are so deeply entrenched in?

  • First, we are already told that we won’t win this fight. The secular world will continue to progress in ways that are secular and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
  • Secondly, it is taking our focus away from what we really should be fighting for. As Christians we are in many ways fighting for rights in Sodom and Gomorrah when God is saying to us, “get out of there and don’t look back!”

Getting the Point

So what is my point? My point is this…

Many of us don’t realize that these things we are trying to fight for socially, politically,  and economically tell us (and God) where our hearts lie. What do we want to keep more…

  • Our tax breaks or our spiritual values?
  • Our relevance or righteousness?
  • Secular handouts or kingdom holiness?

If your ex-spouse knows that what they are doing still bothers you, then they also know that what they do can still hurt you. Why are we as the church constantly running after our “ex” only to keep being hurt time and time again? This is the time for all believers to re-evaluate our values and to recommit to our unity.

There is no need to keep running after our ex when we have already become a bride. Let’s stop trying to hold on to what we need to let go of, and let’s lead the church to grab hold of what we’ve been letting go of for so long…each other.

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Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
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You, Me, and Our Relationship Makes Three

Business Relationships

A previous post introduced the characteristics of relationship building, which is the foundation to public relations education and practice, and (ideally!) organizational relationships. 

Without a clear focus on people and its human aspects, organizations are doomed to remain stagnant, or even die.

On Relationships

As a refresher, the components of relationship-building are this:

  • Control Mutuality (allowing another party the power to influence you)
  • Trust
  • Satisfaction
  • Commitment

These components contribute to an exchange relationship, one in which one party in the relationship does something for the other party as reciprocation for a past or future service; or a communal relationship, in which both parties provide benefits to each other out of concern rather than payback and seek no additional recompense.

This post will look more closely at the four initial characteristics, and the final post in this series will focus on the outcomes of an exchange or communal relationship.

Not surprisingly, control mutuality, trust, satisfaction, and commitment are all characteristics that we seek in our interpersonal relationships, whether it is between family members, spouses, partners, or friends.

But how often do we consider these components as criteria for our business-related activities?

For example, during an interview process the idea of commitment may be an issue of concern for the interviewer, and possibly the interviewee. But once we are established within an organization, how often do we stop to think about how all of these characteristics influence our relationships on an ongoing basis?

The 4 Key Characteristics of Relationship Building

The relevance and impact of these characteristics on organizational well-being can be better understood in the context of both enduring and distinctive workplace challenges:

Control Mutuality

Interactions with most organizations require some level of control mutuality. In a retail environment, or when attending a sales pitch we allow, or perhaps even encourage sales representatives to “wow” us with the benefits of their product or service. The control then shifts as we decide whether or not we were moved enough to commit or take our business elsewhere.

This back-and-forth exchange of control can be seen in any number of scenarios across industries – hiring new employees, starting a new product line or creating a stronger team, as examples  – and the way in which each party contributes, as well as the value they place on the outcome strongly influences their role in the relationship.

Trust

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been under close scrutiny for the past several months as a result of accusations of delayed medical treatment to veterans, allegedly resulting in several deaths. Unquestionably a tragedy, and regardless of the outcome resulting from hearings and policy changes, damage to the VA has and will continue to be significant.

Already then-Secretary Eric Shinseki, himself a veteran and former Army general, was pressured to resign, negatively affecting both his and the VA’s reputation. From the perspective of multiple stakeholders as well as the general public, the VA did not do what it said it would do for its members– the cornerstones of creating trust!

Regaining the trust of these key constituents will be slow and costly, not just financially, but in terms of re-establishing and maintaining the much needed support for a mission that has been called into question.

Satisfaction

Over the past 25-years, employees’ job satisfaction has fallen precipitously from 61% to 15%. Considering that even at its highest level more than one-third of the workforce was dissatisfied with their jobs, this statistic is even more staggering. Evidence of this dissatisfaction is seen not only in the various rankings of “worst companies”, but also in the fact that while the lists contain some overlap of identified companies, they also include many unique listings suggesting that there is a good deal of competition for this dubious title.

Unfortunately, due to external factors beyond employees’ control, such as the economy, unforeseen costs at home (including medical expenses, child care, routine expenses) or an inability to compete in the job market due to a lack of skills and the ability to develop them, employees often end up staying at a job that they would prefer to leave.

This could have a domino effect impacting the employee, colleagues and supervisors, the organization, customers, and family.

Commitment

Sticking with a relationship, personal or business, requires effort, and remaining committed to a relationship means that both parties feel the effort is worthwhile.

Turnover is one way to evaluate employees’ commitment to their jobs.

Although turnover in the United States has maintained at a steady rate of 3.1-3.2 percent, down from rates more consistent in the 3.7– 3.8 range before the current economic crisis, it would be naive to assume this decrease is due purely to job appreciation, particularly given such low overall levels of job satisfaction.

It is realistic to assume that some, perhaps even many, employees are reluctant to leave a steady job in questionable economic times. It is important for leaders to have a realistic perspective on employee’s long-term tenure and its contributing factors and not assume that longevity equals satisfaction and commitment to the organization.

Maintaining Excellence

Successful relationships require effort and maintenance. The relationship becomes its own entity and, like the individual parties involved, needs to be considered in terms of decision-making and outcomes.

So, instead of asking “How does this affect me?” or “How will this affect my client?” you must also ask “How with this affect our relationship?”

This awareness of the relationship as a “third-person”, so to speak, forces all parties involved to give it greater consideration, which adds to the depth and value of the connection.

With whom are your most important relationships? Have you been disappointed that certain relationships have not worked out? What level of effort do you put into developing and maintaining both types of relationships? How strongly to you consider the potential relationship when soliciting or accepting new clients? Has that made a difference?

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———————–
Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D is AMP Consulting
She provides Organizational Communication Consulting & Research Focused on
Relationship-Building and Presentation of Image
Email | LinkedIn |  Web

 

Image Sources: sapore.com.br

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