On Leadership, Lying and Breaking The Honor Code

When a large, trusted and well-established institution gets caught in a public lie, the entire code of honor is at risk of failure. Leading like this is poisonous to the entire entity and everything for which it stands. 

When honor is broken, what comes next?

How Emory University Failed Its Own Honor Code

The revelation (see related article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) by leaders at Emory University that a former Dean of Admissions had been supplying false data (lying) when reporting the SAT scores and Class Ranking of  incoming students has been a great disappointment to the city of Atlanta, and a revelation throughout the country.

If high-level leaders at a university renown for quality education and ethical values are violating the very basic rule of honor–tell the truth–then what must be going on elsewhere?

In fact, this is not the first revelation of such false reporting by a university trying to gain an edge in competing for annual rankings in sources like US News & World Report.

As in other professions, it appears that for some leaders, any means can be justified when the end goal has implications of gaining power, money, and influence or protecting their prestige or position.

Widespread Leadership Issue

We have become accustomed to seeing dishonorable leaders in politics–after all, they thrive on publicity and when they get in trouble, their high profile role makes them magnets for media attention.

But, when we learn that administrators from a highly regarded university are playing just as dirty as many back room politicians or businesspeople, we must conclude that the problem is deep and wide, transcending every profession at every level.

We should not be surprised; after all, we are all cut from the same cloth—we are fallible and flawed human beings.

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Living By Your Words

The Emory University honor code, as posted online, has as its very first point, “…the University community assumes high standards of courtesy, integrity and responsibility in all of its members.”  But we make a great mistake when we assume integrity, even our own.  Events such as this provide a reminder that we must know ourselves and regularly check our own moral compass.

“Trying to take the easy way based on fear is taking out good men and women at a rapid pace.  We all suffer each time one falls. We tend to become more cynical, and at the same time our cultural standards of right and wrong drop another notch.”

Every day we face decisions that have honor implications and we must regularly re-examine our commitments and behaviors.  Additionally, we need to regularly seek counsel from close comrades who have very high standards who will give us counsel on our questionable decisions.

The bottom line is that we can’t assume that we (or others) are above dishonorable behavior.

We are most at risk when we become afraid about what could happen. Trying to take the easy way based on fear is taking out good men and women at a rapid pace.  We all suffer each time one falls. We tend to become more cynical, and at the same time our cultural standards of right and wrong drop another notch.

Going Back to Our Foundation as Leaders

The foundation for living and leading with honor is courage.  Every day we will be faced with fears and temptations to take the easy way out.  Only with a commitment to a code of honor will we have the courage to choose to do the right thing, because the right thing is usually the hard way.

Remember, all discipline in the moment seems difficult, but in the end brings peace and true success.

Do you assume your integrity?  What are you doing to make this assumption a reality in your life?  Do you have someone with whom you discuss difficult decisions, someone who can give counsel based on high standards and an objective viewpoint?

I hope you will join in this discussion and share your experiences.  Do you agree that it’s dangerous to assume your integrity?  How do you manage this key area of your life?

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis


Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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Leadership and Truth Found in a Comma

Commas

I just lost thousands of dollars because of a punctuation mark. A comma, of course.

Yes, a simple comma cost me much in a legal case.

The Little Stuff Counts

The Story of a Comma

Excited to move my business practice ahead, a contract was on my desk to sign. The agreement to hire and gain more sales was attractive. I was thinking this was a legitimate proposal and was not thinking that it might be a scam.

I looked over the contract and read the expectations that the service would be rendered without any hitches. I was eager to move the business forward. The contract was simple, just a couple of pages, and did not seem to need any more proof reading.

Flash Forward

Now, three months later, I am listening to the voice of the court clerk asking me to read the name of the business that had not kept its agreement and had been over paid for services not rendered.

  • I read the name.
  • Again, I read the business name.
  • A little confused, I read the business name once more.
  • The court clerk, asked me again to read the name of the business.
  • Again, I read the name.
  • What was I missing?
  • The court clerk then asked me if I could see the comma?

I looked carefully at the corporate register’s search document and saw that a small comma in the business name was visible.

What Did That Comma Mean?

A Stupid, Stupid Comma

The comma was a part of the business legal name and when the comma was left out of the Affidavit of Service it would cause the case I was filing nullified. A little item like a comma could play a significant part in the outcome of the complaint I had. A little object, like a comma could cost me thousands of dollars.

Few businesses use a comma in their name and surprised I  learned the comma was a ‘red flag’ to the court clerk. For me, it was not something I had expected. This made me realize that lies are often subtle and rarely expected.

A small comma is like a small lie. It can seem insignificant but have multiple impacts. The comma could have stopped the legal process. The comma could have prevented justice. The comma could have …blah, blah, blah…

A Comma in a Business Name

The legal name of the parties involved in a contract is a very important consideration. A small oversight such as a comma in the legal business name can nullify a court proceeding. To make sure that the document is correctly written, a corporate profile search undertaken at a registry office.

This double-checks that the legal name matches the contractual agreement. If a civil court case ensues this documentation is helpful. Some companies know a case loses because of this small oversight, so do the research before going to court.

How Prepared are You When Signing Contracts?

Your Ethical Journey

Business leadership is an ethical journey but sometimes unethical people lay snares that entangle and cause serious disruptions in the day-to-day operations. Therefore, contracts are an important source of truth and writing one carefully can save future misunderstandings, reduce operational headaches and risk.

All written contracts should make sure that both parties are evenly and fairly represented. The contract is a binding document that is easily to interpret and to follow.

Leadership and Truth in a Legal Agreement

Legal clauses are crucial in interpretation from what the contract states to meaning from the words written. The contract states and clarifies short and long-term commitments. The legal clause are found in change in control agreements, publishing agreements, speaking contracts, etc.

Legal clauses are disclaimers, non-disclosure statements and business-marketing strategy agreements.

Understanding detailed legal statements requires expertise beyond the scope of this blog; however the point that legal jargon is relevant and important for leaders is critical.

Truth in a legal contract is a trust that extends to both parties of the agreement. The buyer and the seller in a contract want to gain from the relationship. Neither expects the other to defraud. However, fraud results as the outcome of side-stepped truth.

So, just like the comma is a ‘red flag’ to keep in mind to prevent possible snares documentation is also important.

Solidify Your Business Contract

Documentation is the single biggest reason projects succeed. To write successful contracts include statements that are meaningful and understandable.

The following sentence will show a good deliverable.

Target decision makers called without allowing no downtime in the campaign.

The following sentence will show a better way to write a good deliverable.

Target decision makers have a website that is under performing with a page rank of 0-3; and furthermore allowing no downtime in the campaign hours between 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on weekdays.”

Good Leadership Documents Outcomes

The best way to decide if the contractual agreement works is to document outcomes.

Create a spreadsheet to track the obligations of the buyer and the seller; such as, the date, name and deliverable in the contract on the spreadsheet.  Documentation of calls, emails, personal and business meetings recorded give evidence.

In the following contract, three key questions see whether excessive downtime caused problems in the campaign.

“Target decision makers have a website that is under performing with a page rank of 0-3; and furthermore allowing no downtime in the campaign hours between 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on weekdays.”

  • Were the decision makers called?
  • Did the campaign run on the expected hours?
  • If a website was under performing did they get help?

This documentation of outcomes reduces anxiety and measures expectations realistically.

Truth is justified when seen with evidence. For example, get the evidence that your website is not under performing with critical web analytics today. Gain confidence knowing your management and leadership performance with executive video assessments. Documented outcomes are how leaders can solidify their businesses.

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Q: So then, what documented outcomes do you value?

A: Please post your comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Loreen Sherman

Loreen Sherman is CEO of Star-Ting Inc | Executive Coach | Sr. Mgmt. Consultant
She serves clients with a 3-D Analytic Assessments and Succession Planning
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Corporate | Booking | ☎ 
403.289.2292

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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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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
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

 

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Freeing the Captives—How to Confront Your Personal Leadership Barriers (Part 1)

Freeing The Caged Bird

The release of Bowe Bergdahl has been a hot item in the news recently. And I’ve had several interviews on regional and national news media about what it’s like to come home after being a POW for five and a half years.

Our capture situation in Vietnam was quite different and my time in solitary confinement was short, so I’ve focused more on what it was like to return after years of poor diet, little news, periodic abuse, and isolation from family and society.

I’m glad Bowe Bergdahl is back home, and I know his family is relieved. Time will tell what the military sorts out about his capture and military service, but the discussion about him, as well as the annual celebration of our nation’s independence, has reminded me of why I’m so passionate about helping free the captives in my consulting, writing, and speaking.

What’s Holding You Back?

I’m enthusiastically focused on helping people find the freedom and courage to grow by breaking away from the shackles that are holding them back.

My observation and experience over the last forty years training hundreds of military and business leaders is that we all have mindsets, habits, and behaviors that inhibit our growth as individuals and leaders.

“We all need more freedom from these barriers, and many of these shackles come from our feelings of insecurity.”

Getting In the Way

Consider the two responses below that cause us to get in our own way, restrict us from achieving our potential, and yield major external repercussions.

1) False pride maximizes self and minimizes others.

This unhealthy response to our insecurity is a mindset of superiority that manifests as an ego-protecting pose typically based in domination, control, and perfectionism rather than authentic humility.

False pride leads to self-centeredness and makes it difficult to acknowledge the good ideas and achievements of others.

Leaders imprisoned by their ego often feel threatened by those who don’t agree with them, and soon there’s a graveyard nearby where they bury unwelcome messengers whose words of truth shine light on their dark side.

2) False humility minimizes self and maximizes others.

Some people respond to their insecurities by going in the opposite direction—living in a negative self-image in one or more areas. Their negative personal perception produces a mindset that has boxed them inside limits that are more akin to self-imposed incarceration.

Breaking Free

You may be thinking, “I can see this in others and maybe a little in myself, but it sounds pretty deep and psychological. How can we free ourselves and others from these negative patterns?”

“Professional help will be needed for some situations, but much can be done by remembering a single principle—the truth can set you free. The problem here is that a lie is operating rather than the truth.”

Identifying the Lie  

In the 2011 movie, The Help, actress Viola Davis’ character lovingly reminds Mae Mobley, a little two-year old, about her self-worth. Take a moment and watch this…

If you think about it, you’ll see that both of the career/life inhibiting responses above are undergirded by a lie about our self-worth. It’s true that we’re all flawed, but we have great value, too. It requires a healthy balance to live with these two paradoxical statements and resist living the lie of low self-worth.

“Notice that both the responses above are grounded in fear—the emotion that exercises powerful control over our hearts and minds.”

Gaining Freedom for Yourself and Others

Knowing and believing the truth about ourselves is the antidote to lies and opens the pathway to freedom. Here are two ways to embrace the truth –

1) Welcome courageous confrontation.

Remember that all development begins with self-awareness. Being honest with ourselves can be difficult because denial and rationalization are often normal protective strategies for a pose.

Do you have the courage to ask someone for honest feedback—either one-on-one or by having a coach or consultant do a 360 assessment on your leadership behaviors?

Be willing to confront yourself and break free from the lies holding you back. Likewise, it can be very rewarding to be a warrior for freedom for others. Confront the next generation of leaders to help them assess where they need to break free too.

2) Give and accept courageous support and affirmation.

Those locked in false humility need truth of their value and potential.As their leader, peer, or friend, we can be the bearers of that good news.

Years ago, I remember being affirmed by two friends about my value and worth. Initially I resisted and tried to refute their comments, but their sincerity and their personal loyalty convinced me that my perspective was a lie.

They were revealing truth that I needed in order to move to the next level in my leadership. It was powerful and liberating to have that courageous support and affirmation.

Choosing Freedom

In this season of celebrating freedom and independence, the key message here is that honorable leaders acquire the courage to confront and be confronted and the courage to support and affirm. Both approaches are needed to bring the truth that can set ourselves and others free to grow to the next level of performance.

Do you have the courage and humility to find out the truth about your leadership and then encourage others in their leadership? Your growth has much larger implications than you can imagine. In part 2 of this article we’ll explore the broad societal possibilities when we have a nation full of confident, valuable leaders.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here!
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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How to Lead People and Influence Teams

A little over a decade ago I found my passion in the areas of leadership development, organizational health, and personal & professional growth when I went to work for Inc. Magazine’s current #1 Leadership and Management guru Dr. John C. Maxwell.

My role at the time was Director of Corporate sales in charge of business development for the newly minted corporate training offering. It was an exciting time because of all of the new things that I was learning and all of the great people I was privileged to be around.

I simply fell in love with the people. Many of those co-workers, clients, and associates are still friends today. And many have gone on to outstanding careers and have done amazing things.

It’s About People

What I learned from that time is the importance of understanding people in the deepest sense. I learned what drove people. I learned how to truly serve people. I learned that much of life boils downs to what people,on their individual, rock-bottom level, value in their lives.

I learned that values drive decisions; decisions drive behaviors; and behaviors drive results.

This understanding of people on an individual level has led me to be much more sensitive to people that I lead; the people that I serve. I have lost my myopic view of life and now see how things really work. I see that people are wondrously purposeful beings and often just need some vision, guidance, or help to achieve great things. And it is in the simple act of helping people get things done that defines my leadership.

Recently, I put this philosophy to the test with a recent change initiative announced to a large virtual group on LinkedIn that I lead.

L2L Reader Survey 2014

Change is a Comin’

I lead a large private group on LinkedIn for the last 6 years called Linked 2 Leadership. We grow at the rate of about 100 new members per week and we now have over 27,000+ members who are dedicated to help global professionals learn, grow, and develop other leaders.

In a LinkedIn group, one of the most valuable tools is the Discussion Area. Unfortunately, the Discussion Area can quickly turn into an unwelcome place when people use it for spammy self-promotion, for “READ MY AWESOME BLOG!” entries, or for forwarding the latest Fast Company article.

With this unfocused and un-monitored approach, any true discussions become few and far between. This happened to L2L. The playground was just too crowded with bullies and we needed to make some drastic changes.

To remedy this increasing trend, my group moderators and I discussed what we thought the Discussion Area should be. But better than that, we designed a questionnaire to find out the good, the bad, and the really bad. Then we distributed the survey to the group members to get their opinions.

Being Inclusive and Interested

Deciding to INCLUDE the group in our new direction by asking their opinions was on target: In just over a day, we received 700 responses from people who took, on average, 12-minutes to fill out the questionnaire.

Many of the responses where passionate and provided us a lot of information. Many members commented that they really appreciated having their voice be heard.

>>> Values Drive Decisions

With our survey results in hand, it was easy to see how to design new rules for the Discussion Area that keeps the playground clean, fresh, and safe for everyone to play. (See “Anatomy of a Proper L2L Discussion“)

Now that we know what our group values in terms of a properly run Discussion Area, we were able to decide what we are going to be as a group and tailor the experience by only allowing certain type of discussions to be approved.

>>> Decisions Drive Behaviors

With such a large group, the Discussion Area needs group moderators to filter through all of the submissions. So an open call went out to the group explaining the need for a few “L2L Deputy Sheriffs” to patrol the playground and make sure everybody was playing nicely.

We immediately had over 30 applicants from around the globe interested in devoting their free time to serving in our new mission. (See the application.)

Presently, we are in the process of reviewing the applications now and are designing plans to implement our new rules with fresh new eyes and energy dedicated to a better future.

>>> Behaviors Drive Results

In the coming weeks, our new Deputy Sheriffs will be trained on best-practices for evaluatingand approving discussions. They will comb through each submission and decide if it is what we want in our Discussion Area or not. We will delete many and move many others to our promotions or jobs area.

Effective leaders must inspect what they expect.

Dedication to Excellence

In leading this new team of Group Moderators, I must be mindful that they are motivated by a calling and dedication to excellence. They are not being paid for their new role, nor are they materially compensated in any way. They want to be part of something meaningful and want their efforts to matter.

My leadership over this process will be the key to success. If I get off-target, you can guess what will happen. However, if I execute the plan as designed, properly train my new team, and continue to monitor efforts and results, you can also guess where that might lead.

Leading people and influencing teams is not complex when you break things down to the essentials and simply stay on target.

So what are you doing to know and understand the heartbeat of your team or group? How are you executing new visions or initiatives? Are you honoring the mission inspecting what you are expecting? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Tom Schulte
Tom Schulte is Executive Director of Linked 2 Leadership
He provides leadership training fit for the Blackberry-Attention-Span
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog | L2L Group

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Leaders: 5 Best Practices For Increasing Employee Retention


Hey leaders, what employee retention strategies do you use to engage and retain employees? Statistics from research done by the labor bureau show that the average American will hold around 11.3 jobs during their working years.

The average number of jobs held is actually going up- especially with Millennials.

Eleven may seem like a really high number – however that depends on various factors, including the work you do, and what generation you are from. Employee retention doesn’t just happen.

Providing Your Success

Employee retention is critical to the success of an organization. Without a focus and an understanding of people, behaviors, and what engagement and rewards strategies work for best for your culture, reducing turnover can be even more difficult.

It’s not always easy, so to help, try using an Employee Engagement & Retention Checklist with a high-level overview of steps to take toward success with some employee retention strategies.

People decide to switch jobs for a wide variety of reasons.

New blood is a good thing, but a constant turnover is detrimental to performance, morale, and the overall sustainability.

Some reasons are related to personal or life changes and are completely unrelated to the job itself. Consequently, a business can’t expect to impact or change all departures. Though with workers switching jobs roughly every 4.4 years, businesses do need to be focused on the aspects of employee retention they can influence.

What is Driving Your Employees?

What is Driving Your Employees?

5 Best Practices For Increasing Employee Retention

So, what are some of the best practices for increasing employee retention?


1) Provide career navigation and personal branding strategies from the get-go.
 

Involve employees in the process as much as possible. Ask questions to find how what motivates them. Employee development is also key because it is important to provide coaching, educational opportunities, and training programs. By helping people plan their desired path within in an organization, setting concrete goals, and providing support to help them achieve those goals, engagement and retention increases.

2) Hiring the right managers makes all the difference. 

Steve Miranda, Managing Director for Cornell University’s “Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies” (CAHRS), said in an interview that he believed 80% of employee turnover resulted from the environment created by a manager as opposed to the company at large.

So it’s critical to work closely to make sure there’s a consistent open line of communication between employees and managers, and that managers are working collaboratively and positively with their employees.

3) Work to create a culture of trust. 

An organization with a culture of trust often has higher levels of performance and retention. An organization with a culture of distrust is an organization destined to be doomed.

To maintain positive employee retention make sure your organization has a culture of trust, not distrust.

4) Recognize good performance. 

Be it financially or with some other non-monetary benefits (NMBs), make sure employees are recognized when they achieve their goals and perform above and beyond. Pulse your workforce for their preferred means of recognition and then implement various strategies based on that feedback.

With workforce demographics changing, a one size fits all approach no longer works.

It’s important to pay attention to what each motivates different employees. Not all employees prefer to be recognized for a job well done in the same ways. As we’ve said before, if unsure the best ways to engage and retain employees – ASK THEM.

5) Hire the right kind of employees for skills and culture fit. 

A focus on both aspects is important to success. Sure, some people are “shooting stars”, and you’d be lucky to catch them, but if they’re not a fit for the culture of your organization then you’re not likely to see maximum performance or retention.

By interviewing and choosing the right hires in the first place, you’re getting a leg up on setting up a relationship that can last.

Real Motivation

Though, there are many other employee retention strategies for engaging and retaining employees, these tips should serve as a good start. Be transparent, have a clear employee value proposition, communicate with employees early and often, know what they want and what you want, and what motivates them.

This should help set you up for a successful partnership that leads to a higher performance and retention.

So what type of environment are you maintaining? Is it one of trust, or of something else? What are you doing to understand what drives your employees to bring out their best and to want to stick around? Are you taking the time to undestand how best to retain your folks? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————
Scott Span

Scott Span, MSOD is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management Firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused, and effective to facilitate sustainable growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook | Website

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6 Leadership Lessons of a Machiavellian Manager

What Would Machiavelli Do?

Desperate to get control over her misbehaving children, Suzanne Evans turned to Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous sixteenth-century book about politics, The Prince, and used his “manipulative rules” to bring order to the chaos.

In her book Machiavelli for Moms, she tells how she got her family in line by following such Machiavellian maxims as “It is dangerous to be overly generous” and “Tardiness robs us of opportunity.”

Since my company is based on the idea that leaders can learn a lot from the classics, I’m always delighted to hear about anyone who knows how much can be gained, in business and in personal life, from studying the great thinkers of the past.

That said, I get a little annoyed when people refer to Machiavelli as “manipulative.”

A How-to Book for Tyrants?

True enough, when The Prince was first published, it was denounced as a set of how-to’s for tyrants. And yes, over the centuries “Machiavellian” has become a synonym for sinister, sneaky, and bad. Today, a book titled Becoming a Machiavellian Manager would not sell well at all (or maybe it would… but no one would want it seen on their desk!)

Lately, however, I have been re-reading The Prince for a deeper dive into the wisdom it may provide. And I have to say that a Machiavellian Manager (if that’s understood to mean a leader guided by what Machiavelli actually wrote, not by what everyone thinks he wrote) is someone I could easily admire and follow.

Contrary to popular belief, The Prince does not advise leaders to be evil. It advises leaders to be prudent.

In fact, the entire book is a detailed examination of that one virtue—prudence, or pragmatism—and what it looks like when practiced by people responsible for the safety, security, and the well-being of large populations.

One might argue that there are plenty of other virtues leaders ought to have

What about:

  • Courage
  • Empathy
  •  and Justice?

Machiavelli might agree with you.  But he’s not writing about those virtues. He is writing about one very practical idea, namely, how to make sure things turn out well for you and the people you lead.

6 Leadership Lessons

Here are six pragmatic leadership lessons I’ve taken away from The Prince:

  1. Face up to your responsibilities as a leader.
  2. Know what you want and what others want. Try to align the two.
  3. Understand that having control is not the same as having an impact—and that control is always tenuous.
  4. Never imagine that the favors you hand out today will make people forget the insults you dealt them yesterday.
  5. Don’t let your behavior be swayed by unproductive emotions such as fear and anger.
  6. Think clearly and dispassionately about the likely outcomes of your actions.

Should a Leader Always Do the Right Thing?

Lesson No. 6 is one area where I’ve fallen down as a leader. Although I’m good at constructing plans and advising others on how to get from A to B, I don’t always think through the likely outcomes of my actions, preferring instead to make choices based on what “feels right” or what seems “the right thing to do.”

I like to think of this as integrity, but Machiavelli would remind me that leaders don’t have the luxury of making choices based solely on personal principles.

They also need to consider what will happen to their team, their organization, and their allies if they choose a certain path.

You Game of Thrones fans know exactly what I’m talking about (Spoiler Alert for Season One!):  We may give Lord Eddard Stark high marks for integrity, but I think we have to dock him a few points for making choices that result in his execution. His family’s destruction, political chaos, and a bloody war with thousands dead. Just sayin’…

Ends Justifying the Means?

Some might argue Machiavelli’s views are too close to “the ends justify the means” as this ia an idea with a bad history. But thinking back on bosses good and bad, I remember the good ones following the six lessons above and the bad ones mostly ignoring them.

I think I’d rather have a Machiavellian Manager than a leader who sticks to principle and gets us all eaten by direwolves.

What do you think? What Machiavellian (i.e., supremely pragmatic) leaders have you known, and what did you appreciate about them? When does Machiavellian pragmatism go too far? And … was Eddard Stark a good leader, or not?

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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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Image Sources: ts2.mm.bing.net

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