In this latest article we are going to focus on the 5th skill from my ‘Think See Do’ Leadership model.
Specifically how you ‘See’ your ‘People’.
In this article I want to cover 3 important areas for you to address as you seek to get the most from your greatest asset… Your people!
This is also covered in more depth in my latest ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ podcast episode.
Your greatest asset and your biggest challenge
In Skill 4 of the ‘Think See Do’ Leadership model we looked at building a winning culture. This is the foundation piece for getting the best out of your people.
Let’s now look at 3 approaches to get the very best out of your greatest asset – your people:
A) Appreciate performance and deal with underperformance
In my experience working as a leader and as a leadership development specialist, I see two frequent problems in how people are led and managed:
- There is not enough time taken to praise and reinforce good behaviour, especially behaviour that is in line with the company or team values;
- Underperformance is not dealt with speedily or clinically enough.
On the first of these points, this relates right back to research in the 60s by social psychologist Douglas McGregor and his XY theory.
Type X leaders have a more negative view of employees and how much they can be trusted. They are therefore managed in that way.
Type Y leaders see that most employees want to do a good job, progress and be given more responsibility.
McGregor’s view is that you will get more from your people with a Y style. It is also the view of Daniel Pink in the book ‘Drive’, where intrinsic motivation is seen as far more impactful for people than extrinsic rewards. I share this view.
This is also supported by the work of Marcial Losada. In short, he found that a ratio of 3:1 positive to negative feedback was the minimal required for higher performing teams.
I saw real examples of this in a large organisation where I worked as a senior leader. I felt we led the 95% like the 5%. Which means 5% of the people were untrustworthy, but the company treated the other 95% like the 5%. We need to lead the 95% in the way they deserve to be led.
On the flip side, we also need to deal with the 5% speedily and clinically. Underperformance needs to be managed and dealt with. This first starts with giving the person every chance to change their behaviour. This may mean we need to be honest and acknowledge if we have neglected this person and spend more time directing, coaching and supporting this person against clear objectives.
B) Flexing your leadership style
One important lesson I learned early on as a leader is that one size does not fit all. You cannot work on one style of leadership and apply it to everyone in every situation.
There are some good models relating to this including Paul Hershey and Ken Blanchard (Situational Leadership) and Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence).
The key point is that we need to flex our style based on the person we are leading and the circumstances. If a star team member is working on a new task, they need you to move to a more directional style to give clarity. If a team member’s performance has dipped on a regular task, you may need to coach them more closely or employ a more affiliative style (to see if there are personal issues underlying this).
A great leader will move in and out of styles depending on the situation and the people involved.
Remember too that one of the very best ways to understand where one of your employees are in terms of mindset and skills is by asking good open questions.
C) Performance development
In terms of how you structure the growth of your people, whatever your size of company or team, you need to have a clear procedure for this.
I much prefer the term ‘performance development’ to either ‘performance management’ or ‘appraisal’ as I think it fits with a growth mindset as a leader (I have covered the work by Psychologist Carol Dweck on Fixed VS Growth Mindset in previous articles).
Your performance development sessions with your people must be an exercise in co-creation. Not by you dictating objectives, but working on these together. What are the objectives that will make an impact on the business but will also fit with their career aspirations? What is needed in their skills and personal development plan? If you work on these together you will inspire and motivate more easily. In fact this will result in more self-motivation and inspiration. Sharing the vision for the company, and agreeing objectives that are in line with this too, will engage your employees.
It’s also critical to have a regular dialogue on how people are performing against objectives and personal development plans, so you can adjust your leadership style to either support good performance or address underperformance. Regular 121s are also a great way to show appreciation for good work and results too.
Finally, although your people present challenges and can be the toughest part of your business or organisation to manage, doing it well will have the biggest impact on your results! Achieving your results with your people will be so much easier.
I hope you have found this article has stimulated your thoughts in this area and take the time to listen to the podcast to go into this in more depth. Please feel free to subscribe to the podcast series ‘Leadership Mindset – Think, See, Do’ and explore other episodes in the series.
If you feel you need support in your leadership role, please give me a call on 07912 143 040 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss how I can support your leadership development.