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The Best Leaders Play Well With Others

Leadership is not about what you do and accomplish on your own. It’s about what you are able to help others accomplish. If you want to build a high-growth organisation, you need to empower your team.

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There are probably hundreds of definitions of leadership. However, at its essence, leadership is influencing others to accomplish results.

Leadership is not so much about what you do and accomplish on your own. It’s about what you are able to help others accomplish. It’s about how you’re able to influence other people to raise their level of performance to new and better heights and contribute more than they previously thought possible.

‘Power-Wielders’ versus ‘Transformational Leaders’

In 1978 a biographer named James McGregor Burns wrote Leadership, in which he described the lives of people he felt were world-class leaders — Ghandi, Mao, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Stalin and Hitler.

A major conclusion of the book is his differentiation between two types of leaders, whom he called ‘Power-Wielders’ and ‘Transformational Leaders’. The criterion Burns used to make his distinction was the leader’s concern for the wants and needs of their followers.

Related: 25 Leadership Lessons From Millionaire Business Owners

Putting your team first

According to Burns, power-wielders impose external control on their followers. These are leaders who view their own ends as more important than those of others. In fact, they see others as objects who are either desirable because they are instrumental in helping them gain what they want, or interfere with what they want.

Although these leaders are able to accomplish results in the short-run, they do so at a high price. At best, their tactics result in unthinking followers who learn to keep their heads down and do the minimum possible to avoid getting into trouble. At worst they create an environment of smoldering ill-will or even malicious compliance.

Transformational leaders, on the other hand, care about the needs and interests of their followers as well as their own. They create an environment that elicits motivation and commitment. They view people as capable human beings with their own needs, feelings and opinions. They seek mutually beneficial goals and raise their followers to higher levels of motivation, behaviour and even morality.

These leaders, according to Burns, judge their effectiveness not by their press clippings but by actual social change or the transformation of individual and organisational attitudes and behaviour.

Applying vertical dimension assertiveness

Expanding on Burns’ theme, I want to introduce a two dimensional model of leadership behaviour. Dr Roger K Allen calls the vertical dimension assertiveness, which has to do with concern for self in a business situation. People who are high on assertiveness put their ideas forward and influence the way others think and behave. They like to ‘take charge’ and move other people into action.

They are concerned with results — getting things done and making things happen. People who are low on the assertiveness dimension are less concerned with taking charge and seeking their own outcomes. They are more passive, easy-going, and reluctant to make their views known. They will allow others to take the lead and will let things happen rather than trying to make them happen.

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He calls the horizontal dimension empathy, which has to do with concern for others and making sure their needs are met. People who are high on this dimension are sensitive to the needs, opinions and feelings of other people. They show high levels of respect and even goodwill and affection towards others.

Related: 7 Profound Business Lessons From The Founder Of Planet Fitness

They are open-minded, optimistic about others’ motives and capability, and are willing to be influenced by them. Those who are low on this dimension tend to be more self-centred rather than other-centred. They are less aware or responsive to other people’s ideas, feelings or needs and are sceptical about others’ motives and/or abilities.

By combining these two dimensions we come up with four styles of leadership: Dominate, avoid, accommodate, and collaborate. Of course, leaders can fall anywhere along either dimension of the model and so not everyone is a ‘pure’ or extreme type. However, everyone can be characterised as having natural tendencies in one or another of the quadrants. The chart on this page illustrates the differences between these four styles of leadership.

Dominators: Low empathy, high assertiveness

Dominators (Quadrant 1 leaders) are people who lead through command and control. They tell others what to do and expect them to do it. Because they are low on the empathy scale, they don’t care about what others think or how they respond. They simply want results.

They like to run the show with little help or advice from others. They make their own decisions and tend to micromanage. These leaders use external rewards and threats of punishment to motivate.

“If you do what I want, I’ll take care of you.” “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll make trouble for you.” They are concerned about results and more concerned with ends than means. They are ‘can do’ people who have high expectations for themselves and others and know how to get things done.

Avoiders: Low assertiveness and empathy

Avoiders (Quadrant 2 leaders) are low on both dimensions of assertiveness and empathy. They preserve the status quo, keep a low profile and stay out of trouble. They play it safe by postponing decisions and avoiding conflict. They rarely initiate change but will be loyal and carry out decisions that others (boss) have made.

Avoiders may be good technically but they provide little direction to others. They stick with proven methods and avoid risks. Employees of these people get very little reinforcement and are unlikely to have a great deal of interaction with their boss.

Accommodators: High empathy, low assertiveness

Accommodators (Quadrant 3 leaders) like to keep people happy and maintain high morale. They treat people with warmth and friendship, believing that building positive relationships is the best way to motivate people and keep productivity high. They are generally easy going and overlook mistakes.

They have a difficult time setting up structure and accountability, preferring to let people figure out for themselves how to do their jobs. These leaders are quick with praise and have a difficult time addressing problems. They tend to be sociable and may spend time chatting about topics other than work.

Collaborators: High assertiveness and empathy

Collaborators (Quadrant 4 leaders) are high on both assertiveness and empathy. They have high expectations, set goals, and expect results. They can be perceived by others as demanding and yet seek to involve other people in making decisions and solving problems rather than doing it alone. These leaders recognise their own authority and don’t let pleasing others override their opinions.

They are more optimistic about people’s capabilities and motives than dominators and so, after providing direction, allow them autonomy and self-governance. They deliberately coach and develop their people. They are willing to have difficult conversations when performance falls short or differences exist, but they do so seeking win-win outcomes rather than imposing their own will on others.

Related: Leadership: A Potent Combination Of Strategy And Character

Collaborators in action

mike-krzyzewski

An example of a quadrant 4 leader is Mike Krzyzewski, coach of the Duke Bluedevils basketball team. Krzyzewski was an unknown when he came to coach Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in 1980. He had been an assistant coach at West Point. But no one knew him at Duke. In his first years, he suffered some humiliating defeats and by the end of his third year, he was booed in his own gym.

On 11 March 1980, he suffered the worst defeat in school history and lost a game by a score of 109 to 66. His overall win/loss record was 38 and 47. When someone recommended that he recruit new players, he responded, “Absolutely not.”

“Losing doesn’t make you a loser unless you think you are.” He wrote the names of five players, including four freshmen, that would play on the team the next year.

Coach ‘K’ as he is affectionately known, is now one of the best in America. His record (end of 2007 season) was 803-267 (.750 average). He’s averaged 25 wins per season throughout his career. 61 of his 65 players have gone to a final four during his tenure and he’s won three NCAA titles.

During March 2005, Krzyzewski appeared in a television ad sponsored by NCAA. He made the point that he was more than a coach of basketball. His primary job was to develop his players into capable young men.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Business Management Is An Essential Skill

Like Coach Krzyzewski, the best type of leaders are Collaborators. They set high standards and press people to achieve outstanding results, and yet they make positive assumptions about people and believe that developing them is one of their most important leadership tasks. For some, these two critical dimensions of leadership come naturally.

However, most of us need to remember that both dimensions are important. As we do we’ll expand our reach, influencing more and more people to achieve the best results of which they are capable.

Bruce Msimanga is the president of DLA Consulting, a consultancy that focuses on leadership and team development. Visit www.dla-c.com.

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Leading

Why Fight Or Flight Mode Can Break Your Business

Truly successful business owners are masters of their own emotions though. Because when you aren’t, things will quickly start to derail.

Yoke van Dam

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Have you ever been in a situation where a client started shouting at the staff? It could have been at a restaurant, at a car dealership or even at a doctor’s office. When people ‘lose’ it in the real world, we label them as unprofessional. We are less willing to do business with them, work for them, or invest in their business.

When your buttons get pushed for too long, it might trigger you to start fighting. The moment we feel ‘attacked’ most people tend to go into ‘Fight or Flight mode’. The Amygdala (Reptilian) brain has been accessed, and the resulting behaviour is actually beyond their control. What’s scary about this place is that you feel in the same amount of danger as someone who is about to be attacked by a predator.

This is incredibly dangerous territory for your business to be in. This is the place where staff resign, contracts get cancelled, and money gets lost.

Maya Angelou explained it well: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How you make them feel will impact your staff’s customer service, their productivity and ultimately your bottom line.

As a business owner and leader ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you congruent? Is what you say, do and feel aligned? Can your staff trust you and do your actions speak for themselves?
  • Do you understand your own trigger points, and can you calm yourself down?
  • Do you pick up on the moods in the office?
  • How clearly do you communicate your ideas?
  • How do you handle conflict?
  • Does your staff feel safe in your company? Or do they know you will throw them under the bus when something goes wrong?

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

Simon Sinek says that a successful leader’s number one goal must be to make their staff feel safe.

It’s time to increase your EQ

EQ, or emotional intelligence, is a key factor in an effective leadership style. To increase your emotional intelligence, start with these steps:

  • Get enough sleep, exercise and notice your blood sugar levels.
  • Many people will snap if they are dehydrated, tired
  • or hungry.
  • Set meetings around lunch times, allow yourself to have time to eat and pack healthy meals and snacks for yourself. Your body needs the right fuel to keep going.
  • Exercise releases dopamine that will naturally make you feel happier and more energised.
  • Make sure that your staff take lunch breaks and have time to eat.

Practice mindfulness and journal

Find time in the morning to do your ‘morning pages’. In Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way she explains how writing morning pages helped lawyers, doctors and screenplay writers to focus and find their creativity and drive again. I have noticed my own emotional states, patterns and triggers come out of my morning pages and this has helped me with my self-awareness tremendously. By cleaning out your thoughts on a page, you feel much calmer because you have decluttered your own thoughts. You’re now in charge and ready for the day.

Visualise

Find a quiet spot to visualise what you want to get out of the day. Use all of your senses to create the perfect movie of your day, with all the colours, textures, sounds, smells and tastes that can make it real. Imagine yourself being calm, listening well, and being a great leader. Notice your body language in your visualisation, how you are sitting or standing, and even the way your neck curves. I often use this technique for public speaking.

Swimmers in the Olympics use visualisation to train themselves for their big race and find that they swim the race with 90% accuracy in the time they swam it in their minds.

Get coaching

Notice if people are walking on eggshells around you. You may have many unresolved issues or triggers that some neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) or personal development coaching can help dissolve.

Related: Sorbet’s Ian Fuhr: Servant Leadership Personified

 


How can you help others when they have entered fight or flight mode?

Pay attention to your body language, tone and choice of words. When we communicate, 55% is conveyed through our body language, 38% through our voice and tone and only 7% through what we say.

When someone is in ‘fight or flight mode’ make sure all the elements communicate: ‘I am your friend’, ‘you are safe here’ to the other party.

  • Body language: Show open palms — this means ‘I come in peace’.
  • Smile, lean forward, show your ear.
  • Tone: Have a calm friendly tone in your voice. Stay away from sounding snappy, angry or sarcastic. This will make a person even angrier.
  • Word choices: Our minds cannot hear the word ‘Not’. Use words that focus on the outcome that you want, rather than what you don’t want.
  • Say something like: It looks like you are not so happy right now.  If you said to them: ‘I can see you are frustrated and upset’ you are entrenching their unhappiness. Can you hear the difference between ‘unhappy, not calm’ versus ‘frustrated’ or ‘upset’.
  • Be solution orientated: ‘How can we resolve this situation? How can I support you, and how can we fix this?’

Stop assuming and ask questions

Don’t assume what a person is feeling. Ask them using open-ended questions. Make it clear that you are open to feedback and want to learn.

‘Please would you mind telling me what was said, or done that you didn’t like?’

Listen

Focus entirely on the person, their body language, their facial expressions, their tone of voice and what they are really saying.  Clear your mind from your own thoughts or agenda and focus just on them. Allow a breather or a space after they’ve spoken so you can make sure they have finished speaking. Most people respond to only the first thought of a sentence, never fully listening to what the real message is behind the words.

Cut out distractions: Hide your phone — from yourself and from others.

Communication experts Celeste Headlee and Simon Sinek both say that you should hide your cell phone in a meeting. The research shows that a person will trust you less if they see your cell phone on the table, even if you’re not looking at it.

Related: 15 Of South Africa’s Business Leaders’ Best Advice For Your Business

Empathise, don’t sympathise

Put yourself in the shoes of your client or staff. Try to understand what they are going through.  When relating to your staff or a client, it’s crucial to anchor yourself in a positive place, in order not to be pulled down by them.

Offer an outside perspective, but hand them a rope or a ladder to get out themselves; offer them the support and encouragement to get to safety.

Show them the bigger picture

Explain to your team how their puzzle piece fits into the bigger picture. Once we know that the work we do has a greater purpose, and we buy into that purpose, we will do almost anything to support our company to get that outcome. Let them buy into your vision and let them surprise you.

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Why Inspiration Alone Is Not Enough To Be An Inspiring Leader

Strong leaders unlock higher performance by empowering people.

Tiaan Moolman and Eric Garton

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Inspirational Leadership

When employees aren’t just engaged, but inspired, that’s when organisations see real breakthroughs. Inspired employees are themselves far more productive and, in turn, inspire those around them to strive for greater heights.

Our research shows that while anyone can become an inspiring leader (they’re made, not born), in most companies, there are far too few of them. In employer surveys that we conducted with the Economist Intelligence Unit, we found that less than half of respondents said they agree or strongly agree that their leaders were inspiring or were unlocking motivation in employees. Even fewer felt that their leaders fostered engagement or commitment and modelled the culture and values of the corporation.

To understand what makes a leader inspirational, Bain & Company launched a new research programme, starting with a survey of 2 000 people. What we found surprised us. It turns out that inspiration alone is not enough. Just as leaders who deliver only performance may do so at a cost that the organisation is unwilling to bear, those who focus only on inspiration may find that they motivate the troops but are undermined by mediocre outcomes. Instead, inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions — and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.

Related: 22 Qualities That Make A Great Leader

Here are some of our additional findings about how leaders both inspire, and get, great performance.

You only need one truly ‘inspiring’ attribute

We asked survey recipients what inspired them about their colleagues. This gave us a list of 33 traits that help leaders in four areas: Developing inner resources, connecting with others, setting the tone and leading the team:

  • Stress tolerance, self-regard and optimism help leaders develop inner resources
  • Vitality, humility and empathy help leaders connect
  • Openness, unselfishness and responsibility help set the tone
  • Vision, focus, servanthood and sponsorship help them lead.

We found that people who inspire are incredibly diverse, which underscores the need to find inspirational leaders that are right for motivating your organisation — there is no universal archetype. A corollary of this finding is that anyone can become an inspirational leader by focusing on his or her strengths.

Although we found that many different attributes help leaders inspire people, we also found that you need only one of them to double your chances of being an inspirational leader. Specifically, ranking in the top 10% in your peer group on just one attribute nearly doubles your chance of being seen as inspirational. However, there is one trait that our respondents indicated matters more than any other: Centeredness. This is a state of mindfulness that enables leaders to remain calm under stress, empathise, listen deeply and remain present.

Your key strength has to match how your organisation creates value

Effective leadership isn’t generic. To achieve great performance, companies need a leadership profile that reflects their unique context, strategy, business model and culture — the company’s unique behavioural signature. To win in the market, every company must emphasise the specific capabilities that make it better than the competition.

We found that the same is true of leaders: They must be spiky, not well-rounded, and those ‘spikes’ must be relevant to the way that the company creates value. For example, an organisation that makes its money out-marketing the competition isn’t likely to be inspired by a leader whose best talent is cost management. Spiky leaders achieve great performance by obsessing about the specific capabilities that underpin their company’s competitive advantage. They make sure those capabilities get an outsized, unfair share of resources and provide the key players the freedom they need to continue to excel.

Related: 15 Of South Africa’s Business Leaders’ Best Advice For Your Business

You have to behave differently if you want your employees to do so

Even with a clear idea of your company’s winning behavioural signature, leaders need to develop new ways of operating. We found that leaders who both inspire people and generate results find ways to constructively disrupt established behaviours to help employees break out of culture-weakening routines.

Inspirational leaders recognise the need to pick their moments carefully to reinforce a performance culture in a way that can also be inspiring. These are real moments of leadership and truth. Two of our favourite, classic examples include:

  • When Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO after a nearly eight-year hiatus, he realised that Starbucks’ unique customer-focused coffee experience was now in the back seat. In the front seat were automation and diversification, both implemented in pursuit of throughput and growth. Schultz took swift action to change the company’s direction; he even shut down 7 100 US stores for three hours on 26 February 2008 to retrain the baristas in the art of making espresso. In this highly symbolic move, he left no doubt about his intentions — and about what he thought it would take to make Starbucks great again.
  • When Alan Mulally came to Ford in 2006 to help turn around the business, he took bold actions to change the way the company operated. In one highly visible moment, he applauded Mark Fields (who would eventually become his successor) for admitting to a failure in an executive meeting. That was pretty much unheard of at Ford and it set the tone for the open and honest communications required for a new culture at the company.

While these are only single actions by leaders who are famous for producing both performance and inspiration, they provide a window into what inspirational leadership looks like.

Drawing insight from Eastern philosophy, one of our clients once said, “If you want to change the way of being, you have to change the way of doing.” This struck us as profound in the moment and even more profound over time — and the sentiment matches what we learnt in our research. Leaders can only change by doing things differently. The more often they behave in a new way, the sooner they become a new type of leader, an inspirational leader. We know that individual inspiration is the gateway to employee discretionary energy, and that, in turn, is critical to making the most of your scarcest resource — your human capital.


Leaders driving economic value

To win in the market, every company must emphasise the specific capabilities that make it better than the competition.

We found that the same is true of leaders: They must be spiky, not well-rounded, and those ‘spikes’ must be relevant to the way that the company creates value.

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4 Mistakes You’re Making That Can Jeopardise Your Reputation

Remember, your reputation precedes you.

Stacey Hanke

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We take our careers very seriously. We pour a great deal of energy into cultivating relationships and growing a network of professionals we either work with or hope to. We spend countless hours combing through our online resumes and LinkedIn profiles, carefully ensuring they convey the utmost professionalism. We want to be taken seriously and be considered credible and influential at work. We look the part, practice our presentations, fine-tune our communication skills and polish our presence online and in person.

But, what happens when we are off the clock? How is our behaviour when we are at a restaurant with friends, on vacation with family or simply out of the office? How many times have we run a personal errand and bumped into someone unexpectedly?

Our reputation is built on us – both in and out of the office, in person and online. Professionals often forget that credibility is built on consistency; we can only be consistent in our behaviour when we are mindful every day and in every circumstance. Professionals too often become lazy when the spotlight is turned off. We don’t realise that people are watching. Employees, customers, prospects and peers are everywhere.

Here are four common mistakes professionals make, which call their reputation into question:

1. Social media socialises the real you

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more – these online social media platforms create a way for us to communicate with those we are connected to. We fail to realise that our reach doesn’t stop there. These mediums also communicate to the entire world who we are. Just because we sit behind a screen doesn’t mean we aren’t seen.

A 2017 study found that 70 percent of employers use social media to review potential candidates. This number has increased 11 percent in the past 10 years, proving now more than ever that professionals who wish to manage their reputation must be mindful of what they post.

Related: The Importance Of Business Reputation

Political commentary, strong opinions, excessive personal information and activities may cast our reputation in a negative light. Even when we have the best intentions, posts and comments can be easily misconstrued. If there is any doubt, don’t post it. Posts should be informative, educational or inspiring. If they fail to convey a message kindly, refrain from sharing them altogether.

2. Personal time is just professional time off the clock

We all deserve to let our hair down when we step out of the office. We must remember, however, someone is always watching and that we must protect our professional reputation. Behavior that causes others to question our authenticity can jeopardize our professional reputation. For instance, loud and rowdy behavior with friends during happy hour doesn’t convey professionalism but may leave others wondering who we are.

Credibility is built on consistency. When your behaviour is consistent in and out of the office, people will trust that is the real you. We’ve all heard the old saying, “It’s a small world.” It feels even smaller the moment we are anything but our best self and we run into someone we wish to impress. Be mindful and know that everyone is everywhere.

3. You’re in the spotlight even when you’re not on stage

Communication begins before you step on stage. Others determine who you are based on collective experiences and interactions with you when you aren’t in the spotlight. How you communicate in the office and in casual conversations is what will shape your reputation, not the moments you step on stage. How you behave and interact with peers determines your level of influence and the trust they have in you as a professional.

Did you know 92 percent of people act upon the recommendation of others – even if they don’t know them? People talk, and others listen. How you treat your employees is how they will treat your customers. If you fail to communicate with consistency, those you influence will fail to do so, too. Be clear and concise in all communications – whether it’s a high-stakes meeting or a casual hallway conversation. Focus on your body language and be an active, intentional listener. When you make others a priority, they will do the same for you and those who matter most to your success.

Related: Richard Branson on Building a Strong Reputation

4. It’s not a brand management campaign; it’s a way of life

Our modern-day world doesn’t allow us to compartmentalise our lives. In today’s age of online observation, our reputations are broadcast for the world to see, which directly affects our bottom line. Consider some highly regarded corporate names. It’s likely their reputations are well managed. They are consistent in their messaging and delivery. They walk their talk throughout all aspects of their brand: from online profiles to customer-facing employees. Now consider companies that have struggled with their reputation. They have likely suffered from inconsistencies in their customer experience, marketing campaign, executive behaviour and employee interactions.

Individual professional reputations are no different than major corporations. In fact, they are one of the most significant concerns major companies face. In a survey of executives, 87 percent said the risk to their reputation was a higher priority to their bottom line, more so than any other strategic danger their company faced.

Fact is, professionals cannot manage their reputation through a one-time branding campaign. We must develop it through consistent behaviours that create trust in those who know and observe us. We can’t just say something is important; our actions must reflect it. We can’t tell employees to invest time and energy in customers but then fail to do the same for them. Reputations aren’t built on a “do what I say, not as I do” mentality. Consistency is key to credibility.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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