By Dana Borowka, MA & Bruce Heller, Ph.D. – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code
Watch your words: they become your thoughts.
Watch your thoughts: they become your actions.
Watch your actions: they become your habits.
Watch your habits: they become your destiny.
— Frank Outlaw
Organizations are in need of leaders at all levels in order to grow and sustain business. Hiring the right people, mentoring, and coaching individuals is vital in not only sharing ideas from the past but also for attracting and retaining top talent to ensure performance and survival of an organization.
At the end of this article, you can take a leadership assessment. We feel this is very important in order to better understand yourself as a leader, but also to gather insight on how to manage others. If you are able to inspire and encourage others to share ideas that can be integrated into your business goals and objectives then… WOW! You know how to tap into unique resources of your team. If not, we’d encourage you to continue reading to find a way to do so.
A number of years ago, a manager that we knew would yell, scream, and demean fellow team members. It got to a point where the team wouldn’t even talk to this manager. Team members started to gather together and created ideas on their own to implement. After about six to eight months, profitability started to increase – market share improved – overhead costs were reduced. The manager wanted to know what was going on. It turned out that since the team members were selected for their proactive leadership characteristics, the team succeeded despite their obstacle. They strived to rally each other and effectively work together as a team. The manager started to realize what had happened and learned a very valuable lesson about leadership. While his team managed to pull together to be an efficient team, he didn’t fulfill his role as a leader. A leader needs to listen, to ask non-judgmental questions, and to communicate in a way that doesn’t shut people down.
With the many challenges we all face, now is the time to rally your team members; now is the time to enhance your leadership style; now is the time to listen to ideas and plan for the future. In-depth work style and personality assessments not only help when hiring, they can be a manager’s best tool to connect with employees and identify future leaders. You can manage the hard way or the easy way, the choice is up to you. The hard way is to be the “my way or the highway” type of boss. You know the kind: always forcing workers to do things in a way that isn’t natural for them. Wouldn’t it be better to use your understanding of work style traits to tap into the natural flow so you can get the best out of your people? Of course, knowing your employees, understanding their concerns, and developing connected relationships with them should be the normal procedure for all managers.
What is the payoff to a manager for developing connected relationships with employees using in-depth work style and personality assessments? Here are three good benefits. First, it enables the manager to better anticipate what roadblocks might occur with a worker, and what to do to reduce this resistance. Second, understanding where employees are coming from will help you plan out how much participation you need from them, and will give some clues as to how change should be communicated to them. Third, building connected relationships builds commitment and loyalty.
Take The Connected Leader Test
How connected are you as a manager? To find out, we asked our colleague Dr. Bruce Heller, an industrial psychologist with over 25 years experience, to help us design a quick connected leader self test. Once you answer the questions, we will provide you with specific tips and ideas that you can begin to implement immediately. For most managers, leadership does not come naturally. The tips we share will help you to become a better listener and a more connected leader. Employee buy-in comes when a manager is able to listen attentively, understand their needs and concerns, and to lead using your natural style.
For each of the 10 questions, choose the response that best matches your situation. Then give yourself the corresponding point value for each question. Total up your score and look to the end of the test for how to interpret your score.
Connected Leader Questions
Don’t know = 1 point, Never = 2 points, Seldom = 3 points, Often = 4 points, Always = 5 points
- Do you get personally involved with co-workers, colleagues, peers, and others?
- Do you believe that your role as a leader is to serve your direct reports?
- Do you feel your employees are motivated to help you achieve your goals?
- How often do you acknowledge a special occasion of a direct report?
- Do you reflect upon the potential impact you make on direct reports?
- Do you spend time thinking about meeting the needs of others
- Do you consider yourself a sensitive leader?
- In your family, did your parents spend time listening and reflecting on an emotional level?
- Do you think your peers and direct reports consider you a sensitive leader?
- Do you keep a journal of your interactions and conversations?
This self-test helps you identify what level of connected leader you are. Research has shown that leaders who are able to attend and connect with their employees are more successful. This is because connection creates a depth of relationship that translates into improved productivity, less turnover, and a more engaged work force.
Here are the breakdowns for your scoring. If you scored:
0-14 You are disconnected from the people who make up your organization. To become more connected you may need to hire an executive coach.
15-26 Your connections are frail and therefore you could benefit from taking more time to think about others and find ways to connect with them. Sharing something about yourself will be effective. Also, begin to keep a journal of your interactions. Think about ways you can become more connected to people in your organization.
27-36 You are a connected leader. This means that you connect with your team and work towards building relationships. However, you could benefit from being even more connected by spending time walking around and speaking to people and especially begin to share with people something about you personally. This can mean a hobby or an interest.
36-50 You are deeply connected as a leader. You have an ability to think about ways to communicate and be sensitive to the needs of the people in your organization. Therefore, people want to work for you and you have a loyal following.
How To Get Connected
It’s been said there is a significant difference between hearing someone speak to you and really listening to what they say. Most managers consider themselves to be good listeners. But is that really the case?
Being a connected manager requires that you suspend judgment of your subordinates’ actions or reactions while you try to understand them. Personality assessments provide a great deal of clues. Sometimes, you will need to read between the lines of what they say. Next comes gentle questioning and probing, to clarify what is going on. The goal is to understand and not to judge.
For most managers, this does not come naturally. These tips will help you become a better listener and a more connected leader.
- Practice active listening. An active listener is ready and willing to really hear what the other person has to say. When you actively listen, you pay close attention to the speaker and don’t just wait until they get done talking, or worse yet, interrupt them. Paraphrase back to the person to check in that you fully understand what is being said.
- Enter the listening zone. When a subordinate approaches you to discuss something, go into listening mode. Do what it takes to minimize distractions, look the speaker in the eye, and make a decision in your head to really listen. If you know their personality type, then think what their style of communication is.
- Seek to understand first. Pay close attention to what the subordinate is really saying, both the words and the feeling behind them. Watch the speaker’s body language. Instead of interrupting if you have a question or comment, write it down so you can remember it for later.
- Show empathy. Empathy, the ability to know and feel what others experience, is the foundation of being a connected leader. Managers in industries ranging from health care to high tech are realizing benefits to their team’s productivity when they show empathy. The old adage applies: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
- Hold your reactions. Have you ever seen someone react negatively to what you say without saying a word? Even if you disagree with the subordinate, do not react negatively by shaking your head or putting on a big frown. Instead give positive cues like smiling, maintaining eye contact, leaning toward the speaker, taking notes, and even making those little positive “right” and “go on” statements. When they are finished, take a breath, and then weigh in with your feedback.
We all want to be understood. Employee buy-in comes when a manager is able to listen attentively, understand them as people, and to lead naturally.
Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015
Dr. Bruce Heller has over 20 years experience consulting with managers and executives on management development, improving productivity, leadership effectiveness, and organizational effectiveness. He has a strong academic background and extensive business experience with everyday issues facing business leaders. His executive coaching assignments have included working with “C” suite executives of global manufacturing and service companies such as: St. Luke’s Hospital, Century City Hospital, Midway Medical Center, and Encino Hospital, Amgen, Gilead Sciences, Edwards LifeSciences, Lockheed-Martin, Northrup-Grumman, Schering-Plough, Varian VSP, Avail Medical, and Novo Nardisk, Baxter Health Care, Toyota, Honda Financial, and The Los Angeles Times. Dr. Heller has authored the book, The Prodigal Executive-How to Coach Executives Too Painful to Keep, Too Valuable to Fire. For more information, contact Dr. Heller at 818-981-4310 or BruceHeller@HellerGroupInc.com.
Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. You can reach Dana at 310-453-6556, ext. 403 or by emailing him at email@example.com. He is the co-author of the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.
If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, firstname.lastname@example.org & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.
Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.
We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.