Category Archives: Leadership Development
There are two types of leaders.
Those who are critics, and those who are cheerleaders.
Critics are those types of leaders who feel their knowledge and experience give them a superiority over everyone else.
These are leaders who look down on others, and don’t believe anyone can tell them anything that they don’t already know.
One of the fatal flaws a critical leader commits is discounting someone’s input because they feel their experience is inferior and not qualified to matter. They discount the hourly employee’s input who is new to the job, the young manager who only has an associate’s degree, or someone’s view on workflow because they don’t work on the factory floor but in the office. They fail to realize that people many times have valid viewpoints based on their observations and collective experience.
These leaders don’t build others up or develop people. Instead, they put them down and find people with the similar critical spirit to enter into their circles, creating more of the same spirit throughout the organization. This enables toxic and untrustworthy behavior and is always short-sighted. They also usually make very poor personnel decisions due to their elevated sense of self and contempt for those they deem lesser than themselves.
The other end of the spectrum are those leaders that are cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are not necessarily a “ra-ra” motivational personality. Instead they are the steady leadership style that elevates everyone around them to grow and develop.
Cheerleading leaders give higher value to their people, their insight, and their development. They give each person and equal value and voice and cast a vision within them to inspire them to give feedback for the greater mission.
These types of leaders have no problem stepping aside and giving others credit, leadership in projects, and a platform for input. They are more tolerable and forgiving for mistakes, and while demanding a high degree of performance, know that their people need time to develop and learn.
They esteem others more than themselves, knowing that the best organizations are more than the leader but the sum of all it’s constituents. They usually make the best personnel decisions which lead to more sustainable growth and achievement of the company’s goals. Cheerleaders are the ones who better develop future leaders.
Work to be a cheerleader who looks up to your people, not a critic who look down at others. Only one mindset can make a positive, lasting impact.
(image: wikimedia commons)
Many of the successful training programs follow this general pattern for building job proficiency:
- Why Do
- How Do
- I Do
- We Do
- You Do
While this is a great way to transfer knowledge to others, there seems to be another application in which a leader can use this model.
What if a leader uses this to understand what their employees go through in order to better understand their jobs and roles?
Leaders can sometimes get removed from the nuances of their staff’s job functions, which often results in decisions that negatively impact various employees. If a leader better understood how a certain role functions, and what the challenges are to complete those job tasks regularly, then better team development and decision making would certainly evolve.
Let’s take this model and run it through:
- Find out why employees do the various steps of the job task. Do they know why, and have a competency beyond “just because”? Also, why do employees do what they do? Is there a reason they don’t perform a certain step such as technical issues, expediency, or failed procedures and systems?
- When you discover how certain roles perform certain tasks, you can better discover areas of productivity, talent, and skills that lend themselves to that task. Someone may do a process that works great for them, and not outside of procedural norms, that might save time, money, or injury risk. In addition, you may find better ways to train and garner increased efficiency in those areas. Plus, you’ll also be better versed in the ways your employees apply skills, training, and barriers to get their jobs accomplished.
- This means yourself. Immerse yourself into understanding what your team members contend with on a regular basis. Ask questions and make sure you fully understand to bridge the gap between oversight and competency yourself.
- If at all possible (and it always is) work alongside your people to see what they do in action. Don a hard hat or smock and see and feel how they do their specific tasks. Have them show you and let them feel good about giving you insight into their world. Spend time with other employees to ensure you know the full scope of what the entire team needs to execute their jobs.
- Now that you’re fully conversant in your people’s work tasks, it’s totally up to you going forward. It’s incumbent upon you as a leader to make sure any decision (work process, policy change, etc) does not negatively impact the staff. If anything, your knowledge should help steer their jobs to increased engagement, competency and – more importantly – better customer service, as they most likely have higher touchpoints with your customers.
If a leader can use this to understand their teams jobs better, think about the possibilities of using this to investigate employee performance issues, policy compliance, or other concerns within the organization. It prevents rushing to judgement, have others make decisions that can adversely impact team morale and/or performance, and maybe will prevent managing out an employee who has no other input and just needs to have their concerns seen firsthand.
Train yourself to follow the same model you develop your staff in order to be a better leader yourself.
As people we need a myriad of things in which to live and grow:
- Proper Temperature
And within these items we have multiple needs within them. Take foods for example, we need a balance of food to get the correct nutrients in our bodies to facilitate growth and health.
In our quest to grow as leaders, we often look to grow from a variety of sources: books, podcasts, networking, seminars … the list goes on.
Now think of the things you use to grow as a leader. How many of those resources that you consume are made from the things that you like?
Now consider the things that you don’t like, and ask yourself this:
Can you, or will you, seek them to learn from those you don’t think you can teach you anything?
Take for instance the teen that doesn’t like broccoli or avocado or fish. They are missing some vital nutrients that are still beneficial. Even if they don’t like it, they can still benefit from it.
So if we apply this to our leadership development, we can virtually always benefit on those things we don’t like, or don’t think are good for us. We just need to be willing to try, willing to see, willing to hear.
The story goes of how Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart and his team toured some of their competitor’s stores. These stores were poor in their merchandising, assortment, and their execution. The team tried to get Walton to leave, saying that there was nothing they could learn from. Walton then spotted something and stopped to point it out to his colleagues. Excited, he exclaimed “Hey, why aren’t we doing that?!” and just then, what looked like a waste of time became a key component of the burgeoning company’s retail execution.
I often read books from people whose philosophy on leadership (and life) are not in line with my core values. Sometimes I’ll plug into a podcast from someone who is prideful and coarse but know that I’m going to receive a gem of wisdom from them.
My most profound leadership lesson learned was from a teenager whom was shortly fired for theft when I was a young manager. While his job performance would normally lend one to believe that one could never learn anything from him, his profound statement by his father has stayed with me for many years, still to this day.
Learn from whatever sources you can but keep this vital thought in mind at all times:
Don’t discount the information just because the sources is not what you agree or are comfortable with.
That goes not only for the author, speaker, or presenter, but also the format, the background, and the belief system or core values that generates those ideas.
With an open mind to be able to listen and learn something positive from anyone – even those in direct opposition or viewpoint to you – you can gain an advantage of learning and growing that you otherwise might have shut out due to our preconceived notions.
Keep your eyes, ears, mind and heart open and keep learning and growing.