Category Archives: Leadership Development
Self-Awareness has been a vital part of leadership for a handful of years. But being self-aware is not enough.
Great leaders need to focus on being “Others-Aware”.
Leaders do not operate in a vacuum, and cannot lead without the collective efforts and vision of others. But to focus on one’s self exclusively will lead to a shallowness of understanding and influence that will be ineffective and wear yourself out.
Here are some reasons and key benefits to being a leader who is “others-aware”:
- Understanding the concept that business is people. Google “business is people” and you’ll see the concept exposited from Richard Branson, Forbes magazine, Brian Tracy, Harvard Business Review, and others. This philosophy of success is based on meeting the needs of the organizations teams and individuals. When you realize the value of bringing others along for the journey, you start to become aware of their needs as both colleagues, business partners, and customers.
- Don’t focus too much on self. By focusing solely on self, you will obsess about everything you are working on and exclude those around you. This isolationist mindset will cause you to detach from the big picture of what is going on around you. By focusing on others, you not only become more aware of their needs, but also realize more of what you need to work on yourself in the process.
- You are only one piece of the team. If a conductor of an orchestra stepped to the platform to perform without the ensemble, they would be ineffective and a failure. They need the entire orchestra to complement their abilities and bring harmony together. Likewise, as a leader you need your teams and cannot achieve the mission without them. Bringing their talents to the forefront and making them the star of the show delivers results that cannot be met in any one person’s power.
- Connecting with people. Being aware of others means to connect others to others, sometimes even without yourself, to allow a team to flourish, innovate, and syngergize. A leader focused on self will get in the way of their people’s interactions. Instead, know what your team’s needs are from within itself and foster those working relationships from within to build connection and culture.
- Knowing the needs to the individual, and the whole team. If as a leader you fall short of meeting your people’s basic needs, they will pull away, causing toxicity, less production, and even some sabotage of the organization in various levels. Employees whose needs are met will grow, give more of themselves, and know that their workplace cares for their personal and career lives.
- Strengthening and building current and subsequent leaders. If you think other people will follow you solely on your example, you are missing the point. Future leaders are great followers, but all followers follow only those that invest in them. If you want to develop better employees and future leaders, know what they need, commit and invest in building their skills to attain those abilities.
- Creating a deeper engagement. Sometimes leaders will focus on employee engagement, but from such an internal aspect they fail to grasp the concept and bring full committed engagement about. Engaged employees are only engaged so long as they feel they are being taken care of; they are totally committed when they know their best interests are being looked after. Drill down engagement to deeper roots by focusing on others and being aware of their needs at any given time.
If you are a leader who is being self-aware…keep it up and keep growing. Yet remind yourself to be “others-aware: and engage in their future. Bring as many people along the way to attaining the goals set before you. You’ll be amazed at how they will grow, and how you grow as well.
Make the commitment to be “Others-Aware” and work on your interactions with the people in your sphere of influence!
There have been myriads of articles and posts written about how leaders can best build commitment and a culture of trust among their employees. Many of those methods are proven and well-studied.
But one thing often missed is a need for leaders to drive deeper into themselves and promote a behavioral leadership style that fosters connection, commitment, and engagement.
Below are 6 behavior mindset changes that leaders need to change within themselves before they change the level of trust in their organization.
- Trust Your People First. I had a business owner who was severely challenged with staffing tell me the reason she couldn’t get employees was that she didn’t trust anyone. She was shocked when I told her she was correct and wrong at the same time. Numbers of studies show how employees want trust from their leaders. Placing the trust in your people first will usually work to get them engaged – it never happens the other way around.
- Don’t Play Favorites. Leaders who ignore others, such as spending most of their time with the coolest or the people making the numbers happen, divide their teams silently and quickly. When people feel detached because they aren’t part of the “inner circle” they distrust leadership and many think you have to be unethical in order to get attention or feel valued.
- Don’t Assume Fault. Over the years I worked for a leader whose favorite response to any situation was “Who’s fault is that?” A question like this always placed people on the defensive, and assumed a failure on that person’s behalf. Moving away from a fault-finding mindset into a mindset of turning bad circumstances into opportunities to win long-term, change processes, or develop skills will have your people fighting for you when things go bad, instead of fleeing from you.
- Know That They May Know More Than You. I had a former colleague say that they had been embarrassed about a boss showing them up by stating how little my friend knew in front of others and proceeded to talk about something they did not really know much about. My colleague told me the boss was actually the one who embarrassed themselves because everyone present saw the puffed-up leader make a fool of themselves. It did more to harm the trust of the staff as they felt they too would be next on the public embarrassment stage. Give your people the platform to showcase what they know and then stay out of their way to prove it.
- Don’t Assume Ill Intent. Many times when an employee has an issue the first thing certain leaders do is to assume that the person isn’t committed, or going rogue, or being a saboteur. When leaders know that performance issues usually stem from lack of trust in leadership, systems, or culture, then you can take steps to correct those external forces that negatively impact employee performance. It’s another aspect of trust that needs to be present in mind at all times.
- Find Ways To Always Train Them Up. Whether subtly or overtly, leaders who tear down staff in front of others will not produce leaders or employees who do the same in others. When a great leader focuses on every opportunity to train and develop, consistent with the other behaviors listed, a culture of trust is solidified in which true business growth can then foster. By finding ways to train instead of criticize, people around you will adopt a development mindset that attracts employees and brings out their best for you.
Over the years I have noticed that the best leaders consistently exhibit all of these traits without wavering. Those that have swung on both ends of the spectrum in any of these behaviors showed a much higher degree of employee mistrust.
Changing the level of commitment from employees means changing the level of trust first. This can only be done by changing your leadership mindset in how you approach and view any and all of your people to begin with.
Ed & Peter Schein make a great thought leadership team, This father-son duo draw from their experience and study of business and organizations to bring a much needed perspective to both disicplines.
In celebration of their new book “Humble Leadership“, Ed & Peter Schein have been generous to share this post. This is an excerpt from their book -enjoy!
It was tempting to write this whole book around the amazing stories that are surfacing about Humble Leadership and the creation of Level 2 relationships in very hierarchical organizations. Retired general McChrystal in his Team of Teams (2015) and Chris Fussel in One Mission (2017) make it very clear that organizations now have to replace the efficiency of the linear industrial factory model with agility and adaptability as the problems they face become what we have repeatedly called complex, systemic, interconnected, and multicultural, that is, messy. Dealing with customers in an interconnected multicultural world will become as complex as dealing with fluid, invisible, polymorphic enemies. O’Reilly and Tushman (2016) make a similar point in their argument for organizational ambidexterity in that the economic and market forces are similarly fluid and unpredictable, requiring organizations to develop distinct subgroups that can respond differently as market and competitive conditions change.
McChrystal points out correctly that what makes the difference is not technological superiority but “the culture,” by which he means the degree to which the troops are trained not only to be precise about those things that really need to be standardized, but to be able to think for themselves and self-organize in those areas that require a new bespoke response. The stories reviewed here are all built on that assumption, but we have added that “the culture” has to be a
Level 2 culture and that transformation is only achieved by a certain kind of relationship building.
To create the agility needed to respond to a volatile and chaotic environment, McChrystal emphasizes empowering local units to be coordinated by a team of representatives from those units. The solution of having each team have a representative at a coordinating meeting to create “the team of teams” only works, however, if each representative has spent time in each team and established Level 2 relationships within each team. Otherwise it is inevitable that each representative would feel the need to argue for the values and methods of the team from which he or she came (in other words, digging in on one side of a technical, transactional negotiation).
Edgar H. Schein is Professor Emeritus from the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management. He’s a pioneer in organizational studies, organizational culture and leadership, process consulting, career development. Ed’s contributions to the practice of O.D. date back to the early 1960s and continue with the recent publication of Organizational Culture and Leadership 5th edition and now Humble Leadership, co-authored with Peter A. Schein, co-founder of OCLI.org who brings 30 years of hands-on experience in large and small companies leading growth initiatives in Silicon Valley.