Before going any further, it’s absolutely necessary that all readers of this post understand the difference between leadership excellence and managerial acumen. A good manager is someone that shows good judgments, thorough knowledge, and expertise when supervising other employees. Managerial acumen also implies having a keen sense of other employees’ capabilities, who can get the job done, and how to assign workers to tasks. Lastly, a good manager always accepts responsibility for the overall performance of his/her team. However, this high level of professional competence does not necessarily make a manager a leader. A leader is someone who truly cares about those entrusted in his care. A premise indicative of the type of leadership that I embrace. Based on the findings of countless studies on leadership, most human beings are genetically predisposed to trust and cooperate with others that are in their immediate surroundings. A leader or team builder that keeps these human traits in mind when working with people and caring for them has a great chance of attaining leadership excellence. Many argue, this type of leadership is in direct opposition to capitalism; a position that resonates with a lot of conservatives. The conservative brand of leadership takes hold especially in an environment where numbers on a spreadsheet are more important than employees. As a result, corporate decisions are solely based on data, market conditions, and financial opportunities. Corporations are elevated to “people status” while people are stripped of their humanities.
Let’s go back to my style of leadership where getting to know employees on a personal level, listening to them, and taking care of them are a priority. This noble position gives leaders the ability to empathize and subsequently embrace what Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies refer to as people-centric leadership. Where exactly should this type of leader start? A leader should definitely start by explaining to subordinates that his acceptance of a leadership role is closely tied to providing team players with a new circle of safety and job security. Moreover, he should also express a willingness to extend that circle of safety to every employee. This is always a good starting point because it is the prerequisite to setting a positive work culture where employees can trust one another. In fact, the goal of leadership is to set a culture in which employees are free of danger from each other. Whether you are seeking new talents for your leadership team or are a new promoted leader to an existing team, it is imperative that you provide a strong sense of belonging to every member of the team. According to Simon Sinek, Author of Start With Why, “this feeling of belonging, of shared values, and a deep sense of empathy, dramatically enhances trust, cooperation, and problem solving.” Without a leader providing that circle of safety and a sense of belonging, employees will be forced to spend too much of their time and energy protecting themselves from each other.
Do I have your attention yet? I made sure and double checked that all employees know there is a new leader at work who cares about how they feel. Consequently, their stress levels about “the unknown” begin to decrease. With the stress and anxiety greatly diminished, a CEO should go straight into the next level of leadership, which entails sharing his/her vision for the company with every member of the team. There are still unknown dangers outside to worry about – e.g., competitors, a fluctuating market, rapidly changing technology … etc – but when employees are in that circle of safety, they convince themselves that those external dangers are more perilous than the dangers inside. Employees will gladly substitute individual goals for team goals when they know the more they give of themselves to see others succeed, the greater their value to the group and the more respect and compensation they will receive from the company. In this work environment, it is unequivocal that the more others want to help you, the more you can achieve.
Team building, the next component worth exploring, is an invaluable tool to leadership excellence. It is a process that should always include a new leader’s close observations of how people work together, preferably with minimal or no oversight, and how they talk to each other and behave in staff meetings . Theoretically, if everyone in a given team is completely on the same page and working in lockstep toward the same goals, as their new leader, you are half way there. With some degree of varying confidence, you can focus your time and attention making sure that every member of the team buys into the same plan of getting results, shared accountability, group motivation, and knowing how bad each member of the team really wants to win. Your pep talk to members of your team can go as follows: “you have to decide right now, what is more important: helping the team win or advancing your own career.” We all should be aware of the ultimate test of a great team: RESULTS. And, it is ‘teamwork’ not just good management that remains the ultimate competitive advantage in any given industry.
It is my sincere hope that this blog post gives its readers a glimpse into the type of leadership that I embrace. If you (individual reader, government employee, or a representative of a private company) were to order our management consulting services, Centuria Express Consulting would make it a point to address with you the first signs of a team in trouble.