Tag: inspiring

4/21/13 “Influencing”

Good day team,

This past week, I was working with a management team focusing on their individual strengths and teaching them how these strengths fit into the four domains of leadership – executing, influencing, building relationships and strategic thinking. These are the skills that leaders and managers need to effectively do their jobs and are the subject of this week’s challenge.

This material comes from a book entitled “Strengths-based Leadership” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. After many years of polling for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, the Gallup organization determined that the four domains of leadership are where successful leaders and managers spend their time. The book includes the StrengthsFinder assessment – a brief test used to identify an individual’s five top strengths and map them into the leadership domains. For example, if you have “achiever” as a strength, i.e. you like to get stuff done – then that strength is likely to show up in your top five and is an executing strength.

Finding your top five strengths is the first step. Taken further, discovering where your strengths line up in the four domains gives you an excellent way of determining how you like to lead others. It also gives your people a great way to understand your strengths and knowledge of how you apply them in the workplace.

Over the past 30 years, I have found that the American workforce has moved steadily away from an authoritarian style of management (command and control), to a much more influential style of management (inspire and support). Most organizations used to be run by a bossy boss – almost always a man. Bossy bosses have autocratic, very direct styles that offer their reports very little support. Nowadays, it is common to find leaders of both sexes using a coaching style of leadership, one with emphasis on directing and supporting their people. Among the best leaders, you will also find a strong dose of inspiration that energizes and engages team members.

Here’s an article about the importance of influencing others in a work environment which I think best describes this shift in management style. It’s author is Beth Armknecht Miller, Founder and President of Executive Velocity, an Atlanta based leadership advisory firm.

“Webster’s Dictionary defines a “leader, as a person who has commanding authority or influence”. I would argue that in the 21st century it’s all about influence, not authority. If a leader only has authority and is unable to influence others, then his or her leadership will be short lived. And, with the shortage of talent, leaders need to create sustainability in an organization.

“Think about those leaders and individual contributors in your organization, whether for profit or not for profit, who may not have the title of VP, Director, or Manager yet they have followers because of their influence with others. These are the people who others listen to and respect but don’t have the title providing them with the authority to lead. They are able to use specific behaviors that align with the situation that will get others to change behaviors, opinions, attitudes, goals, needs and values.

“What are critical methods to leadership influence?

“It is important to understand that influence much like leadership, is dependent on the situation that requires influence. It may be that you are trying to influence someone higher in the organization, a peer, or a direct report. All of these are different situations in themselves. Other types of situations where influence may be needed include:

Change to project plans

Support of proposals by upper management

Agree to new assignments and tasks

Provide necessary information in a timely fashion

Stop ineffective or negative behaviors

“The Power Use Model outlined by Anita Hall, Extension Educator and Leverne Barrett, Extension Leadership Specialist of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension, depicts someone’s choice of influence tactics in terms of the ‘softness’ versus ‘hardness’ of the tactic. The spectrum relates to the freedom the tactic leaves the person being influenced to decide either to yield or to resist the influence attempts.

“Hard tactics give individuals less freedom than soft tactics. They are perceived as more forceful and push the person to comply versus support. Hard tactics include “exchange”, “legitimating”, “pressure”, “assertiveness”, “upward appeal”, and “coalitions”. Soft tactics are considered thoughtful and constructive and pull the person to make the necessary change. Soft tactics include “personal appeal”, “consultation”, “inspirational appeal”, “ingratiation”, and “rational persuasion”. It is important to note that soft tactics tend to provide more lasting change because they create an emotion of support versus compliance by the person being influenced.

“And, there are certain methods when used to influence that are generally unsuccessful. These tactics are often associated with a leader who has the authority but lacks influence. Autocratic leaders will often make demands, threats or intimidation, which will generate short-term change but no support.

“When would this tactic be useful? In an emergency, demands are often necessary. A leader needs to have people move quickly when the office is on fire or the plant has been exposed to dangerous chemicals.

“Yet, for the most part, when soft tactics are used more than hard tactics, such as demands and threats, a leader can build influence capital. From my experience with leaders, those who are highly influential use these two tactics more than others:

Inspirational appeal – a request or proposal that arouses emotions and enthusiasm by appealing to others values and ideals, or by increasing their confidence in being successful.

Consultation – includes others’ in making a decision or planning how to implement a change that impacts them.

“So what if you’re a leader with authority, you’ve got the title, how do you know whether or not you have influence with the people you are leading? My suggestion to leaders is to start taking an audit of the methods they use to influence. How much time are they using the consultation and inspirational appeal methods to influence others? And if the percent is low, how are you going to increase your soft tactic influence?”

This week, consider the effectiveness of your management style. Are you using more hard tactics rather than soft. i.e. directing or supporting? Perhaps, you become impatient easily when others aren’t working fast enough and you become pushy, bossy or autocratic. Maybe your soft tactics have become too supportive and not direct enough and your people are confused about what you really want from them.

Try achieving balance when it comes to being direct and supportive. People need instruction but they also need emotional support to help them stay committed. You may be getting stuff done but your autocratic management style might be breeding resentment and disrespect within your organization. Try using some influencing techniques instead. You may find it works more effectively by attracting and inspiring your team members to the task at hand.

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.

2/10/13 “Remarkable Bosses”

Good day, team.

This week’s challenge comes from a previous client of mine and his long-time mentor, Roy Gardner. Roy has been a consultant, coach and mentor to many people over the years, and I appreciate his observations of what remarkable bosses do and how they act. Your challenge is embedded within the following writing excerpt from Roy. Whether it’s about forgiving and forgetting or inspiring and motivating, choose one of Roy’s suggestions to try out this week in your interactions with team members. A special thanks to Christian Buschow for sharing Roy’s wisdom.

“Good bosses look good on paper. Great bosses look great in person; their actions show their value. Yet some bosses go even farther. They’re remarkable — not because of what you see them do but what you don’t see them do. Where remarkable bosses are concerned, what you see is far from all you get: They forgive, and they forget. When an employee makes a mistake — especially a major mistake—it’s easy to forever view that employee through the perspective of that mistake. I know. I’ve done it. But one mistake or one weakness is just one part of the whole person. Great bosses are able to step back, set aside a mistake and think about the whole employee. Remarkable bosses are also able to forget that mistake because they know that viewing any employee through the lens of one incident may forever impact how they treat that employee. And they know the employee will be able to tell. To forgive may be divine but to forget can be even more divine.

“[Remarkable bosses] transform company goals into the employees’ personal goals. Great bosses inspire their employees to achieve company goals. Remarkable bosses make their employees feel that what they do will benefit them as much as it does the company. After all, whom will you work harder for: a company or yourself? “Whether they get professional development, an opportunity to grow, a chance to shine or a chance to flex their favorite business muscles, employees who feel a sense of personal purpose almost always outperform employees who feel a sense of company purpose. And they have a lot more fun doing it.

“Remarkable bosses know their employees well enough to tap the personal, not just the professional. They look past the action to the emotion and motivation. Sometimes employees make mistakes or simply do the wrong thing. Sometimes they take over projects or roles without approval or justification. Sometimes they jockey for position, play political games or ignore company objectives in pursuit of personal goals. When that happens it’s easy to assume they don’t listen or don’t care. But almost always there’s a deeper reason: They feel stifled, they feel they have no control, they feel marginalized or frustrated — or maybe they are just trying to find a sense of meaning in their work that pay rates and titles can never provide.

“Effective bosses deal with actions. Remarkable bosses search for the underlying issues that, when overcome, lead to much bigger change for the better. They support without seeking credit. A customer is upset. A vendor feels shortchanged. A co-worker is frustrated. Whatever the issue, good bosses support their employees. They know that to do otherwise undermines the employee’s credibility and possible authority. Afterword, most bosses will say to the employee, “Listen, I took up for you, but…” Remarkable bosses don’t say anything. They feel supporting their employees — even if that shines a negative spotlight on themselves — is the right thing to do and is therefore unremarkable. Even though we all know it isn’t.

“They make fewer public decisions. When a decision needs to be made, most of the time the best person to make that decision isn’t the boss. Most of the time the best person is the employee closest to the issue. Decisiveness is a quality of a good boss. Remarkable bosses can be decisive but often in a different way: They decide they aren’t the right person and then decide who is the right person. They do it not because they don’t want to avoid making those decisions but because they know they shouldn’t make those decisions. They don’t see control as a reward.

“Many people desperately want to be the boss, so they can finally call the shots. Remarkable bosses don’t care about control. As a result, they aren’t seen to exercise control. They’re seen as a person who helps. They allow employees to learn their own lessons. It’s easy for a boss to debrief an employee and turn a teachable moment into a lesson learned. It’s a lot harder to let employees learn their own lessons, even though the lessons we learn on our own are the lessons we remember forever.

“Remarkable bosses don’t scold or dictate; they work together with an employee to figure out what happened and what to do to correct the mistake. They help find a better way, not a disciplinary way. Great employees don’t need to be scolded or reprimanded. They know what they did wrong. Sometimes staying silent is the best way to ensure that they remember.

“[Remarkable bosses] let employees have the ideas. Years ago I worked in manufacturing and my boss sent me to help move the production control offices. It was basically manual labor, but for two days, it put me in a position to watch and hear and learn a lot about how the plant’s production flow was controlled. I found it fascinating, and later I asked my boss if I could be trained to fill in as a production clerk. Those two days sparked a lifelong interest in productivity and process improvement. Years later he admitted he sent me to help move their furniture. ‘I knew you’d go in there with your eyes wide open,’ he said, ‘and once you got a little taste I knew you’d love it.’ Remarkable bosses see the potential in their employees and find ways to let them have the ideas, even though the outcome was what they intended all along.

“Leadership is like a smorgasbord of insecurity. Remarkable bosses worry about employees and customers and results. You name it, they worry about it. That’s why remarkable bosses go home every day feeling they could have done things a little better or smarter. They wish they had treated employees with a little more sensitivity or empathy. Most important, they always go home feeling they could have done more to fulfill the trust their employees place in them. And that’s why, although you can’t see it, when they walk in the door every day remarkable bosses make a silent commitment to do their jobs even better than they did yesterday.”

Have a good week!


© Copyright 2013 Pathfinders Coaching, Scout Search Inc., all rights reserved.