In their latest post for Fast Company online, management experts Scott and Ken Blanchard share that, “One of the big mistakes we see among otherwise promising managers is the self-limiting belief that they have to choose between results and people, or between their own goals and the goals of others. We often hear these people say, ‘I’m not into relationships. I just like to get things done.’”
“Cutting yourself off, or choosing not to focus on the people side of the equation, can—and will—be a problem that will impact your development as a leader.”
Have you inadvertently cut yourself off from your people? Many leaders have. It’s usually because of time pressures, or a single-minded focus on results—but sometimes it’s also a conscious choice to create “professional distance” that allows you the emotional room to make tough choices.
That’s a mistake say the Blanchards. “The best working relationships are partnerships. For leaders, this means maintaining a focus on results along with high levels of demonstrated caring.”
They go on to caution that, “The relationship foundation has to be in place first. It’s only when leaders and managers take the time to build the foundation that they earn the permission to be aggressive in asking people to produce results. The best managers combine high support with high levels of focus, urgency, and criticality. As a result, they get more things done, more quickly, than managers who do not have this double skill base.”
Don’t limit yourself—or others
Don’t limit yourself, or others, by focusing on just one half of the leadership equation. You don’t have to choose. In this case you can have it all. Create strong relationships focused on jointly achieving results. To read the complete article—including some tips on getting started—be sure to check out Getting Your Team Emotionally Engaged Is Half The Leadership Battle. Here’s How To Do It
“One is false pride—when you think more of yourself than you should. When this occurs, leaders spend most of their time looking for ways to promote themselves.
“The other is fear and self-doubt—when you think less of yourself than you should. These leaders spend their time constantly trying to protect themselves.”
Surprisingly, the root cause of both behaviors is the same, explains Blanchard in the July issue of his Ignite newsletter. The culprit? The human ego.
To help executives identify the ways that ego may be impacting their effectiveness as a leader, Blanchard often incorporates an “Egos Anonymous” session into his workshops and two-day intensives.
“The Egos Anonymous session begins with each person standing up and saying, ‘Hi, I’m Ken, and I’m an egomaniac. The last time my ego got in the way was …’ And then they share a false pride or self-doubt moment or example.”
EA sessions have become so popular with executives that some graduates of the Blanchard program use the technique to kick off meetings when they get back to their offices.
“They find it really helps their teams operate more freely. It’s very powerful when people can share their vulnerability and be more authentic and transparent,” says Blanchard.
“Ego is the biggest addiction in the world. So many people think of their self-worth as a function of their performance plus the opinions of others. But that’s a dead-end deal. When your self-worth is somewhere ‘out there,’ it’s always up for grabs.”
Start building good habits
For leaders looking to address the impact that ego may be having on their lives, Blanchard recommends asking yourself a couple of key questions:
- “Am I here to serve, or be served?” According to Blanchard, your answer to this question will reflect a fundamental difference in the way you approach leadership. If you believe leadership is all about you, where you want to go, and what you want to attain, then your leadership by default will be more self-focused and self-centered. On the other hand, if your leadership revolves around meeting the needs of the organization and the people working for it, you will make different choices that will reveal a more “others-focused” approach.
- “What are you doing on a daily basis to recalibrate who you want to be in the world?” “Most people don’t think about that,” explains Blanchard. “This could include how you enter your day, what you read, what you study—everything that contributes in a positive sense to who you are.”
“Consider your daily habits and their impact on your life. Take time to explore who you are, who you want to be, and what steps you can take on a daily basis to get closer to becoming your best self. Your leadership journey begins on the inside—but ultimately will have a tremendous impact on the people around you.”
To learn more about ego and how it positively—or negatively—impacts your development as a leader, join The Ken Blanchard Companies for a webinar on July 25—Don’t Let Your Ego Hijack Your Career—Four Warning Signs. This event is free, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.
- Are you an Avoider, unsure about how to deal with feelings so you retreat from the situation?
- Are you an Ice Man, and believe that feelings don’t really have a place in the work environment?
- Are you an Over Indulger and tend to get a little too wrapped up in emotional situations?
Going too far in any of these three directions can lead to problems at work. The best approach is to find a balance. Make sure that people are clear on performance expectations, but at the same time let them know that you are there to help and support them when necessary.
Looking for a way to do this regardless of your personality type? Here’s some good advice from Ken Blanchard, best-selling author of more than 50 books on management and leadership. When asked what he hopes people remember most from his body of work, Blanchard identifies one concept that goes back to his best-selling book, The One Minute Manager, written together with Spencer Johnson.
“Catch people doing things right.”
Take the time to notice when someone who reports to you is doing something right. This one simple gesture says volumes. Imagine it for yourself. How would your day be impacted if your boss stopped by and shared a kind word about something you’re working on? How would that make you feel, impact your morale, and subsequent performance?
Now, imagine what a kind word from you would do for your direct reports. No matter what your personality type is, a kind word is always appropriate and appreciated. Try it today. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
Gallup’s latest report on The State of the Global Workplace 2011 identifies the levels of engagement and subsequent wellbeing of workers from over 120 countries. It’s another great report from a pioneer in the field of employee engagement. Overall the report shows that only 11% of workers are engaged, with 62% identified as disengaged, and 27% identified as actively disengaged.
One item buried deep in the report was something that I hadn’t seen Gallup talk much about in the past. In a section looking at implications for leaders, the report identified the two factors among the twelve that Gallup measures that are consistently among the lowest rated worldwide. Can you guess what they are?
I’ll give you a hint. It’s something you can do personally and it won’t cost you a thing.
The two lowest rated items are, “In the past seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work” and “In the past six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.”
In looking at why this might be occurring, Gallup researchers identified three possible causes
- Larger spans of control might be making it more difficult to give the kind of individualized attention required to ensure these needs are met.
- When it comes to jobs with a high degree of routine, feedback and recognition may be overlooked because managers do not differentiate individual contributions.
- It might just be that we are “…better wired to receive praise than to give it. We feel our own hunger more than we empathize with others around us.”
How are you doing with the praise and recognition of your people? If you are a little rusty, here are three tips for getting started.
- Make it timely. Praisings are most effective when they are delivered as close to real time as powerful. Don’t “save up” your praisings for a specified time. Praise in the moment!
- Give specific examples. A general comment like, “You’re really doing good work,” is nice, but a praising that identifies a specific action is better.
- Repeat often. You really can’t overdo it—as long as you are specific and sincere in your praising.
For over 30 years, Ken Blanchard has asked audiences worldwide, “How many of you get too much praise at work?” No one ever raises their hand. We all have a deep-seated need to be recognized and appreciated. Everyone enjoys a pat on the back. Don’t be stingy with your praise. Catch someone doing things right this week. Guess what? You’ll feel better too!
Leaders in today’s organizations need to continuously balance the expectations of three different groups of people—shareholders, customers, and employees. How these three groups are ranked within a company will largely determine the type of culture the organization has. A “shareholder first” organization is very different from a “customer first” or an “employee first” company.
In a recent article for Chief Learning Officer, best-selling author Ken Blanchard asks, “Who is customer number one in your organization? How is that impacting the return on investment, level of service, and levels of employee engagement in your company?”
Using examples from several well known companies such as Southwest Airlines and WD-40 Company, Blanchard shows how companies that adopt an “employee first” mindset perform best.
But that’s only half the story, says Blanchard. For best results, leaders need to combine a focus on people with a simultaneous focus on results. It’s this one-two combination that delivers the greatest impact.
Investing in People
As Blanchard explains, “Leaders in ‘employee first’ organizations turn the traditional pyramid upside down so that the customer contact people are essentially at the top of the organization. In other words, the leaders work for the people who report to them.” This is the high investment in people part of the equation.
To illustrate this, Blanchard points to the philosophy of Garry Ridge, CEO of household-products manufacturer WD-40, who even goes so far as to remind managers of their mutual accountability to employees at performance review meetings. If a manager recommends that a person be let go—or “shared with the competition” as WD-40 calls it—the first question asked of the manager is: “What have you done to help your direct report succeed?” If the manager can’t show that he or she has coached and supported the direct report, the manager—not the direct report—might be “shared with the competition.”
Holding People Accountable
One of the benefits of this serious approach to mutual accountability is that it gives leaders permission to step in when tough love is called for—for example, when people engage in inappropriate behavior.
As an example, Blanchard points to Colleen Barrett, president emeritus of Southwest Airlines. As Barrett explains, “We are very clear in telling our people what our expectations are. We hold them and ourselves accountable for meeting those expectations every day. Sometimes this means having a real heart-to-heart with people and reminding them what your values are. If you have been intentional and firm in explaining what your expectations are, that gives you the opportunity to point to specific examples where they haven’t exhibited the required behaviors.”
High Investment and High Expectations
As a leader, you need to be supportive and directive at the same time. It can seem like a lot of work, but it is necessary if you want to create the high-investment, high-expectations culture that makes all the difference. When people know that leadership not only expects the best from them, but is also backing them up, they feel safe, prepared and ready to step out to serve the customer in ways that unsupported employees just won’t risk.
What’s your organization’s approach to employee support and accountability?
Do you use a high-investment, high-expectations approach to talent management? To read more of Ken Blanchard’s thoughts on this topic, check out The Upside-Down Pyramid here.
How many of you get too much praising at work? That’s a question that Ken Blanchard has been asking audiences for years. When he does, almost no one ever raises their hands. No one ever says, “I get so much praising at work, I wish they would just stop already.” The reality is that most people will tell you that the only time they ever get any feedback on their work is when something goes wrong. For the vast majority of people, work is a place where “no news is good news.”
That might make for an even-keel, consistent atmosphere, but that is never going to create the type of engagement and passion that so many workers are looking for today.
Why don’t more managers praise people for good work when they see it? Here are a couple of common responses.
- “That’s what they should be doing.”
- “They’ll expect more money if I do.”
- “I’ll say something next time I get a chance.”
That’s a lazy and short-sighted point of view. What if your boss felt this way? What if your boss noticed your good work and didn’t say anything because of these reasons? How would that make you feel? You’d probably feel unappreciated, focus only on the money, and put it on autopilot until performance review time.
Don’t let that happen in your work environment. If you’re a little rusty with showing your appreciation, here are four tips for delivering the perfect praising.
- Make it timely. Praisings are most effective when they are delivered as close to real time as powerful. Take advantage of the spontaneity and excitement of the moment.
- Make it from the heart. Don’t over-think the praising. Share what you are feeling.
- Give specific examples. A general comment like, “You’re really doing good work,” is nice, but a comment like “That report you gave this morning was perfect, it clearly outlined our next steps, and did you see the way that the other executives responded? You really helped us to move this project forward with your work,” is better.
- Don’t ask for more. A praising should never be used as leverage for additional good work out of an employee. Keep it a simple expression of appreciation.
Everyone enjoys being recognized—especially from someone they look up to and respect. Don’t be stingy with your praise. Catch someone doing something right today. You’ll be surprised at the difference in makes in their life—and yours.
Ken Blanchard was a featured speaker during commencement ceremonies for the college of business at Grand Canyon University yesterday. In his remarks Dr. Blanchard encouraged the aspiring leaders to remember that leadership is not about you—it is about others, and that true success in life is not about what you get, but what you give.
To illustrate his point, Blanchard shared one of his favorite stories by John Ortberg, a Presbyterian minister and best-selling author from Menlo Park, California.
Blanchard told how Ortberg used to play Monopoly with his grandmother every time she would visit. His grandmother was a good player and always won the game in short order. Read more…
Trust, commitment, and morale all took a hit as many companies struggled through the economic downturn of the past two years. Ken Blanchard believes that there are three key strategies that leaders can employ to return a wounded organization to full health:
- Be a bearer of hope
- Make your people your business partners
- Become a servant leader
In this short video Ken describes how re-establishing trust, creating a compelling picture of the future, and getting everyone aligned and moving in the same direction is the quickest path to accelerated growth. To see Ken’s full presentation on this subject, check out Healing the Wounded Organization.
Join best-selling author and consultant Ken Blanchard for a complimentary webinar and online chat beginning today at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time (12:00 noon Eastern). Ken will be discussing strategies for leaders in a special presentation on Healing the Wounded Organization: Rebuilding Trust, Commitment, and Morale. The webinar is free and seats are still available if you would like to join over 800 people expected to participate.
Immediately after the webinar, Ken will be answering follow-up questions here at LeaderChat for about 30 minutes. To participate in the follow-up discussion, use these simple instructions.
Instructions for Participating in the Online Chat
- Click on the LEAVE A COMMENT link above
- Type in your question
- Push SUBMIT COMMENT
It’s as easy as that! Ken will answer as many questions as possible in the order they are received. Be sure to press F5 to refresh your screen occasionally to see the latest responses.
We hope you can join us later today for this special complimentary event courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies. Click here for more information on participating.
Years ago, business owners were asked, “If you had to choose between a fire that wiped out your facilities versus having all of your people quit and walk out at the same time, which option would you take?” Almost everyone said they’d rather lose their buildings and equipment because to rebuild their human organization would require a lot more effort and be more difficult to accomplish.
In the latest issue of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Ignite newsletter, co-founder Ken Blanchard shares how the recession of the past two years put many organizations into a position of having to decide between people and profits in order to stay in business. Some of those decisions were painful, and in some cases, the way decisions were made had an adverse impact on the human side of the organization. The facilities and the equipment are intact, but the people are not present in the same way as before.
As a result says Blanchard, “People are looking for clues to see if their organization is only interested in the bottom line, or if they are equally concerned with the people side of the business.”
For leaders looking to rebuild trust, commitment, and morale in their organizations, Blanchard recommends senior leaders focus on creating a compelling vision, while immediate managers work to implement plans by connecting individual work to overall goals.
As Blanchard explains, “Senior leaders need to create a compelling vision that defines or redefines the organization’s business. The key here is to have a clear focus on the customer and make that everyone’s goal. During the past recession, people saw what looked like self-serving behavior on the part of a lot of leaders. In many organizations, it seemed as if top leaders saw the organization only as a way to achieve personal ends. In contrast, when senior leaders identify a compelling vision of the future and align the organization’s goals and values toward this vision, everyone can move in the right direction and focus their energy on the customer.
“Frontline managers need to make sure that each and every employee’s work is connected to an overall department or organizational goal and that the employee can see how their work has an impact. To build trust and respect with direct reports, frontline managers should schedule regular one-on-one meetings with their people. Managers should use these sessions to clarify expectations, solicit input, answer questions, and provide feedback. Nothing shows that you care and respect a person—and their work—more than spending time with them, checking on their progress, and providing help when necessary.”
To read more about Ken Blanchard’s thoughts on rebuilding trust, commitment, and morale, be sure to check out the complete article here. To participate in a complimentary webinar Ken Blanchard will be conducting on this topic visit the information page for Healing the Wounded Organization. The webinar is free and hosted by Cisco WebEx. Click here for details.