Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Leaders Succeed When Their Employees Are Successful

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Aiding employees in achieving their personal goals and feeling important and successful within the organization requires good interactive leadership practices. Effective leaders consider helping their employees to be successful an exciting, worthwhile pursuit. When employees are successful, so are leaders.

Helping employees succeed is essential to keeping work units, projects and the entire organization running smoothly and on course. It is not unlike an environment where employees are novice pioneers, dependent upon leaders to guide the wagon train through the chaotic and ever-changing organizational wilderness into “the promised land.”

Achieving and attaining the “unordinary” is the major force behind moving individuals ahead, as it instills a sense of organizational worth and the attainment of incremental successes. In moving employees forward leaders must continually build and instill a desire and commitment to persevere, while continually looking toward the horizon rather than backward.

If leaders fail in their responsibility to harness the best they and their employees can give, all actions get caught up in trivial, daily routines and procedures, problems and issues. Concentrating on the “ordinary” militates against successful achievement and accomplishment.

Individual and cooperative encouragement is the means to goal attainment that is “beyond the ordinary.” An interactive leader’s experience, insight and carefully applied strategies avoid many of the overwhelming barriers and frustrations that wait in hiding. These are vital to eliminate because they can automatically dampen an employee’s spirit and the desire to continue onward toward the achievement of success.

In order to help their employees succeed, leaders employ specific strategies to reinforce motivation, determination and perseverance. These include:

Use New Assignments to Test Individual and Cooperative Limits

It is a leader’s responsibility to remain alert for ways to improve their work unit’s productivity and the organization itself. This depends on giving full support to their employees; they are the ones possessing the skills and manpower required to make improvements a reality.

There is no better way to achieve success than by openly testing individual and workgroup limits. Isolating a difficult job situation and placing employees or groups directly into it provides leaders a revealing gauge of their capabilities. It is also an effective way to overcome a negative problem or situation plaguing the unit or organization.

Once accomplished, it instills a feeling of success, self-worth, and the desire to tackle other challenging projects and assignments. The group/individuals begin to realize they can “accomplish the nearly impossible” by merely challenging, pushing and extending their limits. Consistent encouragement is given during the entire interactive process to see the challenge through.

A leader’s active support during this process is used to encourage his or her people and instill a sense of adventure into the assignment. This is key to making any challenge more enjoyable and successful. Without developing a pioneer spirit of determination and fortitude to surmount the challenges new assignments present, existing fears and uncertainty become an overwhelming obstacle. “Going where no one has gone before” and getting there with whatever it takes is a stimulating way for leaders and their employees to approach each new assignment.

Related: Six Steps to Educate Employees About Delegated Tasks and Assignments

Consistently Question the Status Quo

Facilitating their employees’ success requires that a leader continually urge them to challenge certain processes and offer suggestions on how unproductive efforts or inefficiencies can be improved upon. In order to accomplish this, they list all current work practices within their unit or organization. These must be firmly established and in the category of “the way it’s always been done.” Once the list is compiled they turn it over to their employees and ask, “How useful is each practice for doing the best we can?”

This interactive technique generates creativity and innovation among employees because they are empowered to determine whether or not a particular process or way of performing tasks or assignments is efficient or essential. The critical part of the procedure is to carefully analyze and evaluate the impact of each process and form or structure of task assignment to determine whether any should be kept in place, altered or eliminated.

If certain procedures are selected for modification or possible elimination, the challenge is to find a way to change it. (Policies critical to productivity and quality assurance cannot be challenged and are out of bounds for analyzing and assessing.) Success comes when employees are able to eliminate generally useless rules and needless routines that only hinder their abilities, performance and jobs.

Related: Focusing Your Employees on Future Performance

Break Free of the Routine

Nothing stymies success more than becoming robots of routine. Comfort zones are the greatest inhibitors of thinking, creativity and innovation, which are indispensable to success.

To help free employees of their comfort zones leaders can use the following exercise. Have employees make a complete list of their daily habits, activities and routines. Ask them to respond to the question, “Which of these improve my feeling of self-worth and my efforts in the unit and organization, and which do not?”

Have them circle the “helping” activities and place a check mark next to those that are “hindering.” If they have a difficult time determining whether they actually want to eliminate some of the hindrances they should be told to ask themselves, “If I keep on with this particular habit, activity or routine, what is the worst that can happen?” After responding, employees should ask the question positively, “What is the best thing that can happen to me if I eliminate this particular hindrance?”

Finally, employees ask, “How successful will I feel knowing that I can overcome something that hinders me? How will it improve my outlook to know I have control over things that prevent me from moving ahead?”

In supporting employees in their efforts to overcome hindering practices and habits, success can be brought about in incremental steps with minimal amounts of effort. The goal is to displace useless habits deeply entrenched in comfort zones with more productive ones. Leaders and employees will both find that the growth pains are clearly worth the gain in creativity, innovation, overall personal productivity and job satisfaction.

Related: Formulating Questions as a Source of Continuous Improvement

Excerpt: Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

November 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

5 Responses

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  1. Timothy, thanks again for another great post. I absolutely agree that personally and at work we grow the most and fastest when we test ourselves. As you say, accomplishing a seemingly difficult task instils self worth and boosts your team’s esprit de corps. The key activities for leaders in all this : setting the challenge, putting the support mechanisms in place and then getting out of the way to let your people succeed.

    Ara Ohanian

    November 6, 2012 at 6:27 am

  2. Great post. I am reminded of what Coach Tony Dungy wrote in The Mentor Leader: Your only job as a leader is to make your people better.

    Jim Hoitenga

    November 9, 2012 at 8:15 am

  3. […] Leaders Succeed When Employees Are Successful […]

  4. […] Leaders Succeed When Employees Are Successful […]


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