Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘encouragement

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

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

November 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

The Attention to Minor Details Averts Major Problems

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The saying, “the devil is in the details” is true in all organizational and business environments. Often when leaders take the time to empower their employees and teams to handle minor details and problems, major problems are avoided or at least minimized.

The process of transformation and change with an organization demands that countless decisions be made on a daily basis. The concept of effective leadership drives decisions lower within the organization to the front lines so that decisions can be made quickly where and when they count. While leaders must be in the midst of their organization monitoring what is happening and assisting where needed, they cannot be omnipresent, nor can they make all decisions required to make the organization run smoothly.

It is vital that leaders enable and rely on employees to handle details and small problems on their own, as these are the situations and circumstances where trust and empowerment are formed. An atmosphere of trust encourages and empowers employees to take risks and make decisions “on the fly” when they are needed. Often many of these minor decisions directly impact both their workplace and productivity by resolving nagging problems and frustrations—and avoiding major problems later on.

Related: Success Is the Sum of Details

Leaders Cannot Be Everywhere at Once

Leaders must understand that as they cannot be omnipresent they have the tools of delegation, empowerment and trust at their disposal to extend their reach to all corners of the organization. While they can and should be present within the organization and actively interacting with their employees, they must also trust their people to solve problems and frustrations without their direct intervention, unless the issue is beyond the scope of the employee’s/workgroup’s responsibility.

Empowering individuals to resolve issues before they blossom into larger and more expensive problems to solve also frees the leader to address more important problems and responsibilities.

Related: Seven Key Benefits of an Empowered Workplace

Delegate and Empower

Leaders must create a positive atmosphere of trust where minor problems, details and issues can be effectively resolved by individual frontline employees, workgroups and teams. While this process may start slowly, especially when it hasn’t been freely employed in the past, leaders and employees must develop a growing bond of trust allowing them to make more tactical decisions, with the leader daily interacting and monitoring activities.

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

Push Decision Making to the Frontline Employee

Regardless of their capacity or station, the frontline employee must be trained to be the eyes of the organization. These employees have an up close gritty and extremely useful perspective of what is happening “in the trenches” of the organization. Once trained, they see what is happening and what is causing problems and frustrations, where in the past they might have either ignored these concerns out of fear or apathy or reported them and hoped for the best. Now rather than waiting for the bureaucratic process to resolve problems, or being reluctant, leaders have equipped their people to generate solutions “on the fly.”

Related: Do You Clearly Establish Employee Expectations?

Encourage and Reward Risk Taking

When decision-making is driven downward to frontline employees, levels of reluctance and fear may surface. There will be fear of the repercussions of making the wrong decision, especially if a more risk-adverse environment existed in the past. Each individual decision has some risk associated with it. There is always the likelihood that the decision will be wrong, further complicating the problem.

Leaders must foster an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to make careful decisions regardless of circumstances. In every situation employees consider all aspects of their decisions and associated risks. They make informed decisions based upon their personal experience, expertise and the available information shared with them.

Learn from Mistakes and Failures

While employees are being cultivated to make informed decisions, it is easy to review the basis for decisions and the reasons why they may have turned out poorly. Once looked at, lessons can be derived from the mistake or failure. Within the confines of a learning organization, mistakes and failures should be encouraged since this is only how employees can learn and grow.

Organizations with zero-tolerance for mistakes and failures are only fooling themselves, as even of course with these rigid standards, mistakes and failures happen—and are often hidden from managers and leaders. These poor outcomes fester into bigger problems, often blindsiding leadership later and derailing any or much of the progress made.

Excerpt: Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

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 Foreward 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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