Fad-Free Leadership Starts Here
Column by Carl Robinson
If you are a leader, there is one thing that you can count on. Everyone has an opinion on how you can do your job better than you are. Thousands of books are published every year aimed at telling you what you should know, why you should know it, and how very important it is that you change. Like esteemed Gen. Colin Powell said, "Don't chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission."
That's not to say that high quality books aren't hitting the shelves all the time. Much of the information churned out by true experts is solid.
Here are some non-fad managerial skills you can work on right now:
Focus on Productivity
You walk through the office checking on your employees. Some seem extremely busy; some seem overly relaxed. Some seem to be bogged down and stuck under a dark cloud, and some seem perfectly content. Outwardly, you are drawing conclusions on who is being productive and who isn't, and most times you're judging the happiest, most contented employees to be the most productive.
But don't be fooled by appearances. Satisfied employees don't necessarily equate to productive employees. Oftentimes managers are asked to "boost morale" in an effort to increase productivity, but that is putting the cart before the horse. Focus should be on increasing productivity, which has a much better track record of showing itself to be a precursor of increasing morale. Take steps to ensure that your own efforts are focused on employee production, not employee satisfaction. Done properly, this will leave you with increases across both spectrums.
Build Rock Solid Trust
Your employees' trust doesn't simply "come with the job." If you are to gain the buy-in that is the yardstick of your managerial abilities and successes, you need to hold the trust that they have for you with care. Abused just once, this trust can be impossible to get back. Research on gaining employee trust shows that the highest focus should be on:
- Telling the Truth. Nothing crumbles the foundations of trust like lying. Be true to your word.
- Equitable Treatment. Don't play favorites. Keep everyone in the same loop.
- Don't Keep Secrets. Many times trust is lost based on what employees aren't told.
- Show Emotion. Remind employees that you are human too. Express feeling when appropriate.
- Be Predictable. Whether they like it or not, they'll trust you when they know what to expect.
- Be Trustworthy. Always keep your employees' confidential information private.
Show Your Charm
Think of the managers and leaders who have made an impact on your life. The most successful managers are confident, visionary and have something to offer beyond the day's work. Managers are change leaders and are most effective when they show a charismatic side of themselves that spurs people toward action. Research shows that with just a few simple and trainable adjustments, anyone can significantly boost their "Charisma Quotient" quickly, simply, and powerfully.
- Announce Their Importance. Disengaged employees need to hear that you need them.
- Increase Your Animation. Practice a more engaging vocal tone and better body language.
- Tap Their Emotions. Showing passion for your work is a great way to help them generate passion in theirs.
- Brainstorm Often. Foster interest by discussing unconventional solutions to achieving goals.
- Stay Positive. Always keep your employees' confidential information private.
Remember, fads don't last. Solid management and leadership practices do.