Seven Ways to be a New Leader to Your Employees

 

A "Best of" post from Mary Schaefer's blog, Reimaginework.com, Feb. 24, 2010

My colleague in leadership, Joe Gerstandt, and I sometimes exchange Q&A's - the latest from Joe being:

JOE: We both talk about new ways of leadership in our work...for you, what are some examples of what that actually looks like?

MARY: Great question. I’m into lists this week, so what I’ve crafted is,

Mary’s Seven Ways to Be a New Leader to Your Employees

  1. Make decisions as if people matter. Business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. How do you think all this stuff happens? Your computers or lab equipment don’t care if you hit quarterly goals. You might as well leverage your resources you have who might give a darn (i.e. humans). BTW, you do that by meeting basic human needs at work. Ignore - at your own peril - the fact that you have human beings as your employees.
  2. Talk to your employees as if they matter. Try to keep in mind what it is like to be an employee, because after all, even if you are a manager, you ARE STILL an employee too. Think about what employees would be concerned with and show them you considered them in your thought process.
  3. Be impeccable with your word. (Thank you Don Miguel Ruiz.) If you say you are going to do something, large or small, do it. Your employees are watching. They WANT to trust you. Give them a reason. It helps to tell them when you are following up on something you promised to say, e.g. “I’m doing this thing as a result of our talk last week.”
  4. Talk to people like YOU are a human being. People can see through stalling and spin. If you can’t discuss a matter, say so. Anticipate questions from your employees' point of view, and practice. You may have to work with your response for awhile to ensure it’s authentic, sincere and respectful of their intelligence. Don’t shortchange this. (If you have any more questions on this, see point 1.)
  5. Care that they understand what you're telling them. “The meaning of the communication is the response it elicits” (an NLP concept). Why do we think we’ve communicated when we drop people an email? And asking, “Do you understand” is fruitless. Who wants to look like a nincompoop by saying “no?” Or how do you know they understand the way you need them to? Ask them what they heard you say, or what they are going to do based on what you said, to test understanding.
  6. Get over yourself and be open to what works. “Leading is changing your behaviors so the other person follows.” We wouldn’t put water in our car when it needs oil, and expect it to perform. Why do we disdain and resist what humans at work need? (examples: appreciation, belonging, contribution and meaning) Using this knowledge doesn’t require that you be something you're not.  Find what adjustments would work for you and your people both – so that they will WANT to work with you.
  7. Consider that human employees are good for business. Meeting the human needs of your employees may actually result in a better outcome for the business. I can’t underline enough the value of human discretionary energy. This is what makes the impossible happen.

As a society, we have come to a point where people too often treat one another as objects and opportunities, rather than as fellow human beings. Respecting one another as individuals, or not doing so,seriously impacts the future, for all of us.
- Gail Purcell Elliott

One day our society and the world will grow and prosper in a whole new way because each employee does their work from a place of knowing they play a legitimate role and truly make a difference. My wish is that one day we all embrace the belief that there is an inestimable power and potential in human beings treating each other humanly.