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Leadership Today

Author: Andrew Beveridge

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Weekly research-based tips and advice to tackle today's biggest leadership challenges, all in under eight minutes. Hosted by leadership development specialist and psychologist Andrew Beveridge. Go to leadership.today for more information.
55 Episodes
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Summary Accurate self-assessment sits at the core of leadership effectiveness. This week we look at five ways you can help ensure you have a clear picture of your strengths and areas for development.   Transcript Welcome to episode 49 of the Leadership Today podcast. This week we’re exploring a question sent in by a listener named Laura. She asks “How would you go about critically analysing and reflecting on your own leadership skills, individual traits, abilities and effectiveness?” Central to this question is accurate self-assessment. Daniel Goleman sees accurate self-assessment, the ability to accurately assess our strengths and areas for development, as a central part of Emotional Intelligence. It’s the foundation upon which we can develop further. As we discussed in last week’s episode, the Johari Window highlights that there are things we know about ourselves that others also see in us. That’s the quadrant where you will find accurate self-assessment. Two major forces that work against accurate self-assessment. The first is that most people overestimate their performance - they see themselves operating at above average levels compared to those around them. We explored this in our prisoners and performance ratings episode. Put simply, most people believe their performance is better than most people, and this clearly can’t be the case. Pair that with the second aspect, which is that many leaders suffer from imposter syndrome - they feel like a fraud and that they don’t have the necessary skills, qualifications, capabilities etc. to be an effective leader. I’ve coached many leaders who experience both of these at the same time - they feel like they’re an imposter in their role, while also feeling like their performance is still above others in the organisation. These two factors combine to mean most leaders have room for improvement when it comes to accurate self-assessment. So what can we do about it? Feedback is the first and main way to increase the accuracy of our self-assessment. I was serving on a senior leadership team when I received some feedback which increased the accuracy of my self-assessment by highlighting a blind spot. As I walked out of a leadership team meeting, one of my colleagues asked if I was alright. I felt alright, so I said “yes”. She then said “the reason I ask is that during that meeting you looked really angry”. Now, this was completely out of the blue for me. I didn’t feel angry during the meeting. It was a challenging meeting with lots of complex things to think about. It turns out, that when I was thinking about something complex, my resting face looked angry. The feedback helped to make my self-assessment more accurate - I thought I was doing okay in meetings, but this behaviour was getting in the way. I focused more on smiling during meetings, nodding in agreement, asking more questions when I was uncertain and letting people know when I needed more time to think about something. A second approach is to identify your strengths. How would you respond if I asked you to write down a list of 20 things that you are good at? When I’ve asked people to do exactly that during leadership development programs, most people initially see it as an impossible task - how could I possibly write down 20 things I’m good at? They then typically start the list with a few ideas, before asking “What’s your definition of good?”. And that’s the critical question. What does it take for something to make it onto your “I’m good at this” list? Does ‘good’ mean you have to be the best in the world? Better than everyone else at your organisation? The best you can possibly be in that area with no room for further improvement? Each of those definitions shortens your list of potential strengths. We often set the bar for what we consider to be our strengths way too high. One practical step you can take from today’s podcast is to list your strengths, making it as long and as comprehensive a list as you can. Ask others who know you well what they see as your strengths - don’t argue back, just add them to your list. We’re far better off developing by focusing on our strengths than by obsessing about our weaknesses. Laura also asked about individual traits, and this links to the third approach I recommend to build the accuracy of your self-assessment. I encourage you to undertake a broad-based personality profile to identity likely strengths and risks in relation to your role and career ambitions. There may be options to complete one of these through your organisation. The tool I use covers 15 personality traits across the domains of people and relationships, tasks and projects, and drives and emotions. This helps to compare your preferences to others to see what is unique about you and your approach to work. If your organisation doesn’t use these tools, contact me via the leadership.today website - I can set you up for the questionnaire and walk you through the feedback over the phone or via video conference. The fourth area is effectiveness. I encourage people I coach to look at input measures as well as outcome measures. Our work rate is really important, and this can get lost when we’re just focusing on outcomes. If I take this podcast as an example, the number of podcast downloads and the number of reviews posted are both outcome measures. I actually don’t have much direct influence over either. However, the input measures of writing and recording a podcast each week is something I can control, and these inputs are necessary in achieving the outcome measures. The fifth suggestion I have is to measure progress. We often underestimate just how far we’ve come in our development because we don’t reflect back to how much we’ve learned. Look back one month, three months or six months and think about the things you have achieved. Also list the skills and capabilities you have developed over the last year. And if the list is short, then build ongoing development into your calendar. Accurate self-assessment is crucial for high performance and satisfaction. I encourage you to seek feedback, identify your strengths, assess your personality traits, measure your effectiveness by input measures, and measure your progress. Thanks again for listening and sharing the podcast with others. If you have a question or feedback, go to the leadership.today website and head to the connect page where you can send me a message.
Summary Reaching into our untapped potential is a trip into the unknown. In this episode we use the Johari Window as a framework to identify four ways to explore our untapped potential.   Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 48 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we look at untapped potential through the lens of the Johari Window. One of the best known frameworks in self-development is the Johari Window. I remember a presenter using an overly-posh voice to call it the “Yoharri Window” as if they were a 1960’s mystic whispering to a botanically infused George Harrison. In truth, the name Johari comes from the two researchers that developed the framework - Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham - Jo and Hari. Let me give you a super fast overview so we can then talk about untapped potential. The method Jo and Hari developed back in the 1960s involves individuals selecting words that they feel best represent them from a list of adjectives. Then others that know the person also select words to represent the individual. In the final step, these words are sorted into four quadrants based on the level of independence or overlap between the lists. The words that are in common go into the top left quadrant, representing things that the individual knows about themselves that others also see in them. Perhaps the individual sees themselves as outgoing and confident, and others also recognise these traits. This quadrant is the Arena - it’s what we present to the world. Words that others identify that the individual doesn’t select for themselves go in the top right quadrant. These words reflect aspects that are known to others, but not known to the individual. Perhaps others see the individual as competitive and active, while the individual doesn’t see those qualities in themselves. This quadrant is typically called the Blind Spot. We can extend the Arena quadrant and decrease our Blind Spot through feedback. The Johari Window exercise itself was intended as an opportunity to do exactly that. As we see ourselves the way others see us, we build our self-awareness. Words that an individual identifies for themselves that others don’t use go in the lower left quadrant, titled the Mask. These are things we see in ourselves that others don’t see. Through disclosure we can extend our Arena and decrease the Mask. Doing this can help us to build relationships with others, as we become more known. That leaves one remaining quadrant - the Unknown where things are unknown to us and unknown to others. It’s usually at this point that discussions move on - where we explore the benefits of feedback and disclosure further. However I think there are benefits to exploring this quadrant further. Sticking to the other quadrants is really about expanding knowledge about who we are now. We can let others know more about who we are now. Or we can seek feedback to learn more about who we are now. The final quadrant provides a different opportunity. Instead of just expanding knowledge, it’s actually about expanding who we are now. So how do we explore the untapped potential resting in the unknown? Try new things - expand your interests, even if they don’t appear to be directly applicable to your work. The calligraphy classes Steve Jobs attended out of interest lead to typeface being one of Apple’s early differentiators in desktop publishing. Seek additional responsibilities - take the box you have been given in your job and push it outwards. Work with your manager to take things off their plate. Connect with new people - work with people in your network to make new connections to explore their experiences and backgrounds. Relentlessly seek feedback - as you are expanding into the unknown, you will benefit from targeted feedback. Don’t just ask for general feedback, ask about specific elements relating to your new efforts. The Unknown quadrant is about exploring new areas and trying new things. The Johari window is a helpful framework to help us to know ourselves and be known by others as we are now. But it also provides a reminder that our boundaries are not fixed, rather they are there to be tested and expanded.
Summary The best leaders prioritise treating people well, and reap the benefits through higher performance and greater commitment. But time pressure can make this difficult. Here are five ways busy leaders prioritise treating people well.   Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 47 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we look at five ways busy leaders prioritise treating people well. Treating people well matters, and not just because it’s the right thing to do. Research shows that people who feel they are treated fairly perform better, and have higher team and organisational commitment. People who are treated fairly deliver better results and stay longer. But what does it mean to be treated fairly? Researchers divide fairness into four factors: Equitable rewards - people want to see a link between performance and reward Transparent procedures for rewarding people - people are clear about the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of reward and recognition - they know what is rewarded, and the way it is rewarded Clear decision making - people are clear about the logic behind decisions, not just the decisions themselves Dignity and respect - people feel they are treated in a considerate way No doubt you agree these all sound great, and the best leaders you have worked for have probably done all of those things. So why doesn’t it happen more often? Research published in Harvard Business Review helps to explain why fairness can be such an issue. Through a series of studies the researchers found short-term high workloads were associated with leaders placing less attention on fairness. Even more concerning, they found that chronic and ongoing high workloads were associated with leaders persistently prioritising tasks over people. The problem is that leaders who are under time pressure tend to put technical tasks ahead of people, and as a result their treatment of people suffers. The risk is that performance drops off and people think about leaving. Not only that, the best leaders feel compromised - they may want to treat their people better, but feel they don’t have the time or permission to do that effectively. So, what can we do about it? Here are five ways busy leaders prioritise treating people well: Great leaders still set aside time for their people: treating people fairly is rarely urgent, so the best leaders schedule time for their people. And they keep to those times even when they’re busy. If you’re interested in exploring that further you can check out episode 4 about monthly 1 on 1 meetings that work. Great leaders prioritise the process not just the task: researchers often refer to this as procedural fairness. People want to know that procedures have been established and are followed without exceptions. Great leaders agree and communicate what should be rewarded: they work with other leaders to establish values and performance standards. Great leaders differentiate based on performance: this isn’t necessarily about money, but could include secondments, promotions, conferences, training, additional leave. They also ensure that under-performers know they’re underperforming, then they help them to improve, they move them to a more appropriate role if needed and, if all else fails, they move them on. Great leaders share the ‘why’ behind decisions, not just the decisions themselves: in the absence of this, people make things up to fill in the gaps. The best leaders make sure the gaps aren’t there in the first place. The world needs more leaders that prioritise treating people well. We also need organisations to value and reward fairness. Once leaders have permission to put people first they’re far more likely to be fair. It’s not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it also produces better results and helps to retain our best people.   References When Managers Are Overworked, They Treat Employees Less Fairly - Elad N. Sherf, Ravi S. Gajendran, Vijaya Venkataramani - JUNE 04, 2018 https://hbr.org/2018/06/research-when-managers-are-overworked-they-treat-employees-less-fairly
Summary One of the elements that gets in the way of being assertive as a leader is an inability to say 'no' to requests, or automatically saying ‘yes’ to everything that comes our way. We explore ways to say ‘no’ without being a jerk.   Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 46 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we look at saying ‘no’ without feeling like a jerk. One of the elements that gets in the way of being assertive as a leader is an inability to say 'no' to requests. Or, the flip side, is automatically saying 'yes' to every request that comes our way. True assertiveness requires us to say 'no'. If we can't say 'no' then our time and efforts become subject to others' needs rather than our own. How can we lead others effectively if we can't choose our own priorities? We also risk becoming overloaded, ending up struggling to fit everything into our work week, and neglecting some of the truly important parts of our role.  Saying ‘yes’ often early in our career can make a lot of sense. You’re seen as someone who is keen to help out and add value. The catch is when we carry that impulse to say ‘yes’ and take more and more on into the rest of our career.  Often times this inability to say 'no' comes down to a tension between "I don't want to do it" and "I want to help". Being helpful is a wonderful trait. But being helpful doesn't necessarily mean saying 'yes' automatically. This is where a "no but..." response can work well. It allows us to still be helpful without automatically agreeing to the request. For example, you could still be helpful by providing advice. "No - I won't be able to do that research for you, but you might find this online resource helpful". Or you could help the person to make a new connection. For example, "No - I can't cover your shift on Saturday, but you could speak with Brett in Human Resources to see if anyone is looking for extra shifts." Or you might vary the timeframe. "No - I won't be able to finish that report today, but I could have it ready by Friday". Or you could vary the task. "No - I won't be able to attend that meeting, but I'm happy to look at your presentation and provide some feedback". Advice, connections, varying the timeframe and varying the task can help us to say ‘no’ while still being helpful. Another really useful technique is to insert a gap between the request and your response. Just because someone makes a request of you doesn't mean you have to respond straight away. It's perfectly reasonable to let them know that you will think about it and get back to them by a particular time. But what if it's urgent? Well, just because something is urgent for someone else doesn't automatically make it urgent for you. And I'm also not suggesting it needs to be a long gap. If they're on the phone you might say you will call them back in five minutes. It just needs to be enough of a gap so that you can consider whether you have capacity and interest to do what's being asked of you.  Clearly the context matters. My advice to a teenage son on work experience is to say 'yes' to absolutely everything they ask you to do. But the more senior your position, the more important the ability to say ‘no’ becomes. My advice to a CEO is to never say 'yes' to anything in the moment unless they’re 100% convinced it's the right call.  So, saying 'no' while being helpful, and inserting a gap are two great approaches to increasing our assertiveness. I’ve had the privilege to work with thousands of leaders to help them achieve results through people. I have seen many people who struggle with their confidence, with speaking up and presenting their ideas, with being more assertive without becoming aggressive, and with saying ‘no’ to unreasonable requests. In short, the majority of leaders I’ve worked with want and need to boost their assertiveness to become more effective. They recognise that assertiveness is crucial to achieving results both for themselves and their organisation. But they often don’t know where to start. That’s why I’ve developed the Boost Your Assertiveness at Work in Three Weeks program. The course is launching in early September, and those who subscribe to our email list will receive a special offer. If you haven’t already signed up, you can do that via leadership.today website and follow the connect links. If you enjoyed today’s episode, I’m confident you’ll love the online course. Have a great week and I’ll speak to you next week.
Summary Delegation - it’s something that every successful leader needs to do in order to perform and progress, yet most leaders under-delegate. This week we explore ways of overcoming a fear of delegation. Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 45 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we look at ways of overcoming a fear of delegation. Chances are that, like most leaders, you struggle with delegation. And this under-delegation has a significant impact on personal, team and organisational performance.  People don’t delegate enough for a range of reasons, but here are some typical ones: It will be faster to just do it myself - delegating takes too much time and is inefficient Performance will drop - the person I delegate it to just won’t do it as well as I could, so delegation is bad for quality I don’t trust people to get it done - delegation leads to unreliable results I don’t want to trouble people - delegating work to others is a hassle for them If any of those reasons or excuses for not delegating ring true for you then congratulations - you’ve found the level of job you will remain in for life.  And I’m saying that as someone who really struggled with delegation - there’s no judgement here! But the extent to which we delegate is the pace at which we progress.  However there is hope - becoming better at delegating just requires a shift in mindset and a few simple techniques.  First the shift in mindset. If you think delegation is just about getting things done, then the earlier reasons not to delegate make perfect sense. Yes - it could well be faster to do it yourself. Yes - you will probably do it better. Yes - if you don’t delegate you’re not dependent on anyone else that can let you down. And yes - your people won’t be hassled by additional work. But all of these reasons not to delegate are short term focused.  If we take a longer term view we see that delegation is actually about developing others which in turn increases the capacity of the organisation to deliver. Delegation is about individual and organisational growth.  That shift in thinking made all the difference for me. Suddenly the things that I used to hold on to were great opportunities for my team to stretch themselves and grow. Delegating helped them to progress, and it also helped me to progress. Shifting the question from “should I delegate?” to “should I develop others?” will make you much more willing to delegate.  So let’s say I’ve encouraged you to give delegation another try. A reasonable question is what to delegate. It’s important to delegate meaningful things that will challenge others - things for which they can take full accountability. In fact, a useful exercise is to think about if you had to delegate all of your work, how would you do it? How can you start preparing your team now to be able to take on even the more challenging parts of your role? I’m not suggesting you then delegate all of your role, but it may unlock some additional opportunities to delegate and develop others. When shouldn’t you delegate? You need to be careful delegating when there’s a combination of time pressure and lack of capability. When you don’t have time to develop and support the person, you’re setting yourself and them up for failure. If it’s genuinely urgent and important, then it’s typically best to do it yourself. But if everything is always urgent and important then that’s a pattern that you need to challenge.  So how should we delegate? Here are four principles to keep in mind:  Be clear about the purpose - why does this delegated responsibility matter in relation to the organisation, the individual and their development. Focus on the outcomes not the process - resist the temptation to tell them how to achieve results, but rather give them the end outcome that’s required. Be available to coach - let the individual know that you’re available to coach them through anything they are struggling with, and set aside time to do this. Build in update points - set some milestone points up at the start when you will check in with the person. This will help you to manage your anxiety levels around how the work is progressing without hovering around or inserting yourself in the process at unexpected points. Delegation is something that every successful leader needs to do in order to perform and progress. Give it another try this week and let me know how you go.
Summary Reflection is important in our development as leaders. In that spirit, this week we look at 10 things we've learned from year one of the Leadership Today podcast.    Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 44 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week is a little different as we look at 10 things we’ve learned from year one of the Leadership Today podcast.  It has been one year since we launched the Leadership Today podcast, and it has been a privilege to play a small part in the development of thousands of leaders. Across the year there have been some stand out lessons about leadership, and also things I’ve learned from producing a weekly leadership podcast. Here are ten leadership lessons from the back catalogue of 43 episodes that have stood out: The power of habits - so much of our effectiveness as leaders rests in non-urgent but important activities. Habits allow us to prioritise these activities. This could include routines around planning, reflection, exercise and connections with others. None of these things are ever urgent, so building habits is a great way to ensure they get done. Mindset matters - taking on a positive growth mindset helps us to make better decisions, to stretch ourselves into new areas, and to develop our capability. Leaders can’t motivate anyone directly, but they can construct motivating environments - our key role as leaders is to set up and maintain the conditions for success. Great leaders regularly share the vision and connect it to the things people care about - this requires us to formulate a clear picture of the future and to be interested enough in our people to see how it links to what motivates and interests them. Influence and assertiveness are the vehicles to making a positive impact - you can have the best ideas in the world, but if no one knows or cares then our ideas are worthless. Fortunately we can all build our influence and assertiveness. Seek and provide feedback - people can’t grow and thrive in a feedback vacuum. Look for opportunities to provide feedback daily, focusing on the positive more than the corrective. And make sure you surround yourself with people who can provide feedback to shape your own development. Resilience is partly about people and partly about environments - as leaders we can create toxic work environments that undo even the most resilient person, or we can craft work environments that foster resilience. So many organisations are rolling out resilience programs in an attempt to toughen up their people, when the real problem rests in job design and organisational culture. Learning is both hard and motivating - anyone can become a great leader, but it takes effort and you never truly ‘arrive’. If we continue to stretch ourselves, there’s always moments of conscious incompetence and feeling clumsy before we become good at something. Take time to reflect - regularly review how you’re spending your time, and how that aligns with your values and what matters to you. Create a legacy - investing in the next wave of leaders makes you a far more effective leader. There is so much we can learn from our people - we don’t need to be the ones with all the answers, but we do need to demonstrate interest in and invest in our people. Hopefully there’s something amongst those lessons that has resonated with you. I encourage you to step out and try something new - don’t die wondering. Have a great week, and I look forward to sharing the next year with you as we continue to develop our leadership together.
Summary As leaders we need to make wise decisions in often complex and emotionally charged situations. This week we look at two techniques for making wiser decisions.   Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 43 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we look at two techniques for making wiser decisions. As leaders we need to make decisions in often complex and emotionally charged situations. When it comes to making decisions, we are often encouraged to think of our brain like it’s a computer - that our consciousness is the sum total of electrical impulses rushing around circuits producing a stream of thoughts. However, our brains aren’t just thinking machines - they’re also emotion machines. What the computer analogy overlooks is the electro-chemical nature of the brain - that our thoughts and emotions aren’t just about electrical impulses, but also about the chemicals that interact with and moderate these systems. Our brain constantly influences, and is influenced by, our emotional state.  Our emotional state can help or hinder our decision making. When we’re in a positive emotional state we make better decisions and more readily identify the up side potential of situations. When we’re anxious or stressed we tend to focus on the negatives and become less creative and more risk averse. To make wiser decisions, it’s helpful to separate out the thoughts and feelings associated with the situation - to recognise the feelings, and act on the facts. One way to do this is to take a third person perspective. Research outlined by David Robson shows that thinking in the third person improves decision making. This approach increases our willingness to consider others’ perspectives, and also allows us to be more open to new ways of thinking about the situation. Let’s consider an example - that I have a difficult meeting coming up with one of my team members. Using this approach I switch from saying to myself “I have a challenging conversation coming up with John” to “Andrew has a challenging conversation coming up with John”. I can then work though a series of questions: How do I feel about the situation? What emotions am I experiencing? Perhaps I’m feeling frustrated with how John has approached an issue and am worried about how he will respond to the feedback I need to give him. Even the process of naming the emotions reduces some of their ‘charge’ and control over our thinking. What are the facts of the situation? What’s the data that others would also see and agree with? Before I have my meeting with John, it would be helpful to note down the facts as they relate to the conversation we’re about to have. What advice would I give to a friend in the same situation I’m facing? This helps us to consider the situation at a distance. With John this would allow me to view the situation at arm’s length rather than getting too caught up in the details and history. One other approach that can help you to act more wisely is to make a decision and then choose to run with it. Once you’ve considered all the factors, commit to your course of action for a set period of time without revisiting it. This approach can help to reduce the rumination and worry that leads us to make poor decisions. For example, research shows that people who check their stock market investments more frequently end up making worse investment decisions and earn lower returns than those who check less frequently. Those who check frequently tend to focus on the negatives and pull out of investments too quickly. It’s similar to people who are always thinking about getting a better job and keep checking for new opportunities - they tend to end up constantly worried and less satisfied with their current job than if they had committed to the job for a period of several months. This week I encourage you to look for opportunities to apply these two approaches - considering situations in the third person and then sticking to your decisions.   References https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/05/24/a-new-trial-of-an-ancient-rhetorical-trick-finds-it-can-make-you-wiser/ https://www.betterment.com/resources/high-frequency-monitoring/
Summary Recognising that we don’t have all the answers makes us more effective as leaders - there is power in saying “I don’t know”.   Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 42 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week’s episode is the power of “I don’t know” - how, as leaders, recognising that we don’t have all the answers can make us more effective. Some leaders feel that, to be truly effective, they need to have all the answers. These leaders think saying “I don’t know” demonstrates weakness, inadequacy or being unqualified for the job. That was my experience when I first moved from being an individual contributor to leading others. As a management consultant, much of my value was in my knowledge, experience and expertise. So I initially carried that same mindset into leadership. And the research shows that’s exactly what many leaders do - they try to stay in the role of ‘expert’. However, needing to have all the answers places an extraordinary burden on an individual. And our people just don’t buy it - it comes off as an act and a facade that no one can maintain forever. Recent research shows that people who think they know it all routinely overestimate their cognitive capability - put simply, they aren’t as smart as they think they are. And this mindset has flow on impacts for the way they approach learning and new opportunities. Why would you try to learn more if you think you already know enough? Sure enough, the research shows that “know it alls” end up being less reflective and less curious than others. They stop learning and growing, limiting their future potential. Other leaders recognise that they can’t know everything - that there’s always more to learn. Researchers call this mindset “intellectual humility”. It’s like having a growth mindset towards knowledge. Research shows that people with intellectual humility benefit in six ways: They have greater general knowledge - those who can admit they don’t know actually know more than others Their knowledge is more accurate - they are right more often than other people They are more reflective - they take more time to think about their approach They enjoy mentally challenging tasks - stretching their minds further They are intellectually curious - they seek out new knowledge and experiences They are motivated to learn for the sake of new knowledge - they have wide interests, not just those needed for their job It pays to recognise that you can’t know everything and that there’s always more to learn. There’s a difference between saying “I don’t know” and not actually taking the time to find out. I once heard about a manager whose nickname was ’Mirrors’ - because whenever people asked him a question he’d always say “I’ll look into it”. But he didn’t follow through. This erodes trust - you need to close the loop. Three things to try this week: Recognise it’s okay not to know everything - it’s a change in mindset, so think about the mindset you’re currently bringing and challenge it Be curious to learn more - not just in your field of expertise - a while back I completed an online MasterClass by the comedian Steve Martin which taught me a lot about story telling and structuring communication - I didn’t complete the course to help with my work, but the applications to my work have been surprisingly beneficial Coach rather than tell - foster an inquisitive mindset in your team - help them to see that they don’t need to know everything either Just something quick before you go. The Leadership Today podcast has hit the Apple Podcast charts in a diverse range of countries including USA, Great Britain, Canada, India, Ireland, Brazil, Colombia, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Slovakia, Australia, and New Zealand. Whenever the podcast or an episode gets into the charts, it helps a whole bunch of new listeners who can benefit from the material to find the podcast. We don’t have advertising and genuinely see this podcast as a gift to help leaders achieve results through people - there isn’t a catch. So I would really appreciate it if you could take a couple of minutes to provide a rating or review - in Apple Podcasts would be great, but whatever platform you use. Plus it’s fantastic to hear your feedback on the show - you can contact me via the Leadership Today website. Thanks.   Reference Elizabeth J. Krumrei-Mancuso, Megan C. Haggard, Jordan P. LaBouff & Wade C. Rowatt (2019) Links between intellectual humility and acquiring knowledge,The Journal of Positive Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2019.1579359 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17439760.2019.1579359
Summary This week we explore whether putting employees first ahead of customers and shareholders leads to better customer service and financial results.   Transcript Hello and welcome to episode 41 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we explore whether putting employees first, that is ahead of customers and shareholders, actually produces better customer service and financial results. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, once famously said “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers.” It’s a sentiment that stands in stark contrast to “the customer is always right” and “shareholder value” formulas tracing back to the early 1900’s. During an interview with Inc, Branson continues “It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, they're going to be happy… Effectively, in the end shareholders do well, the customers do better, and your staff remain happy”. This sounds like a nice management philosophy, particularly from an employee perspective - what employee wouldn’t want to be put first? But does the research back up this link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and financial performance? Large scale research into the link between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and results is actually less common than you might think. A 2008 study by Maxham, Netemeyer and Lichtenstein covered over 1,600 retail employees, servicing over 57,000 customers across 306 stores. Their research found direct links between employee engagement, customer satisfaction and financial performance. The research highlighted three main findings: Conscientious employees who feel they are treated fairly and who identify with the organisation perform better in their jobs. Increased job performance, not just doing their job well, but going above and beyond for the customer, leads to higher customer evaluations. Customer evaluations around satisfaction, purchase intent, loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals, lead to higher customer spending and store sales growth. The researchers found that even a one point increase in customer evaluations was associated with customers spending over $12 more per transaction, a 15% increase. And as customer evaluations increased, transaction values and sales growth increased at an even greater rate - it wasn’t just a straight line relationship. Other analysis of multiple studies by Harter and Schmidt also supports these links. I think this research has four main implications for leaders: Hire well - hire conscientious people who love your organisation and want to go above and beyond. Treat employees well - fairness matters, give them great leaders to work for who also love the organisation and want to go above and beyond. Focus on systems and front line frustrations - as a customer it’s common to hear people apologising for their system or some clunky process. Ask your frontline teams about frustrations and remove them. A CEO of a major bank I worked for would call several bank tellers once a month to hear about their experiences on the front line, cutting through multiple layers. Look to other examples - research broader trends in customer service, including the interesting things others are doing outside your industry. If we take these steps, we will be well on our way to putting our people first, and delivering better results for customers and shareholders.   References https://www.inc.com/oscar-raymundo/richard-branson-companies-should-put-employees-first.html Harter & Schmidt (2002) Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology. Maxham, Netemeyer & Lichtenstein (2008) The Retail Value Chain: Linking Employee Perceptions to Employee Performance, Customer Evaluations, and Store Performance. Marketing Science.
Summary We have come to celebrate workaholics in our organisations - those people who always seem to be busy and putting in long hours. But is it possible for a person to be too engaged with their work? And does that lead to burnout and negative performance? Transcript Welcome to episode 40 of the Leadership Today Podcast where each week we tackle one of today’s biggest leadership challenges. This week we explore whether workaholics are bad for business. We have come to celebrate workaholics in our organisations - those people who always seem to be busy and putting in long hours. But is it possible for a person to be too engaged with their work? And does that lead to burnout and negative performance? Most models of employee engagement don't examine what actually drives people to work hard and contribute more to an organisation. This muddies the water between what researchers call workaholism and work engagement. As a result, employee engagement scores and measures of performance don't always align. Organisations with high employee engagement can sometimes be perplexed by relatively poor performance and the high incidence of burnout and other negative health outcomes amongst their people. One study by van Beek and her colleagues separated workaholism and work engagement into two distinct concepts. The researchers then looked at various combinations of the two including the impact on burnout. They defined workaholism as the tendency to work excessively hard and being obsessed with work - working compulsively. In contrast, they saw work engagement as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind characterised by energy, dedication and becoming absorbed in your work. Their research showed that workaholism and work engagement both lead people to work harder and for longer hours. But it was the incidence of burnout amongst these groups that was most interesting.  Perhaps not surprisingly, being a workaholic increased the incidence of burnout over non-workaholics. The researchers linked this to work-home interference, poor social relationships, and high levels of job strain. In contrast, being engaged with work decreased the incidence of burnout versus the non-engaged. Interestingly, combining the two, that is being a work-engaged workaholic, decreased the level of burnout below that of your regular workaholic. It also reduced the incidence of burnout to below that of non-engaged non-workaholics. Being positively engaged with work appears to dampen the negative impact of being a workaholic when it comes to burnout.  This research suggests that improving work engagement will lessen the chance of burnout, even for the workaholics in our organisations. As leaders we can help workaholics in our teams to become aware of what motivates them, allowing them to identify greater meaning and purpose in their work. Understanding the difference between workaholism and employee engagement can do wonders to increasing the sustainability of performance in your organisation. Leaders can set up the conditions that encourage our people to become absorbed in their work versus becoming obsessed and compulsive about the work they complete. Reference Ilona van Beek, Toon W. Taris and Wilmar B. Schaufeli (2011) Workaholic and Work Engaged Employees: Dead Ringers or Worlds Apart? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol 16, No 4, 468-482.
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