What is the purpose of a teacher, author, consultant, coach and educator?
I think it is to help others find the success they are looking for. That can happen by bringing new information to the table, mixing existing information and data in a new way, creating an environment in which a person can discover new ways of becoming successful.
In all these cases, some research is required. Based on what was found the teacher, author, consultant, coach and educator then draws conclusions and presents to his/her audience. I had planned to do that for this article when I sat down to write.
During my research I found three sources who did a piece of what I was looking for, as if magically, for me. I know all three of them and admire their abilities greatly. (Maybe also a little more today because they made writing this piece much easier than anticipated)
On a daily basis we are inundated by numbers and new facts. It started as the glorified information age and has quickly become information overload. When the numbers are unpleasant, we want to get away from them.
For my purpose of bringing something new to you regarding how to kill these numbers and still succeed, let’s start with a statement from Dr. Henry Cloud (2008):
If you want to take a car down a road, you drive it straight ahead. It is designed to move that way, in the same direction the wheels are aligned.
You could try pushing it sideways, or rolling it end over end. That is possible, if you have a bulldozer that is big enough. The only problem is that the car will get smashed in the process and you won’t get the performance from the car that it was intended to give you. It will be really slow and messy.
Unfortunately, many leaders lead that way; they set up their people’s work, reporting relationships and culture in ways that are misaligned with their developmental design. This can lead to diminished performance, dysfunctional relationships, teams that don’t work, and high turnover. People are designed to function in some specific ways, and these issues are not complicated. With a little knowledge of how people are constructed, some self-monitoring, and regular assessment of how things are working, a leader can avoid significant problems.
What does research show about how people are constructed and what they feel? First let’s look at some data from Patricia Drain (2008):
I am sure you have heard about the studies they have been doing for years with 100 people who either graduated at the same time from high school or college, even 100 people born and raised at the same time in the same town.
Here is what has been discovered year after year:
When asking each of those 100 people if they have ever designed their life by either learning about manifesting, the laws of the universe, or goal setting.
With that frustrating state of affairs, Steve Denning (2008) wanted to know what people say about their work. Here is what he found:
The percentage of people who truly love what they are currently doing at work? It’s 6%! That means 94% of people are in various stages of disinterest, disillusion or despair as to how they are spending most of their waking time on this planet. Is this what several thousand years of civilization ought to be about? Almost universal disinterest or discontent? We are of course much better off financially than we were a hundred years ago, but it doesn’t seem to be making us any happier. All the statistics indicate: the richer we get, the more miserable we become.
Describing the problem alone doesn’t really help a lot. I had planned to tell you what I would do, but as mentioned earlier, Dr. Henry Cloud (2008) did it for me and probably better than I could have. So here it is in a nutshell:
What are the issues a leader must consider? I will be taking a look at four of them in my next few articles. They begin early in life, and stay with us for the duration, no matter what we do. They are important in personal relationships, our health, and our work lives. In this article, we will look at the most basic and foundational need we have.
Our most basic need is to be connected to others by bonds of trust. We all need to feel we are “part of something,” and not isolated. In leadership, some of this is functional and some of it is emotional. When people work, they must feel a connection to the leader, the team, and the “whole picture”. Along with being functionally connected, the relationship with their leadership must be warm, trusting, and positive. They should feel needed, known, wanted, valued, and cared about. When those feelings are present, people give their all. They perform better and with greater satisfaction and loyalty. Connection and trust are basic to all that humans do, including the performance of great organizations.
Some leaders know this. They do things that build this functional connectedness and foster the emotional experience for their people as well. Functionally, they make sure that they have regular team meetings, and that everyone is part of the information loop, ensuring that no person is habitually cut off from key information. Individuals and teams suffer when part of the team is in the know and moves down a path – only to inform other key players later. This causes work-flow problems, alignment problems, and hurt feelings as cliques are suspected and paranoia grows. Good leaders keep people “in the know.” They include them.
Wise leaders also make sure everyone on the team is aware of the work of each team member. That way, everyone feels valued and important, and all the members can see how their work affects another person’s work. They realize that they are all interdependent. This eliminates situations in which one person believes that only their work matters, not seeing themselves as part of a whole. When team members learn to work together, with a common goal in mind, organizations run more smoothly and efficiently.
Leaders need to recognize that it will take some time and intention for people to feel connected to them. In my book Integrity, I wrote about a CEO’s experience in laying someone off because of downsizing. The CEO was surprised to learn that his employee was not as upset over losing his job as he was that his boss had taken so little interest in him throughout his employment. Often, with leaders’ time crunches, it is only the squeaky wheels that get the grease. Good leaders remember that there are key people who need a little one-on-one attention every now and then. It goes a long way, and there are both functional and emotional results.
Check in on your people. Drop by and ask how they are doing. Make regular “rounds” like a doctor does on a hospital floor. Take them to coffee at a time when there is no problem to talk about, just to see how they are. Ask if there is anything you can do to make things better. Send them a clip of an article that you have read that will help them. Send an e mail when you notice a good piece of work. Have a bonding day every now and then where you close the shop an hour early and take everyone out for a few hours, or do an office barbecue for lunch. They want to see you in an apron.
To make them feel valued, listen. Don’t just tell them what to do and what your reality is, but listen to their views, thoughts, and experience. The more you do that, the more connected to you they will feel. You will capture their hearts, which is the basis of leadership. Good leadership needs to come from the heart, and is sustained by heart connections. If you listen and validate the experience and realities of those you lead, your leadership will be on more solid ground.
Driving the leadership car down the road aligned with how it is designed means that you must first consider people’s basic need to feel connected. If you honor that need, you will go much farther. Your people will perform better, be more loyal, and have a much greater experience. Everyone wins, as the biblical value of “unity” is kept first and foremost in the leader’s mind.
I hope this is inspiring to you and helps you to succeed despite the devastating numbers. If you are in a leadership role, take Henry Cloud’s advice. In case you find that you don’t have the right people in the right positions, you can take a look at the solution in the PerformanceIQ system I use to turn the fortune for you and your organization around.