CEO Today - March 2022

The Ripple Effect of Leadership As an organisation, two of our driving core values are love and service. So, when we thought about our mission and vision, we looked at the leadership needs we’ve seen—and continue to see—in the world. I have taught leadership development courses for over a decade. Most of the cohorts were made up of people who worked for the same organisation as managers. In those cohorts, I met hundreds of people who had been promoted into leadership roles based on their technical or clinical expertise— regardless of their ability to lead people. I saw people who were often politically driven, dismissive and uncollaborative. Many approached their roles without a purpose or direction other than to advance themselves, apparently mindless of their presence and impact on their peers. I was amazed to learn how many managers consider getting to know their people a small, dispensable thing. One leader asked me for coaching on how to create trust in her team. She had been with the team for 11 months, so I first asked: “How did you onboard yourself with your team?” “What do you mean?” “Did you introduce yourself to each person one-on-one? To the group, in a meeting? Or did you do both?” She said: “I didn’t do either. There’s a back entrance to the office. In eleven months, I’ve never walked out into the floor and met anybody.” Can you guess why there is no trust in her team? The unfortunate situation I’ve observed over the past 40 years in leadership and leadership development is that people often don’t really care about the people they’re working with―they care about themselves. Part of that self-focus is organisation driven. Since 2008, we’ve all had to do more with less, so we simply have too much on our plates to notice individuals or give any sort of feedback unless someone does something wrong. There is little recognition for the bulk of things done right. These “small things” are the most important. Are you paying attention? Do you care about other people and the major events in their lives? Do you know each team member well enough to notice when something might be troubling them? In other words, what is your level of emotional-social intelligence—your ESI? Employees are nothing if not observant. Everyone else down the chain sees the dysfunction, and they mirror what they see. Negativity becomes a toxin that spreads throughout the organisation. The impact doesn’t stop with the organisation—it ripples out to the worker’s family and community. This ripple effect of leadership is the biggest reason I am so passionate about leader and manager development. Building Self-Efficacy If leaders want to get the best performance out of their teams, they first need to create a sense of psychological safety within people, a sense of competence and confidence around their responsibilities. That calls for situational leadership rather than the one-size-fits-all approach managers typically use. Many believe that if a person has been with the organisation a long time, they automatically know how to function in a new role or take on a new task. That isn’t so. Situational leaders adapt their approach to the individual’s existing levels of both competence and confidence in a deliberate process we call building self-efficacy. For example, if the person is new to a task, the leader needs to instruct, guide, offer advice—tell them what to do. If the person is somewhat familiar with the task, yet hesitant, the leader shifts to a more coach-like approach, asking many questions to identify gaps, and then giving instruction based on those gaps. Once the person is familiar with the task, they might hit a barrier. That barrier is typicallyuncertainty about howto balance safety and risk. People in organisations constantly weigh the practical and social rewards against the possible downsides. Will I get myself into trouble? What if I make a mistake? Will I look stupid? What will the consequences be and how visible will those consequences be? In this situation, the leader needs to function as a thought partner, helping the person think options through until they arrive at a reasoned confidence level. Learning the delegation process The place most leaders stumble is with delegation. In fact, I was 15 years into my career when I actually learned the value of delegation, what it meant, and the freedom effective delegating gave me. Leadership is about building other leaders. Leaders need to help build selfefficacy in the people they lead. “ “ 47 EXECUTIVE COACHING

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