What is the most powerful behavior in the leader’s toolbox?

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Behavior|What is the most powerful behavior in the leader’s toolbox?Why is it that some people who appear ready, willing and apparently able for promotion into positions of leadership either fail outright, woefully underperform, or at the very least never come close to reaching full potential? I’ve seen individuals from diverse industries and cultures who are extremely proficient as individual contributors, for example, get promoted to lead small teams and, despite great promise, simply fail to deliver. It’s much more common than one would imagine. Why is this the case?

In my experience, study and research of the topic over the past thirty-five years, one common theme emerges – many of these leaders do not lead with care and compassion. This is not to say that these leaders as individuals are uncaring. However, their focus, attention and energy are weighted too heavily in other areas of the business and not in developing relationships with their employees. For example, I’ve seen leaders struggle because they spend inordinate amounts of time focusing on results rather than their vitally important role in achieving those results.

The goal for every organization is, of course, mission accomplishment. While there are many roads to get there, leaders who have good working relationships with their employees get there with less drama, staff turnover, lower cost in labor and material, among other metrics, compared with leaders who lack these relationships. [1] Higher trust translates into higher performing team. In other words, the fastest, most efficient path to mission accomplishment is through trust.

How does a leader earn trust? Leaders, researchers and thought leaders generally agree that there are three essential behaviors. The first is technical competence. People are more likely to trust a leader whom they believe has the technical know-how and experience to make good decisions. The second is consistency. A leader must do what they say they will do, follow through on commitments and keep their promises. The last behavior is care and compassion. The leader needs to build relationships with their team members and show that they care for their well-being. Competency, consistency and caring – all three are important behaviors in earning trust. However, of the three, showing care and compassion is the most powerful and fastest way to earn trust.

In fact, leading with care and compassion is extremely powerful. I’ve seen people successfully lead teams where the leader was not technically proficient in the area of work. For example, I’ve seen Navy non-commissioned officers whose expertise was aircraft maintenance successfully lead medical teams. While these leaders were certainly not rendering care to patients – they weren’t proficient in that area – they were rendering care to the relationships they had with their Sailors. They understood the importance of building those relationships and focused their time and attention accordingly. These leaders excelled at listening to their Sailor’s concerns, showing empathy and ensuring that every single Sailor was able to feel engaged, fulfilled, supported, and recognized. In the end, they were leaders who people not only wanted to follow, but loved to follow.

My choice of the word ‘love’ is a deliberate one, and an accurate one. Fascinating research has recently shown that when a team member feels care and compassion from their leader, profound changes occur at the neurotransmitter level within the team member’s body. In fact, their level of oxytocin increases significantly. Oxytocin is a molecule also known as the “love hormone” – its release from the brain is triggered by social bonding. Oxytocin levels increase when two people hug, for example. Researchers have shown that when leaders lead with care and compassion through positive social interactions, oxytocin levels increase among team members, along with engagement, joy, and overall performance.[2] When people say they love working for their leader, they literally do love working for their leader.

When followers trust their leader, the path to mission accomplishment is much easier to traverse. The most powerful behavior in the leader’s toolbox to earn that trust is care and compassion. Show your people that you care for their well-being and they’ll consistently deliver.

[1] Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin, The Great Workplace, (San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass, 2011)
[2] Paul Zak, Trust Factor, (New York: American Management Association, 2017)


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Mark BroukerMark E. Brouker, Captain, United States Navy (retired), Pharm.D., MBA, FACHE, BCPS, is founder of Brouker Leadership Solutions, and author of the forthcoming book Lessons From The Navy: How To Earn Trust, Lead Teams, And Achieve Organizational Excellence. For more information visit http://www.broukerleadershipsolutions.com/.

Six ways to be a better business leader

No matter what industry you work in, becoming a better leader in your area will be the career goal, many people aspire to fulfill. Some skills that many of the best figureheads have can be learned, or just come naturally to them. Either way, you can use them as examples of how you can improve your own performance.

Some of these top leadership skills can be very subtle yet hugely effective – but performing them in just the wrong way can have a negative effect on how people see you in the workplace. However, analyzing some of these behaviors (a few of which are listed here) will help you on your way to becoming the business leader you want to become.

Communicate effectively

The most successful business leaders will most likely be master communicators. The key to becoming a better leader will realize how to put your ideas across effectively – and persuade and inspire others. It is also essential to be able to listen keep an open mind when it comes to receiving feedback, for instance, so you can gain valuable insights.

Keep learning

Make sure your own knowledge does not become old and outdated, as this can affect both your professional development and your brand. Business is evolving at an astonishing rate, so you need to know about the latest techniques and trends.

That includes finding out more about the economy, your industry, and competitors, plus your own team. You should also work on the skills related to your role’s responsibilities and may consider enrolling in further education or taking a management course.

Take responsibility

A characteristic you should not have is to blame others when something bad happens. Accepting your role in your team’s actions – and the consequences – will help you get respect and trust. This means you will create a culture where you learn from mistakes and improve.

You can also take responsibility by ensuring errors don’t occur: you could check your company’s IT system is secure by working with brands such as INFINIT Consulting, Inc. This will help identify potential issues before they arise by using a managed IT service.

Be positive

Transformational leaders will have an optimistic attitude that is inspirational for followers: otherwise, team members may become uninspired if a leader seems apathetic or discouraged. You should also try to stay positive even when things look bad. That does not mean you should see things using rose-tinted glasses, but instead maintain that feeling of optimism even with challenges ahead.

Encourage creativity

Teams should be encouraged to use their creativity. As an effective leader, offer new challenges with the support they need to achieve these objectives. These goals should be within the abilities of your team – so they can stretch their limits but are not discouraged by barriers to success.

Be a role model

You should show the qualities that you want to encourage within your team. If you do, then these group members will admire you and will work on mirroring such behaviors themselves. Using idealized influence is also one of the main components of transformational leadership.

The Consequences of Bad Leadership

StrategyDriven Business Politics Impacts Article | The Consequences of Bad LeadershipAn area of Buenos Aires nicknamed Villa Freud boasts the highest concentration of psychoanalysts per capita in the world. Even the bars and cafe?s have Freudian names, such as the Oedipus Complex and the Unconscious. Many of the residents are therapists, in therapy, or both. In fact, psychoanalysts are only allowed to be therapists if they are in therapy themselves. The requirement creates a self-perpetuating and ever-expanding universe of psychoanalysts and patients. It’s like an inverted – and unhealthy – pyramid scheme. Every new shrink is another shrink’s new patient, and the arrangement keeps both supply and demand perennially high.


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Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders: (And How to Fix It) by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. Copyright 2019 Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. All rights reserved.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Tomas Chamorro-PremuzicTomas Chamorro-Premuzic is the Chief Talent Scientist at Manpower Group, co-founder of Deeper Signals and Metaprofiling, and Professor of Business Psychology at University College London and Columbia University

Nine Lies About Work – Is it more engaging to be a full-time worker, a part-time worker, a virtual worker, or a gig worker?

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | Nine Lies About Work - Is it more engaging to be a full-time worker, a part-time worker, a virtual worker, or a gig worker?Is it more engaging to be a full-time worker, a part-time worker, a virtual worker, or a gig worker?

According to the study, the most engaging work status is to have one full-time job and one part-time job.


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Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Copyright 2019 One Thing Productions, Inc. and Ashley Goodall. All rights reserved.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Marcus BuckinghamMarcus Buckingham is a bestselling author and global researcher focusing on all aspects of people and performance at work.  During his years at the Gallup Organization, he worked with Dr. Donald O. Clifton to develop the StrengthsFinder program, and coauthored the seminal business books First, Break All The Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths.  He designed the StandOut strengths assessment completed by over one million people to date, and authored the accompanying book, Standout: Find Your Edge, Win at Work.  He currently heads all people and performance research at the ADP Research Institute.  Nine Lies About Work is his ninth book.

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Ashley GoodallAshley Goodall is the Senior Vice President of Leadership and Team Intelligence at Cisco Systems.  In this role, he built a new organization focused entirely on serving teams and team leaders – an organization combining learning and talent management, people planning, organizational design, executive talent and succession planning, coaching, assessment, team development, research and analytics, and performance technology.  Prior to joining Cisco, he spent fourteen years at Deloitte, where he was responsible for Leader Development and Performance Management

How To Be A Leader During A Crisis

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | How To Be A Leader During A Crisis

“The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis” (Brian Tracy). Now, more than ever, the world is looking to its leaders. The leaders of countries, communities, and businesses. What we need now are smart, focussed and compassionate leaders who can flourish in a crisis.

So what can you do if you’re responsible for a company or team during a crisis such as the one we’re currently experiencing with COVID-19?

Be Human

Great leaders aren’t emotionless robots. You need to have empathy for the way people are feeling right now. Many are worried about their jobs, the health of loved ones and dealing with their own mental health issues. Older employees may be especially worried due to the lack of clarity around the government stimulus package and will senior citizen get a stimulus check? You may share some or all of these worries and you need to express that.

Yes, there will be difficult choices ahead, but empathy is a major asset to any leader.

Stay Up To Date On The Situation

It is increasingly difficult to get an unbiased picture of what is happening at present. You owe it to your company to stay educated on the developing situation.

Don’t rely on social media of partisan news outlets for your information. Look for factual ones. The World Health Organisation (WHO) produces a Daily Situation Report which is helpful.

Don’t Get Defensive

You won’t have all the answers and you won’t always make the right decisions. Own it, admit it, apologize for it and do better.

If you don’t know something, admit it and go and find out what you need to know.

Becoming defensive can start a cascade of negative feelings from your employees that lead to mistrust and disengagement that will continue long after the crisis is over.

Communicate Regularly

Frequent communication is vital for all stakeholders. This includes employees, investors, clients, and board members.

Sit down for a moment and think about what each stakeholder would need to know right now and get them that information.

Regular communication, whether or not you have something new to say, is the key, even if you only confirm that nothing has changed.

Be Yourself

You are likely spending your days encouraging your employees to stay physically and mentally healthy while they deal with everything that’s going on around them.

Take your own advice, you are not immune to everything that is happening, you have the same worries and fears as everybody else.

If you’re a good leader, your employees already like you as a person for your skills, charisma, sense of humor and professionalism. Try and remember that and do your best to maintain these qualities when times are trying.

It isn’t easy to lead during a crisis. Even world leaders, with all of their advisers and resources, are displaying varying levels of competence at present.