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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.

Every Business Faces An Existential Leadership Crisis

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|Every Business Faces An Existential Leadership CrisisStop for a second. Think about the last time you saw a CEO do an interview. When was the last time you saw a business out in the open, showing off it’s latest and greatest talent? When was the last time you saw a business that showcased its raw young talent at a business exhibition or conference? Most likely, not a whole lot. The general public doesn’t often get to see the young people that a business is hiring. They may not have earned the right to be represented the business out in public. The company may not even care about its image in that way. It’s clear that most businesses have a tough time passing the torch to the next generation and doing so in an open and honest way. But that also means, most businesses are facing an existential leadership threat. If your business cannot be gifted to the next generation, it won’t survive more than one lifetime. How can you stop this from happening?

Internal culture protection

The reason why Apple didn’t collapse when Steve Jobs passed away, is because they had an internal business culture that groomed the next in line. Tim Cook took over and approached the challenges of the business to be innovative and build on the Apple ecosystem, just like Jobs would have wanted. This did not happen by mistake. Cook was able to approach the future in a similar way because the entire business, protected its internal culture. It’s the way you want employees to think about their roles, their tasks, designs, marketing, social media, etc. A culture encapsulates everything about you. So one way to make sure your business has a future is by protecting your culture and helping the best employees to understand it on a deeper level.

A skills transition

Becoming a leader isn’t for everybody. In fact, it’s true that most people just don’t fit the profile. But how do you know who does and who doesn’t? Putting your employees through leadership training is the best way to find out. They will learn a plethora of skills including, knowing what employee strengths are and getting the best out of them. Effectively influencing employees to make them channel their abilities better when it comes to tasks and roles in group projects. Being able to effectively lead meetings of staff, talking to people both personally and professionally. Navigating conflict and having the skills to resolve problems when they arise. Managing your time as the leader among other things will be taught to your chosen prospective employees.

Choose high potential employees

Every successful leader has some level of intuition. They can just spot someone out of a crowd and see they have more potential than the rest. If you see an employee you believe could be a leader, then look past their role and their rank. If it’s someone on a lower level in your business, then give them a chance to prove themselves. You never know when your diamond in the rough might appear.

For businesses wanting to carry on their excellence from generation to generation, it’s vital you protect your company culture internally.

Three Ways to Become a Better Leader

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|Three Ways to Become a Better LeaderLeaders are made and not born. That’s a saying that has stood the test of time and is true whether on the sports field or in the boardroom.

If you don’t consider yourself a natural leader but need to find ways to inspire your team on towards success, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we take a look at three great attributes of a leader, attributes you can learn as you go.

Step out of your comfort zone and start making a real difference to your business.

1 Get Organised

With your time, with your paperwork, with your approach and with the details, such as appointing your business immigration attorney. Seeing someone in control and on top of the details shows your team that you take them and their roles seriously.

Not being up to speed on their annual leave requests and so on, sends out a signal that you’re not interested or don’t care about the small details that mean a lot to them.

Instead, show them that you’re the kind of person who leads by example. Who is able to prioritise and who pays attention.

2 Lead, not Boss

This is where so many managers fall down. Quite simply you will get the best from your staff if you lead them, if you’re in the thick of it with them. Gone are the days of the boss sitting several floors up in a glass office away from the hub-bub. Now, you need to be available and to be involved.

Demonstrate your tenaciousness by driving forward sales and working to the best of your ability but also back your team. It’s true to say that sometimes things go wrong and people get things wrong but that doesn’t mean you then have to start throwing your weight around along with blame.

Instead work together to look for solutions and to move the situation forward. This is the kind of behaviour that will inspire loyalty and hard work.

3 Respect Boundaries

When work is over for the day, it’s over. Your team members should see you leading the way by leaving work at a consistent time and making it a priority to spend time with your family. Respect the home lives of your team members too and try to avoid having them spend too much time working late but instead encourage a healthy work/life balance.

You might even give them the option to work from home when childcare is an issue or the trains are not working as they should.

Being in charge is a tough role and a lot of responsibility lies on your shoulders, so give yourself time to grow and relish the role of becoming a leader. Treat your staff as your best asset and find ways to motivate and inspire them as they give their all and help you to achieve your business goals.

As you grow into your leadership role, your team will respond with even greater good will, so work together and become the leader you know you’re capable of becoming.

4 Guiding Principles That Serve as a Foundation for Leadership Success

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Success|4 Guiding Principles That Serve as a Foundation for Leadership SuccessEarly in my business career, I worked as a team leader on a high-level project. I had what I thought were great ideas, and I was excited to jump in and get started. I immediately doled out assignments, telling everyone exactly what to do and how to do it. Unfortunately, one of my team members disagreed with the vision that I tried to share.

I didn’t spend the time I should have explaining my reasoning and collaborating with my team to ensure that we all felt we were moving in the right direction. As a result, this lone team member did all they could to sabotage the project, and it was ultimately a failure.

Since then, I’ve come a long way, leading many successful and profitable companies, and I’ve learned a few things about the best way to do it. In fact, I have come up with a set of 4 guiding principles that have been successful for me many, many times over.

1. Trust

Trust is perhaps the most important principle in leadership. If you build trust within your organization, then it will run smoothly. I’ve learned through experience that micromanaging doesn’t work. If someone can do the job, and build that trust with me, they deserve to play an integral part in the company. If they don’t build that trust, they probably don’t belong in our organization. While everyone needs self-discipline, it can’t come from the top down. It has to come from personal ownership and pride in what they’re accomplishing.

2. Vision

Clear business goals are almost always the key to success in both the short and long-term. You need a clear vision of where you want to go, what you want to accomplish and how you will achieve it. Stephen R. Covey, someone I admired greatly, said, “If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.” This is true in both personal and organizational goals as a whole.

3. Unity

As my opening example illustrated, if everyone in your organization doesn’t share a unified goal, you will have a much tougher time reaching it. If someone doesn’t believe in the vision, they won’t give their best effort to push for that final destination. That is why it’s critical to spend the time and energy necessary to truly sell your vision inside your organization. Build that trust, and keep the end goal in mind as you go, and everyone is more likely to get behind you.

4. Execute the Vision With Kindness

People respond to the best kind of treatment. As you move forward with your vision, keep kindness at the forefront of all you do. Employees that are treated with respect are employees that will continue to respect both you and your vision.

I truly believe in these principles. Last year in one of my current ventures, we made building trust our internal priority for the entire year. We focused on extending trust to every employee in their role – giving guidance, then empowering them with what they needed to get their job done. From there – we let them find the best way to accomplish the company vision. Without the burden of micro-management, our sales improved by around 30%! It’s difficult to argue with that kind of success.

Building trust takes time and energy, but it is always worth it in the long run. With a foundation of trust, sharing a unified vision becomes easier. Respecting your employees can turn into expecting more from your employees – and because they trust you in return, they will rise to the occasion.


About the Author

Glenn JakinsGlenn Jakins is a serial entrepreneur with a multi-decade track record of taking creative ideas and turning them into successful products that change lives. With a strong background in logistics and operations, he has helped launch multiple 8-figure companies and been instrumental in the increase of tens of millions of dollars in sales for many more. Currently, in addition to other investment ventures, Glenn heads Humless as CEO, pioneering reliable power systems based on clean energy sources.