TEAMWORK & Team Leaders Should Play Favorites (but Only in Moderation)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: I’ve been an out-group member of a leadership team as well as an in-group member, and I can confirm what we all know: the latter is preferable. But why does this happen? It has to do with experiences that are embedded in our brains. The experiences foster “LMX” for “leader-member exchange” which can be stronger with certain people than others. But it will be helpful at times and hurtful at other times. Read this Harvard Business Review article to beginning learning the difference.

by Bradley Kirkman, Hui Wang, Ning Li and Yang Sui, Harvard Business Review, 4/10/17.

…But whether leaders think it or not, one of the most consistent findings in our (and others’) research is that almost all leaders do treat members differently — mostly without knowing they’re doing it. This works a lot like subconscious biases that, when revealed to people, almost always result in feelings of surprise and embarrassment. Leaders can’t help having implicit ideas and preferences for what they want their team members to do and to be like. And those preconceived notions lead to what researchers have called “differentiation” in the level of relationship quality leaders have with members, with relationship quality often referred to as “leader-member exchange,” or LMX for short.

When a leader and a follower share a high level of LMX, that follower typically exhibits the types of positive outcomes all leaders want to see, such as high performance, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior, or going above and beyond one’s typical job responsibilities. Those with high LMX are also more committed to their companies, more satisfied with their leaders, and less likely to quit their jobs. So if high LMX generates all of these positive outcomes, why don’t leaders build high LMX levels with all of their followers? We have already mentioned the effects of implicit leader preferences — a lot of differential treatment occurs naturally and without a great deal of conscious thought. Beyond the subconscious explanation, however, is one that is more practical: leaders today simply don’t have the time necessary to build high-quality relationships with everyone in their team. This is even more complicated in lean organizations, in which many leaders have responsibility for large teams (and often several teams at once).

Fortunately, research suggests that playing favorites can be healthy for motivating high performance in teams and individual members alike. In fact, the effects of LMX differentiation — or the extent to which leaders form relationships of different quality with members in the same team — can be positive for both team and individual outcomes, depending on whether certain conditions are present. For example, our colleagues Berrin Erdogan and Talya Bauer at Portland State University found that LMX differentiation has no effects or positive effects on individual team members as long as those team members perceive that their leaders have created a team climate characterized by fairness. That is, there are no effects or positive effects when leaders provide resources to team members using fair and unbiased decision-making procedures. Specifically, Erdogan and Bauer found that more LMX differentiation was associated with increased helping behaviors among team members when members believed they were working in a fair team climate. Similarly, Bob Liden of the University of Illinois at Chicago and his colleagues found that LMX differentiation was associated with higher team performance but only when there was a high level of coordination, communication, and integration within the teams (known as team interdependence).

Read more at … https://www.hbrascend.in/topics/team-leaders-should-play-favorites-but-only-in-moderation/

COMMUNICATION & 5 Ways to Motivate a Team

The 5 Communication Habits All Leaders Need to Motivate a Team” by Marcel Schwantes, Inc. Magazine, 1/18/17.

A global leadership study revealed that 85 percent of companies reported an urgent need to develop employees with leadership potential.

For this conversation, I’m going to simplify the practice of great leadership communication down to 5 principles.

1. Communicate in “we” rather than “I” or “you” language.

As a leader, you may not be consciously aware of the role language plays. It can build up or tear down your tribe. There are things you may choose to say that will either empower or disempower.

There are certain “I” or “you” statements you want to avoid, as it may come across as critical or bossy, as if employees are there to serve you and your needs, instead of the reverse. (If servant leadership is a new business concept for you, start here)…

2. Communicate with radical honesty…

Their HR team put together a Crucial Conversations®training that is rooted on radical honesty to step up and handle high-stakes issues to improve company-wide results.

Results were dramatic. Teams reported better synergy and team unity, and found new ways to help each other. Their sales team used the learned skills to drastically improve interactions with customers.

3. Communicate with the aim of developing trust first…

In his phenomenal book The Speed Of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey says that a team with high trust will produce results faster and at lower cost. But should you first earn the trust of your people? Or does trust develop from having a belief in your people first — their strengths, abilities, and commitment?

In other words, which of these two statements would you agree with?

A. Trust is something that people must earn.

B. Trust is something that should be given as a gift.

If you chose A, you’re in the majority. Conventional thinking says that people have to earn trust first, and if they violate that trust, it becomes difficult to earn it back, right? But if you selected B, pat yourself on the back. It has been found that, in healthy organizations, leaders are willing to give trust to their followers first, and they give it as a gift even before it’s earned.

4. Communicate through regular praise and recognition.

Did you know that receiving recognition is the most important performance motivator? It’s also a powerful way to get employees motivated

The companies in one large Gallup study that displayed the highest engagement levels use recognition and praise as powerful motivators to get employee commitment and loyalty.

Praise should be given once per week.

5. Communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Companies with leaders who “sweep things under the rug” will eventually be exposed as not trustworthy. The flip side is transparent and truth-telling leaderswho will explain current realities and bring everyone into the conversation for unity. Such leaders will win hearts and minds of loyal employees.

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/first-90-days-communication-habits-all-leaders-need-to-motivate-a-team.html

LEADERSHIP EVALUATION & Are You A Good Boss? Test Yourself With These 5 Questions

by Lisa Quast, Forbes Magazine, 1/2/17.

… A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that 50 percent had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their life at some point in their career.

Poor people management skills also negatively affect employee happiness and productivity, with managers accounting for up to 70% of variance in employee engagement scores.

Want to find out how good you are as a people manager? See how many of these five questions you can answer with “yes.”

Have you clearly defined and communicated the vision and strategy for your group, department or organization?

Have you worked with each employee to help him or her understand the role they play in contributing to the success of the organization?
According to a Robert Half Management Resources survey, 53 percent of workers are unable to make the connection between their day-to-day duties and how they impact the company’s financials.

Do you meet regularly with each employee for progress discussions?

… This doesn’t mean meeting once a year with employees to provide performance feedback – it means holding regularly scheduled two-way communication sessions, providing ongoing feedback year-round, giving credit where it is due, and being unafraid to have difficult conversations.

Do you empower your employees to succeed by delegating challenging and meaningful work?

People want to succeed and they want to continue learning. If you don’t provide opportunities for growth and help employees build on their strengths, then you won’t be viewed as a good people leader.

Do you recognize great work?

This doesn’t mean throwing out a “nice job” comment every now and then. Backhanded compliments – an insult disguised as a compliment – also don’t count. Recognizing great work means providing recognition and rewards that reinforce positive behavior, increases employees’ sense of progress and keep them motivated.

Read more at … http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2017/01/02/are-you-a-good-boss-test-yourself-with-these-5-questions/#5571004c3de9

STRESS & Good Leaders Model Well-being Practices #TakeTimeOff

“Help Your Team Manage Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout” by Rich Fernandez, Harvard Business Review, 1/21/16.

… Model and encourage well-being practices.

Worker stress levels are rising, with over half of the global workforce (53%) reporting that they are closer to burnout than they were just five years ago, according to a Regus Group survey of over 22,000 business people across 100 countries. And while stress can be contagious, the converse is also true: when any member of a team experiences well-being, the effect seems to spread across the entire team. According to a recent Gallup research report that surveyed 105 teams over six three-month periods, individual team members who reported experiencing well-being were 20% more likely to have other team members who also reported thriving six months later. Takeaway: understand and prioritize activities that promote well-being for yourself and your team. They could include such things as offering personal development tools, like mindfulness and resilience training; explicitly encouraging people to take time for exercise or other renewal activities, such as walking meetings; or building buffer time into deliverables calendars so that people can work flexibly and at a manageable pace.

Allow time to disconnect outside of work.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, workers around the world spend 34 to 48 hours at work each week on average, and many engage in work or related activities after business hours. McKinsey Quarterlysuggests that “always-on, multitasking work environments are killing productivity, dampening creativity, and making us unhappy.” And one of the most significant findings in employee pulse surveys that I’ve seen in companies large and small is that employees have an exceptionally hard time disconnecting from work…

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2016/01/help-your-team-manage-stress-anxiety-and-burnout

STO LEADERSHIP & My Answers to Questions About STO Leaders: Strategic, Tactical & Operational

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 9/25/15.

I have written extensively on the importance of team building with complimentary leaders, including creating a questionnaire to help you find your leadership mix.  Called STO Leadership (Strategic, Tactical and Operational Leaders) a student asked important deeper questions about it. Below are my answers which help expand (with his good questions) the importance of understanding Strategic-Tactical-Operational leadership.

Here are the questions from the student, with my answers embedded in them.

Student:  Do tactical leaders have to have equal or exceeding competency as the operational leaders they are leading in the given subject?  (I would lean toward, ‘no’)

Whitesel:  Tactical leaders are good at analysis, usually more than content. Thus, they enjoy balancing either bank statements or cultural/evangelical mandates.  Therefore, analysis trumps content, so no they do not have to have exceeding (or even equal competency) in a given subject with the leaders they are leading.

Student: I have a suspicion that strategic leaders are also not the best at developing new leaders.  So, when I read Nelson’s article I find a difficult time figuring out what to do about it.  Just last night someone on my board said, “we need to disciple these people, how are we going to do it?”  I just drew a blank.  She was right, but I didn’t know what to say.  Not because I didn’t want to do it – I just can’t figure the process.

Whitesel: Right, the process often is beyond the strategic leader’s skills. That is why strategic leaders need tactical leaders as their closest partners.

Student: Some of these principles in Nelson’s article just won’t fly in an established small church.  I have attempted to employ some of these things (like holding volunteers accountable) and it blew up in a huge way.  The people may not have thought me ‘wrong’ but they did think me ‘mean.’  In a family church structure – peace is more important than production.

Whitesel: Strategic leaders are not good at holding people accountable (neither are tactical leaders).  For example, a strategic leader on a board may say, “Joe and Mary aren’t around much anymore and they seem dissatisfied.  I think we should ask them to resign from the administrative board if they are not going to support our mission.” The tactical leader on the board replies, “They haven’t given money in a month, and I’ve noticed they’ve been absence four out of the past five Sundays.”  As a result the board votes to ask for Joe and Mary’s resignation.  What is happening is that an operational leader is missing, to be the go-between between the S and T leaders and the workers.

Student: This read helps me put people like Nouwen into perspective.  I have a hunch, and I may be completely wrong, that he is a strategic leader.  When I read his writings it seems he has a difficult time prescribing process and practicality.  Wonderful matters and paints a beautiful picture of the Christian in his book “In the Name of Jesus” – but what really does he want people to do?

Whitesel: Exactly, at a conference I was listening to a very strategic thinker-author one day and another one the next.  Their speeches are largely one “catch phrase” after another.  I don’t think many pastors were getting ideas that would help back home.

Student: To verify what Whitesel shared about a strong focus on strategic leadership to the neglect of tactical I checked out the DVD’s to the 2007 leadership summit put on by Hybels and gang.  The messages from 2007 include the following:  “Vision to Die For,” “Strategy and Leadership,” “Living for the Greater Good,” “Building Humanity,” and “Whatever You Do, Inspire Me.”  These are all strategy/vision appealing messages.  I think those that are more tactical oriented are just not popular by attendees, and they are presented by speakers who are brought back perennially.  I know I have left feeling more inspired than equipped.

Whitesel:  Well said, “more inspired than equipped.”  😉

TEAMWORK & When to Give Feedback in a Group and When to Do It One-on-One

… Give feedback in a team setting when:

  • One or more team members are experiencing negative consequences caused by other team members.
  • Team members are the source of the feedback.
  • The issue involves most of the team.

… Give feedback one-on-one when:

  • Other team members are not being affected by the behavior and have no information to provide.
  • You want to help the team member prepare for receiving team feedback or coach the team member after receiving feedback from other team members.

… Underlying this approach is the principle that team members are accountable for giving feedback directly to those with whom they are interdependent. Apart from team members doing their own work, this is the most basic form of team accountability. Leaders are continually exhorting their employees to work as a team and to be accountable to the team. But, if you always provide the feedback, you take away the opportunity for your direct reports to develop this essential skill, and you undermine the accountability required to function as a team.

If you’re thinking that it makes sense to give feedback on team issues in a team setting, but you’re concerned that your team doesn’t have the skills to do this, you’re not alone. Many leaders share this concern. You can begin changing this by talking with your team about how you expect team members to be accountable to each other — not just to you or the larger organization. If you share your expectations for your direct reports, agree on how you’ll work together, and give your team the skills to meet the agreed-upon expectation, you’ll find that problems get addressed sooner, fewer issues land on your own desk, and your team becomes a more productive, cohesive unit.

Read more at … https://hbr.org/2015/08/when-to-give-feedback-in-a-group-and-when-to-do-it-one-on-one

LEADERSHIP & 6 Things Real Leaders Don’t Do (Like Boss People Around) #ForbesMagazine

by Lynn Ryan, Forbes Magazine, 10/8/15.

People get hired or promoted into leadership roles every day. Sadly, when they get the job they may get little or no training on how to lead a team…

No one tells them “The trick to leadership is to have people want to do a good job — not to please you, but for themselves!” The greatest power source on earth is a team of people who are energized around a common goal…

Real Leaders Don’t Boss People Around

What kinds of obstacles could slow people down and frustrate them? Bureaucratic processes are a big problem in many if not most organizations.

A good manager is willing to take on stupid processes and get rid of them, or soften them or figure out a way to work around them so his or her team can keep winning…

Real Leaders Don’t Bark Out Orders

Real leaders don’t bark out orders. They may have a goal in mind, and when they do they’ll say “Jane, you’re the expert. If we can get that pricing model completed this month we’ll be able to launch it at the sales meeting next month.

“Does that sound like something we can do? What do you need from me to make it easy for you to reach that goal?”…

Real Leaders Don’t Second-Guess Their Team Members

…Often the reason that people pad the dates on their schedules is that they’ve learned through harsh experience that when they honestly say “I can have that done by Friday” a poor manager will say “Then get it to me by Wednesday.”

If you don’t trust your teammates, that means you don’t trust yourself to hire trustworthy people. That’s your problem, not theirs!

Real Leaders Don’t Blame Their Employees When Something Goes Wrong

… It is easy and tempting to diagnose an employee with all sorts of problems and to characterize him or her as lazy or careless, but you hired Jack. You trained him. Until you take responsibility for Jack’s difficulties, you’ll stay frustrated and you won’t learn a thing.

Real Leaders Don’t Bring the Hammer Down Right Away

Real leaders don’t turn to disciplinary measures at the first sign of trouble. They ask questions, thoughtfully and compassionately, instead. They look for gaps in an employee’s understanding of his or her job….

Read more at … http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2015/08/08/six-things-real-leaders-dont-do-like-boss-people-around/