don’t put your employees in the hospital!

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

“Simply put, employers can make decisions to improve people’s lives in fundamentally important ways. Or, alternatively, employers can, either intentionally or through ignorance and neglect, create workplaces that literally sicken and kill people.”

(Pfeffer, 2018)

This quote is one of the many that stopped me dead in my tracks. To realize that the quality of our leadership can literally put people in the hospital or improve the quality of their lives is very sobering. The subtitle of the book is arresting as well – How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance – and What We Can Do About It. Sure, we managers are all about organizational performance (which is important by the way!), but too often the way we are leading is not only detrimental to organizational performance, more importantly, it is detrimental to the very health of the people we are leading.

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and is the author or co-author of 15 books – so he is well qualified to address this subject. Following is a sampling of some “brutal facts” from his book that illustrate our need to become better leaders.

  • “The American Institute of Stress maintains that job stress costs US employers more than $3oo billion annually. The ill-health from workplace stress adversely affects productivity and drives up voluntary turnover.”
  • “In total, workplace environments in the US may be responsible for 120,000 excess deaths per year-which would make workplaces the 5th leading cause of death, and account for about $180 billion in additional health-care expenditures, approximately 8% of the total; health-care spending.”
  • “According to the Mayo Clinic, the person you report to at work is more important for your health than your family doctor. – Bob Chapman”
  • “Simply put, employers can make decisions to improve people’s lives in fundamentally important ways. Or, alternatively, employers can, either intentionally or through ignorance and neglect, create workplaces that literally sicken and kill people.

These statistics should be a clarion call to action for us as leaders.

Continue reading BG’s post on Coachwell’s site by clicking here

humility in the workplace – a self-awareness issue

What does “humility in the workplace” mean? Why is it important?

For many, the word humility has many connotations. Some are very positive and some not so positive. It seems some people equate humility to weakness and being a “doormat”. I beg to differ from that view of humility. In true humility, there is great strength.

Regarding humility in the workplace, for me it means – An objective understanding, an awareness, of the strengths a person brings to an organization as well as an objective understanding, an awareness, of their gaps – their weaknesses or gaps in knowledge – thus an understanding of their need for others to be effective.

A proper understanding of humility results in an understanding of people’s need for others to be effective in their role in the organization (and life in general). That understanding should result in someone who greatly values collaboration and understands the need to be a good teammate at work.

Humility in the workplace is not weaknesses – it is a strength and wisdom.

Do you want to be more effective – try some humility at work (works at home as well!)

Have a great day!
BG

 

6 questions leaders must answer

Much is written about how to use questions to lead; about how leaders need to be asking the right questions of those they lead.

However, one key aspect of leadership, is answering questions for the people that you are leading. In one of my favorite organizational health books, The Advantagemy favorite organizational health / business author, Patrick Lencioni, lists “Six Critical Questions”. These six questions must be answered by leaders of organizations for their followers if they want to optimize the performance of their organization.

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important, right now?
  6. Who must do what?

So, how are you answering those questions for your organization?

I hope it is a tremendous week for you!
BG

How Healthy Is Your Organization?

“The American workforce has more than 100 million full-time employees. One-third of those employees are what Gallup calls engaged at work. They love their jobs and make their organization and America better every day. At the other end, 16% of employees are actively disengaged—they are miserable in the workplace and destroy what the most engaged employees build. The remaining 51% of employees are not engaged—they’re just there.

“These figures indicate an American leadership philosophy that simply doesn’t work anymore.” (Clifton)

“After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are.” (Lencioni)

“The most important decisions that executives make are people decisions.” (Drucker)

We have an organizational health problem in this country that is undermining the effectiveness of our organizations in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. The implications are far reaching in that it affects the overall health of this country economically, it affects the communities where organizations operate, and it affects the health of individual employees and their families.

The cause of the problem, and the solution, rests with those leading those organizations at the C-Suite and Board levels.

Many leaders of organizations have come through the business education system and are well schooled in the “hard science” aspects of running organizations. They know how to produce and read financial reports, develop strategic plans, manage supply chains, produce sales forecasts, ensure they are complying with human resources regulations, and all the other aspects of running an organization that are so important.

As important as good systems and processes are to a well-run organization, we have to embrace the fact that the health of the people in our organizations is more important than our strategies and systems. I once worked for an incredibly successful businessman who made the statement that there was no need for customer satisfaction surveys – what was needed was employee satisfaction surveys. His position was that if you have satisfied employees, you have satisfied customers. Put another way – if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.

Leaders have to learn to think differently about the people of their organizations realizing they are individuals with fears and hopes. It is up to us to take a deep look at our organizational culture and to start making the needed changes. Often it starts with looking in the mirror. It is up to us to first change our mindset.

It’s not really that complicated, but it is hard work. It begins with truly caring about the people in your organization. Do you see them as obstacles, means to an end, or as persons? Start with how you view others and go from there.

In summary is a quote attributed to Peter Drucker—“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

BG Allen
Executive Coach
Coachwell Inc.

Sources:
Clifton, Jim “State of the American Workplace Report” (p. 2). Gallup (2017)
Lencioni, Patrick M. The Advantage, Enhanced Edition: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business (pp. 8-9). Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition
Peter Drucker, http://creativefollowership.com/the-most-important-decisions/

the grunt part of leadership

Often, when I hear people talk of leading others it is about the perks of being a leader. However, there are a few things about leadership to remember:

  1. It’s not about you
  2. Others are more important than your comfort
  3. It is about sacrifice
  4. It is about courage in the face of adversity
  5. It is about humility in the face of success
  6. It is about serving others, seeking their good before you seek your own

One thing bears repeating – It is not about you!

BG

leadership development works!

Do you have a leader development plan in place in your organization? If not, you need to and soon.

First of all – it works. See the graph below from the Chief Learning Officer magazine. It is in an article by William C. Byham

One of the biggest findings of the study was, contrary to the negativity, leadership development really does work: 82 percent of managers, peers and direct reports of people trained cited higher frequency of observed positive leadership behaviors among leaders after they had completed development courses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time and again, the research shows that investing into the people of our organizations pays dividends from happier employees, stronger organizational culture, happier customers, to higher profits, and long-term sustainability. Yet, either we don’t ever get around to investing in the people we lead or it is the first thing that is cut if we get busy or try to cut costs.

Why do we do this? Doesn’t make sense to me.

BG

leader versus manager?

Managers are receiving a bad rap in my opinion. I enjoy learning and sharing about leadership, so I keep up fairly well with the current literature. Additionally, I have been an adjunct professor at the graduate level for about 14 years often teaching on leadership using various texts.

I have seen a bit of a disturbing trend in the literature in that it sends, or implies, the message of “Leaders = Good, Managers = Bad“.  People are encouraged “don’t be a manager, be a leader!” as if managers are not leaders. That is the wrong message!

The contrast is actually about being a good boss (leader) versus a bad boss (leader).

Managers are leaders, supervisors are leaders! Without managers and supervisors we would never get anything done! They are the team leaders of the people actually getting the work done.

What we really have are:

Strategic Leaders (Executives) – setting vision, direction, and strategy

Operational Leaders (Directors & Senior Managers)- coordinating the work of multiple tactical level teams in order to execute the strategy set by the strategic leaders.

Tactical Leaders (Managers & Supervisors) – tactical level leaders that are leading the teams of people actually doing the work of the organization.

So, please do not diminish the critical role of managers by contrasting them negatively to the term leader. Managers are leaders!

ACTS – an acrostic for leaders

Dave Kraft is a wise man and was my former leadership coach. In an excellent post he talks about the application of ACTS in a particular situation and this post is a worthwhile read in my opinion.

So, let’s look at ACTS in a general sense and how a leader might apply it to their life.

A – ACCOUNTABLE: Are you truly accountable to someone(s) in your life? Truly accountable? Is someone willing to ask you the hard questions and pursue you until you deal with those questions? Are they willing to challenge questionable behaviors in your life?

C – CONFESSIONAL: Do you confess and own your sin or do you try to shift the blame? Mature leaders accept rebuke, confess their sin, and own their sin.

T – TEACHABLE: Are you teachable as a leader? Are you willing to receive honest inquiries from those you lead? And others? Do you realize that there are many people smarter than you and some of them are on the team you lead?

S – SUSTAINABLE: Is the pace you are setting for your team sustainable? Are your expectations realistic? Are you providing the resources to your team that they need to meet your expectations? What about your team’s work-life balance?

Here is how Dave applies ACTS:

1. Good and genuine accountability, coupled with vulnerability and transparency.
2. A clear value in keeping short accounts, with sin being quickly confessed and owned.
3. An attitude of being teachable and open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
4. A culture of pacing that is realistic and sustainable, resulting in good morale and joy.

Now, how can you apply ACTS in your life?

BG

candor is important for successful feedback – Ed Catmull

Candor quote

cooperation vs. collaboration

“Collaboration: being fully assertive and fully cooperative – at the same time” – Ambassador Enterprises, LLC

One thing I learned at AE was the value of collaboration and that it was often fiery and unpleasant; full of conflict with strong and intelligent people going at it over an idea. But the beautiful thing was that they weren’t trying to win an argument – they were trying to find the best solution for the problem at hand. It had nothing to do with their relationships / friendships – it was about doing their very best – as a team – to arrive at the best solution.

Following is part of an article from Harvard Business Review on how managers mistake cooperativeness for collaboration:

Having worked with hundreds of managers over the years, I’ve seen that very few admit to being poor collaborators, mostly because they mistake their cooperativeness for being collaborative. And indeed, most managers are cooperative, friendly, and willing to share information — but what they lack is the ability and flexibility to align their goals and resources with others in real time. Sometimes this starts at the top of the organization when senior leaders don’t fully synchronize their strategies and performance measures with each other. More often, however, the collaboration challenge resides with department heads, product leaders, and major initiative managers who need to get everyone on the same page – and shouldn’t wait for senior executives to force the issue for them.

Collaboration is hard work, but necessary if you want your organization to rise above being mediocre.

BG