When I work with leaders at all levels in organisations I am reminded frequently of how easy it is for leaders to create the results they do not want. The myths of what makes a great leader are constantly being rewritten.
“A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence—and to lead—is to begin with warmth. Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small nonverbal signals—a nod, a smile, an open gesture—can show people that you’re pleased to be in their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritising warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them”. (Harvard Business Review: Any J.C Cuddy, Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger)
Research by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman showed in a study of 51,836 leaders, only 27 of them were rated in the bottom quartile in terms of likability and in the top quartile in terms of overall leadership effectiveness—in other words, the chances that a manager who is strongly disliked will be considered a good leader are only about one in 2,000.
How do leaders access their ability to engage and really understand the people who deliver for the organisation daily? Focusing on competency, knowledge and experience is only one aspect of leadership. Look at this list of positive traits and behaviours that help leaders engage and connect with their people in a normal day to day conversation:
- Knowing that they have really listened because they have learned something new
- Shifted their perspective from being right to being curious
- Being aware of own defensiveness signals when challenged
- Knowing own default behaviour patterns and how they impact on others – what happens to own response when the stakes are high?
- Having the confidence to see and name what is going on in a conversation – address the elephant in the room
- Having the ability to incorporate the loyalties and values of others into decision making and mobilisation of strategy
- Taking the time to stop and bring one’s whole self to the practice of leadership – seeking and acting on feedback, observing what is going on around you
Because leaders spend a significant time in conversation (every conversation is an opportunity to lead) understanding our own behavioural tendencies and being able to understand the tendencies of others is an essential skill. At the Houston Exchange let us help you to engage hearts and mind and manage the balance between providing Psychological Safety (“a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.” Amy Edmondson) and holding people Accountable.
Do you want your people to voice what they think and feel, challenge with respect and be aligned to the decisions that are made in the organisation? Conversation is at the heart of Leaders connecting with their people and developing real relationships. Change the dynamic of the conversations that are happening in the workplace by creating a climate of trust, where conflict and challenge are welcomed and everyone is treated with respect.
We do this using David Kantor’s Behavioural Profile Tool where individual leaders and teams learn more about their own patterns and expressions of communication. We use your profile data to help raise awareness and help you develop a wider conversational repertoire resulting in the ability to:
- Intervene more effectively and efficiently when unhelpful patterns of behaviour are observed
- Know how own communication preferences impact within the group/team
- Identify areas where a team/group have the potential to get “stuck” when in conversation
- Surface potential unknown issues that the team can proactively and collectively work towards resolution
- Shift the focus from just gaining agreement to authentic collaboration
- Obtain real buy in to change goals as “conversations outside the room” become a thing of the past
- Move from politeness (saying what we are expected to say) to Dialogue (increased honesty and respect).
Having this heightened awareness of self and others, I genuinely believe, gives Leaders the edge and supports greater tolerance, compassion and empathy in the workplace. What can be bad about that?
Read more at: Take the baseline profile