As Leaders We Get What We Create or Allow

Sigmund Freud, so the story goes, went to his grave perplexed by the question “What do women want?” I wonder if it ever occurred to Freud to simply ask a woman. In business, puzzled leaders do ask their employees what they want in forms of employee satisfaction and engagement surveys. However, most organizational leaders do little with the answers they get from these employee surveys.

Employee attitude, satisfaction, and engagement surveys are indeed useful tools, and the intent behind their administration is admirable, but many of these surveys reveal little useful information to help increase engagement and drive performance in the organization. Part of the problem is technical. The questions are not suitable for their purpose or are not clearly worded. Often the survey tool itself is unwieldy to use, the participation rate is too low, or the answers cannot be compared to or measured against past results. The other part of the problem is behavioural.

Even when the survey instrument is effective and the results are fully informative, many leaders do not develop and implement changes or respond to specific comments provided by organizational members. Too often, some leaders give a token acknowledgement of people’s participation, but overall their attitude conveyed to many team members is “Be thankful you have a job.”

Many leaders do not take seriously the workplace barriers and emotional burdens their workplace cultures create. They fail to actively listen to and learn from their people’s concerns. Their survey efforts become a way to appease employees or to follow industry standards, not to genuinely change the disruptive working conditions or improve the quality of life for their people. Engagement is the level of personal investment each person brings to the workplace predicated on two factors: a positive and supportive work culture and a positive and supportive relationship with their leader. To any degree that these two factors are sub-optimized in the experience and perspective of the individual, engagement declines and a performance deficit ensues. Here is the simple truth: Employees can tell the difference between authentic leaders and those who are simply trying to fake it to make it. This distinction is apparent in the way people behave and interact with others, and no amount of regular surveys can convince employees that their leaders care enough about them to pay attention to their problems.

Far too often, employees receive attention only when their performance or behaviour causes a problem – a symptom indicative of a disengaged team member. The leader then comes to deliver a reprimand or discipline. This kind of attention is unwelcome and unpleasant to both parties and it conditions employees to think that only time they have contact with the boss or with management is when something goes wrong. Paying attention should entail much more than this narrow circumstance. It should be done when everything is going great to reinforce positive behaviours and performance as well.

How can leaders pay closer attention to team member’s behaviour so they build a more positive connection with them? You may begin with the following strategies:
• Hold listening sessions in which small groups of employees or managers (or both) meet with you to discuss their ideas and concerns. The goal is to receive information, not to defend your position or introduce changes.

• Observe, watch, or shadow employees. The goal is to learn about and witness the daily challenges, not to critique or micromanage the work.

• Ensure that existing policies and standards reflect existing practice and realities. The goal is to eliminate outdated and ineffective approaches, not to create additional processes.

• Be visible on every unit and attend employee events. The goal is to show that that you are accessible and approachable, not to assert your importance in the organization.

Your significance as a leader (maximizing engagement and driving performance) is inextricably linked to your ability to connect with people. You can connect with followers in a number of ways, but all approaches must be characterized by trust, meaning, and caring. Experiences or interactions that are more focused on tasks than on people will be perceived negatively. Negative experiences for team members accumulate and ultimately erode your connection and your leadership effectiveness. Positive experiences, on the other hand, increase your influence and enable you to sustain the connection.

Influential leaders are highly practiced with the skill of ‘Positive Presence’ and it places them in a position to model positive behaviour and create positive experiences in their relationships. Positive experiences and emotional connections with people are what make you a highly effective influential leader.

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Taking Advantage of Conflict and Confrontation

The presence of highly developed positive neuronal connections among leaders and team members does not mean the absence of conflict and confrontation. On the contrary, a culture that embraces collaboration and connection welcomes constructive conflict and confrontation. The operative word here is constructive, as this kind of conflict or confrontation is purposeful and helps the team in several ways, such as building commitment, talking candidly about challenges, revealing points of behavioural and performance weakness, and examining solutions and new approaches. Constructive confrontation and conflict reveal authenticity – there is no “fake it to make it” in relationships and trust can grow significantly as a result. Even so, this constructive type of conflict and confrontation makes the best of us anxious, and we avoid engaging these situations for various reasons, that include the following:

1. Conflict and confrontation force us to be accountable. The core of a conflict or confrontation within a team is the question: “Are you doing what you promised to do?” This “promise keeping” question is intended to keep the team members honest so that they can maintain focus, take personal responsibility, manage behaviour, and achieve their goal. The problems with this question are that (1) no one likes to ask it, and (2) no one likes to be asked it; the question can make people feel judged and pressured in the absence of trust and authenticity.

2. Conflict and confrontation give us honest feedback. We are more emboldened during a conflict or a confrontation. Thus, we are not hesitant to speak our mind about the person with whom we are in conflict or about the situation over which we have a problem. This feedback can reveal to us how other people experience us through our behaviour and how that experience influences their perception of us. As positive and constructive this behaviour experience can be, these personal revelations can make us feel uncomfortable and we can choose to avoid them.

All great relationships require constructive conflict and confrontation to grow and thrive. Influential leaders orchestrate the culture in which people can be energized, engaged, and fully aware of their meaningful contributions to the enterprise. Much of the personal and organizational benefits of such a culture can be negated if we avoid constructive conflict and confrontation. Remember this – positive conflict avoidance is negative conflict guaranteed. If you do not want to endure the toxic aspects of negative conflict then you must have the courage to engage in positive confrontation and constructive conflict. Doing so reflects a truly enlightened leader and is evident in all high performing teams.

The ability to overcome this fear can be achieved taking the following steps:
1. Reconnect with the purpose of the organization. The stated purpose of the organization, the “why” factor, is to be of service to a great number of people, not to forward one group’s interests. When we avoid strategies (like constructive conflict and confrontation) that enable the purpose of an organization to be fulfilled, we invite not only disruptions but also harm. For example, the collision of two 747 airplanes at the airport in the Canary Islands, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, and countless fatal medical errors, all occurred because people who knew something was wrong did not speak up appropriately and persistently. When we reconnect with the primary meaning and purpose of our work, we can gain clarity, courage, conviction, and commitment. These ideals then drive us to pursue constructive conflict and confrontation, which help us make better decisions.

2. View conflict and confrontation as positive rather than negative. The key is to be intentional and deliberate. Generally, people’s mental model about conflict is set to “fight or flight” – that is, we run from it if we cannot fight it. And when we stay to fight, we often (if not always) lose, so we choose not to be bothered at all. This mind-set prevents us from considering a third option: See conflict and confrontation as allies, not as enemies. When our mind regards conflict and confrontation as helpful, we change our emotional reaction and their emotional impact on us.

3. Get out of the way and let constructive conflict and confrontation do their job. According to Patrick Lencioni, the leader should enable their people to work out their own problems: “It is key that leaders demonstrate restraint when their people engage in confrontation, and allow resolution to occur naturally, as messy as it can get sometimes.” Kerry Patterson and colleagues suggest in their book Crucial Confrontations that constructive confrontation is essential to organizational relationships, growth, and prosperity, particularly when it involves people who are at different levels: “We really perked up when the person was about to confront a leader who was more powerful – say a supervisor going head to head with a vice-president. And if the person had a reputation for being highly aggressive or even abusive, we couldn’t wait to see what happened.”

Learning the skill of Positive Presence and practicing the skill of Positive Presence will equip you with the necessary behaviour and thought habits to ensure you can successfully navigate even the most difficult conflict and confrontation.

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Why We Behave the Way We Do

A fundamental principle, what one might call a natural law, is that people choose to act and behave based on what they believe to be true about how they see the world around them. Neuroscience research substantiates this claim. The human brain functions in a pattern recognition system. Patterning is phenomenally strong and we create a “confirmation bias” to accept outside inferences and influences that match the patterns we have created for how we choose to see the world in which we live. As a result, your brain works very hard to defend your current habits, even toxic and destructive ones.

Behind our thoughts are our assumptions, the source for the way we think and act. We have acquired these assumptions throughout our lifetime, and as we collect them and file them away, we rarely bring them back to the surface level of our consciousness. This is fundamentally why leaders can have little, direct effect on the performance of their team members. Leaders must influence positive neuronal connections with the brains of their people so accountability systems that include self-awareness, self-management, and behaviour-based expectations of individual performance can drive achievement of organizational objectives and results.

Imposing outward controls to change individual behaviour provides only a short-term “quick fix” that is not linked to how the brains of people actually function. Once the force of the external constraint, whether negative consequence or positive incentive, loses its effectiveness, individuals will revert to behaviour driven by the assumptions of the internal drivers, mental models, focus frames, cognitive, confirmation biases and the hard-wiring of pre-existing neuronal pathways. Consequently, to be truly effective in our responsibility to those we lead, we must:
• clearly establish the standards and desired results we expect in behaviour;
• identify clearly for struggling employees why their behaviour does not meet those standards and expectations;
• hold these employees accountable and get them to acknowledge their need to change; and
• if they fail to change, remove them from the organization.

This is the most challenging aspect of the coaching and counseling process. To adequately acknowledge the need to change my behaviour, I must be compelled to search for, examine and question those unconscious assumptions I have buried deep in the recesses of my mind. I must challenge the prevailing patterns I have acquired and formed over time and life experiences and replace them with more positive, effective and productive neuronal connections also referred to as “habit loop” patterns. This neuroscience truth about how the human brain functions explains why so much coaching and counseling is ineffective in bringing about internal and lasting change to employees with performance and behaviour problems.

At this stage of the process, most employees will say whatever they think is necessary to get out of the counseling session and do whatever is necessary to keep their jobs. They modify their behaviour to your expectation until doing so becomes too much of a burden. This stress is caused when their modified, external behaviour is not in alignment with their internal understanding of how they choose to act and how they choose to see the world around them. Once that burden becomes too hard to bear, they revert back to following their internal drivers (old patterns) and their toxic behaviour and poor performance returns to the workplace. This cycle of inner dissonance is also a primary cause of performance burnout manifested with the failure to achieve the primary motivational drivers of
the person.

When this pattern emerges with an employee, the only question remaining is how long you will continue to invest time in someone who is disruptive to your work place culture. Firing often isn’t necessary: Our practical work experience suggests that when struggling employees get the sense that you are serious about accountability, they will exercise their freedom of choice and decide they do not want to work for an organization where they are held accountable for their behaviour. The other alternative is you discover highly talented people who are underperforming because the current state of their brain is in self-preservation mode related to undisclosed fear. These people can recover higher brain function leading to higher levels of performance with adequate coaching and become a valued asset to your organization.

Not Making the Choice to Change
Change – whether personal or organizational – is not easy. It is a journey that takes many years and involves many people, but as the Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.”

Despite the clear and compelling reasons demonstrated and validated in research, behaviour change is still a distinct challenge for many leaders. It is not a decision to which they make a commitment immediately. In fact, some leaders do not even see the need for behaviour change. They are convinced that other people are the problem, as if these leaders can manage (let alone lead) without other people.

The truth is that none of us, regardless of how high performing and high achieving we are currently, is immune to poor behaviour and poorer judgment. It is easy to give in to toxic behaviours because we are inundated by them every day, but it is hard to erase their effects on our reputation and on the neuronal connections we have with others that either creates an environment of commitment and engagement or detracts from it.

Once you make the choice to change your behaviour, do not get discouraged. Use as many tools as
possible to help you, and conduct a self-examination before, during, and after your transformation. Deliberately develop your skill of Positive Presence, an innovative thought model connecting workplace behaviour to human energy and easily learned through a systematic, programmatic methodology for equipping leaders with the knowledge and understanding necessary for developing and sustaining the behaviour skills needed for influential leadership.

The good news is that you are most likely already practicing many of the approaches discussed here. Now all you need to do is hone your approach every day to build even stronger connections. This is not rocket science but it is brain science and that is worth thinking about today.

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Three Skill Sets to Drive Your Leadership Performance

There is nothing more destructive to an organization than a leader who is out of touch. You have to remain relevant. There is no doubt our world has changed; a lot of it for the better. Our workforces have also changed in the cultural adaptations of how we treat women and minorities with dramatic and positive change. If you haven’t yet adapted to these realities as a leader in the forms of jokes, condescending phrases, and other unacceptable cultural norms you are heading for troubled waters. Are you prepared to accept the personal and professional consequences of knowingly or unknowingly
demeaning the inherent value of another human being? Yet behaviour lapses time and time again show us that the inability or unwillingness to adapt and stay relevant to these changes reveal leadership weakness that lead to irresolvable damage to team unity, team cohesion, and team performance. Following are three foundational skills sets every leader should hone to develop high level behaviour performance to maximize highly effective relationships with team members.

1.Develop a Learner’s Attitude
Success in every dimension of life is related to your ability to connect with others. It is also true that your success is directly related to your ability and willingness to learn, to change, to adapt, and to grow. Relationships by their nature require constant and consistent tending. The quality of care you put into these relationships translates into either a negative or a positive behaviour experience for other people. When leaders share meaningful learning experiences with their employees, they gain empathy and compassion for the people doing the work of the organization. Consequently the compassion and respect experienced by team members drives levels of employee engagement to higher levels. (See Harvard Business Review, “Power Can Corrupt Leaders. Compassion Can Save Them,” Hougaard, Carter, Chester, February 15, 2018.)

2. Develop Humility
In their book, Laws of Lifetime Growth, Dan Sullivan and Catherine Nomura, write about the connection between humility and leadership influence: “Only a small percentage of people are continually successful over the long run. These outstanding few recognize that every success comes through the assistance of many other people—and they are continually grateful for this support.”

No one person wins alone regardless of the level of individual talent. Humility is a leadership character trait that Good to Great author Jim Collins identified in what he calls “Level 5 leadership.” Collins and his team identified that level 5 leaders always accept blame for mistakes and give away all praise for success to others – a habit they call “the Window and the Mirror.” As a leader, can you give up what you believe is your right to finding fault with others, accept personal accountability and responsibility for the stewardship obligation you have as a leader? Can you be open to receiving candid and honest feedback about your own behaviour and its impact on those you lead? Can you become excited about letting others help you learn about your own habits to improve the effectiveness of your leadership influence?

3. Develop Selflessness
In the book, High Altitude Leadership, Chris Warner and Don Schmincke discuss the debilitating toll selfishness takes on companies. They call the destructive and unproductive condition of selfishness “dangerous, unproductive, dysfunctional behaviour” or DUD behaviour. Using real-life climbing experiences of the world’s tallest summits, the authors demonstrate eight dangers that not only can cost you your life on a mountain but derail your organizational strategy as well. Selfishness is one of these dangers. Selfishness, the disregard for the welfare and the needs of others, will prevent you from reaching the highest levels of your performance. Selflessness, putting the needs of others ahead of your own, is essential to creating and sustaining positive and supportive connections with your team. It fuels your performance success.

Acquiring new skills also requires learning and change — one cannot learn and still be the same person, team, or organization. There is a constant evolution in the way we think and act, brought about by new understanding, new knowledge, and new skills. When you are ready to change, start with the skill of Positive Presence, an innovative thought model connecting workplace behaviour to human energy and provides a systematic, programmatic methodology for equipping leaders with the knowledge and understanding necessary for developing and sustaining the behaviour skills needed for influential leadership.

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High Level Performance Requires High Level Behaviour Skill

Leadership failure rarely is the result of the absence of technical skill and intellect but incompetence in behavioural skill. You only need to look at the daily news headlines to substantiate the credibility of this statement. You gain higher levels of management responsibility based on your individual technical skill performance. Your overall leadership success is clearly dependent on your behaviour skills since senior leadership achievement is strategic oriented rather than operational. The truth is that the so-called soft skills of behaviour are really the hard skills that create the measure of influence in your leadership accomplishment and your organizational performance.

Time and again the fundamental problems of employees related to the lack of engagement and work performance stems from how people consistently experience their leader’s negative behaviour. (See SHRM, “7 Tips to Increase Employee Engagement”, Tamara Lytle, Sept. 22, 2016). These leadership failures can be directly linked to the absence in consistent, positive behaviour, to the three fundamental elements of influential leadership: self-awareness, collaboration, and connection. You must remember that individual leader behaviour is singularly the most important predictor to organizational performance.

Regardless of an official title at work, or in your community – whether you realize it or not — you are a leader. Every time you connect with someone, you have the opportunity to lead thru influence, and so, we are all Influential Leaders. A key factor to your leadership influence is discovering and developing self-awareness. Self-awareness is all about being intentional and purposeful in managing your behaviour. Following this principle leaders need to take the time to periodically evaluate their behaviour performance in light of their technical performance. The only alternative to this process of intentional, self-evaluation is to put your behaviour on autopilot. … but the experience of two commercial airline pilots overflying their destination city by over an hour is testament to the danger of relying on an autopilot – especially with something as critical to organizational performance as highly developed and effective relationships.

Albert Einstein wrote, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” I would like to modify his words to read that these significant problems cannot be solved with the same level of behaviour we were at when we created them. The good news is we can change. Intentional and purposeful self-evaluation is imperative to identifying and correcting leadership lapses and weaknesses in behaviour. Highly effective, influential leaders thrive on daily feedback regarding how others are experiencing them in their leadership behaviour. How about you? Are you the kind of leader others desire to follow? Would you follow you as a leader? Beginning the process of consistent feedback on your behaviour may begin to make the difference for you in both your personal and organizational performance. You cannot overcome and win your performance challenges alone.

Influential Leaders recognize the importance of self-awareness, collaboration, and connection. They spend time focusing their efforts in key areas that strengthen connections with the people they lead to drive performance. They focus these efforts around the leadership skills that create behaviour capacity. One such skill is the skill of Positive Presence™, an innovative thought model connecting workplace behaviour to human energy and equips leaders with the knowledge and understanding necessary for developing and sustaining the behaviour skills indicative of strong relationships in an energized work force. When you have meaningful relationships with other people you work more effectively together. You have a common goal and a consistent purpose. Your efforts are channeled toward the same common outcome and you drive performance in the organization to peak levels. This is when you make the magic happen for you and your organization. This is worth thinking about today!

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Leaders other people want to follow?

Currently, there exists a knowledge gap among leaders who lack a deep understanding of the critical role they play between themselves and the behaviour strengths of their employees. People connect and engage with their leader before they connect and engage with their work. The research is clear on this point: the more positive and supportive this relationship, the more engaged and committed people are in their work. All six dimensions of performance are higher in people who have a positive mental image of their boss than people who have a less positive and even toxic image of their leader. Leader behaviour creates leader image. This connection between behaviour skills and peak performance is critical to your success. Leaders are operators. They make things happen in the organization. Organizations that compete both locally and in the global economy can ill afford the root cause of leadership failure present in most organizations – the failure to positively connect with the people doing the work of the organization. Your challenge and opportunity is to create and implement a systematic and programmatic architecture for leadership development and performance management within your organization that promotes behaviour capacity of leaders as the strategic leverage to maximizing the technical skill capacity of the people doing the work of the organization.

The lynchpin to all of this is individual leadership behaviour – and individual leadership behaviour is in essence the physical manifestation of one’s human energy. Gone are the days when a paycheck, the employee of the month award, and the gold watch at retirement were sufficient motivators for people to perform at their best or to remain loyal and dedicated to the organization. Many of today’s CEOs are still holding onto tradition, the way things have always worked, and they are still exhibiting the behaviours of the hierarchal top down driven management style that can often stifle creativity, vision and growth. What is needed today is the ‘Catalyst’ type leader — an influential leader — that can drive performance change and performance excellence.

Just as technology has increased the borders of our markets, it has also increased competition for the best and brightest employees. Employees today seek to work for a company and leaders with whom they feel proud to be associated and who treat them like active contributors, not passive producers. In a study by the Society for Human Resource Management focusing on employee job satisfaction and engagement, “relationships with immediate supervisor” was ranked more significant to employees, than benefits or the organization’s financial stability. Employees want to work for leaders who appreciate the value they add and rely on their passions and talents to every extent possible.

Leaders must acknowledge that workplace culture is a direct reflection of organizational values and the willingness to live out those values in daily behaviour at every level within the organization. A direct influence on workplace culture is the degree to which leaders choose to engage with others. Leaders must make a purposeful decision to create and sustain highly effective relationships with their employees. Although engagement is a personal matter, influential leaders acquire and practice daily a behaviour skill-set to create a culture that promotes a sense of personal ownership, accountability, and responsibility among their team members.

Changing behaviour is a challenge, even when not doing so means lost business, bankruptcy, the demise of a company, or harming other people. By the same token, changing a workplace culture that is dysfunctional or toxic will only occur by changing behaviour. As arduous as it seems, it is certainly achievable with the proper focus, training, and accountability. When leaders choose to focus on the aspect of individual leader behaviour and commit to a systematic, programmatic methodology of development, employee engagement and commitment will improve and in turn will drive performance excellence.

When you are ready to change, start with the skill of Positive Presence, an innovative thought model connecting workplace behaviour to human energy and provides a systematic, programmatic methodology for equipping leaders with the knowledge and understanding necessary for developing and sustaining the behaviour skills needed for influential leadership.

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The Power Performance in Your People

The business and professional climates in which we work remain increasingly competitive. Each day competitive markets grow as technology spans the vast array of global industries. These rapidly changing environments are causing ambiguities and confusion about the roles and responsibilities of leaders. In this increasingly competitive environment how do we guide the performance of our teams – specifically productivity, innovation, initiative, teamwork, problem solving, and adapting to constant change? What is your strategy to combat the threats to your individual performance and the performance of your teams? As you continually assess your market threats and you continually receive pressure from your leaders and your boards to excel, where will you find the solutions needed to assure you attain the outcomes you desire?

With our associates — The Frisina Group and The Center for Influential Leadership — we are constantly researching and advocating for these solutions, and we have identified the key element to building success in your organization beyond your profound impact as an influential leader – it is the power in your people.

The Performance Power of Your Presence
Never doubt the impact on performance marked by your presence as a leader. You are without a doubt ridiculously in charge of the destiny of your organization. Without question there is immense pressure on you as a leader today, and we recognize the personal impact this pressure has on your own behaviour capacity. We have mentioned the impact of market changes, but we also need to address the issue of shifting time periods. Twenty to fifteen years ago the workday had a finite amount of time. Today because of “technology connectivity” your connection to your job rarely ceases. The only time you cannot be reached to manage workplace issues are when you are inhibited from using your phone.

Consequently you are always available for work and work is always available to you. To achieve peak performance in an economically and time constrained environment requires hiring knowledge based workers. This term, traditionally reserved for information technology personnel, architects, coders, and researchers has now come to mean all employees, including front-line staff. Every employee must become an Influential Leader. Influential leaders do not identify with a particular title, nor do they have a designated rank in an organization. Influential leaders are people who take every opportunity – every connection with a coworker, every connection with a client, every connection with the community—to make a positive and meaningful difference. Some people are naturals, but for most of us, leading thru influence – making a positive and meaningful difference — is a learned skill. Three identifiable attributes of an Influential Leader, are:

1. Creativity. These people can come up with new ideas and know how to harness new platforms of technology in your industry. Your market is changing constantly. Rigid, inflexible, and an unimaginative workforce will not be able to bring forth innovation and new collaborative efforts to propel you and your organization in the hyper speed transitions
required to cope with constant change.

2. Adaptability. These people can adapt to change. Being rigid and inflexible to new ideas that will transform your organization is not going to propel you to the levels of performance you desire. You want people who can adapt to rapid change that is happening all around us. People that are not only comfortable with change but thrive in it.

3. Flexibility. These people exhibit this behaviour strength and know how to work well with others, they are team players who thrive on high performance teams and are effective collaborators. Change is comfortable for these people because they can flex from personal desires and interests to new organizational objectives to achieve the desired end state.

The Performance Power of Your People
In today’s workforce the talent pool of technically competent people fluctuates. While everyone competes to hire people with strong technical skills, performance is a function of both technical skill and behaviour capacity. The increasing stress of the pace of change has a direct effect on behaviour capacity that impacts the effectiveness of technical skill to drive performance. Behaviour capacity is the leverage that drives technical skill performance because behaviour capacity is directly linked to how the brains of people actually function. If peak performance is your end state and transformational change is essential to achieve it, then you need to recruit and develop people with both technical and behaviour capacity skill sets.

Harnessing people power, both individually and at a corporate level, begins with the skill of Positive Presence™.  Positive Presence is a new and deliberate way of thinking and behaving that makes the connection between human energy and behaviour and is easily practiced and developed right on the job. For many, it is just a lot of common sense, but for others it is a slow and gentle process that requires the help of both team mates and leaders.

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The Generationally Diverse Workforce

For the first time in history there are five generations of people in the workforces of modern developed countries – silent or traditional (born before 1946), baby boomers, (born approximately between 1946 and 1964), generation X (born approximately between 1965 and 1979), millennial or generation Y (born approximately 1980 and 1994), and generation Z (born approximately 1994 and after). All the generations share strong work ethics and workplace needs, and they all want work that is meaningful and that adds purpose to their lives.

The core beliefs of each generation differ from the next, and so too do their needs in the workplace. Following is a brief description of each generation.

Traditionalists need respect. They are motivated by acknowledgement of their historical experience and expertise. They maintain an attitude of commitment and endurance and make personal sacrifices for the greater good. Their professional relationships are formal and reinforce workplace hierarchies.

Baby boomers need success. They view money as evidence of social status. They are motivated by material gain and professional advancement. Although driven, as individuals, boomers promote collaborative efforts and prefer business decisions to be made by consensus. Boomers believe in the importance of following historical precedents and take a process-oriented approach to their work.

Generation X (Gen-X) needs autonomy. Supervisors should provide feedback, not give orders. Generation X employees are motivated by professional growth and flexibility in their work. They work independently, believe in personal responsibility, and struggle to fit work into their lives. For Generation X, precedent is superseded by what is pragmatic, and its members’ informal approach undermines workplace hierarchy and positional authority.

Generation Y (Millennials) need validation. Generation Y employees seek to contribute to society and to make a difference. Flexibility and the opportunity to pursue personal growth are highly motivational to Generation Y employees. Generation Y expects equality and its members consider everyone from the CEO to the mail clerk as their peers. Their casual approach to work and social interactions reflects their desire for immediate recognition on a professional and personal level.

Generation Z (Gen-ADD) are yet to be understood. Generation Z is the “post-internet generation” and because they are so new to the workforce, the jury is still out on exactly what they need. We do know that their media consumption habits differ from precious generations and they prefer cool products over cool experiences. Two characteristics of this generation are they are entrepreneurial and tech-savvy.

A generationally diverse workplace must stress the need for leaders at all levels to be emotionally aware and have a well-developed skill of Positive Presence.

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Your Workplace Behavior Style

Identifying your own and being aware of others’ behavioural style will contribute to your leadership success in several ways. First, this recognition improves your interaction and communication with others so that your interaction with that person accomplishes its goal. For example, if you know someone has an analytical style, you will adjust the way you talk and act to avoid triggering an emotional reaction in that person. Second, it allows you to showcase or model, and thus teach, the combination of behavioural styles that work best. And third, it gives you an opportunity to play to your strength.

There are four main categories of behavioural styles that are generally recognized. Note that different researchers assign different names to these attributes:

• analytical, driver, amiable and expressive (developed by Larry Wilson Learning System)
• thinker, feeler, intuitor, and sensor (developed by Carl Jung)
• thinker, director, relator, and socializer (developed by Tony Alessandra)
• dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness (developed by William Moulton Marston)

To better illustrate the concept of behavioural style, the following is a brief description of the four categories, using the names from the first bullet above:

1. Analytical. An analytical person is more responsive than assertive, attentive to facts, unemotional, extremely precise, detail oriented, and not fond of small talk.

2. Driver. A driver is assertive, interrupts conversation, answers quickly, seeks out key facts, has low levels of empathy, and is extremely task focused.

3. Amiable. An amiable person is a good listener, responsive, people focused, and friendly. This person seeks to understand and thrives on building relationships.

4. Expressive. An expressive person is enthusiastic and friendly, talks a lot and talks fast, loves to tell stories to convey a point, can be loud, seeks to grasp concepts, is assertive, has high levels of empathy, and is people focused.

All of us have a dominant style, but we also have habits that fall into the other three categories. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses, an important consideration in team formation. When building a team, you should include people with different behavioural styles because each style contributes differently and beneficially to team dynamics and team goals. In addition, homogeneity in style is insufficient to tackle the diverse issues and situations the team will confront.

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The Value of Behaviour Style

As a human you are a complex manufacturing plant for electro-magnetic neuro-chemical energy. Positive emotions exist in positive energy. Your energy is nothing more than your thoughts and feelings which manifest into the physical world as behaviour. As you develop your skill of Positive Presence you will become emotionally aware and you will see the connection between how a person is behaving and how they are feeling.

If a person is feeling positive and energized you will see positive behaviours such as happiness and cooperation, and if they are displaying negative behaviours, such as frustration and anger, it’s a sure bet that they are internally caught up in a loop of negative energy. Science has proven that your behaviour is a direct response to your thinking and mental patterns. So if you want to change your behaviour, change your thinking.

Science has also proven that your mental patterns, in turn predict your behavioural style. And your behavioural style has the ability to stir up emotions in others. Behavioural style, or social/communication style, is the way we conduct ourselves in front of other people, particularly in the workplace. Are you friendly and warm? Are you reserved? Are you assertive? Are you in full control?

Your behavioural style, which is important to delineate from personality, either attracts or repels other people, and vice versa. Sometimes you cannot articulate why you like or dislike someone’s behaviour, because these types of preferences are unconscious. Influential leaders and those desiring to be influential in their workplaces understand their own behaviour and the impact it has on others around them. Understanding this is critical to enhancing the performance of your workplace.

Influential leaders are leaders (with or without a formal title or role) who possess the mind and behaviour habits that create positive and energized emotions and as such display positive behaviours that will resonate with another’s style. They are highly practiced with the skill of Positive Presence and it places them in a position to model emotionally balanced behaviour. More importantly, it enables them to be agile and flexible in their behaviour in order to make positive connections with others even in stressful situations or during a crisis event

As a leader, you are in a unique position to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Developing your emotional awareness through understanding of your and others behavioural styles will create the ability to develop your influential leadership and transform your workplace into the peak performing environment we all desire.

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