Leadership Interactions Are Positive or Negative

The greatest of all leaders understand that methods, tools, technologies, protocols, and systems do not achieve results. People do. Therefore, it is people not processes, with whom organizational leaders must form a long-lasting, positive, emotional connection. This connection actually is a physical connection in people’s brains and is what ultimately determines the success or failure of the leader specifically and the organization as a whole. People do not connect and engage in their work at high levels of performance unless they are first connected and engaged with their leader. So here is a question to ponder: do the brains of your people light up in the high performance areas of their brains when you walk into the room or when you walk out?

People connect to their leaders before they connect to the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Staff members who feel a positive connection with their leaders are engaged, cooperative, collaborative, participative, accountable, and passionate about their work, and supportive of change. They are motivated to behave according to established expectations and to perform to the best of their knowledge, skill and ability. An organization with such a workforce can dominate any market or industry with consistent, high-quality clinical, financial and operational outcomes.

The principle of connection validates and puts into practice the concepts of self-awareness and collaboration. Selfawareness enables leaders to initiate connections with their team members, while trust and accountability – the imperative of collaboration – allow leaders to sustain these connections. In this way, connection is a strategy that influential leaders use to demonstrate they care for and understand the needs of their people. A deep connection between the leader and team members raises everyone’s level of energy, engagement, motivation and performance. Neurons (brain cells) that fire together, wire together, as the neuroscience data demonstrates. Hence, there is a neurochemical performance cocktail leaders can create in the brains of their people that drives performance based on the connection that leaders create with their team members.

Are Your Connections Positive or Negative?
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 experience. That is, the other person perceives every one of your interpersonal exchanges and interactions as good or bad, supportive or unsupportive, trusting or untrusting, positive or negative, safe or unsafe, and so on. If you behave poorly during an interpersonal exchange, that experience is considered negative and the other person’s brain registers that encounter in experiential emotional memory (EEM); conversely, if you conduct yourself well, that experience is counted as positive.

This idea is similar to the emotional and trust bank accounts (discussed previously), in that connectivity has a cumulative effect in deposits and withdrawals. (See the Speed of Trust, by Stephen M.R. Covey for a more elaborate distinction on this concept.) The more these interactions are seen as negative, the less likely you are to develop connections. If you want to increase the positive experiences and thus enhance your connections, you must improve your individual leader behaviour. When you are ready to improve, 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 positive, effective thought and behaviour habits.

In this context, leaders are self-aware and serve as role models of responsible, professional behaviour. Team members, in turn, become highly collaborative in a responsive behaviour based on the how the brain processes experience relative to trust, compassion, safety, and hope. Consequently, team members understand what the organization is trying to achieve and how their behaviour and performance contribute to furthering the interests of the organization. Trust and accountability are not just expected; they become a cultural norm leading to higher performance. In a word, this connection creates the elements that foster engagement. Do not wait for performance issues to appear to discover the truth of these neuroscience principles. You mess with the brains of your people at your own performance peril!

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A Culture Built For Performance

In today’s professional world, people are craving effective leadership. What maybe
misattributed as generational gaps is that everywhere, middle level managers and their team members are overburdened and uninspired by individuals holding titled positions of leadership providing neither effective leadership nor effective management. The issue is not change resistance. Peter Senge said it well, “People do not resist change. They resist being changed.” Knowledge based workers desire true leadership that capitalizes on collaboration, communication and connection to accomplish their work related goals and objectives.

One of the strongest ways an influential leader can connect with others is by practicing the principle of followership. Followership is a leader’s willingness to listen to those for whom they are responsible. “Listening to me” is the highest rated attribute for an effective leader by direct reports. Effective listening creates a connection between the leader and the legitimate needs, wants, and desires of team members. By paying attention to members of the team, through active listening, a leader gains insight and information to the factors that drive performance. Peter Drucker said, “Everybody writes books about leadership. Somebody ought to write a book about followership, because for every leader there are a thousand followers.” Although followership is an age-old concept and several books have been written about it, the concept is still a novelty to many in titled positions of authority.

People do not quit their jobs. They quit their leader – the boss. Ineffective leaders breed ineffective followers and performance and productivity suffer as a result. With a positive, emotional connection with your people you send a clear message that you are interested and invested in what your people experience on a daily basis. People in general do not follow just anyone or follow out of the goodness of their heart. They need good reasons—a motivation – to follow. You are responsible for giving them those reasons by understanding what they want and need to fulfill their work requirements and contribute to a mutual and beneficial meaningful purpose in their work. During the downturn in the so-called bubble, many leaders have acquired what the professional literature is calling learned helplessness. Everything is negative, we have a “new normal” and the positive and optimistic qualities of leadership seem to be caught in this self-fulfilling prophecy of scarcity and mediocrity. As leaders infect this mindset into their teams, productivity and other performance factors wane. The team members get caught in a brain-funk – simply do whatever the leader says to keep their jobs and stay out of trouble with the boss.

The reality is that inwardly, people still want to make a difference at work. They want leaders who will give them control and emancipate them to do their jobs and solve problems at their level. For some of you this may seem like a radical idea –giving control away – and a deviation from the historical “top-down” driven approach to leadership. However, if you want to connect, if you desire to become an influential leader, you have to begin to change from the outdated and ineffective practices of the past that limit your leadership capacity. As leaders we should be asking ourselves daily, is my behaviour drawing people towards me or away from me? Understanding the elements of what endears our team members to us is essential to understanding the great impact that connection has in driving performance in the workplace.

The art of connection begins with the skill of Positive Presence, an innovative thought model connecting workplace behaviour to human energy through a systematic, programmatic methodology equipping leaders with the knowledge and understanding necessary for developing and sustaining the mindset and behaviour skills needed for strong and lasting connections.

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People Are the Heart of Performance

It has been said many times in a variety of ways and deserves repeating here: people never connect to the organization’s mission and vision until they first connect with their leader. 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 within themselves and around them. Influential leaders demonstrate four vital strengths that ensure their success: the drive to achieve results, the ability to take initiative and accept personal responsibility, cultivating collaboration and team building, and finally, the ability to connect with people continually. Organizations do not do things, people do. People do things better when they are connected emotionally to the mission and vision of the organization and to its leadership.

Then these people come to work with high degree of energy to invest themselves in fulfilling the primary performance objectives of the organization – in a word, they are engaged.

Take note that of these four vital strengths, none of them is technical in nature. They are all behaviour oriented performance strengths. That means any person can learn them, apply them, continually adjust them, and ultimately succeed with them. “Creating and maintaining an effective culture of commitment and engagement takes effort from leaders who work closely with employees, and that’s too often being neglected. In The Conference Board’s study, 51 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their boss. That’s down from 55 percent in 2008 and around 60 percent two decades ago.” If you do not think that leader behaviour is the most important predictor to organizational performance you better start thinking again. Decades of research by Gallup suggest that highly effective leaders connect with their teams on several levels. By creating highly effective relationships with their staff, they promote a healthy and positive work atmosphere in which people feel trust, compassion, safety, and hope.

Teamwork Drives Organizational Performance
Influential leaders know how to create and sustain highly functional teams. Team building is the product of understanding human behaviour not technical skill. Influential leaders focus on behaviour skill competencies that allow technical skills to blend into a high level of workplace performance. This workplace performance translates into safety, quality, and service outcomes. Nonetheless, a national poll of workers in the United States by The Conference Board
found that 45 percent reported being satisfied with their work while the remaining number admitted to withholding discretionary performance effort. This is the lowest level of work satisfaction reported in twenty years. Translated this means the current work force does as little work as possible to avoid losing their jobs – they are disengaged.

Substandard performance in organizations is not a product of deficient technical skills but deficient behavioural skills. The organization that can, through influential leadership, create a collaborative culture will become the industry model for achieving performance excellence. Learning the skill of Positive Presence will, by its very nature, create a culture of accountability and collaboration – a huge bonus and necessity in today’s global work environment. Essential to creating a collaborative culture is the mutual exchange of feedback on performance through the use of feedback tools. Conduct surveys if you are compelled to do so but to be effective and cultivate a culture of engagement, you must be willing to act on the information you receive. The proof of your leadership credibility is in the proverbial pudding as they say.

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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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