Speak Softly And Carry A Big Stick ….. Theodore Roosevelt

Leading, management, management philosophy

Leadership is known by many names – directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony, authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness, sway, and clout. Regardless of the many names, leadership is simply one person or persons influencing another person or persons. But why, why and how does a person influence another? What’s that magic trick? Upon two people coming together for dialogue, why does one of the people want to do what the other person says? The answer is within the power used by the leader. Leaders use Position Power, Reward  Power,  Coercive Power , Expert Power, and Referent Power to influence others to perform.

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Position Power is one way a manager influences subordinates to perform. Position Power is when a manager has authority and influence over employees because of the title alone. The title allows the manager the freedom to reward or punish subordinates with no penalties from the company. The phrase “do it because I’m your boss” is an example of Position Power.  Employees know full-well that if they don’t do what the boss says, discipline and penalties will follow.

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Reward Power is another way managers can influence others. Reward Power is when a manager gets compliance from others by rewarding them for the behavior. Managers, can reward others with tangible thing like money and promotions. A tangible example would be a manager saying to a subordinate,”if you achieve such-and-such result, I will promote you to the next level”. The subordinate wants the promotion so they work hard achieving the result. Hence, the manager has effectively influenced the behavior with a tangible reward. An intangible example would be a manager telling an employee “I really like how well you handle three different responsibilities simultaneously”.  The employee likes how they feel when the hard work is appreciated by the boss and continues to achieve the result. Hence, the manager has effectively influenced the employee to continue performing well with an intangible reward.

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Coercive Power is another way a manager can influence employees. Coercive Power is similar to Reward Power but with penalties instead of rewards. With Coercive Power, a manager removes or punishes an employee if a performance standard isn’t met. An example would be a manager telling an underperforming employee that if they didn’t improve performance, they could lose their job. The employee wants and needs the job, therefor they start performing according to standard.  In this way, a manager is using Coercive Power to influence performance.

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Another way to influence others is by using Expert Power. Expert Power is the ability to get someone to do what you want because they think you’re an expert on the subject. Employees believe a manager has high level of knowledge or a specialized set of skills that other employees or members of the organization do not possess. Because employees believe this, they will follow direction given by the manager. After all, the manager knows what they’re talking about because they’re an expert, right? Another example of Expert Power is when we talk to an I.T. person or tech person. On a phone call with a tech person, we don’t know what they look like and have never dealt with this individual before. In our minds however, we believe in their expertise to fix our issue and will happily follow their direction over the phone. Hence, the tech person is influencing our behavior with Expert Power.

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Finally, there’s Referent Power. Referent Power is less black-and-white than the other leadership powers because it’s earned with respect and respect can be earned in many ways. “We can gain Referent Power when others trust what we do and respect us for how we handle situations” (http://www.quickbase.com/blog/the-5-types-of-power-in-leadership).  The trust and respect happens when employees see how a manager handles difficult situations. They may watch the manager suffer through a difficult moment and emerge as positive and encouraging as ever. Trust and respect happens when employees watch what a manager does for the company. They might see the manager delivering above-standard results. The employees could also see how the manager defends the company in difficult times. Trust and respect also happens when employees see what a manager does for people. Employees could witness a manager helping a struggling employee or developing an employee to a higher position. Once the staff understands what the manager is about in an admirable way, the manager can greatly influence the employees work.

Leaders use Position Power, Reward power, Coercive power, Expert power, and Referent power to influence others to perform. Position Power uses authority to influence. Reward and Coercive Power uses consequences to influence. Expert Power uses skills to influence. Referent Power uses trust and respect to influence. Each is effective in its own way and each should be delivered by a manager in mixed doses except for Referent Power. The hardest to earn and most effective, Referent Power is permanent!

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For It Is In Giving That We Receive ….. St. Francis of Assisi

management, management philosophy, Organizing

We deal with two kinds of people. One kind is the person/employee that asks what you, others, or the company is doing for them. The other kind of person/employee thinks about what they can do for others.

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Imagine operating a shift for an organization and your employees consume themselves with what the company or others are doing for them? They are not thinking about how to make the business better. They are thinking about how and when they are going to get treated compared to the employee next to them. To them unfairness takes the form of amount of work, amount of hours, or how a manager speak to them. In this environment the culture becomes toxic.

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An organization full of selfish employees will not think about the work that needs to happen, they’re thinking about their feelings. So less work happens, conflicts start, and the organization is unable to deliver the brand while the managers tries to manage the issues.

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In the other, scenario you may have a group of employees who view life and work with the attitude of “what can I do for you”. In this environment you see employees helping each other. You see employees having fun and having healthy dialogue and camaraderie while the work is getting done. This environment fosters and nurtures morel work. Another benefit of having an environment like this is that employees like it so much, they want to develop their careers with this organization. This lowers turnover, lowers costs, and increases tenure – productivity.

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How can a manager prevent one toxic environment and enable one healthy environment? The answer is sometimes leadership but the real answer is better planning and organizing. It means better hiring skills and the ability to read the nature of an individual during an interview. Hire team players and givers and you will get a healthy productive environment. Hire emotional selfish needy people and you will get a toxic environment.

Remember that the next time you are sitting across from an employee candidate!

Everyone Is Guilty Of All The Good They Did Not Do ….. Voltaire

Leading, management

There are leaders who yell often and have poor emotional control. There are leaders who threaten consequences and intimidate often. There are leaders who are just there and really do nothing at all. There are also leaders who inspire others to perform work. More frequently however, managers like to focus on what’s wrong and vocalize the issues publicly with intimidation. Managers feel justified and effective because in their mind, “they’re taking care of business”.

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Frequently, when managers are “taking care of business”, the feedback includes heavy doses of guilt. It’s like the football coach during a game berating a player who screwed up his assignment. As the player runs to the sideline, he’s greeted by an emotional and abusive coach who’s yelling so hard his veins are popping out of his neck. Managers yell like this as well but are they attempting to correct and influence work or just selfishly expressing their feelings?

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Managers who yell and berate staff are only minimally effective. It’s a short-term management behavior. I call it short-term because it delivers short-term results.  Employees perform work behaviors because they’re threatened and do it to avoid consequences. Eventually however, they will quit and leave the threatening environment causing the manager to constantly battle turnover and new training costs. Managers like this create hard feelings, increase costs, and eventually drive away revenue because customers can feel the tension.

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Inspiration is defined as “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inspiration).  The “something” that makes others want to perform looks like the following characteristics:

  • Employees who observe a manager handle situation after situation with the same effort, resolve, and strategy that’s respectful and effective inspires others.
  • Showing your staff how much you care about results and about people in a positive and respectful manner can be inspiring.
  • Know the job. Employees watching a leader ply their trade effectively and seeing great results can be inspiring.
  • Be challenging. Challenging your staff can be fun but also lets your team know you believe in them and what they can achieve.
  • “Make people feel good about themselves. People will rarely remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  Start noticing what you like about others and tell them.  Go out of your way to personally acknowledge and complement the people who have gone out of their way to excel.” (http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/02/13/18-ways-to-inspire-everyone-around-you/).
  • Share stories. Talk about lessons learned, both positive and negative, so the team can relate to what you’re saying. It demonstrates vulnerability which is admired and inspirational to your staff.
  • Share an inspiring vision. Communicating what effective behaviors and results can look like with detail to your staff, and allowing them to see the vision is inspirational.
  • Thanking your staff and letting them know how much you appreciate their effort is inspiring.

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Inspirational leaders are few and far between and hard to see because they operate behind the scenes and let the staff stay out-front and get credit for everything right.  You won’t hear inspirational leaders berating staff in public. You may hear them encouraging staff in public and you will definitely feel an environmental difference since employees are wanting and looking for ways to perform the job and take care of business.

Surely We’ll Learn

Politics

More government is good for you; the Irony. Follow the money and we see how the economy will perform. To me, a prosperous economy means ample personal income and ample opportunities for a number of things. The job market expands. Goods for purchase expand in variety and prices are low. The housing market expands. All good stuff and happiness increases.

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In a bad economy, jobs are hard to come by. Prices for goods increase. Companies are stingy with pay increases. Personal income is threatened. All bad stuff and stress increases.

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When we give the government more money (make it bigger and more powerful), we the people have less money. Less money means bad economy and the government has proven time again that it manages projects worse than the private industry. Shrink the government and more money for us, hence a good and prosperous economy.

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It’s not rocket science.

A Good Plan Done Now Is Better Than A Perfect Plan Done Next Week ….. George S. Patton

Leading, management, management philosophy, Planning

Imagine a football head coach’s game plan for an upcoming game. The head coach identifies what the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses are as well as their own team’s strengths and weaknesses. The head coach imagines what certain scenarios would look like if applied. For example, if we run a sweep towards the defenses all-star defensive end, what would happen? If we use this player against their player on this down, what would happen? If we try a misdirection play in this situation, what would happen, etc? Many scenarios in are imagined until the coach believes he sees the plays and personnel that will contribute to their team winning. A plan is formulated called the game plan. Now what?

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The head coach knows the game plan and there are many capable players on his team. The coach must now organize the plan and activities so they are executed correctly during the game. The head coach needs a chain-of command in order to implement the game plan to the 100 or so players who will be executing the plays and techniques to win the game. The head coach relies on a defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, linebackers coach, defensive backs coach, etc., in the team’s chain-of-command. Multiple meetings happen between the coaches when they review the plans effectiveness and how the plan will be applied to the team. At practice, every different coach applies the activities and ideas of the plan to his/her group of players and they practice. The team practices every concept about every activity needed to perform the plays correctly to win the game. When the game is finally played, every player and every coach knows what needs to be done in every situation to reach the team goal, winning the game.

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This organizing example is a lot like what managers have to do in order to organize their plan. The head coach is the general manager and his or her coaching staff is the assistant management team and training staff. The game plan envisioned by the general manager could apply to a peak sales period – game time. The plan allows for the team to win the moment which looks like the team delivering brand standards and pleasing a large number of customers. Organizing the plan happened when the right staff were hired. It also happened when the general manager held meetings illustrating what activities need to happen during peak sales. Determining the department managers establishes a chain-of –command. Ordering enough goods and training the staff correctly are also part of the plan to deliver the win.