4 November 2014 0 Comments

Leadership Part 11

11-06-14 LII BlogGetting the most out of those who are helping requires special attention from the leader.

Recognize Subordinates and Peers

Employees won’t work without pay.  Pay is one form of recognition, but a basic wage won’t get you much more than 8 hours—potentially an uninspired 8 hours.  Paying more for outstanding performance might work:  performance bonuses, commissions, profit sharing.  But that’s not what this is about.  This is about non-compensatory recognition.

Leaders need to get the most out of their followers.  They can accomplish this by using two techniques: fear and reward.  It’s the carrot or the stick quandary.  Not much of a quandary as far as I’m concerned.  When you have an opportunity to use a carrot rather than a stick, do it every time.  Occasionally a stick may be required when the carrot method has failed.

Recognizing people can start with the use of a very simple tool—the smile.  Upon greeting someone—smile.  When you walk into your workplace each day make it a point to greet everyone with a smile and warm “Good morning!”  When you greet people on the phone, smile.  A smile can be felt in your voice.  The smile is to communicate that you are glad to see them and you actually know who they are.  People will work harder for you if they believe that you care for them.  A smile is so simple to give, yet so often withheld.

Giving credit is an important part of recognition.  Leaders who are insecure, therefore ineffective, often attempt to take credit for everything good that happens under their control while blaming others for anything that goes wrong.  Leaders don’t care about personal recognition.  They only care that their objectives are met.  By recognizing the accomplishments of others they know that those who have contributed will be eager to continue to help.

Compliments to another person never demonstrate weakness.  They demonstrate self confidence.  You must not measure your own accomplishments by the accomplishments of others.  By openly lauding those acts that deserve praise you demonstrate your strength as a giving, caring individual—one who others will want to follow.

The person you have acknowledged is also likely to open up to you in a non-adversarial fashion.  There is nothing like a compliment to open a conversation.  Follow that compliment with, “How did you do that?” and you might just learn how to improve your own performance.  You’ll also learn what makes the other person tick.

Learn to Listen

Speaking is only half of the communication process.  The other half of the process is listening.  Listening skills may not be as obvious as speaking skills, but they are every bit as important, if not more so.

Listening provides information required by all leaders.  It also sends a signal to those who are the intended followers that here is a person who cares—one who will listen to what I need.

Listening is more than the act of hearing.  Hearing is an auditory experience.  Listening is a cerebral experience.  Hearing involves sounds.  Listening is the ability to absorb that which has been heard  in order to interact with the speaker now and in the future in a meaningful way.

The initial contact with a person produces one of the greatest and most important listening challenges.  What is the person’s name?  Leaders remember names.  But, before you remember it, you must hear it.  How often are you introduced to someone, or exchange names, when you never do come away with the name?   When that happens there is nothing wrong with honesty, “I’m sorry; I didn’t catch your name.” When you do get the name, say it out loud.  This helps reinforce it and if you have it wrong the person whose name you have mangled can correct you.

Beyond the obvious importance of listening for names, a leader who is a good listener:

  • Learns things about the person that will be helpful in future dealings
  • Hears ideas that may have merit
  • Is perceived by others to be a person who cares.

Everyone wants to be heard!  If you are the one listening, you are a friend.  You are more important than the guy standing in the corner picking his nose.  Let people know you are listening to them.  How can that be done?  Eye contact is one way.  Avoid external distractions.  Repeat what has just been said to you, “So, you are in favor of that amendment, is that correct?”

This technique helps you to remember what has just been said, fortifies your interest in the speaker’s statement and gives them an opportunity to amend or reconfirm what you have heard.

Most of us prefer the sound of our own voice to that of others.  We are more concerned about what we are about to say next then what the other person is saying now.  We tend to mentally jump ahead while that other voice is spouting words in order to be prepared for our own profound utterances.

If the other person rambles on too long we might even jump in with our eloquent contribution before they finish.  It’s fine to think about what you will say next, but don’t do so if the thought process required to formulate your words renders it impossible for you to listen to what is being said currently.   When you need time to collect your thoughts use the technique of restating the other person’s last statement in order to give yourself some more time, “So, you feel that…”

A conversation must involve more than “I”.  “I” conversations are those in which one person has the listening ability of an amoeba because the world revolves around them:

First Person:  Did you hear that Larry’s mother just died?

Amoeba:  My mom died in 1998.


First Person:  Would you like to see my new car?

Amoeba:  I’m getting a new car next month.


First Person:  Pete has terminal cancer.

Amoeba:  I had a skin cancer removed last year.

Narcissists relate everything to themselves in a one- ups-man-ship fashion.  They hear, but don’t listen.  But don’t worry.  If this is you, you most likely know all that is required of you to be a great leader and really don’t need advice from me.

Coming up…the importance of empathy.



Leave a Reply