“He is a genius with 1000 helpers,” the CEO said, quoting the business classic Good to Great to describe one of her direct reports.  “He has to move from being a technical expert to a leader and focus on developing his people.”  This is a very common scenario in my coaching practice.

When a technical expert who has been rewarded for his knowledge and results is promoted to a leadership role, he can feel woefully unprepared.  That can lead to fear of failure and a tendency to fall back on what has served him well – being an expert who solves problems.  Except that even a genius can’t solve every problem and a leader’s job is to coach and empower others.

How do you do that? A recent Gartner survey concluded that the most effective style for developing high performers is a Connector.  Instead of being too hands-on or too hands-off, the Connector asks the right questions, provides tailored feedback and connects team members to others who can help them.

A technical expert is usually good at connecting dots.  If he can evolve into a leader who connects his people to the right developmental resources, he will no longer be a genius with 1000 helpers.

If you list the top five attributes of an effective leader does humility make the list?  Research confirms that humble leaders are more effective.  Admitting you don’t have all the answers creates opportunities for learning and builds trust, establishes credibility and provides an example of how to deal with uncertainty.

Humble leaders:

  • Check their egos at the door
  • Share their mistakes
  • Forgive failure
  • Empower and inspire others
  • Make decisions for the greater good
  • Invite feedback
  • Attract top performers and engender loyalty

Rick Warren explains that “true humility isn’t about thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”  Picture Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai.  What humble leader might you emulate?

What is most important to you as you are heading into an operating room?  Is it the skill of the surgeon or how well the entire surgical team works together?  Surgeon and Harvard Medical School professor Atul Gawande’s research says teamwork is most important. In his book The Checklist Manifesto: Getting Things Right, Gawande describes the most common obstacle to effective teamwork in an operating room:  “silent disengagement, the consequence of specialized technicians sticking narrowly to their domains.”

In my work with leaders and teams in complex organizations, I often hear complaints about siloes and finger-pointing.  It can be hard work creating a culture that relies on everyone believing their job is to help the team get the best possible result.

How can you overcome “that’s not my problem” syndrome?  Research shows that something as basic as asking people for input can increase their willingness to offer solutions.  If you know the story behind the movie “Sully”, input from every member of Captain Sullenberger’s team made it possible for all 155 passengers on board the plane that landed on the Hudson River on a freezing January day to make it home.

What difference could active engagement and teamwork make in your world?

The CEO was fed up – if she got one more complaint about the VP Operations she was going to have to fire him.  It was obvious when he was in a bad mood because he yelled at people and slammed doors.  Then they were upset and distracted which affected their productivity and how they dealt with customers.  The ripple effect of his bad moods was negatively impacting the bottom line.

Human behavior is like an iceberg.  We see how people behave but we don’t always understand what drives behavior.  Using Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is like putting on your scuba gear to check out what is hidden beneath the surface.  Once you know which emotions are influencing your behavior, you can use those emotions more effectively.

In his book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman cites research indicating that leaders whose styles had a positive emotional impact on their teams generated measurably better financial results.  Teams with higher engagement have lower turnover, above average productivity, higher customer loyalty and higher profitability.

If you want to positively impact your bottom line, contact cheryl@csbryan.com today for an assessment and suggestions for improving EQ for yourself or someone on your team.

Have you heard the Polish proverb, “Not my circus; not my monkeys”?  This came to mind in a recent coaching session with a client who has a tendency to jump in and fix problems that belong to his team members.
Once he realized that jumping in means he is robbing that person of the opportunity to learn how to solve the problem on their own, we worked on recognizing what triggers him and finding another approach.  He doesn’t like it when people run around with their hair on fire so he will do just about anything to put the fire out.  Repeating “Not my circus; not my monkeys” reminds him not to get caught up in someone else’s craziness.  Then he can step back, calm down and rationally assess whether he needs to get involved – now, later or not at all.
If you tend to be a “fixer” give this a try and get that monkey off your back.

 

In the classic business book, Built to Last, Jim Collins talks about avoiding the “tyranny of the OR” and embracing the “genius of the AND”.  He explained that “a truly visionary company embraces both ends of a continuum: continuity and change, conservatism and progressiveness, stability and revolution, predictability and chaos, heritage and renewal…”

When my clients are considering options, they often say, “I could do A or B.”  My job as the coach is to help them explore what might be possible if they leverage the genius of the and.

If you tend to succumb to the tyranny of the OR  you might think:

  • Either my team member changes her behavior or I’ll have to fire her.

If you leverage the genius of the AND  your approach can be:

  • My team member needs to change her behavior and I can help her by setting clear expectations.

Although this can be challenging for people who are more comfortable with black and white than grey, I invite you to find a middle ground by identifying the best of both options  — that is the genius of the and.