Coaching to Core Ideals – Be There or Be Square
This is another post in the series Coaching to Core Ideals.
The IDEAL LEADER is 1) Visionary, 2) Authentic, 3) Disciplined, 4) Accessible, and 5) a Strategic Learner. See the Coaching to Core Ideals post to get a quick overview and context for the series. We are going to break each sub-topic down over the next few weeks.
The IDEAL LEADER is ACCESSIBLE
- Physically available to the right people at the right time
- Adept at creating forums that important knowledge, information, and direction setting goals can be shared and understood.
- Emotionally, mentally and intellectually available in ways that they take risks in being vulnerable by sharing not only what they are thinking but what they are “feeling” or sensing
As basic as it seems, the biggest challenge for any leader is to show up. The gift of your presence is surprisingly underestimated by many leaders. Failing to be with your direct reports on a consistent basis is costing businesses and leaders dearly. Being with your people can not only increase top and bottom line results, but has huge strategic significance for you as a leader. “Showing up” for your people is strategically important in impacting long term results in a marketplace.
Spending time with employees and constituents in your organization is the foundation of relationship. You can’t build relationship without spending time. Not sure you would pay a consultant a lot of money to figure this one out, but I’m telling you that leaders within many organizations are spending very little time “in relationship” with the greatest asset in their business—the human capital —their people. Reasons abound as to why leaders run a deficit in time spent with people.
In many businesses the “span of control” has increased over the last 20 years to ratios that make for a very challenging leader/follower relationship. The increasing global nature of businesses has broadened the geographic dispersion to more internationally. Research has indicated in years past that 7-10 people are the ideal and thought to be the best ratio where teams and managers were most effective. More recently because of economic pressures and technology advances organizations have flattened out. Consequently there have been managers responsible for more and more direct reports.
There are many variables that could influence how to effectively manage more people and be available to them in meaningful ways. Some of it depends on the skill level of the individuals and the type of work being done by them. It seems more appropriate to think about the relationship that is needed in order to drive the results needed. All this aside, I’ve seen managers and leaders with very few direct reports fail miserably in “being” with the people they have been entrusted to lead. Conversely I have seen others build powerful relationships in spite of the large number of people they lead.
It really comes back to a leader and business owner’s clear line of sight to the success of people and the impact on bottom and top line results. We talk more in the next post about the concept of designing forums and space for conversation. Personal skills of time management and prioritization on the leader’s part are vital to success regardless of the numbers of direct reports. Managing your time becomes increasingly important though as people responsibilities increase. You must be better at everything you do to gain efficiencies in your time spent on any given task.
There are many ways that leaders determine when and where to invest in their human capital. With increasing span and consolidation/growth in the size of businesses segmenting employees has become essential in the talent development and management process. The implementation of the process of segmenting employees can be a good thing as long as it is kept in perspective. Success in leading people is ultimately done through commitment to a relationship to people and not a process. Processes should always serve people not the other way around.
Situational leadership is a great example of how a leader determines the focus and need of each individual. It really is a simple approach to making sure you spend time with the people that need you the most. And when you are with them you are focused on the right conversation.
A good leader develops “the competence and commitment of their people so they’re self-motivated rather than dependent on others for direction and guidance”. – Paul Hersey
The main thing I appreciate about situational leadership is that there is no one “perfect style” of leading people. Situational Leadership articulates that employees need support in building the necessary commitment and competency to perform. You can then determine not only what to spend time on with a person, but even the level of intensity. There may indeed be a time when those you lead have the skill, but lack the necessary commitment to be successful and vice versa. Understanding when someone’s performance is due to lack of skill or motivation is paramount to knowing what conversation needs to be taking place.
Showing up and being there for your people IS your job. BEING THERE is the core asset whether you are the CEO of a global organization, president of a country, or line supervisor at a factory. Not being there could change the success of the person in their job and career and the long or short term success of the business. There are times that are critical points of a career, a business, and/or a crucial circumstance that will change the trajectory of a career or business; making yourself accessible is what wins the day for those looking to you as a leader in times that really count. And it counts every day.