Posts Tagged autonomy
As we begin to wrap up 2013, many of us are starting to think about resolutions for the New Year and what we can do differently in 2014. The common resolutions like going to the gym more often, losing 20 pounds, or the like tend to lose their luster before the end of January. Why not take a different approach to your New Year’s resolutions and make it a goal to be a better leader? People follow and support leaders they believe in and create positive influences in their lives. A Gallup poll found that only 1 in 11 (9%) employees are engaged when led by a leader that neglects to focus on individual’s strengths. Yet when a leader acknowledges an individual’s strengths, that statistic jumps to 3 in 4 (73%) employees.
While we can’t necessarily control the budget cuts or whether there will be another round of furloughs next year, we can absolutely control the type of leader we choose to be and the reputation we build as we lead others to greatness.
Here are a few traits you can add to your resolution list in your quest to becoming a more well-rounded leader.
1. Allow for autonomy – Empowering your staff to make decisions is key to creating a motivated and productive staff. Employees need to be allowed to make mistakes as well as have the support and guidance from their manager when flubs do happen. A Situational Leader knows when to provide support and allow individuals to grow into great leaders, while a self-serving leader only has their best interest in mind. Coach your direct reports to come up with a winning strategy and work with them on defining that strategy rather than dictating their next move.
2. Build trust with everyone – This is a tough one as trust among many government employees has been tested with the recent sequester, shutdown, pay freezes, and furloughs mandated government wide. But all hope is not lost. The individual encounters you as a leader have, not just with your staff but with everyone you come across at the office, help to build, or in some cases rebuild, trust. Trust is the crux of everything we do and is the foundation of effective leadership. Without it dedication, loyalty, motivation, willingness to support the agency’s mission falters. The ABCD Trust Model that promotes a leader’s Ability, Believability, Connectedness, and Dependability is a good place to start to evaluate how trustworthy you are within your agency.
3. Create a culture that people want to be a part of – I recently watched a news segment about Zappos, the online shoe retailer, and was impressed with the culture they’ve created at the organization. The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, was proud to say that the first requirement they take into consideration when hiring for a position at the company is whether or not the candidate would be a good culture fit. In fact, they label the coveted culture they’ve built as their biggest asset. Take a look at this 30 second video the folks at Zappos created to give you an insight to their fun, yet productive, culture.
4. Acknowledge even the smallest successes – It’s an important motivator and morale booster when you catch people doing things right. People like their accomplishments to be acknowledged and to know they are truly appreciated for the hard they do day in and day out. The number one criteria, however, is to MAKE IT MEANINGFUL. There’s no point in praising someone for a task they’ve accomplished if there’s no substance behind it. Be authentic with your praisings.
5. Thank your employees – It’s amazing the impact a smile and a thank you can have. Government workers are dedicated and work hard, despite the continuous ups-and-downs they’ve endured lately. Showing your employees some gratitude for that dedication, loyalty, and unrelenting productivity makes a difference. Follow your action from item #4 above with a thank you and watch your employee’s motivation and satisfaction soar.
What steps are you taking to become a more motivating government leader?
So often, individuals shy away from making a major decision or taking on a major initiative because of the potential risk involved. Making a decision to pursue a campaign for public office carries a lot of uncertainty. Studies in motivation indicate that autonomy and competence are key contributions to personal fulfillment. These two attributes alone would benefit an individual when running for office. However, there is a third element to this motivational tri-pod that may be the leg that is keeping capable individuals from becoming a government leader…relationships. People are motivated when building and continually enriching a strong, caring, and supportive organizational community and culture. In the public sector, some may just be biding their time for when one leader leaves and another comes in and implements new strategies and a new way of leading their employees. The leader never obtains the “buy-in” from their employees.
In the book, The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, authors Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller use the word SERVE as an acronym for the five fundamental ways in which every great leader serves. SERVE stands for:
S – See the Future
E – Engage and Develop People
R – Reinvent Continuously
V – Value Results and Relationships
E – Embody the Values
Great leaders – those who lead at a higher level – value both results and relationships. Most leaders believe that they must choose between one or the other. A leader must reflect on whether they are getting the performance and results from those they lead and if their direct reports follow and believe in their mission and strategy for the agency. If a leader can honestly reply yes to both of these questions, they are on the right path for building and maintaining successful relationships.
There are many reasons why fear could creep into a leader’s mind and prevent them from moving forward in accomplishing their mission. Here are a few hurdles that could prevent a manager from moving forward when considering running for public office.
- They reflect on how others who are running are being treated.
- They understand not all their decisions will be able to reflect core beliefs.
- They are concerned they will be tarred when making counter decisions.
- They realize they will be shunned when declaring unpopular positions.
- They look at the risks and decide not to take a stand.
I realize that taking a stand could come with negative results. The risk may end up damaging or it may be the best decision you make. We all know that there is a risk in taking a risk, but you’re also taking a huge risk in not taking a risk at all.