Most people want to be known for something. When you’re a leader or a manager, you have broader visibility in the organization, and so you want that “thing” to be a good one. You want to be beloved and respected by your team.
“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
While Oscar Wilde was not talking specifically about management, the takeaway for leaders is just as relevant. The best leaders know how to balance people development and organizational results in order to be beloved and respected. According to Dr. Travis Bradbury who is an expert in emotional intelligence, “leaders who were able to focus equally on results and people were seen as great a whopping 72% of the time.” The trouble is that, according to a study by David Rock, less than 1% of all leaders are able to do this.
So, you can’t be in just the “people” camp or the “results” camp - you have to be in both, equally. However, these two camps are not mutually exclusive. I would argue that if you lead by focusing on the growth and development of your people, the results will follow naturally - but you have to have your eye on both. In fact, a disengaged employee, when not being developed or seeing personal advancement, will cost an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary.
Here are 4 things that beloved leaders do differently in the name of developing and growing others.
Beloved leaders think "people first." Great leaders know that results are the byproduct of well-developed and engaged people, so they focus their time and energy on building others up. This is grounded in the mindset that people at every level can grow. People crave meaningful work that is challenging and influencing, and this often means giving employees the floor to lead and grow. I was working with a leader in the fashion industry who shared that she had inadvertently commandeered a big meeting. Afterwards, she wrote a note to her team acknowledging that she took over the meeting and committed to making sure that she gave others the floor in the future. That is leadership in action! No one is perfect.
Beloved leaders take risks on their people. Imagine: your reputation is on the line...client work to be (over)delivered...numbers to hit. You’re the only person for the job, right? Wrong. Taking a risk on a team member means managing your need for control, especially when you’re in a crunch and your default is to just do it yourself. To feel confident enough to take the kid gloves off, you have to set your team up for success with stretch roles, development opportunities and above all else, trust that they can do it. True leaders have a unique ability to see more potential in others than maybe they can even see, and then take risks on them.
Beloved leaders have a longer term view. They are able to see beyond just the very next step. Coaching as a leadership and management tool is, at its core, about developing others for the future. Beloved leaders have a longer-term view, and can therefore lift up out of the day-to-day grind and see the potential right in front of them - their people. They understand that the shortest distance from A to B is a straight line, but it’s also the path of least engagement. If you have a longer term view and keep point C top of mind, you’ll take the time from A to B to develop your team so that they are more capable and self-sufficient. A longer-term view is grounded in the idea that investing upfront in your people and your conversations will pay-off in spades.
Beloved leaders give credit where credit is earned. They know when to say “we” and “you”, and they use “I” sparingly. Great leaders understand that people crave and need recognition and encouragement. They realize that recognition is not a zero-sum game. Giving recognition and credit doesn’t come at the expense of their own reputation or influence. In fact, on the contrary, they realize that they themselves are a reflection of their team, so when their team wins, they win.
You can probably reflect on a manager or leader who you loved and respected. What did they do differently that set them apart from the rest? My guess is they exhibited many of these actions and shared many of these qualities.
For me, the beloved factor was the freedom to grow. I was given the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail with a personal commitment to learn from my mistakes. My leader trusted me more than I trusted myself at times, and those were the times when I was really pushed to my learning edge and shined. I will always remember that time in my career. I worked hard to pass on that good karma to those I managed, and now those who I coach.
Romy Rost is a leadership coach and trainer dedicated to creating more productive, empowering, successful and fulfilled managers and leaders.