“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” Colin Powell (18 Lesson in Leadership – Lesson 2)
In our 360-degree leadership behavior assessment, one of the questions is about co-worker relationships. In other words, do you make others feel valued? It has nothing to do with tasks and is all about people, but it contributes to the success and failure of the overall task/project perhaps more than any other factor. Employees and colleagues need to know that they matter, that you care about them as a person, and that they are a valuable asset to the organization and team. This can only happen through a mutual trust and respect. If I trust you, I am more willing to share my concerns, ideas or thoughts with you. If I respect you, I am more willing to have your back and go the extra mile. Otherwise, go ahead and hit the wall. And the wall you will hit. It comes in the form of employee morale, having a clock-in, clock-out mentality, disregard for other co-workers, not meeting budgeted numbers or goals, and the list goes on. Whether employees leave the company physically or mentally, same outcome…perhaps worse when they check out mentally because the bad attitude can spread like a virus throughout the organization.
Being visible and accessible is the only way to build trust and respect. Leave the “tower” and walk around, observe, ask questions. Ask questions about their families and their frustrations at work. Ask, “What is broken that needs to be fixed?” Then go fix it. This mutual trust only works if you do what you say you will do. Make it a priority and commitment. The more employees and colleagues see that a manager is listening to them and making their job easier by taking care of frustrating issues, the more the trust and respect builds. Once that happens, communication flows more freely and the informal lines of communication begin to be available to you. In every organization, there is a formal line of communication and informal. The purest form is the informal that often occurs between colleagues. The management team receives the formal communication where management sends an email and expects compliance without ever having the pulse of the organization. Management often makes decisions without including those who implement the decisions and that is when communication breaks down. Employees will do as they are directed and tell management what they want to hear, but then grumble to each other about how to do something better or how no one ever listens to them. Being visible and accessible means getting your hands dirty at times and rolling up your sleeves to help out or to fix something, at other times it is asking questions and responding accordingly, or simply standing on the sidelines and cheering the team on to success and thanking them for their hard work. That is demonstrating leadership. That is where the informal lines of communication will begin to trust and tell you the truth and what you need to hear versus what you want to hear. That is when positive change can occur. That is when the team or organization will reach new levels of success.
Call us to get a pulse on your organization’s level of trust of respect and to help you reach new levels of success.