Through previous Blogs, I have explored the assertion that one of the hardest things to do is to lead the people we serve. Many “lists” of purported “easy” strategies appear regularly online. Yet we quickly realize that actual leadership does not prove that easy; quick fix approaches don’t fit into the rubric of real leadership experience.
That said, I have committed to outlining several essential elements that are adaptable to many organizational contexts (you can read part 1 here, part 2 here, part three here, part four here and part five here).
Last time I explored the need to “Provide simple and clear objectives for each person/role.” – and that it is good (maybe best) to do so in writing.
This week I am adding to our list the elements of affirmation, and corrective coaching. Originally listed as two separate steps, I include them together because they are the two sides of the same coin, as follows:
Affirm individual and team successes – in real time. Far too often we as leaders wait until the “annual review” to discuss positive contributions of those we lead. Good performance is expected, so why point it out? However, study after study has proven the power and momentum-enhancing value of regular positive feedback. Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson in their seminal book, “The New One Minute Manager,” have coined the phrase “One Minute Praisings” to remind leaders to encourage results by regularly, though briefly, affirming positive behaviors. Doing so in real-time, rather than only during formal reviews, is motivating!
Correct individual and team excesses – in real time. The other side of the coin is to address aberrant behavior in real time. Again, far too often correction is stacked up and saved for the regularly scheduled evaluation period. Doing so delays adjustments and can lead to a “dump-truck” corrective feedback that can be emotionally overwhelming for the recipient. By contrast, regular feedback and coaching can create real-time improvement and a climate of trust, since people will always know, “what the leader is thinking.”
Affirmation and correction are two keys to active leadership. Next week I will address the value of promotions as a core team motivator.
Until then, stay strong – and never forget, it takes Courage to Lead.
Photo Credit: Martin Shreder