Monday, March 1, 2010

Being a Great Role Model for your Staff

Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.

~Warren Bennis

There is an old saying: “A fish rots from the head down.” While these are tough words, the point is that the behavior of an entrepreneur or manager influences how each team member views the organization and their job.

We were helping one business that was having a ton of problems with morale and infighting among employees. The employees hardly talked to one another, and when they did, it was normally an argument of some kind. Additionally, they just did not trust one another. For all these reasons, this was a very unpleasant environment to work in.

It turns out that this business was run by two partners who had a truly love-hate relationship. At times, they loved one another; other times, they could not tolerate one another. They would argue in front of their staff and would frequently raise their voices when having these confrontations.

The owners honestly did not understand the significant impact their behavior was having on the staff and their productivity. They never really thought that their behavior would be emulated by staff.

After numerous coaching sessions, they finally started to understand how their behavior was to blame for the staff’s disharmony and the associated loss in productivity. Whether this change in behavior lasts, we still do not know.

In another case, a manager was having problems getting his staff to come to work on time. As we discovered, he would frequently come in late and offer no explanation as he was “the boss.” It was surprising to me that he did not see how his behavior was influencing that of his staff. He honestly thought that he was better than his employees and that he could operate under a different set of rules. Of course, this outrageous behavior eventually cost him his job.

A final example is the entrepreneur who drove his new Porsche to work and told his staff how much it cost and how proud he was that he could afford it. The next day, believe it or not, he announced that he would be implementing some drastic cost-cutting measures. Clearly, this entrepreneur was sending the wrong message. There is nothing wrong with having a nice car, but not in times when cost-cutting is being done.

Sometimes it is useful to arrange for someone from outside of your organization to come in, shadow you and evaluate your effectiveness as a role model. Someone coming in from the outside will be so much more honest with you than a staff or family member.

Now go out and be the best role model you can be. It makes such a difference in your staff and your staff’s performance.

You can do this.

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