As a leader, do you think you have time in your schedule to ask for input and decision-making help from your employees? Most leaders sincerely believe it takes too much time and effort to adopt a more participative, process-oriented leadership style.
It is too difficult to understand, and they say to themselves, “I’ve got work to do, and my people need to be working. Besides I pay my people top dollar, and they don’t need to be sitting around talking.”
This type of thinking results in millions of employees throughout America who are …
- Unaware of the company’s purpose statement (If there is one.),
- Unaware of what the organization’s goals are,
- Unclear about what is expected of them,
- Uncertain about others’ perceptions as to how well they’ve been doing,
- Unsure about how they might be more effective or efficient, or
- Uninformed about what degrees of freedom they have to pursue improvements
Consequently, many potentially wonderful employees become frustrated, and would likely agree with Jim Lundy’s perceptive summary of this type of leadership in The Employees’ Lament:
The Employees' Lament
“We, the uninformed
working for the inaccessible,
are doing the impossible
for the ungrateful!”
That’s the bad news. The good news is that these challenges represent great opportunities for improved understanding. And the more open the communication atmosphere is for conversations vertically and horizontally, the greater the opportunity for people to address decisions in principled (instead of expedient) ways.
In my previous blog post, I shared that content is what you say or do, and process is how you say or do something. Also, we need both Process AND Content — it's not one OR the other.
The Leadership Paradox
If we can get past the past the scarcity thinking that leads to expedient leadership, we can enjoy the abundance that results from selfless leadership. I call this the Leadership Paradox.
Every participative-oriented leader can achieve positive outcomes and results as they tap the power of Process AND Content!
Here’s a list of some of the benefits:
- Highly motivated employees
- High performance teams
- Employees feel good about themselves because they have a sense of achievement, and enjoy receiving recognition for whatever has been achieved.
- Employees really appreciate being appreciated! They feel useful, and they welcome the opportunity to participate in any decision relating to their operations. They enjoy being respected as useful professionals whose opinions are important. They are excited to be respected as valuable thinkers as well as doers.
- Customers appreciate being dealt with respectfully and are delighted because delighted employees enthusiastically serve them!
- Employees become truly inspired and enhance the organization’s chances for success by virtue of their input.
- There is an increase in morale and teamwork, which leads to improved performance and optimum results. The leaders’ impact is multiplied, not just added.
- By employees being involved in the process there is buy-in, ownership, people are trained, and they become cheerleaders of the decision.
- Employees who are invited to engage in the process are likely to gain a better understanding of the results they are expected to achieve and why it is important to achieve the results.
- Employees who are part of the process feel their opinion is valued and are more likely to be committed to working within the team to achieve the results.
- Employees come to work daily on time, having a good attendance record, working for a higher purpose, and giving a full day’s work for their pay.
Buy vs. Earn
Clarence Francis said, “You can buy someone’s time, you can buy someone’s physical presence at a given place, you can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy initiative; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy devotion of hearts, minds and souls. You have to earn these things.”
How can you earn the respect and followership of your team? By adopting the principles of Process and Content. It will take some extra time and effort, but the results will far exceed the additional investment in yourself and others!
How about you? What steps can you take today to start earning the enthusiasm, initiative and devotion of your employees?