My wife and I have seven grandkids. All are eight years old or less. They call my wife, Mimi, and they call me, G-Bob –which is short for GrandBob. Most likely you have heard of the old adage that you must “crawl-walk-run.” Well, over the past several months, it has been so much fun to watch our two youngest grandsons go through that “trial and error” process of “crawl-walk-run.”
Every parent knows the thrill when their son or daughter makes their first baby step to walk, then the second one, and then the third one and so on. I’m not sure what is more fun watching the smiles on our grandson’s or granddaughter’s face as they make their first step or watching everyone else giggling with huge, gigantic smiles on their face.
Reaching this milestone in the process gives you the feeling that it is time to have a party and to celebrate.
Then came the discovery process when our grandsons or granddaughters started to run, and I mean run from one cabinet door or drawer to the next one to open, from picking up everything in their reach, and then running to something else that catches their young eyes or ears.
My First Baby Step
In business, my leadership went through a trial and error process of “crawl-walk-run.” At first, I took a wobbly step or two, then I began to walk, and finally, I started to run and never stopped.
One of the best truths I discovered about leadership may, at first, seem unusual, but I’ll be the first to say that it had a profound effect on my effectiveness. In a previous blog post, I shared this important, paradoxical truth:
Every leader can experience exponential effectiveness by employing the two “R” factors – as you drive for results, also maintain and enhance relationships by engaging employees.
I’ve been writing about one of the best ways for you, as the leader, to take that first baby step toward a process of engaging your employees. It involves a participative leadership style that I call Engage2Lead and employs the 1-2-3 leadership tool.
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 (employee engaging), relationship-oriented leadership style.
This approach is too difficult to understand, they think, 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.”
The Leadership Paradox
The good news is that these challenges above represent unique opportunities for:
- Improved understanding.
- An atmosphere of open communication, with conversations occurring vertically and horizontally.
- People to address greater decisions in principled (instead of expedient) ways.
The paradox: What may seem to be “extra and unnecessary” time and effort devoted to a participative leadership approach actually opens the door to achieving the results we have pursued for so long.
Only a few people learn to focus on the skills to BOTH build relationships (how they say and do – engaging employees) AND get results (what they say and do) – not simply one or the other. This is the leader that employees long to work for, and when they find one, they usually give their loyalty to the leader and make that job a career.
Adopting the principles of the process of employee engagement (relationships) and results will take some extra time and effort, but the results will far exceed the additional investment in yourself and others!
So why would you want to adopt this process for your decision making?
- First, it’s based in a fundamental regard and respect for people.
- Second, it usually produces better results than merely giving orders (autocratic) or shoving things off onto someone else (delegative).
Let’s say a leader announces a new goal or product/service offering. All leaders must first focus on results (what they want to say and do).
After the new goal or offering is announced, leaders have a choice. They must decide how much they want to invest in the process (how they say and do—including how they involve/engage people in decision making).
Results-oriented managers are focused on reaching the end goal and how to reach it most efficiently. They focus very little on process (how they interact and involve/engage people).
These managers devote much energy and time during the implementation phase. This extra effort is required in order to convince the team to get on board with an implementation plan that they had very little to do with forming.
The relationship-oriented leader is focused on achieving the desired goal as effectively as possible. These leaders realize that the relationships built and fostered among the team make a huge impact on the ultimate outcomes.
They focus on how they say and do things as they press toward the goal. They spend more time up front with their team, soliciting opinions, brainstorming, and asking questions.
They do spend more time focused on the process of engaging employees, but they enjoy a smoother and shorter implementation phase due to the high level of ownership and engagement that results from this type of approach.
Compelling Truth: The up-front time invested in relationship-oriented leadership yields notably better results.
The results-oriented approach might show results sooner than the relationship-oriented approach; however, any early advances of a results-focused approach will be eclipsed by a high-performing, unified team led by a relationship-oriented leader.
And in some cases, the results-focused approach will produce negative results because of poor implementation.
Through trial and error, and employing the process of “crawl-walk-run”, I’ve learned that focusing on good process (engaging employees – relationships) is the best way to obtain the desired result, and I have grown to absolutely trust the process of relationship-oriented approach to leadership. In fact, if you want to hit a full stride with your leadership effectiveness, I highly recommend this approach!
Why? Because when I trust good process, I always get good results – plus all the other benefits of people being involved in the process, such as…
- People become cheerleaders of the decision.
Will you try this approach to leading and experience the Leadership Paradox? What steps can you take today to start earning the enthusiasm, initiative, and devotion of your employees? Please share your thoughts <here> and share this blog post with a co-worker and friend.