As a leader you have a choice; be the reason that they show up or the reason they run away.
There are a ton of leadership books and theory out there, but at the end of the day leadership falls into one of two camps; positional leadership and relational leadership. One gets you a short-term win, while the other provides you a path for long term success.
Positional leaders rely on the power of job titles to get the job done through others. Think of any military in the world and they all follow this premise: You follow me because it says that you have to follow me.
Relationships are very transactional in nature with these leaders as well. You work and do what I ask and in return, I pay you a salary or wage. Because they see their workforce in this way, they don’t put much effort to build relationships and get to know those around them. Often focused on hitting a goal at all costs or satisfying their own ego, it doesn’t matter too much to them if you stay or go. one of their main concerns, when someone leaves, is a loss in productivity and the inconvenience caused by bringing someone else on.
This person heavily values building lasting, meaningful working relationships. They are aware of building commodity up in a relationship with a peer or colleague before making a withdrawal or asking for a favor. It doesn’t matter what their title says on a card on their desk, they just want everyone to succeed; the company, themselves and you.
For a relational leader, how they get things done is just as important as getting to the goal.
A relational leader doesn’t pull power from their title or standing, instead, they lean heavily on empathy, the praise of their team, self-awareness, and other skills like influencing, and active listening.
So why aren’t more leaders relational?
This is a simple question that has a more complex answer because it depends on the person and the circumstances that they grew up in. Here are a few reasons why some leaders are more positional and why they never change to a relational approach.
They are modeling what they experienced. Your first boss is a very influential person in your career. They set the expectation that you have for all your future leaders and they play a large role in how you lead yourself once you advance in your career. Leaders can carry over these bad habits along their own careers and may not even realize it. They may also believe that they paid their dues so others need to do so as well.
They have a sense of arrival. Some leaders fall into the trap of arriving at their career goal and feeling like they are are owed something.
They don’t have a people-focused skill set. Some leaders simply don’t have those soft skills that make a great leader. The trap comes from thinking that they don’t have people-focused skills because of their personality type. You don’t have to be super outgoing or an A-type personality to be a great leader. Some of the strongest leaders I know are more reserved and thoughtful in their approach.
They may feel that leading relationally is weak. Some leaders still believe that you should keep a hard line between your work and life and that leaders who try to lead with a relational approach are weak. “We are here to get the job done and that’s it.” The problem with this approach is that the workforce is changing quickly and leaving this leadership thought behind it.
Tips to becoming more relational
Every leader can become more rational with their approach to people. Think about some areas that you can improve in with others.
Slow down. As a high-performing leader, this caught me early in my career. I was always in a hurry to get things done. Slow down to spend that quality time with others. Get to know those around you as you work on the same project. Take time to get to know those around you that are just acquaintances. Sometimes this is catching up before jumping into work and other times it’s connecting along the way.
Listen more than you talk. Give others a chance to share their opinion and feel like they are being heard. It helps gain a bigger perspective on the topic and strengthens the relationship with the other person as well.
Celebrate wins both big and small. Look for opportunities to celebrate those around you and the projects or milestones that they are working towards. Bonus points for celebrating your team’s personal accomplishments as well!
Be compassionate. Show others care and empathy in your leadership. Put yourself in their shows and give them the benefit of the doubt before making a judgment call on the person or situation.
Your organization can have the greatest values, wittiest slogans, and heartfelt mission statements, and it won’t matter if its leaders chose to lead by position only. Lean into the power of relational leadership and get the most out of your team. Model great behavior, continue to craft those soft skills, and never stop in your journey to being a better leader.
Be the leader that you always wanted to serve under.
When you spend time with others it shows to them that they matter. -Lee Cockerell
I’m so excited to have Lee Cockerell as our guest for our 200th episode of Passing the Baton. Lee is the retired Executive Vice President of Disney World and currently travels the world speaking to clients and companies about the power of Creating Disney Magic in their own organizations. Today he shares his thoughts on showing your team care and support. -ZH
Appreciation, recognition, encouragement: A.R.E. Together they make up a cost-free, fully sustainable fuel, one that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, boosts individual and team performance, and keeps an organization running cleanly and smoothly.
Spend meaningful time with employees
You’d be surprised how much it means to people when their leader chooses to be with them – not looking over their shoulders but helping them, getting to know them, asking what they think and feel, and simply enjoying their company. Employees know how valuable your time is, so if you spend some of it with them, they figure they must be pretty valuable too.
When I was at Disney World I spent about half my time out and about, visiting Cast Members. I asked them to walk me through their operations and show me all the good things they were doing for Guests. The message I was sending was simple but profound: ” You matter, and I know it. We couldn’t do it without you.”
When you’re a leader, you’re well served by being visible. I always found that seeing employees with the hair down and meeting their children and spouses added a personal touch to my relationship with them that made working together easier and more pleasant. You give out tremendous amounts of ARE just by showing up.
Give extra ARE to frontline employees
Pay particular attention to your frontline employees. They often get overlooked when leaders dole out recognition and the are most likely to get heat from the customer. Employees that don’t feel cared for are not committed one. They may give only 50% effort instead of 100%, or worse, they get revenge by gossiping, quitting abruptly, suing the company, or even stealing.
Make sure to treat frontline employees as respectfully as you treat higher positions, if not more so, even when you have to disciple or fire them. You can be tough, but your frontline employees should always know that you’re on their side and that you appreciate what they bring to your organization.
Make ARE a natural part of your routine
Great leaders are environmentalists. If you want to attract and keep the best employees, you have to create a wonderful environment for them, and I assure you, ARE is as important to a healthy workplace as clean air and water are to a healthy planet.
To build the routine in your habits, schedule it. Make it a habit today and don’t hold it off until tomorrow. If you aren’t comfortable expressing your emotions face-to-face yet use notes, pins, certificates, publications and other methods that don’t involve speaking to the person directly. The most important thing no matter how you give it is to give it regularly. People who say that it’s not a good time, are using that as an excuse not to get started.
I used to write down in my Day-Timer the names of deserving people I wanted to acknowledge, not just employees who did something exceptional, but those that needed a little extra support too. Remember, for some, a workplace with a heart can be a place of refuge.
Other ways to show ARE to others
Recognize them by name.
Catch them doing something right.
Make it public.
Include their families.
Recognize and encourage great ideas.
Watch our company language.
Remember that ARE is contagious. Each person who receives ARE from you will have more of it to give to his or her co-workers, colleagues, and customers. It’s not only free fuel but the main ingredient for creating a culture of magic.
If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well” -Martin Luther King
I love that quote from Martin Luther King. Often leadership profiles define calling as “Seeing the significance of the work. Has a burning desire for the leadership position.” I remember feeling that calling in my 2nd year as a part-time team member. It was a very specific call to work to become a manager and then fix and turnaround stores. The funny part was that the first store I was asked to lead was a brand new store. It wouldn’t be until later on where I got to fully live out that calling. Today my calling is to invest in and develop others. Here are a couple of self-check questions about your calling.
Are you doing what you are called to do?
It’s a simple question, but it really is a gut check if you take it to heart. If this is not your calling, then I would suggest moving as quickly as possible to the area that is. When you aren’t where you are called to be, you hurt the organization you work for. They don’t get the most effective person for their needs. The person suffers because they will never fully enjoy their job. When someone communicates to me that where they are is not their calling, I do everything I can to get them there. I’ve written recommendation letters, helped people find a job in a different field and been references for interviews. If you have someone on your team that is not where they need to be; do what you can to help get them there.
A lack of calling costs the employee and the company.
A lack of calling to your profession can lead to disengagement in your job. Studies say that disengagement costs a company 30% of a person’s salary due to the loss of efficiency. You can easily do the math and see how much you are costing your organization to sit in a seat that you probably don’t want to be in. On the other hand, people who feel that they are called to be in the job that they hold have a much higher efficiency rate, job satisfaction score and a larger sense of worth.
Are you leading like it’s your calling?
So you say that what you do is your calling. Do you lead that way? Do you lead in such a passionate and inspiring way that it’s obvious that this is what you’ve been called to do? If you answer yes, then you are in a good place and you should work on expanding your knowledge so that you can lead even better where you are. If you answered no, then you need to make some changes to get yourself motivated again. Seek councilors or mentors outside the workplace. Study what others are doing. Read a good leadership book. Take some time off. Do what you need to do to reconnect. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself unmotivated and your calling will slip right through your fingers.
Sometimes you aren’t in the specific place you are called to be, but you are working on it. That’s ok, just be the best where you are and keep working towards that goal. Being where you are called to be makes all the difference in your life and the people’s lives that you serve.
Family is not an important thing, it is everything.
Have you ever been somewhere where you didn’t get served well and then you observe someone in the same establishment getting great service? It’s extremely frustrating, to say the least. I’m typically very unlikely to visit the place again when this happens to me or my family. I think that we get so caught up in the daily whirlwind and routine that we forget why we are there in their first place; to serve the guests. It’s important to the success of your team that everyone feels valued and important.
Love the guests like family. To say to an employee, “I want you to treat everyone like family,” is quite easy. We then are frustrated when we see that experience fail to come into existence. It’s either that A) They refuse to engage in that way (and they should be removed from the team) or B) They don’t understand the difference in what they are doing and what you are looking for. Storytelling is a great way for a person to remember and understand the point you are trying to make. Here we are going to let them tell their own story to drive the point home. Imagine your best friend or mom walked through the front door. How would you react? Excited, relaxed, happy….definitely more engaging. You’d probably carry on a conversation with them and then help them find what they were looking for. You’d also likely give them that little extra above and beyond service as well.
That’s the difference.
Help your team see that we interact with close friends and family differently from strangers in both obvious and subtle ways. Your ultimate goal is for your employees to treat everyone they encounter with that same joy and excitement. It doesn’t have to be crazy over the top either. It could be opening the door for someone, getting on the level of a child to give them a high-five, carrying stuff out to the car, or any number of other small loving things that you can do. Here’s the great thing for you as a leader; this level of service doesn’t cost you a thing. There is one thing that you’ll need to do as a leader though….
Love the team like family. Yes, you can’t tell the employees to love the customers like family, without doing the same for them. I understand that we have policies and personal boundaries when it comes to the people that report to us. I’m not suggesting that you break those. I am saying show them appreciation as much as possible. Remember that we talked in the fall about how we overestimate our impact? You aren’t giving out as much appreciation as you think you are. The people that report to you will be the reason you will or won’t get a promotion. Show them how much you appreciate their contribution. Remember to respect them for who they are. You may think video games are a waste of time and you don’t understand why the guy on your team spends every other waking hour playing those things, but he’s probably very successful at it and the activity adds value to him. Don’t discount someone because of their interest or background. All employees deserve your highest respect. Lastly, be sure to encourage them in their mistakes and when they try new things.
Treat your team like family and set the expectation that they do the same with the guests. Your service level will skyrocket.
Waiting is hard. I know that it is for me. We all have times in our life when we are suddenly waiting for direction. I think of this as a waiting room. You are just stuck there and it only becomes more frustrating as you see other people come and go while you just continue to wait for your name to be called. The time doesn’t have to be wasted. In fact, it can be a very productive time for you. Let’s look at a few things you can do while you wait.
Explore Take the time while you wait to explore around you. I don’t mean physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Remove the times and moments where you may fill stressed and replace it with personal deep dives into those three areas. It’s often like an unexplored cave. There is stuff there left waiting to be found if you are willing to go deep enough. These times have been extremely insightful when I’ve taken the time to do this. I’ve discovered that I wasn’t as passionate about an item or subject as I thought that I was, found new passions, discovered that the things that I would get hung up on actually were not that big of a deal to begin with and found new ways that I could love and serve others.
So what if you’ve done that and are still thirsting for direction and the next step? Get back in there and keep searching. Several years ago, I felt was in the waiting room and spent a large amount of time exploring my own cave. What I found were multiple tunnels that were leading somewhere. One could be labeled poor employee experiences, another a loss of friends that I enjoyed working with, another the joy of seeing someone get a promotion among others. They all lead to a beautiful cavern that was called culture and people development. The piece was in me the whole time, I just had to put all the pieces together. Once I did I left the waiting room and was off on a new mission.
Have no regrets about the time before the wait. It would have been easy to look back at my time after the self-discovery of culture and people development and think that I had wasted a bunch of time beforehand. I certainly would have chosen a different degree in college and could have saved some people on their career path along the way. Don’t fall into this trap. Everything that you have done before today has lead to this moment. It’s all valuable in some way. Had I gotten a different degree, I wouldn’t have had the honor to serve all the leaders that I do. Even the hurtful things and regrets in our past have something to teach us. Don’t be ashamed of your story or what you missed. Use it to write that next great chapter in your life.
It could be a hint that something great is coming Speaking of the next great thing, I have found that the waiting room is often a signal that something great is about to happen. Both of our children came out of times of being in the waiting room. My success as both an obstacle course racer and runner came from times in the waiting room. I would never have thought that would have been me before entering those times. Hold true to these times of waiting. We don’t know the length of the wait but it can be time well spent.
The caterpillar must wait to become the butterfly. So should you use the time in the waiting room to transform to a better, rejuvenated and focused you.
Make a better tomorrow. -ZH
*Listen to an expanded version of this topic including areas not discussed here in this podcast #118: Stuck in the waiting room
The importance of community, living in peace and helping one another, is a foundation piece of who we are. That can be found more so in Clarkston, GA than anywhere else in the world. Clarkston holds the crown as the most diverse city in the world. At a population of a little over 12,000, it accounts for over 200 people groups in one square mile where they speak over 60 languages.
They know what community is. Do we?
Realize what people look like We as a collective community have forgotten what other people look like. The filter is through our misconceptions, stereotypes, misplaced fear, judgment, and prejudice. The truth is that the person you are looking at is actually you. They deserve to be treated the same as well. I think it’s important to think through the full scenario that the person or people group are in as well. It’s easy to say the people running into issues at our border have it coming to them. It’s their choice and they pay the consequences for it. I’ve been asking it to myself a different way: How bad would the situation have to be for me to pack up a toddler, leave everything behind and walk and hitchhike with strangers halfway across a continent? Most of us will never experience something that traumatic. It certainly makes me look at the situation in a new light.
The people in your community look just like you. No matter what’s on the outside, inside they are exactly the same.
Defend and help those who need it Use your skills and talent to help those who can’t help themselves. It doesn’t mean you have to quit your job and become a bodyguard for the elderly or a suppressed people group. There was a great example last week of highschooler girls using their talent in coding to help prevent cyber attacks on others. Be an advocate for those with no voice.
I met a community worker in Clarkston who was doing a great job of identifying the unique needs of the people groups there and worked to fill those needs. For the Somali people group, it was the desire for camel’s milk. It’s a large piece of the social culture back in their homeland and it’s not exactly easy to find in America. It just so happens that the largest camel milk supplier is across town. He made the connection for them and now as part of their custom, is invited in to meet and do life with the people there.
Do you know what the most common need across all the different refugee groups in Clarkston is? It’s simply the desire to have one American citizen as their friend.
Called to community Man and woman were never meant to live alone. We’ve seen what this does to a person on a mental, spiritual, and emotional level. Many times when people have made very violent decisions, it is rooted in their isolation from others. The TV show Alone actively explores this struggle by inserting survivors into an environment alone. The last person to quit wins. Its quite telling to see how many tap out not because of the physical struggles, but because of all the mental struggles.
We can’t reach our fullest potential by isolating ourselves. We do this out of fear, misconceptions, and in more serious cases mental disorders. We are so much better when we learn from others and gain from their insight and experience. I wish I had the chance to experience every culture in the world. Unfortunately, time is not on our side, so I find it important to actively engage others whenever I can. I consider myself a better leader and member of society for it.
How to make a difference One of the biggest struggles I have had in seeing indecency spread to others, is “What can I do about it?” There are several ways we can fight back against uncivil acts and transgressions.
Share kindness and love with others. Refer to our newsletter and podcast from last week.
Actively educate yourself on a people group or culture that you don’t fully know.
Donate to a cause that serves others in need.
Find out what the felt need is for others and try to help them make that connection.
Here are some sites where you can volunteer in your community and how to help refugees.