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Shay McConnon

McConnon International Ltd


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The leader as a worth creator pt2


Shay McConnon continues his three-parter on leadership.


Influential leaders know their people. They know the value mix that drives an individual's behavior and they appeal to these to create effective relationships. The leader recognises that to get people to do a worthwhile job he has to give them a worthwhile job to do. A worthwhile job will embody that person's core values. There is likely to be little job satisfaction for a carer doing detailed research, writing papers from home with no contact with work colleagues.

By ensuring people have a worthwhile job the leader improves motivation and reduces the need for supervision. Comments like 'Well it is a job - it pays the mortgage' indicate there is a lack of worth to be found in that job.

The tail wag factor

Money buys a dog but it is love (and food) that makes it wag its tail. You might have high quality people in your team but you may not be getting high quality performances. If people are not being led according to their criteria, you will not get the level of performance they are capable of. It is all too easy to make your great people average and average is not good for business.

Organisations are not successful, it is the people in those organisations who are. They drive it forward or put it into reverse. Dig deeply into organisational problems and you are likely to get to people.

Conflict, stress, misunderstanding, poor communication, de-motivation, resistance, low morale, all have their origins in people and relationships. These are leadership issues. Organisations are only as effective as the people in them. People are only as effective as their leaders enable them to be. Organisations fail their people if they fail to provide quality leadership.

The hot chilli trap

Effective leaders avoid the hot chilli trap - treating others as you want to be treated. I love hot chilli but that is no reason to use it as bait when fishing. To be successful I must use what appeals to the fish - maggots, even if it doesn't appeal to me. You will not win the heart of a carer using the doer's leadership criteria. You will not win the thinker's mind using caring criteria.

In the middle of a team building session, the team leader apologised to the rest of the team for constantly giving them challenges.

'Challenges light my fire, and I thought this worked for everyone'. He had been fishing with hot chilli!

Some people are motivated by challenges, others can feel 'used' by this same behaviour. Not everyone needs to be overtly appreciated. Not everyone will be happy when you offer your help. The bonus doesn't work for all.

Ill-informed goodwill hurts business

The vast majority of managers are good people who work hard and have the best interest of the business and its people at heart. While they are likely to treat different people differently, often it is not in the appropriate different way. They fall into the hot chilli trap. By delegating in the way they like to be delegated to, by giving feedback in the way they like feedback given to them, they think they are adding value but in fact, may be eroding value.

This is tragic and comes with a high cost to the business. It is tragic because the goodwill is there. The manager is trying to get it right. Organisations are full of good-willed managers who are getting it wrong, causing stress, de-motivation, low morale, and poor productivity.

Studies show that 80% of people leave jobs because of relationship issues and most of those are with their immediate supervisors. These managers are likely to be good-willed people, doing the best they can with the awareness they have. However goodwill, if it is ill-informed will hurt the business.

Buchinham and Coffman in their book 'First Break All The Rules' say "People join companies but they quit managers". People don't quit leaders. Instead they are likely to follow them out of the organisation when they leave.

Leaders connect with needs

Leaders know their people and know how they need to be treated to add value and create worth. They are approachable. They have open, collaborative lines of communication. They may ask questions like

  • "What do you need from me as your team leader?"
  • "0-10 score me on how I match against those criteria?"
  • "What do I need to be doing to improve those scores?"

The leader may not be able to give individuals what they are looking for as she will have restrictions and needs of her own. However, the crucial thing is that people sense a willingness from the leader to understand them and a willingness to meet their needs if it were possible. In this way she gives people what they don't normally get which is why she gets from them what they don't normally give.

Leaders connect with the needs of their people and engage them in problem solving on these needs. Team leaders never appease the individual at the expense of the business need or indeed of the team leader's need. The business goal always has priority.

Read part one here

Shay McConnon is an inspirational, entertaining speaker with a powerful business message. He is a leading authority on leadership and culture issues and he has developed a unique blend of magic, humour and common sense in his keynote presentations. He is the founder of McConnon International Ltd, an international Consultancy group that specialises in creating winning relationships in the workplace. He is the creator of "An Even Better Place to WorkTM". He is the author of 17 books on personal development. His latest, Resolving Conflict, has been published in nine different languages

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Shay McConnon


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