I love my wife. That’s one reason we’ve stayed married over 30 years. We love watching movies, traveling, and cooking together (she is most certainly the cook, I just stir when she tells me).
I also appreciate my wife. I appreciate the way she decorates the house and makes it feel “homey.” I appreciate how she keeps the house running by balancing our family finances. And I appreciate how she keeps me informed about family and friends by reading me Facebook posts.
And I value my wife. The thing I value most is how she makes me a better me. She keeps me looking good through her great sense of fashion, helps me find the right words to difficult conversations, and regularly offers advice on my speaking business. While I may not always treat her like the treasure she is, I value and cherish her beyond words.
So what’s the difference between the three? Is one more important than the other? Do I really need all three for a successful marriage? Let’s start this brief exploration with a few definitions:
Love: To have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for.
Appreciate: To be grateful or thankful for; to be fully conscious or aware of.
Value: Consider someone or something to be important or beneficial; have a high opinion of.
In simpler terms, love is about an emotional connection, appreciation is thankfulness, and value reflects importance and worth.
So, yes, for a successful marriage, I would say all three are needed. And it’s all three that helped Pat and me celebrate 31 years last November.
But what about the corporate world? Do leaders need these three characteristics to be effective? As in marriage, I would say yes.
Let’s start with love. Not to sound too soft or mushy, but I’m convinced that a love for people is required for positive, effective leadership. I’m not talking about a passionate love one has for a spouse or a child but a love based on friendship. Plato and Aristotle talked about philia love which is reflected in shared goodwill. It’s a love that wants to connect with people on a real basis and wants to see others succeed.
Next is appreciation which is about gratitude. Being thankful for the work a colleague or direct report does and for the results they bring to the team. Key here is actually expressing that thankfulness with words.
Which brings us to Value, an emotion or characteristic that is (sadly) rarely shared. Valuing teammates or direct reports is about acknowledging a person’s worth, their gifts, and how they make the team better.
This is especially true for people who are different from ourselves. For example, I’m a pretty loud person. And I’m funny — at least I think so. And if there was a team full of me’s, we would have a blast! It would be a constant party! Can’t promise how much work we’d accomplish but we’d have fun trying.
For me to be my best and for my team to be its best, I need someone on my team who is a little quieter and someone who is a little more serious. I need that person to tap me on the arm during a meeting and say, “Hey, let’s be serious for a minute.”
By that same token, the quiet person needs me, the person who craves conversation and banter. That quiet person needs me to say, “Hey, we’ve heard from everyone but you and your opinion is important. Let’s hear it.”
You see, together, that quiet, serious person makes me a better me. And the loud, lighthearted person I am can bring out some of the same in that quiet, serious person. And together, we’ll do great work!
I need that person! I value that person for how they challenge me and make me better. And how they make the team better!
I’m convinced leaders need all three emotions in order to build a high-performance team. Organizations can also have an impact on performance and engagement by building cultures that revolve around fostering relationships, recognition, and valuing people for the unique individuals they are.
But how? Can an organization really build a culture that revolves around these three critical characteristics? Absolutely! And we’ll explore that next month!
Happy New Year! I hope you are ready to jump into 2019 after enjoying a fantastic holiday season with family and friends.
Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? I have. Yes, I’m losing weight and exercising more (Day 9 and still going strong!). I’ve committed to reading more books this year. I'm currently reading Brené Brown's recently released dare to lead. After that, The Mind of The Leader by Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter. I'm also going to attempt a resolution that I made last year but didn't complete, write another book -- or at least complete the first draft.
I’m also committing myself to being a better boss in 2019. I don't think I'm a bad boss now (and I hope my team agrees!). Since I'm a student of leadership and management and have facilitated countless workshops that revolve around the idea of being an effective supervisor, I better be a good boss!
So I know how to be a great boss. Like most (all?) people, though, I occasionally do something that puts me on the “Bad Boss” list. When that happens, I apologize to my team and get back on the “Good Boss” list as quickly as possible.
So how will I spend more time on that Good list? I’ll start by making these 10 Best Boss Resolutions for 2019:
Resolution #1: I will show appreciation for my team daily.
Resolution #2: I will answer emails and phone calls from me team by the end of the business day or first thing the next morning.
Resolution #3: I will be transparent in my communication and will truly have an “open door” policy.
Resolution #4: I will accept responsibility rather than blame others for results.
Resolution #5: I will give credit for success to others rather then take credit myself.
Resolution #6: I will seek permission to lead rather than manage by authority.
Resolution #7: I will seek opportunities to build trust with my team and avoid breaking that trust.
Resolution #8: I will truly listen and be fully present during discussions.
Resolution #9: I will demonstrate CARE for my team – Credibility, Appreciation, Reliability, Empathy.
Resolution #10: I will work exhaustively to help my team find success and gratification at work.
Of course, these aren’t the only things I will do. Being a better boss takes constant vigilance and effort. So please allow me to add one more . . .
Resolution #11: I commit to constantly looking for new ways of being a great boss.
If I’m successful in making these 11 resolutions part of my daily leadership walk, I’m confident my team will enjoy a fantastic year.
What about you? What will you do? Will you join me in committing to being a better boss in 2019?
Our values should guide every conversation, decision, and interaction. Our values should anchor every product and service we provide and every channel we operate. If we can’t link what we do to one of our values, we should ask ourselves why we’re doing it. It’s that simple.
We have five primary values that are based on our vision and provide the foundation for everything we do:
The above verbiage sounds great, doesn’t it? These are values of a major U.S. bank in support of their vision: “We want to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.” Who wouldn’t want to work for or do business with a company that believes this?
Sadly, the above words, taken directly from the Wells Fargo website, mean absolutely nothing. A slow-burning scandal that took place for years, low-level bank employees siphoned money from customers and opened bogus accounts and cards using current customers’ personal information, all to meet sales quotas and get sales bonuses. Obviously, this bank’s belief in ethics and customers was simply rhetoric.
In the end, Wells Fargo customers lost money and 5,300 bank employees lost their jobs. One of those employees was Carrie Tolstedt, the senior executive in charge of Wells Fargo’s branches. Amazingly, even though arguably she was the senior executive in charge of the fraudulent scheme, she was able to walk away with a $125 million bonus!
How can this happen? How can a company that espouses the customer and ethics have such widespread fraud? I believe it’s a lack of accountability and a lack of leadership.
I’m confident that if you asked Wells Fargo employees, “What are Wells’ values and how do you live them?” you would get blank stares in return. In fact, asking employees to simply recite the values would be met with that same blank response. Obviously, no one at Wells Fargo was asking employees to name and live out their values. To Wells Fargo employees, those values were simply a nice plaque that hung on the bank branch walls.
While all employees are responsible for living out the corporate values, the person who should live out those values more than anyone is the top leader, in this case Wells Fargo’s CEO John Stumpf. Even when announcing Tolstedt’s departure, he complimented her for being “a champion for our customers.” Apparently, employees, ethics, and customers were just words on a wall for Mr. Stumpf as well.
So how can organizations avoid Wells Fargo’s situation? By openly talking about corporate values, by practicing those values daily, and by having a leadership team that models those values. If you aren’t putting deliberate effort against those values, they will not become ingrained in everyday behaviors and actions.
But what about your company and your leadership? What if your leaders refuse to live out the corporate values? First, you have a choice to make. Do you stay or go? Do you remain with your current organization where “gutless leadership,” a term used to describe Mr. Stumpf’s governance, could lead the entire organization down a very wrong path? Or do you find another organization where leadership believes in and lives out their values?
Second, and most importantly, think about your own actions. Regardless of how leadership and everyone around you behave, you can be true to your corporate values. With every action, decision, and conversation, you have an opportunity to align with your organization’s mission and values.
So hold yourself accountable to making your organization’s values ring true. Doing so will most likely help you engage more with your work and your colleagues, ultimately finding greater job success and satisfaction.
Do you have any corporate values stories, either good or bad? Please share and start a conversation!
There are many skills necessary to be a good leader or supervisor. For example, setting SMART goals is critical for employee engagement and success. Communicating often, holding people accountable, and being skilled at conducting performance review and other challenging conversations are also skills needed to make the "good boss list." Mastering these skills will not only make for an effective leader but also help employees find success and gratification in their daily work activities.
In addition to mastering specific skills, effective leaders must live by and display many qualities. While not an exhaustive list, outstanding leaders must also show these qualities:
Energetic Communicative Knowledgeable
Confident Persistent Honest
Dedicated Creative Caring
Humble Disciplined Passionate
Fair Flexible Humorous
Trustworthy Courageous Empathetic
Yes, that’s quite a list. Is it possible for a leader to be all of these things all of the time? That should certainly be the goal of every leader. There are times, though, when a leader fails to display each of these traits.
For example, on those days when a leader is sick, energy levels may be a bit low. Have a fight with the spouse? You may not feel like laughing at work. Kids go off the rails at school or abuse your parental trust? You may not be flexible at work with your employees (after all, sometimes managing people is much like parenting kids!). Have an accident on your way home from work, laptop crashed, or got beat up by a customer or your own boss? You may not even want to go into the office the next day!
Life happens. When it does, you may be less than your best leader-self. Hopefully, though, it’s just a momentary setback and with a little time, you’re back to your energetic, light-hearted, flexible self.
While each of these leadership characteristics may have some flexibility, there are two characteristics that are not negotiable. Two traits that, when violated, bring your entire leadership and even personal convictions into question. The first of these two traits is high moral character.
Often during leadership workshops, after listing all of the leadership traits above (including character and our second trait we’ll name later), I will ask which two are most important. Things like honest, caring, and trustworthy jump off the lips of most participants. No, no, and no. It takes a while but we finally hit our first key trait, character.
Hold on here. What about honesty and trustworthiness – aren’t they critical characteristics for a leader? Absolutely! But not as critical as being a leader with high character. Why? Because you might be honest but not a caring leader. You may be trustworthy and believable but not humble or persistent.
If, however, a leader has high character, then he/she will also be honest, trustworthy, caring, persistent, . . . You see, everything flows from character!
That’s why character must be uncompromising, because a lack of character ruins leadership ability. In other words, people will forgive a leader who has a low-energy day or sends out a poor communication. But have a lapse of character? Your entire leadership ability will be called into question – for a long time!
Sadly, business history is littered with low-character leaders. Who remembers Bernie Ebbers (Worldcom)? Dennis Kozlowski (Tyco)? Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling (Enron)? Just a few years ago, there were countless Wall Street, bank, and mortgage executives whose greed sent our entire economy into a tailspin. More recently, lack of moral character allowed Wells Fargo to fraudulently set up thousands of fake accounts.
I am both amazed and dismayed that character as a key leadership quality is not a given for some people. Take, for example, Theo Epstein, General Manager of the Chicago Cubs (of which I'm a true fan!).
Mr. Epstein is obviously skilled at building winning baseball teams, winning two World Series with Boston and then again with Chicago. But after years of building teams, it was not until a few years ago that Mr. Epstein figured out that character is important!
After Boston's World Series teams started to disintegrate, Mr. Epstein joined the Cubs and insisted in acquiring "only players with outstanding makeup." He said character was not just important, it was essential to his blueprint of winning another World Series.
At 28 years old, Mr. Epstein was the youngest general manager in baseball history when he took that position with the Boston Red Sox in 2002. Fifteen years later, as President of Operations for the Cubs, he finally realized that character is the most important leadership quality.
So there’s hope! While business still has (and probably always will have) leaders who don’t protect their character and live by the highest standards possible, other leaders can grow and learn like Mr. Epstein. Let’s hope Mr. Epstein’s experience becomes a growing trend!
What do you think? Is character the most important quality? What would you put ahead of character?
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Darren is a personable, high energy, and engaging speaker who will who will inform, inspire, and entertain your audience, Read More
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