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Leadership: What People Want

Are you inspiring your staff or motivating them one task, one project at a time? One is sustainable and energizing and the other is task oriented and expensive energy. There have been many studies undertaken over the years to look at employee retention, growth of rising stars, employee satisfaction and morale etc, and most of them generate the same conclusions. These studies look at why morale might be low and how the organizational culture might enable poor staff retention.

Are you inspiring your staff or motivating them one task, one project at a time? One is sustainable and energizing and the other is task oriented and expensive energy. There have been many studies undertaken over the years to look at employee retention, growth of rising stars, employee satisfaction and morale etc, and most of them generate the same conclusions. These studies look at why morale might be low and how the organizational culture might enable poor staff retention. It’s just as important to look at what’s being done to counteract and reverse those trends as it is to study the dynamics and reactions because of them. But is leadership paying attention to studies about their people or just about ones that relate to cutting edge trends and the bottom line? Are the same groups and organizations polled a year or so after the results are in to see if there has been any sustainable change in the status quo? How about again a year after that? And if nothing was done to implement and ensure change, what were the ramifications? Those are the studies I’d love to see.

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One of the key research papers by Terry Bacon that we analyzed and discussed at last year’s International Coach Federation Research Symposium delved into what people wanted from their workplace relationships. It was an in depth, brilliant paper that looked at, among other topics, cultural differences, gender, age and level of position. There were quite a few commonalities between the 20 year olds and the 60 year olds, one of which was they wanted to be respected. The younger age group wanted to be respected even though they were the new up and comings and the older, pre-retirement aged group wanted respect because of their experience and wealth and depth of knowledge and weren’t quite ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

Are we living in a world where people are expendable and easily replaced? For if that’s the attitude we are dealing with, then all the studies in the world will be a waste of time and money and send morale into a tail spin. It’s one thing to ask staff what they’re currently living, and quite another to ignore their answers. That’s adding insult to injury.

As an Executive Shadow Coach I look at trends, cultures, and organizational climate, however it’s not the organization but the individuals within these organizations that create change and make the difference. What are the behaviors that aren’t serving them? Is there a huge disconnect between what leadership thinks they’re doing or is ignoring and what they’re actually living and doing?

Is leadership trying to motivate staff or inspire them to do their best all the time? There is a huge difference between motivating and inspiring. The first comes from an external influence such as perhaps a raise, a bonus or award or even to meet stiff deadlines. Motivating is expensive energy. Ultimately the cost could very well be exhaustion and burnout. Inspiring one to be their best, do their best and recognize and speak to their and each other’s best brings a whole new level of energy to an organization.

Take for example a policy that shows staff “I caught you doing something good”. It’s not about a prize or bonus but recognition that people have noticed an individual or group’s good work, creativity, effectiveness and leadership. Don’t you think staff will want to do their best on a regular basis they know people are paying attention? That’s not task oriented, it’s fundamental changes in ‘ways of being’ and communicating. It is a proven fact that staff who feel their leadership cares about them as human beings and not only for the work they pound out will go that extra mile because they know it’s noticed. People want to be recognized. People want to be “gotten”.

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Next time you catch someone doing something great, tell them! You’re showing them “you caught them doing something good”, that you noticed and not only noticed but took the time to tell them you noticed. That will make all the difference in the world….their world and of everyone around them.

It’s not about endless studies. It’s about creating sustainable and positively contagious leadership so everyone flies. Are you a part of or leading an organization that is ‘positively contagious’?

Donna Karlin • Executive and Political Shadow Coach™ • Ottawa, Canada • •www.abetterperspective.com

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About the author

Donna Karlin CEC, Diplomate IABMCP and founder and principal of A Better Perspective® & The School of Shadow Coaching, has pioneered the specialized practice of Shadow Coaching® with global political, government, business and senior organizational leaders in the public and private sectors. Donna capitalizes on almost 30 years of experience in coaching, consulting and training to help clients and their organizations evolve into their level of excellence

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