A Management Guide to Winning
How do you create an environment that encourages teamwork and creativity?
As a manager, do you need to choose between results or relationships?
Is it possible to create sustainable results instead of thinking only of the next quarter?
In a practical guidebook, authors Karin Hurt and David Dye share solutions for managers who want both a meaningful work experience and results. Karin is the founder of Let’s Grow Leaders and David of Trailblaze, Inc. Both Karin and David are focused on helping leaders improve their productivity and effectiveness. Their new book, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results—Without Losing Your Soul is chock full of advice for managers looking to take their game to a higher level.
After reading their new book, I asked them to share their research and experience.
Become A Winning Well Manager
You share a few different management styles and then discuss the “winning well manager.” What distinguishes this type of person? Is it possible for anyone to become that type of manager?
Managers who win well bring confidence and humility in equal measure and focus on both results and relationships.
Where the other three manager types tend to focus on short-term goals, managers who win well have a longer time horizon. They build teams that will produce results today as well as next year.
Managers who win well build healthy professional relationships with their employees. They maintain high expectations for results in a supportive environment where people can grow and take healthy risks.
They master the art of productive meetings, delegation, and problem solving. They run meetings that people consider a good use of time. These managers practice steady, calm accountability along with celebration.
As a result, their employees tend to stick around (often until they get promoted), and there is a steady line of people wanting to work for them.
Create Genuine Connections
If a new manager takes over a team and sees that it is a low-energy environment where people barely get through the day, how does she turn them into an energetic, sustainable team?
We offer a lot of tools and techniques in our book, but it all starts with creating a genuine connection with your people. Start with building relationships and get to know them as human beings. Then help them see why the work they are doing is so meaningful and vital to the larger mission of the organization.
Building a foundation of real trust and genuine connection makes all the difference. Take time to understand and cultivate their intrinsic motivation.
Use Confidence Bursts to Build Momentum
How do the best managers set expectations in that perfect zone, setting a goal that’s not impossible, causing demotivation, but also not a layup, causing the team to stretch?
Winning Well managers do set aggressive goals but they also work to make those goals feel achievable. One of our favorite techniques is the use of “confidence bursts” or breaking down expectations by focusing on a single behavior during a finite period of time to build confidence and momentum.
Build a temporary scaffold of support around employees with lots of extra attention, skill-building, fun, recognition, and celebration. The risk is low—it’s just one day and it doesn’t feel like a big commitment to change. Once people experience success with the behavior, their confidence improves, and the ceiling of what they perceive as possible moves a little higher.
Every time we’ve done this, the results have been head-turning and remarkable. The best part comes in the afterglow discussion: If you (and we) can make this much magic on this day, why not every day?
We find that a few sets of these intervals spaced one month apart can lead to remarkable and lasting results.
You’ll know the behavior has sunk in when the impact of these “burst days” begins to dwindle but the overall results stay high. The behaviors have become so frequent that the extrinsic motivation is no longer necessary. The value in the behaviors has become an intrinsic choice.
We’ve all seen managers struggle with either too much empathy (and thus accepting excuses or not removing a team member) or not enough empathy (cold, uncaring). What tactics have you seen work to coach in this area?
It really comes down to maintaining a healthy balance of focusing on both results and relationships. If a manager errs on the side of too much empathy, they’re unlikely to challenge their team and help them to grow. Leading with a lack of empathy may produce results in the short-run but will degrade trust and cause resentment that will impact long-term commitment.
When coaching in this arena, we recommend a relational statement such as, “That sounds like it must be frustrating,” followed by a results-focused question such as, “What else might you try to overcome this challenge?”
It is helpful to identify specific behaviors that strike that balance and to ask strategic questions that will help the manager identify a balanced approach.
How do managers invite authentic, helpful feedback?
Well the short answer is “ask.” Sit down one-on-one and ask for candid feedback and then really listen and take it in. Reflect back on what you’ve heard and respond appropriately. The best way to get more feedback is to respond well when you hear it. Trust takes time to build, but it’s work the investment.
Over the years, we’ve both had employees tell us how we’ve hurt their feelings, overlooked their efforts, embarrassed them or overreacted. Every one of those conversations has helped the team to be stronger and more effective.
One of the best ways to win well is to be aware of the impact your behavior is having on your results and your people.
Create Results And Save Your Soul
The hypercompetitive post-recession global economy puts frontline and middle-level managers in a difficult position—expected to win, to “move the needle,” to get the highest ratings, rankings and results. Many managers become hell-bent on winning no matter what it takes, and they treat people like objects—in short, they lose their soul.
This exacts a high price from managers as they work longer hours to try to keep up. Those unwilling to make this trade-off either leave for a less competitive environment or try to stave off the performance demands by “being nice” to their team.
After years of trying to win while sandwiched between the employees who do the heavy lifting and the leaders above them piling on more, they give up and try to get along. Inevitably, after prolonged stress and declining performance, they surrender to apathy, disengage, or get fired.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Our mission is to show managers how they can have great results and healthy relationships, while maintaining their integrity with who they want to be as a leader.
Winning well is all about achieving the bottom line while inspiring the human spirit.
Cultivate True Humility
Humility. You talk about it at various points throughout the book. How does a leader project strength while also cultivating true humility?
Humility doesn’t mean putting yourself down or allowing other people to treat you poorly. Humility means having an accurate self-image, owning your dignity, as well as recognizing the value and worth of the people around you. You know your strengths and you know your challenges. You recognize your internal work, and you also recognize and respect the dignity and worth of others. It also means having the confidence to admit your mistakes and to surround yourself with people who will challenge you.
As you have started to share the lessons from “Winning Well” what has been resonating? Any memorable stories you want to share?
We have been overwhelmed with the response we have received on three fronts:
First, we’ve heard resonance. One manager wrote to David and said, “This is my life! You just described what my normal day looks like. How did you know? Thank you!”
Next, we continue to be told that our tools are “disarmingly simple” and practical. Many readers have shared their appreciation that they are immediately able to take the tools and techniques we share and apply them with their team.
The third aspect of the book that resonates is what happens when you show up truly authentic. A reader wrote to Karin:
“I just finished reading Winning Well (it’d been on my Amazon pre-orders list for more than a month, and I devoured it as soon as it arrived) and wanted to reach out to thank you and David for a fantastic book. Your book made explicit a lot of things I’ve been doing intuitively, and highlighted some places I can step up and do even better. I’m super excited to put those things into practice and to continue to grow my leadership skills as a result.
I also wanted to share with you my story about the power of authenticity and vulnerability, because I truly believe it is the key to everything I have achieved in my career in the last few years.”
The full (and powerful) story of this woman’s journey to authenticity and the impact on her career is on Karin’s blog.
Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results—Without Losing Your Soul