In her latest book, Leading with Dignity, author Donna Hicks shared ten elements of dignity that caught my attention. With permission, I would like to share the ten elements which she derived from her research and interviews.
Her book is well-worth the read for anyone interested in leadership. Here are the ten elements from the book answering the question:
What does it look like to treat people with dignity?
Approach people as being neither inferior nor superior to you; give others the freedom to express their authentic selves without fear of being negatively judged; interact without prejudice or bias, accepting that characteristics such as race, religion, gender, class, sexual orientation, age, and disability are at the core of their identities.
Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness, and help; be generous with praise; give credit to others for their contributions, ideas, and experience.
“Praise, like sunlight, helps all things to grow.” -Croft Pentz
Share some surprising gems from the 1,001 ideas in the book.
Probably the biggest surprise for me has been the fact that the greatest motivators for today’s employees don’t require a big budget to implement, but are relatively simple, behavioral things any manager can do with their immediate team. Thanking employees for doing good work, asking for their input and ideas, providing them autonomy and authority to get their work done, involving them in decisions that affect them, two-way communication, and using mistakes as learning opportunities for them to improve are some of the key take-aways.
“Most managers ignore or underestimate the power of praise.” -Roger Flax
Which ones have gotten more enthusiastic feedback than you expected?
The book is still new, but readers in general love the real-life examples and pithy, fun quotes—both of which support the topics discussed. Hearing a great example makes readers immediately ask, “Why couldn’t we do that in our work group?” In this way, the book becomes a motivator of change: to try something new that may very well get you a better result. That’s my ultimate goal: to help people better manage their employees so they feel more valued for what they do and are more successful as a result.
And which ones might be most useful when the organization needs to bounce back from a bad shock?
Communication is critical in working with others, and you have to do more of that in tough times and times of change. Managers’ tendencies, however, are to withdraw during tough times, so you have to fight that tendency and force yourself to be out there, speaking with employees, answering questions and helping them do a better job. Likewise, for employee recognition. So many managers have an unstated assumption that they expect employees to always do good work, so they don’t have to thank them for it when they do. To the contrary, you need to proactively catch people doing good work in order to get them to more easily continue to do so. No one likes to work for a manager that only finds their faults and mistakes…
What do most managers get wrong when they think of engagement?
Do you want to motivate your staff and be a more effective leader?
Rhett Power is cofounder of the toy company Wild Creations, named one of Inc. Magazine’s fastest-growing companies. He is a speaker and author and has written for numerous publications from Time to the Wall Street Journal. I recently spoke to him about his research on success.
As a busy entrepreneur, with multiple conflicting to-do lists, how do you prioritize personal development? Why is this critically important?
In my first business, I learned that if I didn’t take the time for personal development, then my business would suffer. I buried myself into making that first business work. I worked 20 hours a day seven days a week. After two years, I was nearly bankrupt, and I was physically and emotionally wiped out. I wasn’t reading, eating well, exercising, or spending time with family and friends. When I stopped to reevaluate my life and made significant changes, I saw dramatic results.
I started taking more time out of the business. When I was well rested, I made better decisions. When I started exercising, I had more energy and was more productive. When I started to take time for personal and professional growth, meaning spending time reading, researching, and planning, my business took off.
“Constant self-improvement is as important as a physical workout.” -Rhett Power
Let’s start with overcoming fears. You faced some seriously challenging days and, in the end, you now say that facing a fear helps you gain strength. What practical tips can you share for someone who feels paralyzed with fear?
I have always believed I would rather have my fate in my own hands than in someone else’s. That is why I kept going even when times were tough, and I was scared we were going to fail. It’s important to understand that significant fear cannot be overcome overnight. That’s why it’s significant. To effectively deal with this kind of fear, it’s helpful to break down the object of your fear into small, more manageable parts. One of the benefits of breaking down a task that you fear is it can provide you with some insight as to what, specifically, about the task causes you to have fear.
The other thing that always makes me less fearful is preparation. Everyone remembers the feeling of confidence you get from being ready for that school exam. You also know the feeling of not being prepared. I find being over-prepared makes that feeling of fear turn into confidence.
Each time you face a fear, no matter how small, and overcome it, you gain great strength. That strength turns to courage and that courage to confidence in the doing–no matter what “doing” you might be called upon to do.
Reward and Recognize Good Work
You share the importance of valuing employees. As an entrepreneur, you also know that resources are often a challenge. What creative ways have you seen to accomplish this goal on a limited budget?
Even on the tightest budget, you should recognize and reward great work. Here are some things I do in my businesses:
Ask staff to post recognition notes to each other on a bulletin board. Add testimonies from external customers.
Give people time off. Time is the most precious gift, and people will always remember that afternoon or day to do what they love.
Send a letter to the employee’s family, telling them why their loved one is so important to the company’s mission.
Do one of the employee’s least favorite tasks.
Give a coffee or carwash gift card, sports or movie tickets.
Allow people to work from home or present them with a “flexible day” certificate.
Give departments their own week: Accounting Week, Programmer Week, etc. Recognize the contributions made, take them to lunch, make certificates.
Create opportunities: to be a mentor, chair a committee, do research.
Celebrate birthdays, babies, weddings, graduations, and any happy time.
Establish a “Wall of Fame” for photos and clippings that recognize outstanding achievements. Mention staff in the company newsletter, too.
Say, “I’m glad you’re here,” and “Thank you.”
Bring people together for cake and socializing or a meal like a potluck lunch.
This is a guest post by friend and mentor Bruce Rhoades, who retired after having run several companies. He often helps me with strategy. I am delighted that he is a regular contributor.
New Leader Challenges
Achieving a new leadership position is both rewarding and challenging. It acknowledges that you are someone who can make a difference, lead others and get things done. On the other hand, it is perhaps another step toward more responsibility and provides greater visibility of your actions and style.
Whether you are new to a department, new to a company or just received a promotion; the challenges are very similar. It is important to establish your style, values and culture effectively and quickly. As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. So what are some techniques to quickly establish your leadership style and lead effectively?
Much of my career has been serving in interim executive positions or as interim CEO for various companies, where I often entered the organization as the “new guy” in charge. Here are the fundamental areas that I have found helpful for your initial focus to be an effective leader:
Information Gathering and Relationship Building
Decision, Delegation and Empowerment
Action and Accountability
In this post, I will discuss techniques for:
Information Gathering and Relationship Building
The techniques in these areas will establish the foundation to develop a culture of decisiveness, empowerment, accountability and action. I will discuss these attributes in a future post.
Whether you are in a new leadership role as executive, department manager, product manager, or team leader, people will watch closely to understand your style. A few of the things people will evaluate include:
So, where do you start? I suggest you initially focus on the following characteristics as the most important:
Gather reliable information
Delegate and empower others when possible
To lay the groundwork for these cultural practices, you must first have good information, form relationships at all levels and communicate openly. The next two sections provide some techniques.
Information Gathering and Relationship Building
Before a new leader is able to decide, initiate action or communicate intelligently, he/she needs good information quickly. It is vitally important to have information from different perspectives and different levels in an organization. Just getting information from one person/place can lead to narrow, sub-optimized decisions. Here are some mechanisms to obtain good information and simultaneously form relationships:
Skip-Level Meetings: Go to department staff meetings at all levels of the organization, starting with your direct reports, if you are a manager. This also works for project team leaders. You may simply listen during the meeting, but a simple round table discussion also works very well. Popular questions are: what is working; what is not working; what is frustrating; what should we stop doing; what decisions are holding up progress?
“It is vitally important for leaders to have information from different perspectives and levels.” -Bruce Rhoades
There are several benefits to skip-level meetings. Not only do you get good information from “the front line,” but it is also a good place to find things that people can be empowered to fix, thus setting the tone for delegation, action and decisiveness. Two fundamentals: 1) Always listen and question; 2) Be cautious not to manage around the team leader.
“State of the Union” Meetings: These are short one-on-one meetings for a person to give you a summary of the situation for a group, team, department or project. It does not have to be a polished presentation, just a discussion from an outline that covers: priorities, issues, decisions needed and what to start, stop or keep doing. Basically, let the person tell you what they are doing, what is going well and what needs attention. Again, look for opportunities for decision and action.
What are the best ways to motivate a team? Are there best practices that managers can use to lead?
I’m always asking people these questions, trying to improve my understanding of team motivation. Entrepreneur, speaker, and CEO of MyEmployees, David Long, is an expert on motivation and rewards. His company specializes in helping managers link rewards and recognition to the desired goals of the company. The firm he founded has been working at this for twenty five years. His new book, Built to Lead: 7 Management R.E.W.A.R.D.S Principles for Becoming a Top 10% Manager, is David’s view of what it takes to become a Top 10% manager.
I asked David: what are three ways to best motivate a team? His answer:
1: Show your employees you value their opinions.
Anytime we seek to improve something in a particular department or process within our company, we always tell the employees what we want to happen. Then we ask them, “In an ideal world, what changes can we make to improve the process and make your job easier?” Why do we ask them instead of just telling them what to do? It’s quite simple really. We want buy-in to the needed changes being made, and we insure that by involving them and their input.
Note: Your front-line employees should always be involved in the process when developing the system in which they are expected to produce and perform. If they help create the system, it greatly increases the likelihood of them adopting any changes that may be created as a result. Without that happening, there will definitely be unnecessary resistance.
“No man will make a great leader who wants to get all the credit for doing it.” -Andrew Carnegie
2:Recognize excellence at every opportunity.
Someone once said, “What gets recognized gets repeated.” You want more innovation within your company, then recognize it. You want more employees to take ownership of their responsibilities and care about the success of the company as if it were their own, then recognize it! You want to improve any quantifiable metric of success within your company, such as sales, increased profits, higher dollar per client, then recognize it.
Research shows that every employee should be recognized at least once every 7 days.