Are you aware of the things you do that turn your people off? Do you know how and when you’re demotivating them? For that matter, do you know what most motivates members of your team, and is most likely to encourage them to go the extra mile? How your employees answer these questions will determine whether you succeed or fail as a leader.
For some time now, I’ve been searching for the secret sauce that enables people to be better leaders. And I believe I have the answer.
I’ve interviewed more than a hundred CEOs, polled more than 3000 managers, and conducted research among 6000 employees to try to find the management skills and behaviours that truly make a difference.
Why? Because I believe that your leadership skills really do matter. In today’s hugely competitive market, you have to achieve extraordinary results to shine.
Extraordinary results come from extraordinarily motivated people and highly engaged teams.
Where you find an extraordinary team, you find an inspiring leader.
Inspiring leadership can make a huge difference to the performance of a team or a company. This is why some company valuations can vary by up to 35% based on perceptions of the quality of management. That’s a huge intangible asset of enormous worth – and great leaders are the ultimate advantage for any organisation.
I’ve been off-line for months now, preparing for the launch of my new book, “People with Purpose“, which has just been published by Kogan Page. It is already at number 12 on the business charts at WH Smith stores in stations and airports all over the world, and is available at all online bookstores.
This book is about how great leaders use purpose to power super performance. It is not only about purpose, or the importance of purpose, it is also about the wider concept of what it takes to give people a sense of purpose.
It shows how leaders create value when they align purpose with culture and stretching goals, and it explains why a sense of purpose is derived from the combination of values, purpose and goals.
If you have to lead, then the research in this book is for you. It is for leaders of large businesses, divisions of those businesses, and small teams in those businesses. It is for people who aspire to be leaders in any organization, big or small. It is for entrepreneurs who are setting out in business, for people leading teams in the public sector, and leaders in the world of charity.
People with Purpose brings together a wide range of compelling research into how having a clearly defined purpose as part of business strategy is a vital element in business success, longevity and inspired teams. More than 30 case studies are explored from exclusive interviews with leaders from a range of organizations, including Odeon and UCI Cinemas, Healthcare at Home, Yodel, Monarch Airlines, Moss Bros and Virgin Atlantic.
These are CEOs who have used purpose to transform performance, motivate their people, develop organizational resilience and deliver results – often from the very edge of disaster.
People with Purpose also looks at the work of neuroscientists, brings together the evidence from around the world that proves purpose powers performance, and shows why purpose matters more in a digitally connected and transparent world.
At the heart of the book is new research by global online polling company YouGov, which identifies the most important management behaviours that enable high-performance.
(High performance comes from people and teams who are not only engaged in their work, but who are willing to go the extra mile. They are so inspired that they regularly and willingly give the discretionary effort that delivers extraordinary results.)
This is what YouGov was searching for when they polled 1880 managers and 2200 employees in research I especially commissioned for the book – the most important things that managers do that encourage extra commitment and engagement from staff.
From their research, these are the top eight things you might be doing to discourage and demotivate your staff.
1.You fail to bring the outside in.
Employees want to know how what they do makes a difference to the people they serve. The best leaders are either regularly bringing customers in to talk with their people, or they are constantly communicating about customer experiences and expectations.
2.You don’t show that you understand employee perspectives.
Many managers fail to acknowledge how people are feeling, because they feel that if they do so, they validate those feelings and will be compelled to reverse decisions that may not be liked. Empathising does not mean agreeing, and empathy is everything. It is amazing how people feel better when you say you understand them, even if you don’t agree or have reasons for making decisions that might not be popular.
3.You show little commitment to the organisation’s purpose.
Employees want to feel that they are working to a purpose that is more than just simply about making a profit. They want to feel they are making a difference in the world. Managers who don’t reinforce this, disconnect them from a purpose that otherwise might be hugely inspiring.
4.You fail to define and review goals that align with the organisation’s purpose.
One of the most important things a manager can do is show employees how what they are doing contributes to the organisation’s purpose. Setting goals that clearly align with the corporate goals is vital for employees to feel connected and part of something that makes them proud. (By the way, the more often those goals are reviewed, the higher the performance.)
5.You never listen. (Or people think you don’t.)
Managers who are good listeners are often the most inspiring leaders. People feel much more respected and valued when they are given a damn good listening to. When leaders are good listeners they pick up great ideas from their staff and respond to those ideas, they welcome bad news in order to take corrective action, and they will guide and steer opinions because they are better informed about how people are feeling.
6.You fail to live the values of the organisation consistently.
Your culture is one of your most important assets. The values that define how you behave are crucial to create a sense of belonging, predictability, and freedom for your staff. People who know the values of the organisation and who know the purpose or able to make decisions without the boss being there, but leaders who are inconsistent about the values sew confusion and doubt and inefficiency into the fabric of their teams.
7.You seem to be dishonest and insincere to your staff.
Of course you are honest, and of course you are sincere. In fact, 94% of the managers we surveyed said they were. The only problem is that any two thirds of staff believe their managers are honest, with a third actively disagreeing. Doing what you say you will do, living the values, doing what you expect others to do – these all go to how employees perceive you and you may unwittingly be failing in some or all of these areas.
8.You don’t make your employees feel important and appreciated.
How you make people feel will determine your success. All the neuroscience shows that people who are made to feel worthy, who are respected, cared for and nurtured, are far more likely to be super performers, to go the extra mile and to be loyal and committed employees. Managers who inadvertently disrespect their staff, or who deliberately or accidentally make them feel threatened or unworthy, quickly demotivate their staff and lose the performance edge so crucial to success. In the YouGov research, 93% of managers said that they cared about the people they lead. Only 50% of employees agreed. A lot of bosses are failing in this regard. Are you one of them?