I am expounding on my list of things that a leader can do to create an atmosphere that will foster exceptional teams, as defined by Google’s Project Aristotle. You can read more about the study and see Google’s list of exceptional team attributes here.
In that same blog, I listed my guidelines for leaders to focus on in order to create those characteristics. Here it is:
Kathy’s Leadership List
- Be present, and show that you care.
- Focus on keeping your mind present during conversations and meetings.
- Use good nonverbal communication to assure people that you are listening.
- Show interest in people’s activities outside of work.
- Maintain appropriate boundaries for personal discussions.
- Enforce and model respect for self and others.
- Include others in decision-making as much as possible.
- Ensure individual and team goals are clear and in alignment with organizational goals.
- Be consistent, dependable, and positive in your actions, attitude, and mindset.
- Make curiosity your default.
In that same blog, I talked at length about number one on this list. Let’s move on to number two:
Enforce and model respect for self and others. Great leadership is about creating and maintaining positive relationships because they are the foundation for exceptional teams, organizations, friendships, and romance. We cannot create a positive relationship without mutual respect.
In the workplace, we often fail to respect one another. I see it most often done with sarcasm. A team member makes a suggestion, and someone rolls his or her eyes. Another person might use a sarcastic tone and ask, “How do you think we are going to manage that?” I have to admit that a lack of respect is one of my pet peeves in life.
Leaders must not indulge in sarcasm or any other behavior that makes a person feel ridiculed or stupid. No exceptional team can exist if the leader is damaging relationships rather than building them. It is possible to disagree and ask questions in a respectful way. If that feels impossible to you, please call me. We can set up some training and coaching for your organization. Disagreement about an idea does not have to include disapproval of the person proposing it.
Leaders can and should control their own behavior, but we are also responsible for creating a positive and nurturing environment for ideas and creativity. How do we get everyone else to play nice and be respectful? The answer is to create a Designed Alliance. I have written about Designed Alliances here and here.
In daily life and with a group using a Designed Alliance, it’s important to define what respect looks like. Respect covers a lot of ground. We are respectful when we:
- Show up on time.
- Listen without interrupting.
- Thank someone for giving us feedback.
- Ask questions about an idea or concept without calling a person’s intelligence or motivation into question.
- Use nonverbals to clearly demonstrate our interest in what a person is saying.
- Use self-discipline to manage feelings of frustration and anger.
A caveat of showing respect to others is that it helps us get to the outcome that we are looking for. A conversation or negotiation will end harshly more than 90% of the time if it begins harshly, according to John Gottman’s research. If we are respectful, then we are not harsh.
Time and time again, I have witnessed people losing their temper and lashing out at others when a discussion stalls and one or both people don’t feel that they are being understood. When we disrespect one another, the conversation or negotiation is usually over. However, if we can hang in there, stay calm, and ask questions, we can usually manage the situation and get our desired outcome. Some of my clients have gotten amazing results by changing the way that they argue with others. We talk about tools and perspectives, but the bottom line is that they remain respectful of others.
Here are my bullets for number two on my list:
Enforce and model respect for self and others.
- Watch vigilantly for situations that make a person or group feel a lack of respect.
- Talk to employees and peers about disrespectful behavior in an appropriate setting.
- Behave scrupulously, in a way that always shows respect for others.
- Establish Designed Alliances whenever possible so that respectful behavior is explicitly defined, expected, and required.
Showing and enforcing respect requires the two things that leadership coaching provides: increased awareness about what is going on and intentional action. Intentional action requires some self-discipline. Fortunately, self-discipline is a muscle that we can strengthen with practice. A leadership coach can help you identify behaviors that will create success and also help you practice and stick with those behaviors.
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If you are interested in taking your career to the next level quickly, contact me for a sample coaching session at KSTorrey@tapferconsulting.com.