As A Leader, Are You Working Against Yourself?
What if I told you, as a business owner or executive/ senior leader there is a high probability you are consistently working against yourself, would you believe me?
As someone who has worked in the realm of leadership and management for over 20 years with a specialty in human behavior, I can humbly assert, this is more true than not.
Why do I say this? Because, I've observed it time and time again. And, the knowledge and awareness to not do so, is typically omitted in popular business publication and conventional "leadership training"... executive leadership programs or certifications.
One of the most important areas of knowledge every business leader - at any level - needs and yet few have is how human behavior plays out in business. Why? Because everything in business is ultimately about behavior. Whether it's trying to acquire a new customer or client, dealing with a difficult employee or hiring new talent, each of these is about how behavior produces certain outcomes.
Working Against Yourself - An Unnecessary Burden
I know being a leader or business owner has a breath of challenges (we have 4 in our immediate family) - some exhilarating, some incredibly stressful! So my goal is to help my fellow leaders minimize the stressful stuff - particularly related to managers/employees.
Did you know many of the challenges in this area are avoidable? Why pile on burden? That's kinda like self torture!
Well, you won't pile on anymore if you take to heart and ruthlessly implement what I'm about to share. Now, ruthless might sound like a strong word and yes that's exactly what it's meant to convey - you must demonstrate absolute strength in the areas I'm about to reveal!
Your Must Have #1 Most Important HBI (Human Behavior Insight)
We train people how to treat us.
If you do not fully capture this concept, you will continue to work against your own best interest.
Wait, I thought we were going to talk about business.Well, this is business because ultimately anything related to business is about how people relate to, treat each other. Business is all about relationship... within the context of titles, roles, responsibilities and the power that accompanies each.
Let's start with you. Within a leadership role and title you have the power and responsibility to set the guidelines for how any relationship in your business will go. Let's call those guidelines boundaries. For example, customer services reps have a framework or protocol regarding how they will treat a customer. Those protocols or service call tactics are essentially boundaries.
Now boundaries for the emotionally and socially mature employee are fine. Before they came to your business, they learned how to relate in a way that is positive and productive. In emotional intelligence we call it the ability to self-manage and be socially appropriate. They in fact adhere to others' boundaries and even have their own. They understand and voluntarily adhere to the parameters necessary to have "healthy" appropriate relationships.
However, for the less mature - and this is the key - they may not be as "self-regulated" (mature) or may have different values and tolerances for how a relationship should be.
If their view differs from yours, as the leader you need, you must establish what is acceptable to you and what is not! And it needs to be clear - where there is no doubt! That's establishing a boundary.
The burden can occur - you work against yourself - when this is not done - but rather assumed. many leaders don't embrace and use their leadership power to protect their business. If fact, it's more common when someone is hired, to subconsciously assume an employee will act in a way that's expected - how it's imagined - without explicitly telling them.
That's why, when it comes to employee behavior in business, assume nothing (best advice ever!). It's critical that you set clear boundaries- expectations - for how folks will treat each other and behave within the context of your enterprise. Consider it a form of holistic protection. Think about it... when you look closely at employees problems, the majority are related to how an employee chooses to relate to others - customer, boss, co-workers. in negative, counter-productive ways.
So where does the "training" part come in related to your most important "hbi" - human behavior insight? Well, once the boundaries are set you have to enforce them. If someone does not honor them, there needs to be timely actions that remind and reinforce them what's expected. They need to be clear that you are serious. If they demonstrate an unwillingness to honor them, then an action - a consequence must occur.
If they continuously dishonor your boundaries, and you do nothing...you are training them to treat you and other aspects of your business to behave the way they want. Their behavior and values become the standard, acceptable way to behave - not yours!! Stop and think about that for a moment.
Training is a repeated action/behavior. If you repeatedly allow something ... you are communicating that it is ok to continue - in effect training them to continue. Our behaviors communicate as well as our words. Tolerating is a way of communicating and what you tolerate is what you'll continue to receive...because you're communicating that it's ok.
Stepping back for a moment, we can see that really everything about your business is about "behavior training" (or conditioning), relationships and levels of tolerations. What you need to ask is which ones are serving you well and which ones are not.
For this post, the most important question to ask is - which ones are hurting you, other team members, clients/customers and ultimately your business.. in fact working against you.
If you're a business owner, don't let unchecked, unchallenged bad behavior undermine or rob you of your dream or add undue stress that seeps into your home/family life - establish boundaries and enforce them.
Or, if you're a senior leader, don't let this undermine your professional effectiveness and ability to deliver needed value and results. What you tolerate is a reflection of your leadership. Many a leader has been proven ineffective because of what they continually allowed within their area of responsibility. They did not firmly establish boundaries and when they did, did not reinforce and/or enforce them.
If you feel you need a leadership tune up or see this as an area of growth, consider our 60 day short-cycle development opportunity - you can learn more here. Be strong and carry on! ;-)