Saturday, December 8, 2012

Leader & Team: Cause-Effect Relationship

The main task is to get the team to perform above & beyond the "normal" call of duty, or to adopt a significant change. 

An interesting debate: “If your team doesn't perform the way you want because of their perception of you, can things be turned around?” spurs very active discussion, what’s cause-effect relationship between leader and team?

First of all, the leader may need to diagnose the root cause by asking Big Whys:

 1. Is it caused by miscommunication?

If a team does not perform well to the expectation of a superior (manager, director or business lead), there could be several reasons. One could be that an employee (a subordinate)'s perspective is different from his/her superior and both are not on the same page. People follow leaders for a number of reasons such as :

  1. They have to. (not the best reason) 
  1. They look up and respect the leader. (Excellent situation, tough to maintain in difficult times)       
The further questions need be pondered:
a. Why is their perception of you as the leader causing them to perform poorly?
b. Lack of trust that you will represent their interests to the business units?
c. Is it due to a failure to recognize their hard work?
d: Is it because you never say thank you?
e: The incentive/ motivation for the team, OR, "What's in it for me?"
f: Are you new to the role and changing the way they work or operate?
g: Do they view you are not putting in the time they are in a work situation?
It is critical to determine whether a team's perceptions are an accurate portrayal of a leader or whether the issue really is one of the misperceptions There are many factors such as:

  1. “Stretching Goal": If perception is about the job or task, then continuous communication is critical to making sure assignment is effective, motivational but not unrealistic 
  1. Leadership effect: If a leader's behaviors, which caused the loss of respect and trust, exist for too long, then changing and regaining that trust and respect is unlikely.

2. Is it Culture Issue

Usually, change management has significant high failure rate due to the culture inertia, the main task is to get the team to perform above & beyond the "normal" call of duty, or to adopt a significant change. Unless the team is appropriately motivated, this will not be successful. 

  • Build up the Culture of Trust: Slowly chip away at the team and build up their confidence & trust, win some low-hanging fruits, etc - and then drive larger initiatives forward that are really dependent on whole-hearted support from your team for its success.
  • Leaders depend on perception to rule and to set vision and goals: If this perception changes,  they can very well lose their ability to rule effectively,  not completely lose their ability to lead. Now if their perception is long-held and based on their own experiences with you, the approach has to include acknowledgment of the 'problem.' 
  • Situation dictates: Bad situations commonly bring people together, sometimes people who would never willingly work together normally. As a race, we seek to always have at least one person as a guiding force or - leader

This is usually brought to a manager's attention by an Employee Satisfaction Survey. If so,  use these results to begin a discussion and build an action.

3. Is it caused by a stiffening process

Some managers may accept the way they are and will not change to get the most out of their people. But most importantly, sometimes,  the governance structure that guides the manager does not evaluate him or her on this strong link between perception and performance. If you accept and value this linkage and can change,  the answer is yes; if this linkage is not valued and accepted as fallout for having a particular kind of leader,  the answer is no.

Sometimes leadership effectiveness maybe also beyond our own hard-skills or soft-charming, it need get supported via the ecosystem, and innovation means beyond product/service/process breakthrough, it need touch leadership, culture and conventional thinking.

Always focus on improving the process to solve problems, not playing politics, and make it business driven to turn around the tough situation. It will take far more effort & diligence on your part.
Mutual-trust may take some time, but the effective leader will lead via influence, a humble attitude, a culture of trust, as well as an effective process.


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