How to Bring Out the Best in People Five New Insights

20 August 2019 -

Different Lightbulbs Switched On

Are you a ‘diminisher’, a ‘multiplier’ or a fair-weather leader? Here are some proven ways to motivate employees and be a genuinely inspirational leader. One even involves unripe avocados

Rosie Gailor

Liz Wiseman, the bestselling author of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, identifies two clear-cut types of leader: ‘diminishers’, who “drain intelligence, energy, and capability from the ones around them, and always need to be the smartest ones in the room”; and ‘multipliers’, who “amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them… [and] inspire employees to stretch themselves [to] surpass expectations.”

The authoritarian approach of diminishers can render employees incapable of speaking up with new and innovative ideas for fear of being rebuked for challenging their manager’s way of seeing things. By contrast, the multipliers encourage their employees to work together instead of a call-and-response type of management.

What can we take away from Wiseman’s insight into management? How can we create an environment conducive to collaboration and innovation? How can we invigorate our teams and help them do fantastic work, rather than squashing their potential? The following points will help you get the most from people and build great working relationships in the process.

THE WORLD DOESN’T REVOLVE AROUND YOU

A good manager understands that a project’s shortcomings sits on their shoulders, not just their team. In a similar vein, you should never take sole credit for a group project’s success. Collaboration, and the ability to encourage teamwork, is a key aspect of management; shirking the blame or relishing sole credit will only make your team feel isolated from you, and not want to participate under this style of leadership.

In The CEO Next Door, Botelho and Powell discovered that “CEOs who saw ‘independence’ as their defining character trait were twice as likely to underperform compared to other CEOs,” and that “the weakest CEO candidates used ‘I’ at a much higher rate than ‘we’ compared to the rest of the CEOs.” As a manager you are trusted, and expected, to head up a project successfully, but collaboration is key; don’t be a fair-weather leader and only acknowledge other people’s efforts when it puts you in a positive light. Not only does it reflect badly on your management skills, it can make your team feel as though their skills and input aren’t valued.

TEAMWORK DOESN’T HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT

“Organisations seem to think that teamwork happens by magic,” says Simon Mac Rory, in Wake up and Smell the Coffee. “If they did not, teamwork would be integrated into organisational development, learning and development, and business strategies. Sadly, this is not the case.”

Why not rock the boat and show your team and your managers that you value the collaboration process? Suggest team-building exercises or training courses in and out of the office, or even include team-working capabilities in individual performance reviews. Show that you’re committed to fostering a productive and communicative team: it shows that you value their input, and encourages collaboration across the projects you manage. If you want to get the best from them, try pushing the boundaries by getting different teams from different departments to work together – you never know what potential you could unlock.

BE A CONTAGIOUS LEADER

Unripe avocados and bananas can ripen each other when in the same fruit bowl due to a chemical contained in the fruits that impacts the progress of the other. Similarly, if you’re in a room next to someone who is chipper and positive, you may find that you come away in an elevated mood; and if you’re around a pessimistic, glass-half-empty person, you can take on their negative attitude.

“Leaders’ moods influence other group members,” writes the American Psychological Association, “[through] mood contagion, a mechanism that induces a congruent mood state through the observation of another person’s public display of mood.”

If you are stressed or agitated about the progress of a project, that will spread like wildfire through your team, and hamper their productivity: “individuals unintentionally mimic the public displays of mood of others.” That’s not to say that a leader is someone who is positive 100 percent of the time, but someone who can put aside their own feelings for the sake of their team’s overall mood and productivity. Our advice? When in a room with your team, be present. Remember that, as their manager, your actions can be read into for ulterior meanings; a shift in your chair could read as boredom, a glazed look as disapproval. Focus on projecting outward positivity and see how far it spreads – a good mood encourages good work.

CONFIDENCE IS AS CONFIDENCE DOES

A Harvard Business Review article on the subject of what sets successful CEOs apart found that some managers can actually demotivate their team in their pursuit of the perfect answer, [because] they can take too long to make choices or set clear priorities — and their teams pay a high price. These smart but slow decision makers become bottlenecks, and their teams either grow frustrated or become overcautious themselves, stalling the entire enterprise.”

Show your team that you’re confident in command and they’ll follow your lead, especially if they’re actively encouraged to make the call on their own projects.

Before Gerald Bowe, CEO of Vi-Jon, makes a decision he asks himself: “First, what’s the impact if I get it wrong? And second, how much will it hold other things up if I don’t move on this?” Show that you’re thinking outside of your own responsibilities to that of the wider

company and of other teams within it. Try implementing this as a framework in your team or department and see what changes it brings - you may be surprised to find that some people just need the permission to make a call to have the confidence to do so.

DITCH THE FORMALITIES

Agile. It’s a word that’s becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. It applies to a range of working aspects: agile processes, agile teams, agile working. Though it may seem gimmicky, it also may solve some laborious processes. Christophe Weber, CEO of Takeda Pharmaceutical, now favours unstructured meetings in his day-to-day working life. He selects 20 to 30 attendees to bring fresh eyes and confident solutions to a problem, and sets no agenda beforehand. This opens up the floor to people from different levels to have a say in both the problem and its potential outcomes.

Instead of status calls or weekly team meetings, try a ten-minute standing meeting. Summarise the status of a project, any obstacles or hold-ups, and where it’s sitting along the pipeline. Don’t just get each person to go around the circle with their workload; if you structure it by project, you’ll avoid people talking about their full inbox or personal projects that have no bearing on the wider team. Being communicative and collaborative will not only make each project more successful, but will help the team see how their different workloads fit together.

So use these ideas to make your team feel valued and indispensable, include them in processes, and encourage them to always bring their A-game to work.

Read more on creating the foundations of strong working relationships by managing with emotional intelligence.

Watch our latest webinar focusing on developing your interpersonal skills.

Image: Shutterstock

Powered by Professional Manager