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How to Bridge the Leadership

Perception Divide
To be effective, a leader must make sure his or her perception of personal actions does, in
fact, align with how employees view these same decisions. Heres a look at a few areas
where leaders miss the mark -- and how they can follow through to actually lead the way
they think they already are.

Conformity versus innovation.


Many leaders think they encourage employees to innovate and approach them with new
ideas, but a majority of employees feel as if they should think inside the box. In the
VitalSmarts survey, employees were 53 percent more likely than leaders to say the office-
culture norm is to conform, follow the rules and make a good impression.

Why do employees feel this way? No matter how much leaders think they ask employees
for new ideas, employees often believe their leaders are not listening. More than 600
employees participated in the Society for Human Resource Management's 2015 Job
Satisfaction and Engagement survey. They ranked having an immediate supervisor who
respected their ideas among the Top 10 overall job-satisfaction factors. But only 37
percent of respondents were very satisfied with how carefully their
supervisers considered those ideas. Whats more, just 23 percent were very satisfied by
the level of communication with senior management.

Leaders need to show they truly value innovation and new ways of getting the job done.
Listening to employees' ideas is a strong start. Even if you suspect the idea won't work,
don't simply dismiss it. Talk through the logistics together and explain why this particular
suggestion isn't the best fit. Be sure to thank your employees for continually thinking
about ways to make your business better. Additionally, consider holding informal
meetings once a month to discuss and brainstorm new ideas.

Transparency versus closed communication.


Leaders tend to think theyre open and honest with employees, but the VitalSmarts
survey hints employees dont feel the same way. Leaders were 67 percent more likely
than employees to say the norm in the office is to speak up immediately whenever there
is a question or concern that could affect performance.

While leaders expect employees to come to them with questions or concerns, they dont
do the same. The disconnect happens in feedback. In 2015, Interact issued its Many
Leaders Shrink from Straight Talk with Employees report, which found 37 percent of
managers are uncomfortable giving direct feedback and criticism when they anticipate
employees may respond poorly.

Real Leaders Don't Follow: Being Extraordinary in the Age of the Entrepreneur by
Steve Tobak

Delivering real-time, frequent feedback can help bridge the distance between viewpoints.
This means communicating the good news along with the bad. Open conversations,
though, shouldn't be limited to performance topics. Real transparency means addressing
other uncomfortable topics with the same degree of candor. Share what's appropriate and
keep employees in the loop.

Goal-oriented versus task-oriented.


Many leaders believe they're helping employees set goals and establish plans to reach
them, but employees from VitalSmarts' survey were 18 percent less likely than leaders to
agree this is true.

Setting goals isn't enough. These objectives sometimes get lost in the flood of day-to-day
responsibilities. Think about the last time you discussed growth-plan goals with your
employees? Start by assessing their stated aims. Do they have both long- and short-term
goals? Are these goals realistic? And are employees held accountable for their progress?

Work with employees to set individual and team goals. Then, keep these statements top
of mind. Refer to them as a guiding force in operations as well as in performance
evaluations.

Competition versus teamwork.


Collaboration and teamwork have become large areas of focus for leaders, but employees
arent seeing the change. After all, respondents of the VitalSmarts survey said they felt
competition with peers was valued by leaders and their company culture.

While goals and metrics are important, dont use them to pit employees against one
another. Instead, lead the team to achieve goals together. Keep everyone on the team
accountable for group goals. At the same time, keep progress toward personal goals
strictly one-to-one, between leader and employee. Recognize different team members for
their efforts and contributions so employees know they're valued and don't feel a need to
compete.
No One Is Telling You the Truth at
Work (And What to Do About It)
Thinking Id left something behind, I abruptly stopped. But instead of handing over my
laptop power cord, he breathlessly exclaimed, Im so glad I caught you! I wanted to give
you some feedback on your talk! And in about three minutes, this wonderful man
provided a few unbelievably valuable ideas. The saying feedback is a gift is such a
painful clich that we often forget how true it really is.

But when was the last time someone (literally or metaphorically) chased you down to
give you feedback? Most of us expect that if we have room to improve in a particular
area, surely someone will say something. But sadly, this truism isnt true at all: we live in
a world where people prefer telling pretty lies over the (sometimes ugly) truth.

Lets imagine a hypothetical meeting: Barb is making a presentation to her peers on a


new, clearly ill-conceived initiative. But when Barb finishes, the room is surprisingly
silent, save a few utterances of good job, good plan, cant wait to hear more. Next
comes the meeting after the meeting (sans Barb) where everyone tells each other what
they really thought.

Why people mislead.


Now, when humans behave in such strange ways, its because the behavior accords us
some kind of advantage as a species. In the early days of the human race, individual
survival depended on belonging to a group, and breaking the rules often meant having to
go it alone. For that reason, humans are hard-wired to avoid upsetting the social apple
cart -- in fact, researchers have shown that social rejection activates the same parts of our
brains that physical pain does!

At work, though our peers and employees tend to be the biggest offenders, even bosses
arent immune to this primal fear. I recently heard about a workgroup whose manager
abruptly resigned. Each of his five employees fancied themselves his successor and
eagerly awaited their upcoming promotion. Not only did that news never come, the
company hired someone outside the group. Apparently, unbeknownst to all five
employees, none were doing their current jobs acceptably, let alone being considered for
a promotion. But had their manager -- or anyone -- told them? Of course not! In fact, all
had received glowing performance reviews. Had the employees known about their subpar
performance, they each would have had the chance to improve and -- who knows? -- one
might have landed the job.
When we dont know the truth about our behavior or our performance, the result is an
enjoyable but dangerous sense of blissful ignorance. Managers who overestimate
themselves, for instance, are six times more likely to derail. People who lack self-
awareness bring down the performance of their entire team. And companies made up of
blissfully ignorant employees even experience poorer financial performance.

So are we doomed to be forever oblivious? Thankfully, almost anyone can take charge of
learning the truth. As part of the research for my forthcoming book (due out in May of
2017 with Penguin Random House), Ive spent nearly two years studying people who
have made transformational improvements in their self-awareness -- because this quality
is as special as it is rare, one of my research assistants called them self-awareness
unicorns, and the term stuck. Not shockingly, weve found that unicorns make smarter
choices, have stronger relationships and live better lives.

Here are three unicorn hacks to learn the truth about yourself without sacrificing your
confidence.

1. Hunt for indirect feedback.


I was recently interviewing a Fortune 500 CEO on this very topic. I asked him how he
assessed his leadership effectiveness at any given point in time. If I look over my
shoulder and people are following me, thats a good sign, he said, But if nobody is
back there, thats called feedback. Even though people dont always tell us the truth,
they often give indirect signals that belie their real feelings -- whether its their body
language, their tone of voice, or even what they dont say. Maybe youre working on a
report and your boss sends it back to you for three rounds of revisions. Thats indirect
feedback that you might need to hone your writing skills. Or if you smooth over a
difficult client situation and your normally taciturn boss smiles, thats indirect feedback
that you performed well. Even though our world is designed to keep the direct truth from
us, simply being a little more tuned in to indirect signals can be surprisingly illuminating.

2. Find loving critics.


As professor John Jacob Gardiner aptly observes, pity the leader caught between
unloving critics and uncritical lovers. Indeed, there are three types of people in our
lives: Unloving Critics find fault in everything we do, often because of a lack of trust,
perceived competition, jealousy, or insecurity. Uncritical Lovers tell us everything were
doing is just great; this group includes people who simply think we walk on water (e.g.,
our moms) or those who are afraid to speak truth to power (e.g., fearful employees).
Finally, Loving Critics tell us the ugly truth because they care and want us to be
successful. Self-awareness unicorns know that feedback from unloving critics and
uncritical lovers is rarely helpful, nor is it necessarily reflective of reality. For this reason,
they seek feedback primarily from loving critics -- a supportive spouse, a trusted
coworker, a brave employee -- who call them on their nonsense in a caring way.
3. Listen first, respond later.
Of course, no matter who were getting it from, hearing tough feedback can be
excruciating, even for unicorns. To help them deal with this reality, they dont pressure
themselves to figure it out right away. One noted, when Im getting feedback, especially
if I dont like it, the main thing I focus on is to listen non-reactively. I know that in a few
days, I can come back and figure out what I want to do with it. Especially with tough
feedback, give yourself some time -- then and only then should you ask yourself: Does it
make sense? Is it valid? Is it important to act on?

Lets conclude with a few wise words from author Marianne Williamson: it takes
courage...to endure the sharp pains of self-discovery rather than choosethe dull pain of
unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives. Instead of being content with this
dull pain, unicorns take charge, bravely seeking out feedback on their own terms -- and
all the while knowing that it absolutely is worth it.
Abilene Paradox Story about a family who, collectively, decides to drive to
Abilene, Texas, despite the fact that, individually, none of them
really wants to make the trip. Used as a parable to illustrate the
dangers of organisational groupthink where the inclination to
conform to the action of others takes priority over independent,
rational decision-making processes.

Accounts The monies the company owes for goods or services received,
Payable but not yet paid for.

Acid test ratio Current assets - current liabilities. This measures liquidity.

Acquisition One firm gains a controlling interest in another.

Arbitration Referral of a dispute to a third party for settlement or advice;


method of settling an industrial dispute where a third party
renders a binding decision.

Attrition Decrease in total employment of an organisation or industry


through the normal course of events such as resignation,
retirement or death.

Balanced A strategic, measurement-based management system,


Scorecard originated by Robert Kaplan and David Norton, which provides
a method of aligning business activities to the strategy,
and monitoring performance of strategic goals over time.

Barriers to entry Barriers to entry are those things that make it difficult for a new
company to compete against companies already established in
the field. Examples include such things as patents, trademarks,
copyrighted technology, and a dominant brand.

Benchmarking The use of performance or profiles as standards for measuring


ones own performance.

Blake and An explanation, through the medium of a grid, of five styles of


Moutons management concentrating on concern for people and concern
Managerial Grid for production.

Bureaucratic This is the contribution to classical management theory from


theory the German academic Max Weber (1864 - 1920)

Buy Back The repurchase by a company of some or all of its shares from
an investor, who acquired them by putting venture capital into
the company when it was formed. May also occur when a
company buys back the shares in a public company so that it
becomes privately owned again.

Buy Out The purchase of the ownership, controlling interest, shares etc
of a company. May also occur when a company is sold to its
top managers.

Coalface The place where the actual physical work gets done as
opposed to managing and administration.

Competitive What leads to a firm being able to outmatch its rivals in


Advantage attracting & maintaining its targeted customers.

Compensation Compensation for injury to an employee arising out of and in


the course of employment that is paid to the worker or
dependents by an employer whose strict liability for such
compensation is established by statute. Where established by
statute, workers' compensation is generally the exclusive
remedy for injuries arising from employment, with some
exceptions.
Workers' compensation statutes commonly include explicit
exclusions for injury caused intentionally, by willful misconduct,
and by voluntary intoxication from alcohol or illegal drugs.

Control The measurement and correction of the performance of


subordinates to ensure that organisational objectives and the
plans for attaining them are being met. See Management
information systems.

Core An organisations basic lines of business. Its core strengths and


Competencies abilities.

Cost Benefit Calculation of the estimated costs and gains from an


Anaylsis anticipated strategic decision.

Cost Centre Unit of firm measured by its variance from budget.

Due Diligence The process of enquiry made during a merger and acquisition
and by the purchaser as to the various financial, logistical and
legal matters involved in such a transaction.

Economies of Scale: being efficient by creating the lowest per unit cost of
scale and scope production and/or marketing; and Scope: being efficient by
sharing a cost of an activity across product lines.

Efficiency Ration of outputs to inputs. Efficiency increases when costs of


inputs are reduced or value of outputs are increased.
Enviromental Political-legal - the role of government and the legislative
Factors framework of society; Economic - the state of the economy,
both global and domestic is a crucial factor in managerial
decision making;
Competitive - management must alert organisations of existing
and potential competition; Technological - the information,
equipment, techniques and processes required to transform
inputs into outputs in the organisation; Socio-cultural -
concerned social norms, attitudes, beliefs, values and lifestyles
of the organisations stakeholders; Physical-natural -
concentrates upon the natural environment and societys
awareness of ecology.

Ergonomics An approach to job design by focusing on the worker and


considering how s/he interacts with the machine.

Ethics Standards of conduct, moral judgement.

Expected Value The estimated or assessed cost (or benefit) of some action,
proposal or event multiplied by the expected probability of it
occurring.

FAYOL - Henri Fayol established the tasks of managing involving five


categories: Planning; Organising; Motivating; Controlling; Co-
ordinating.

Fiduciary Holding or investing of property or assets that have been


responsibility entrusted to an individual or organisation for a beneficiary.

Fixed Assets Non-liquid assets that are required for the company's day-to-
day operations. They include facilities, equipment, and real
property.

Fixed Costs Expenses that don't change based on production or sales


volumes. They include salaries, rent, insurance, etc.

Gantt Chart Developed by Henry Gantt, an associate of Frederick Taylor.


This is part of the planning process and is an early method of
scheduling

Goodwill Used exclusively for accounting and financial purposes. It is the


vague and arguable excess value of a business or asset over
its net worth (usually intangible).

Gross Profit Gross Profit equals sales revenue minus the cost of goods
sold.

Gross Revenue Gross Revenue is money generated by all of a company's


operations, before deductions for expenses.