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Trusting Your Team: Leadership Series

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Becoming A Better Boss: Leadership

By Dotun Merino

When you lead others, you will find that they will rise and fall to the expectations you set for them. If you trust your team and act to be worthy of their trust, they will strive to be worthy of your trust.

One of the most difficult habits to keep under control when leading others is the tendency to micromanage. As someone who has a great deal of responsibility within the company as well as being emotionally invested, it is tempting to try and do it all yourself. However micromanaging, even for the most tireless of managers, is the kiss of death in being an effective leader. The dangers of micromanaging are manifold. Your employees will come to resent always having you looking over their shoulder, which can undermine whatever other positive qualities you have going for you as a manager. Another tragic consequence of micromanaging is that you stunt your employees’ growth. In order for each employee to become the best they can be, you have to encourage them to find their own way. Sometimes they may not do something in the same way that you would, and your standing aside may result in their failure. Keep in mind however that failure is often a prelude to success. Allowing an employee to make a mistake is akin to allowing that employee to grow and become better. Here are some suggestions to help you avoid the temptation to micromanage:

  • Develop a rule where employees cannot come to you with a problem unless they have also thought of two solutions to that problem.
  • While having an open-door policy is helpful in building a rapport with your employees, and it is useful in serving the needs of your employees, you must consider how useful you are being to those employees if you stand in the way of their growth. Consider limiting your employees’ access to you in some ways. One possibility is to allow a certain time of day for open access, while other times of day are reserved for appointment only.
  • A third suggestion is to resist the urge to jump in at any sign of difficulty. Instead, count slowly to 10 and consider whether this is one of those times where your help is truly necessary versus one of those times where in helping your employees you are actually hurting them.

Delegation And Anxiety
What frequently stops us from delegating responsibilities to our employees is a fear that they may fail us. However, this distrust of our employees can be more damaging than failure itself. Living in fear keeps our lives in holding patterns and we never grow or allow others to grow. There is no reason to be afraid of failure because it is inevitable. If, however, we are able to view failure as a learning opportunity, then we can become comfortable with the idea and learn to take risks. Here are some suggestions to help you manage your trepidation about delegation:

  • Write down your concerns rather than voicing them or allowing them to swirl in your head. This can help to ventilate anxieties.
  • Manage your stress levels through exercise. When you do this regularly, you will tend to feel better physically, which gives emotions such as anxiety less room to take hold.
  • Meditate regularly to practise staying in the present. Worry is a future-oriented activity, but one over which you have little control.
  • Appreciate and celebrate healthy progress over perfection. Our notion of a perfect situation, a perfectly performed task, or any other number of perfect things that we can imagine is actually a linguistic construction. Actual perfection is something that is completely beyond our control.
  • Learn to recognize and counteract magnification, a distorted thinking pattern where you imagine the worst possibility as the most likely possibility. Often, when you feel in the grips of an arousal emotion such as anxiety, you tend to think in shorthand and images rather than in complete sentences. Identifying this shorthand, converting it into complete sentences and investigating the logic of that can help lessen your feeling of anxiety. For example, when you delegate an important task to an employee, your anxiety over the situation might prompt shorthand thoughts such as “failure, disaster, poorhouse.” Translating this into a complete sentence might look like “If my employee fails, I will be blamed for the worst possible disaster that can occur at this company; then, I will be fired and go to the poorhouse.” Now that you have translated the shorthand into a complete sentence, ask yourself if you would truly be fired over this. Often, you wouldn’t have the level of responsibility you have if your bosses were going to be so quick to fire you.

One more aspect of delegation can help limit your anxiety. You must delegate in a proper manner. Delegating tasks blindly or randomly can turn disastrous if the person you have delegated a task to is not suited to that task. Fortunately, one reward of getting to know your employees is that you can gain an idea of what each employee excels at. By tailoring the tasks you delegate to your employees’ strengths, you put them in a better position to succeed, and their success is ultimately your success, even if you will inevitably give them all the credit. By putting your aces in their places, you also foster a sense of belonging and importance to each member of your team. If an employee knows that he or she is in that role because you handpicked them for it, this will pay huge dividends in that person’s own confidence, which helps to maximize her or his performance.

In order to get the most out of your employees, it is helpful to foster a culture of mutual celebration of success, and no success is too small to escape such celebration. Take time out to recognize a job well done and you will encourage additional successes. Cultivating certain emotions in your employees such as enthusiasm, optimism, confidence, and tenacity will help them to perform better and enjoy further successes.

Avoiding micromanagement, delegating tasks properly, and celebrating successes are all ways to increase your high regard and trust for your team, but trust is a two-way street. An effective leader is one whom the followers will trust implicitly. Trust, like respect, does not come automatically. Some people may be naturally inclined to trust people, but the degree of trust you need to lead effectively must be earned.

The most important way to earn trust is to consistently be honest. This can even be helpful when admitting you are wrong or that you don’t know the answer. Employees will respect someone who can admit vulnerability more than someone who tries to hide behind a veneer of perfection. Lying to your employees, buttering them up with fake sentiment, or taking credit for their successes are quick ways to make them distrust you. Once employees distrust you, your ability to lead them effectively becomes nearly impossible. However, honesty should never be used as a weapon. You may occasionally have to tell an employee “how it is,” but this is exactly where considerations of tone and intent become vitally important.

In addition to being honest, an effective leader will earn trust by being reliable in everything she or he does. Conversely, if you prove unreliable, employees will not trust you. This makes it vital to follow through on everything you say. If you indicate that there is a boundary that employees should not cross, you must address it when that boundary is crossed, even if it is with a mild response such as “don’t do that again.” If you say you will give an employee certain requested time off, then you must accomplish this. If you tell an employee you will follow up, then it is vital to follow up. Being reliable also means being consistent.

Ignoring one employee’s misdeeds or successes is as bad as ignoring every employee’s successes or misdeeds; in some ways, it is even worse because it can communicate a sense of favoritism. The level of pressure and the amount of work you have before you may make it impossible to meet every one of your commitments.

Making yourself available to your employees is another vital aspect of building trust. This can be tricky, however, and you have to use good judgment in determining how available you need to make yourself in order to avoid micromanaging. Nevertheless, you should always allow some time where employees can approach you. If an employee feels you are unapproachable or feels intimidated by you, it can create a situation where you are the last to know about something important going on. While you want to encourage employees to not over-rely upon you, you also want employees to feel they can come to you when they need to. Striking the correct balance can take time and can vary from employee to employee. Some employees may develop better confidence in themselves by being left to their own devices. Others, particularly new employees, might need your presence a bit more, but it’s best to think of yourself in this situation as being like training wheels on a bicycle. At some point the training wheels need to come off. Even then, however, your employees will trust you more knowing that you will figuratively catch them if they fall by being supportive and constructive.

READ ALSO: Fayemi Hands Over Ekiti Cargo Airport To Contractor

It may seem as if openness is the same thing as honesty, but there is a bit more to it. Being open is a two-fold characteristic. On the one hand, you want to be up front about your vision for your team, your plan for their success, and even, when appropriate, what changes may be in store. Sometimes you may be in a position of knowing something that’s going to happen, and the circumstances won’t allow you to inform your employees. However, if employees sense that something is about to happen, this can produce anxiety. Since changes in work can affect a person’s livelihood, this anxiety cannot be overlooked or dismissed. Try to engage in empathy about the effect of keeping information from your employees. This can get tricky when trying to strike a balance between the needs of your employees and your bosses, but if you are operating from your own personal mission statement and using your own core values, then making tough decisions can actually be emotionally rewarding in that you get an opportunity to make a decision that you can be proud of.

The other aspect of openness is being open to employees’ feedback and criticism. They may not always be correct in their criticism or concerns, but respecting your employees means giving them a fair hearing. When someone comes to you with a problem with what you are doing or how you are doing things, listen carefully. If you feel yourself getting angry or defensive, it’s possible that the employee has struck a nerve. You may not be in a place where you can immediately acknowledge the employee’s criticism. If that’s the case, schedule a follow-up that will allow you time to assess your employee’s concern and what you can do about it. Recent studies have found that people appreciate vulnerability in others far more than an appearance of perfection or invincibility, so don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong or mistaken. This can actually make you a more respected and effective leader than if you demand respect by never apologizing or acknowledging your mistakes.

Prof. Dotun Merino is the CEO of Jars Education Group; a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California.
Share your successes and challenges:
drmerino@jarseducation.com
Text: 0705 629 0985
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

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Mental Health

Understanding Motivation (7)

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Understanding Motivation (6)

By Akindotun Merino
According to Burke, on some level most people in our society and culture are motivated by guilt. He uses this term loosely to include emotions such as shame, disgust, anxiety, and embarrassment. From this viewpoint, people act to try to avoid guilt emotions or to find redemption, which is what makes those feelings go away. It is this attempt to move from guilt to redemption that puts an individual’s “drama” in dramatism. There are a few factors that contribute in a large way to people’s feelings of guilt and inadequacy:

  • The social order or hierarchy. As people interact with each other, we unconsciously and consciously create a sort of pecking order through our language and concepts. This gives individuals a sense of relation to others in terms of being perceived as equals or as superior or inferior to another person or group of people.
  • The Negative, in this sense, is an act of rejecting your place in this perceived social order. Burke used the term “rotten with perfection” to describe the situation where people realize that their place in a social hierarchy is to some degree arbitrary. Those who inhabit a superior position may feel guilt or anxiety because our language includes a notion of perfection that is impossible to achieve in actuality. For example, someone who is known for being particularly generous might experience shame or guilt for wanting to put himself or herself first on occasion. The idea of perfect generosity is unattainable, so the person feels guilty, pushing them to seek redemption. Conversely, someone in an inferior social position might realize that he or she is not as lowly as circumstances bear out and this becomes motivation towards redemption.
  • Victimage is another factor in this drama where the guilty person lays the blame for her or his circumstances on an external source, another person or societal condition. There are two types of victimage: universal, which blames everyone and everything, and fractional, where a person blames a specific group or individual. In vilifying the other person, the guilty person can assume a heroic role in their drama.
  • Redemption is the final stage of this type of drama where the person purges guilt through a kind of death, either symbolic, as in a transformation in character or a confession of one’s sins or misdeeds, or in actuality by truly dying. It is uncommon and disrespectful, for example, to speak ill of the dead. Burke considered the redemption stage a transformation where one transcends the old order of social hierarchies and a new order is created. You can look at Burke’s transition from Guilt to Redemption as following two paths: the first begins with the status quo followed by guilt or anxiety about one’s place in that status quo, followed by identifying a scapegoat, followed by confession and repentance which lead to the transformation of the old order into a new order.

 READ ALSO: Understanding Motivation (7)

This description of the move from guilt to redemption can be helpful in understanding how people come to actively dislike others. Often at the root of ill-will is a feeling of inadequacy and guilt in an individual.

Another aspect of Burke’s theory of dramatism is called identification. If you have ever heard someone say (or have said yourself), “I can really identify with that person,” you’re getting at the heart of what Burke means by identification. In some ways it is the opposite of victimage. When you identify with someone else, you are able to feel empathy and compassion for them. In identification, something of you rubs off on the other person with whom you identify, and something of that person rubs off on you. In leadership, you can create an “unconscious willingness to be led” in another person by identifying with that person and trying to meet the other person’s needs. When you go out of your way to allow an employee off for a vacation he or she Is excited about, you create in that person a willingness to follow you and make your goals their goals.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Understanding Motivation (6)

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Understanding Motivation (6)

By Akindotun Merino
You can’t always get into the head of another person. Even if this were possible, understanding what motivates another person can be so complex that even that person is unaware of her or his motivations. However, to a certain degree, the essence of leadership is getting others to do what you need them to do, as if it were their original motives themselves. While you may not be able to specifically identify another person’s motives, there is a good rule of thumb that was developed by Kenneth Burke called dramatism.

Dramatisim. The great Canadian rock band Rush once sang, “All the world’s indeed a stage, and we are merely players.” To be fair, they borrowed this notion from William Shakespeare who noted that each person is like the star actor in his or her own play. Kenneth Burke developed his theory of dramatism based on this notion. If you understand that people see themselves as the star of their own drama, this can be the first step towards making a good guess as to what motivates them. If you can at the very least think in terms of how other people are motivated, you are better able to develop compassion for them. With compassion, you are better able to understand another person’s needs and how to meet those needs while motivating the person to help meet yours or your company’s needs.

READ ALSO: Leadership By Design (4)

The Pentad. The key aspect of Burke’s dramatism is referred to as the pentad, but if you have ever taken a class in journalism, you may recognize the pentad in another form, the five W’s. The pentad and the five W’s are similar and both allow you to think about who is doing what to whom, and how and why they are doing it. Here is the Pentad and how it relates to the Five W’s.

Scene. The scene of something is the same thing as the Where and the When of the five W’s. This doesn’t merely refer to the physical place where something may be occurring, but to the overall environment as well. When and where something occurs may explain exactly why the situation is playing out the way it is.

Agent. This refers to the actor or actors in a given situation. This also corresponds to the Who in the five W’s. When you look for motives behind people’s behaviors, who they are can be one source of motives, but their environment and the other factors of the pentad could also be sources for motives. For example, someone who comes to work not dressed properly may be simply rebelling against work policies. In this case, the motive is more about this particular person. Another possible motive however is that this person has been out of work so long that she or he does not have the nice clothes needed to meet the office policy. In this case, the motive is not really about the person or agent but more about the scene or situation, this person having been out of work so long to not have the appropriate clothes.

Act. The act is similar to the What in the five W’s. It is the action that is taking place in a given situation. If you assigned some work to an employee who didn’t finish the work in the time you expected, you could look at motivation in terms of the agent, in this case the employee needs more training or maybe doesn’t work as hard as you would expect. However, another possible “motive” lies in the action itself. Perhaps the task you assigned is a complicated enough task that cannot be accomplished in the time you expect, or this can at least be a major factor.

READ ALSO: Leadership By Design (5)

Agency. The agency aspect of the Pentad does not strictly conform to the Five W’s, however, if you add the question of How, this gets to what agency is referring to. In the previous example, the nature of the work that you assigned to the employee might be difficult, and you may already realize that the employee is a diligent worker who tends to perform well. However, if the employee picked an inefficient way to go about working on the assignment, this could explain why it didn’t meet up with your expectations. This would place the “motive” under agency where the problem is not the act itself, nor the agent or scene, but instead the problem is in how the agent is going about doing the act.

Purpose. The purpose part of the pentad corresponds to the Why of the five W’s. Imagine that in our previous example you gave an assignment to an employee who didn’t complete the assignment in what you considered was a reasonable amount of time. If you have looked at all the other aspects of the pentad to get an idea of why this is so, analyzing the purpose may help. Perhaps your employee didn’t understand why this task was necessary or what it was trying to accomplish.

As you can see, when you use the pentad to analyze situations, it allows you to think about all the different aspects of a situation. An effective leader won’t simply blame the employee for not living up to an expectation. Instead, leaders who are effective can analyze the different aspects of a situation in terms of the pentad to understand the situation better. It may turn out that the employee was perfectly justified in not living up to an expectation, and you have saved both the employee and yourself the hard feelings created from a misplaced lecture.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Leadership By Design (5)

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Understanding Motivation (6)

By Akindotun Merino

Setting goals for yourself, your team, and in some cases your company are important aspects of developing a plan for your leadership. However, on another level, these goals are actually not as big picture as you can get. To really understand how you can lead others, you must account for your own values and the company’s values as well. When you have a good grasp on what is important to you, this can clarify when to stand your ground and when to relent when you disagree with others, which is a position you will find yourself in often as a leader.

Values are not the same as morals and ethics. In fact, what you value is both unique to you and can change over time. How can you know what you value? The following steps can help:

  • Identify one of your happiest moments in your life. Who were you with? What were you doing? What factors contributed to your happiness?
  • Identify one of your proudest moments in life. Was this a shared experience? With whom? What elements in the experience made you feel proud?
  • Identify one of your most fulfilling moments. Rather than a happiest moment, this would be when you felt the greatest sense of satisfaction. What need was fulfilled?
  • When you work on determining your core values, identifying anywhere from 5-10 values should be sufficient. More than 10 can make decision making too confusing.
  • When values are in conflict, identifying which ones take precedent can help clarify your thinking in these moments.
    Since your values can change, reassessment on a regular basis can
  • help you to determine if these values still apply. Ask yourself if you are proud, happy, and fulfilled by these values. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable identifying your core values to another human being. If the answer to either of these questions is no, then you should probably reassess.
  • While it is both possible and likely to value other people, this may not be as helpful as valuing abstract principles which exist outside of individuals. Principles such as honesty, adventurousness, etc., can serve as signposts for your behavior and decisions throughout your life.

READ ALSO: Leadership By Design (4)

A mission statement is a pertinent tool for the leader. Imagine you are somehow able to listen in at your funeral. What will everyone say about you? What would you like to be said about you? Now that you have taken the time to identify some specific goals and some core values, the next step is to write out a mission statement. Think of the mission statement as a kind of personal constitution. Just as the US government uses the US Constitution as a guide toward decision making, this mission statement can help to serve as your guide. This can be your own personal mission statement, but it is also helpful to work out a mission statement with your team. However, the most important step in making these mission statements is that you have identified what you truly value and understand why you have set the goals that you have set, both for your team and for yourself. Keep in mind that the activities in this module are first steps, and a mission statement that is of any true worth takes more than just a week to put together. So use these worksheets as beginning points in developing your goals, your values, and ultimately your mission and purpose, both professionally and personally.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino 

Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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