Synchronistically, during the last couple of weeks this “leadership ripples” topic has arisen in many, many of the conversations I’ve had with line managers, HR leaders and leaders I’m currently coaching…
So, what are “leadership ripples” and why all this interest in them?
What Are Leadership Ripples?
We know that a stone dropped into a pond will cause ever-expanding changes to ripple out through the pond…
Similarly, your leadership practices and behaviours consistently create expanding ripples which influence the way your team members function.
Everything you say and do has an impact and creates ripples. And here’s the all-important question:
Which of your leadership behaviors create ripples that enhance your team members’ performance and productivity—and which sometimes cause your team members’ performance and productivity to diminish?
Are the ripples from your actions inspiring innovation and motivating discretionary effort? Or are some of your ripples disengaging your team members, perhaps even causing them to eventually leave for another pond where the ripples are more supportive and encouraging?
You’ve heard that “people join an organisation, and they leave their boss”? When this happens it’s these harmful leadership ripples that are almost always behind the team member making the decision to depart.
What Behaviours Cause Harmful Leadership Ripples?
Let’s not kid ourselves—there are some seemingly insignificant leadership practices and behaviours that can have a very real and very negative impact on team members’ performance and productivity.
For example, harmful ripples can radiate out in all directions when the leader inadvertently:
- Neglects to give credit where credit is due.
This can take the form of not acknowledging a job well done, or it can take the form of the leader taking credit for something that a team member was responsible for.
Beware, reports are that this is a lot more prevalent than you would think. In fact in a Florida State University study 37% of team members interviewed said that their leader failed to give them the credit that they deserved. Yikes, that’s a lot of leaders!
- Fails to give feedback until it’s too late.
Here the ill-disposed-to-having-tough-conversations leader experiences crunch-time when they can’t keep quiet any longer. External pressures are upon them and they need to dish out quite a serving of negative feedback—which of course comes as a huge shock to their team member who, up until now, has had no idea their behaviour had been problematic.
There are so many leaders, including a number that I personally know, who habituate this conflict-averse behaviour. Unfortunately the “nice-guy” approach definitely doesn’t pay-off in the long run.
And then there is the other side of the coin…
- Interacts discourteously—in the team member’s eyes.
I notice that this repeatedly happens when the leader stands squarely in his or her own shoes—without considering their team member’s position, likely interpretation or response. This leader hasn’t yet perceived the usefulness of mentally jumping into their team member’s shoes and including this perspective when they’re planning their interactions.
- Completely overlooks scheduling regular (i.e. at least fortnightly) one-on-one catch up meetings, or worse still, repeatedly postpones or cancels the meetings.
Hmmm, what message does that send to the team member? I know I wouldn’t feel highly valued and respected if my leader didn’t regularly put dedicated one-on-one time aside to support me in my work.
Your Leadership Call to Action
So, what do you do with this information? I strongly encourage you to investigate:
- What performance and productivity enhancing ripples you are habitually creating.
- What harmful leadership ripples you sometimes create.
And this discovery needn’t be as tough or as burdensome as you think…
How would it be if, in a one-on-one with a team member, you said something like:
“You know John, it’s important to me that I continue to develop and be the best leader that I can be. And I’m curious to know your perspective on what I could do differently and therefore increase my effectiveness. Can we chat about this for a few minutes?
In your mind, what are one or two of my practices or behaviours that support your productivity? What do I do that helps you feel good about your work?
And what personal practices and behaviours could I adjust so that your productivity was better supported—so you felt even better about your work?
A radical suggestion? Maybe it is given your current situation…
How about you ponder what would be necessary for this sort of candour to be commonplace. What new possibilities could then be available to you?
If you want support with this, as always, just give me a yell. And please continue to keep me posted on your progress, your challenges, and your successes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.