Federal executives are seeing employee disengagement cost billions of dollars annually in productivity losses. As fiscal forces threaten the ability to address human capital issues, stewardship of the modern workforce is at risk. Resources are limited, funds are contracting, budgets are strained, and changes are happening at an increasing pace. Yet leaders must ensure and sustain mission success and employee morale.
There are seven powerful behaviors that propel organizations to new heights. These leadership rules improve individual, team and enterprise performance, as well as morale. They promote accountability at the highest level. These behaviors help leaders show their people they care by creating connections to help them be their very best.
1. Create a supportive environment. Recognize, encourage and help employees who take risks. If people want to try a new way of doing things, give them the chance to try. If they succeed, recognize their success. If the new way fails, celebrate the lesson learned and encourage them to keep looking for ways to do things better. Really listen to what others are saying. Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t fully understand.
2. Maintain confidentiality. Weigh carefully the potential consequences of quoting other people and spreading gossip. Encourage your people to share their input, but be careful not to punish them if you don’t agree with their suggestions or point of view. Guarding against attribution and retribution builds trust, putting people at ease to be creative and be focused.
3. Stay focused and be prepared. Define and understand what it means to be on task and how to remain there. It’s easy to get distracted and discouraged by the millions of things going on in your life. Clear your mind, pull together the tools you need and fully embrace the situation at hand. Every leader can do little things to ensure that he or she shows up 100 percent in the moment and that all members of the organization realize they too are expected to show up fully engaged.
4. Manage all agreements. Your cumulative record of adhering to commitments forms the essence of how others view you. Get clear on your commitments, make fewer of them and keep the ones you make. If you must break a commitment, minimize the impact by informing others in advance. If this is not possible, acknowledge breakdowns as soon as possible.
5. Use open, honest and direct communication. Practice being open: Be clear as opposed to sending hidden messages. Practice being honest: Truthfully share your thoughts, ideas and feelings. Practice being direct: Share your message with the person it is intended for instead of telling someone who you hope will pass it along.
6. Have a proper attitude for learning. Remain open to, contribute to and build on new ideas. No matter what is said, be open to the 1 percent possibility that all ideas have value and that you can learn from them. Suspend judgment, seeking first to understand the message of the other person. This enhances social inclusion, active participation and professional development. A proper attitude for learning will also make you an effective teacher.
7. Be self-monitoring. Hold up the mirror, and then make adjustments. This leadership rule is a reminder to continuously build self-awareness -- and also to monitor your adherence to the other six leadership rules.
Effective leadership is truly a choice. It promotes stability by developing talent and retaining your superstars in periods of transition and growth as well as economic strain. Great leaders drive conversations, behaviors and best practices that magnify individual, team and enterprise performance.
Marta Wilson, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of Transformation System, Inc. She is an executive adviser, a keynote speaker, and the author of several leadership books, including Energized Enterprise