Every leader has an audience.
And, anyone who has an audience wants the same thing: To receive an encore.
It means people want more of you.
It means people offer honor to you.
It means people extend gratitude for you.
Now, along your spectrum of constituents, perhaps the most critical audience you need to blow away is the internal one.
I’m talking about your peeps. Your employees. Your staff. Your team.
These are the people who matter most.
And the organizations that win are the ones who make these people leap out of their seats, spill their popcorn all over the floor and roar until their voices are shot.
Is that how your people receive you?
If not, here’s a list of six secrets for earning an encore from your internal audience:
1. Make passion palpable. People want to bring their passions to work. That’s the principal path to experiencing emotional fulfillment. But if you continually require them to compartmentalize every area of their life into convenient little boxes, they may never get the chance to bring their awesomeness to fruition.
What’s more, dismissing people’s passions disengages their hearts and creates a thick wall of resentment. Instead, encourage and challenge people to live out their best thoughts. Give people what they need to get things done for their own lives. And to remain sensitive to people’s personal worlds and legitimate needs.
With that kind of permission, they’re free to pursue personal wholeness no matter what comes their way. And those are the type of people who not only stick around – but they also stick up for the organization when others put it down. What passions are you asking people to put on hold?
2. Give people what they want. Admit it: Employees don’t get excited about maximizing profits or shareholder value. They’re anchored in purpose. Here’s a rapid-fire list of what your people really want:
People want a chance to be themselves openly. Are you making it easy for them to express their personal style?
People want more meaning – not more things to store in their garage. Are you trying to motivate them with material irrelevancies?
People want to be attached to something that’s more than just a commercial enterprise. Are you helping them connect their actions to a larger story?
People want to be missed when they don’t show. Are you giving them a glimpse of the organization would lose if they ceased to exist?
People want to be proud of what they do. Are you helping them become known for their unique contributions?
And lastly, people want to feel secure in expressing the type of workplace they want to be a part of. Are you reminding them what they’re trying to build and why?
Ultimately, organizations that actively cultivate the purpose driven nature of people’s work get encores every time. Are you asking people to take a job or join a crusade?
3. Become an essentialist. I dated a girl who once complained: “Sometimes I get messages and texts from you, but later see the same thing on your Facebook page. And that kind of makes me feel like I’m just another place to update your status.”
Ouch. No wonder we broke up.
Lesson learned: Go beyond making people feel important, valued and needed. Instead, use every opportunity to make them feel essential. Even the most minor touchpoints. As John Maxwell suggested in Leadership Gold, “Carve the time to create the memory.”
After all, the word “essential” derives from the Latin essentia, which means, “essence.” That’s what being an approachable leader is all about: Honoring, loving and acknowledge the essence of another person. And making sure they don’t walk away feeling devalued. Otherwise they start asking themselves, “Why do I even bother talking to him anyway?” How do people experience themselves in relation to you?
4. Fear is the great distracting force. And it impairs people’s ability to sustain loyalty. According to Dr. Judith Bardwick, author of One Foot Out The Door, “Fearful people can’t perform at their best because fear destroys the wherewithal to do their best work.”
If you want to lower the threat level of your environment, let love lead the way. Let embodied humanity own the day. Take Southwest, Airlines for example. Whereas most companies use employees as objects to leverage – they treat employees as people to love. No wonder they’ve been the most profitable airline since the early seventies.
Interestingly, did you know that their stock symbol was “LUV”?
Sounds like a non-threatening workplace to me. That’s how organizations win: When their leaders take radical responsibility for their attitude. And it all depends on what you see when you see things.
Remember: Fear makes people smaller; love makes people larger. If your employees could give your company a hug, would they run across a field with open arms?
5. Create a spirit of openness. Place need a place where they can really say what’s on their minds. Not just their thoughts – their feelings. That’s the input that matters most. And, when you listen to people, stay influenceable and amenable to potential improvement.
After all, being a leader is less about having the right ideas and more about being the right person. Otherwise you morph into Dilbert’s pointy haired boss, who would thoroughly listen to your input, thank you for your suggestions, and then do exactly what he planned all along. Not exactly approachable behavior.
And that’s the very downfall of countless organizations: Their so-called “culture of openness” is superficially stated, not consistently practiced. If you want to earn a encore from your internal audience, give voice to people’s feelings. Because the last thing your department needs is another staff meeting just so people can (not) say what’s on their minds. What type of communication climate do you create around you?
6. Be a flow enabler. Psychology researcher Mihály Csíkszentmihályi defines flow as “an optimum state of intrinsic motivation where you’re fully immersed, your whole being is involved and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
If you want your people to engage in that fashion, consider these suggestions. First, help them identify their territory. That’s the place, arena or activity where the sustenance comes from the act itself – not from the impression it makes on others.
Next, help them recall their high performance patterns. By revisiting past victories, enable them see their gifts and unique capabilities more clearly. And finally, keep them focused on fulfilling their natural potential. This constantly inspires them with a vision of what they can contribute – not just to the organization, but also to their own lives.
Ultimately, by enabling your people to enter into flow, you help them fall in love with themselves, their process and the work that comes out of it. And that’s what allows them to feel enthusiastic about their work experience. What state of being do you inspire?
REMEMBER: Your audience is waiting to be overwhelmed by your performance.
Be human. Be approachable. Be engaging.
And the crowd won’t just go wild – they’ll ask for an encore.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are your people raising they lighters or texting their kids?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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Monday, January 24, 2011
Every leader has an audience.