Chapter 4 101-103 Lead With Love By: Gerry Czarnecki
If you are a leader, you probably got the job because you had high standards and expectations of yourself. Those same high standards and expectations probably also made you a leader quickly. Most organizations react very quickly when they find a high- potential, high energy performer. When you became the leader, you expected, or at least wanted, your staff to go into high gear and follow your example. You probably found they were moving much more slowly and less effectively toward your goals. Impatience set in.
Such is the plight of a strong individual performer promoted to leader. Patience is probably not your strong suit, yet excessive impatience will lead to frustration. If your expectations exceed your staff’s abilities, or current level of knowledge and skill development, associates will get frustrated quickly. If this impatience is not addressed through careful development plans, your staff ” will conclude there is no level of performance that will satisfy you and ultimately they will leave the organization, looking for a more accepting and nurturing boss. Once again, love must guide you. If you do not love your associates enough to have the patience to coach, then you are cheating them and the organization of improved performance. You have an “aloha” obligation to reach out to them, and that means even if you do not “like” them.
Small steps are a critical part of individual development. Small victories are the key to large change. Seldom does the process of human development reflect a dramatic shift from old ignorance to new enlightenment. Most of us learn incrementally and find that
our knowledge gains result from adding together small bits of new knowledge. Such must be our approach to the development of raw talent. Each hour of each day should be designed to help your associates grow just one step at a time. Rome was not built in a day, nor was your or the organization’s knowledge. It took you time to arrive at your current level; it will take time for your associates to develop as well. The key to changing behavior—and that is in many ways what you are doing when you focus on developing an associate—is to never let up. Much of the change you are seeking will not occur if you fail to follow up on the effort. Your first priority must be to take every opportunity to reinforce the behavior you seek and extinguish every behavior you choose to avoid. Your staff will not get the message 100 percent of the time; hence, you must repeat and repeat and repeat. Never assume that a learner has learned. Keep up the focus, the emphasis, and the reinforcement. It will pay off.
Most leaders have experienced a new policy or procedure that affects the job of an associate who has been doing the same tasks the same way for several years. #e change probably makes the work much simpler. Yet, the longtime associate, after being trained and instructed to change to the new procedure, simply cannot see its merit. Quickly, it becomes obvious he is not implementing the changes, and the leader begins to get negative feedback on the unit’s performance.
Obviously, patience is required, but patience is not enough. If all you do is remain patient, you might wait forever for the change to be effectively implemented. If you order the associate to comply, you are likely to be met with passive resistance that could be devastating to achieving expectations while at the same time creating a serious morale problem. If you fail to implement the change in order to avoid the conflict, you will fail. What you really need is “patient persistence.” Understand the associate’s emotional and habitual reluctance to change, but tenaciously focus on making certain that the change occurs.
The key to patient persistence is to stay focused on the goal of implementation while maintaining a softer touch. Empathy for the associate cannot degenerate into sympathy, but you must recognize that his sense of loss of control is a serious problem and must be handled over time. Offer persistent reminders with a sensitive and loving tone in your voice and body language each and every time you have an interaction with that associate. By doing so, you will ultimately convince that person you understand his concerns yet will not give in to his resistance to the change. In addition, frequently sitting down with the associate and going through the changed procedure yourself to learn precisely how it impacts the job will be invaluable. In this scenario, you are part of the process and you can offer examples that benefit from direct knowledge. All but the most recalcitrant associate will get the message and begin the painful process of compliance. If you truly love your associate, patient persistence is easy because you are doing it to help him achieve.