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Avoid the Talent Trap
by Emphasizing Trust

Avoiding the Talent Trap

Why do business and athletic teams with the most talented people so often fall behind or get beaten by teams of lesser talent? The 2004 USA Men’s Basketball team, the example par excellence, was beaten by the far less talented teams of Puerto Rico, Lithuania, and Argentina. 

The poor performance of the American team was a classic example of the Talent Trap. The uber-talented individuals on Team USA could not play together as a whole. The other teams with less talented individuals could. Trust overcame the talent deficit.

NFL Talent Trap

I used the chart above with an NFL team that is looking to revise their player acquisition strategy. The teams that win consistently tend to seek players of high trust and good talent. The teams that are loaded with talent but have little trust often have lots of internal friction, drama, and sub-optimal performance. Sadly, there are a lot of highly talented people who are simply toxic.

It’s much easier to develop someone’s skills than to turn a selfish person into a trustworthy team player. Why don’t companies and teams measure trust with the same energy and precision as they measure talent? 

To build and evaluate trust intentionally, start with these three steps:

  1. Identify your most important standards and expectations … and WHY they are important.
  2. Define what right looks like for each one of them for leaders and employees; use these as part of your screening during the hiring process. 
  3. Hold everyone accountable to meet these standards and expectations, especially your top talent. 

Improve the Success of Your Company’s Diversity and Inclusion Programs

by Using Leader Archetypes in These 5 Steps

Diversity and Inclusion Programs

DIVERSE WORKFORCE

The business case for a diverse workforce, explains the Wall Street Journal, is clear. 

Less obvious is how to retain a diverse workforce. According to one study, women are twice as likely as white or Asian men to leave their employer. Black and Latino males reportedly leave at 3.5 times the rate of their white or Asian male counterparts. A lack of inclusivity is often blamed for the turnover. A 2007 report estimates that failed diversity initiatives cost American companies $64 billion annually.

In short, current efforts to hire a diverse workforce may be costing some companies more in employee turnover than the gain in productivity. 

THE CHALLENGE

This challenge could be one of the reasons smaller companies seem less likely than larger ones to diversify. Even among larger companies senior leadership and boards still tend to be white and male. This homogeneity is even more troubling considering the emphasis on diversity since before the turn of the century — more than enough time for the rise to senior leadership. 

A recent study by McKinsey, a consulting firm, shows that women tend to have their careers derailed early. Most fall behind their male counterparts in the move from entry position into first-line management — the so-called first rung. 

Bigotry and misogyny among some managers are no doubt parts of the problem. 

Another part of the problem could be the tendency for leaders to clone themselves. This unconscious affinity bias leads people to select and promote others like themselves. Sometimes this bias is based on gender, ethnicity, or religion. 

In many cases, though, it is based on an idealized and personalized version of what it takes to be a successful leader. Since the person in the leadership position sees themselves as successful, selecting and promoting similar people is perceived as sound practice. Cloning seems to be a common mistake among relatively inexperienced managers, which may account for the first-rung problems in large companies and poor diversity in smaller companies. 

Developing leaders to appreciate a broader range of leadership archetypes could reduce affinity bias and improve diversity and inclusion at more senior levels.

OUR RESEARCH

Our research has led to four major leader archetypes: Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks, which we call the PROM leader persona method™. Each archetype has natural inclinations and points of energy. Pioneers are innovators. Reconcilers build teams and manage consensus. Operators create the systems and processes that get things done routinely. Mavericks solve complex, wicked problems. Organizations need them all.

They also have their natural dis-inclinations, or requirements that tend to drain their energy. Pioneers and Mavericks, for instance, can find details to be soul-sucking. Operators and Reconcilers can get bored without clear requirements. Hiring people into roles irrespective of their archetype has a good chance of producing low job satisfaction, rapid burnout, and low perceived fitness for promotion. 

A wider appreciation for diverse leader archetypes and the roles that bring out their best can improve the hiring and promotion processes and better set-up women and non-white males for success. Helping people be the best version of themselves will enhance the quality of mentoring and feedback.  When added to the very important inclusion training, sensitivity to leader archetypes is likely to improve senior leader diversity.  

STEPS TO TAKE

Here are five steps to take:

  1. Determine your leader-archetype by going through our short self-assessment and explanatory videos. Have your managers do the same so they can have a broader point of view. To gain greater depth, check out our e-book.
  2. Decide which leader-archetypes are best suited for the different management roles in your company.
  3. Add leader-archetype to your employee’s skill sets so that you can set people up for success.
  4. Promote diverse candidates into roles for which they are best suited. 
  5. When you have women or non-white males candidates in roles not aligned with their leader-archetype (companies often do this to give leaders broadening experiences), be sure to put talented, diverse leader archetypes around them.

CONSIDER

Considering leader-archetype in selection and promotion processes is no panacea. Diversity and inclusion challenges are likely to remain as long as people allow affinity bias based on physical or cultural differences to influence them. Deliberately setting up your employees and managers for success by considering their leader-archetype is likely to improve job performance and satisfaction, reduce employee turnover, and enable your company to more fully realize the competitive advantages of a diverse and inclusive team. 

 

HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR ‘WHO’

How to find your who

I have two things of value for you.

First, we have been doing a lot of research on leader authenticity. Good leadership starts with knowing and owning your WHO. Each person is hardwired differently. Knowing and owning WHO you are as a leader makes you sincere and genuine.

There are lots of different personality tests — Highlands Ability Battery, Myers-Briggs, TTISI, Predictive Index, DISC, etc. These assessments provide highly detailed information, which can be very enlightening.

I’ve also found, though, that I had difficulty using these assessments to understand myself as a leader and what that means in the context of a leader team. I had trouble seeing the forest for the trees.

This challenge led me to look at the very basic ways people are hard-wired that affect how they lead. We wanted to find which factors were durable (unlikely to change as we grew or with context) and salient (directly affects how we operate as leaders). Stripping away those that seemed malleable, we came up with two factors that seem durable and salient: introversion – extroversion and detail – vision orientation.  

Putting these in a quad chart reveals four distinct leader-personas: Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks. We call this the KSLA’s PROM Leader Persona method. 

PROM Method

To find out which one you are and what that means to you as a leader, take this short assessment:  (CLICK HERE TO TAKE ASSESSMENT)

No matter what field you are in — nonprofits, business, sports, government, or military — knowing and OWNING your leader persona will help you see yourself, lead with authenticity, and build diversity of the mind around you.

We will be coming out with more of our research on leader authenticity in the coming weeks.

Second, did you ever notice that the WE comes before me in aWEsoME? Organizations that want a healthy, winning culture need people willing to work together as a team. This is more likely to happen when:

  1. Leaders take the time to explain the big picture and the strategy to reach the organization’s goals — the WHY;
  2. The values and expectations are clear and are consistent with what actually happens in the workplace — the HOW;
  3. People have faith and confidence that their leaders will care for them as individuals, even as people work together in teams. 

These key points have been consistent over time. The Battle of Shiloh, among others, is an example: The Confederate leaders got none of these three things right. Here’s what happened next.

https://youtu.be/K3130LoCBGs

Best wishes,

Chris Kolenda

P.S. if you like these videos, please sign up for our YouTube channel — hit the bell so you get notified when we roll out a new video.

5 Reasons Why Your Development Strategy is Failing

5 Reasons Why Your Development Strategy is Failing

THE RIGHT FOUNDATION

“Kim” was searching for the right development strategy. As the new executive director, she wanted to boost the nonprofit’s revenues and invest marketing resources for the biggest payoff. Some told her to invest in Direct Mail, others to focus on major donors and foundations. Yet other experts suggested a video-centric social media effort aimed at individual donors.

As I began asking Kim some questions about the nonprofit, the reasons for the fundraising problems came clear: she took over a nonprofit that had not gotten the right foundations in place. Until that occurred, no amount of fundraising tactics would work.

A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR GROWTH

Here are the five elements to a solid foundation for growth:

  1. Board governance. Does your board govern effectively? Does everyone on your board donate? Major donors and foundations, especially, will avoid supporting nonprofits that have ineffective boards or directors not willing to put their own money into the organization.
  2. Transparency and Accountability. Watchdog ratings are a quick check to assess whether the nonprofit is using resources wisely. Would you prefer to donate to an organization that has high marks or low marks? Poor ratings are donation killers.
  3. Strategy. Donors want to know the nonprofit has thought through the challenges and has an approach to the mission that stands a reasonable chance of success. Donors expect you to be able to explain your strategy in clear, simple, and believable terms.
  4. Impact. Are your efforts doing any good? Too many nonprofits measure efforts rather than outcomes. Serious donors want to know that their support will make a difference. A combination of personal examples and quantitative measures is the gold standard.
  5. Personal Connection. Donors with a deep, personal connection to the cause are likely to support your nonprofit sustainably. How are you creating such bonds?

Without a solid foundation in place, fundraising tactics are the noise before failure.

GET THE FUNDAMENTALS RIGHT

Kim is now focused on getting the fundamentals right so the development effort has a chance to succeed. Her efforts look like a list of best practices for new nonprofits. She is:

  • Working with the board chair to establish key governance committees and board director expectations.
  • Providing charity watchdogs, such as Guidestar, Charity Navigator, and Give.org the needed documents so they can begin rating her nonprofit. She has also learned from them their standards so she can make sure the right transparency and accountability measures are in place.
  • Developing a sound strategy and implementation plan that she can explain in clear, simple terms.
  • Establishing a compelling set of outcome measures so they can begin collecting and assessing the right data, while also gathering powerful personal stories from beneficiaries of their work.
  • Developing creative ways to create personal connections to the mission for her ideal donors.

BRAVO, KIM!

So many nonprofits are understaffed and overloaded with work. This can create a situation, as it had for Kim’s nonprofit, in which the executive director is overwhelmed trying to keep up while the volunteer board is not fully aware of the costs. This is often a recipe for slow failure. Dedicating time and effort to the 5 important-but-not-urgent issues at the top of this article can help your nonprofit create a solid foundation (and will probably reduce the volume of daily crises, too!).

Which D-Day Leader are You?

Which D-Day Leader are You?

June 6, 2019, is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the intrepid invasion at Normandy, France. Less than a year later, Hitler was dead and Nazi Germany defeated.

Many factors led to the success at D-Day. Strategic Leadership was a key difference. 

The Allied military leadership team outclassed the Nazis, completely fooling them as to the location of the main invasion, taking advantage of their byzantine decision-making process, and preventing large-scale counterattacks on the landings.

The 4 main allied commanders in the Normandy campaign: Eisenhower, Montgomery, Bradley and Patton were great leaders, yet each was hard-wired differently. They complemented each other — turning diversity into strength.

Find out which D-Day leader most closely resembles the way you are hard-wired as a leader. 

Five secrets to doubling your workforce

(without more people or gizmos)

Five Secrets to Double your Workforce

Only about one-third of employees in the United States are engaged at work

Julie, we will call her, was so frustrated. She was in charge of a nonprofit that supported an important cause. She had talented people and enough budget to execute their programs. Despite all this, they just couldn’t seem to get anything done.

According to Gallup, only about one-third of employees in the United States are engaged at work. The other two-thirds are physically present but mentally absent.

Julie’s challenge was a bit different. Her employees were engaged but only about one-third of the time … and, of course, at different times. The other two-thirds seemed to be consumed in backbiting, frustration, and unproductive churn.

These 5 low-cost, high-impact efforts are changing all that.

  1. Take the time to explain WHY. Julie would get frustrated when her employees asked her to explain certain policies and decisions. She believed she was being second-guessed. After reflection, she recognized that most of her answers could be summed up with “because I said so.” She discovered that her reaction to the questions was part of the reason for the backbiting and friction.

According to Forbes, explaining WHY has a tendency to improve employee confidence, productivity, as well as the employee’s ability to problem solve and innovate.

A Change in mindset

Julie began using a different approach. She changed her mindset and began to interpret WHY questions as indicators that her employees cared. She took the opportunity to validate their concerns and explain her rationale. When she found that she could not offer a compelling answer, she worked together with the team to come up with a better policy.

  1. Take Responsibility. Julie prided herself on high standards. She set tough goals and challenged her team to meet them. When questioned by the board of directors about a shortfall, Julie often began the explanation with “the person responsible for X is working very hard, but …” She thought she was backing her team. They believed she was throwing them under the bus and blaming them. They never took risks or tried new approaches. Like others, her employees concluded that following the status quo was the safest way to avoid getting blamed and, perhaps, fired.

When Julie realized that her approach had these inadvertent negative effects, she changed her language to “That’s my responsibility. We’ll get to work on it.” She also made sure to distinguish between accountability and blame. She held her employees accountable for things under their control, like developing sound plans to achieve goals and then executing those efforts to standard. But she also made clear that no one was to blame for outcomes that were beyond their control. This reduced the finger-pointing that was wasting time and damaging morale.

  1. Hire for Culture. Every organization seeks the best possible talent and Julie was no different. She carefully outlined the skills for each position, diligently combed through candidate resumes for the right background and experiences, and conducted interviews to choose among the finalists. Normal practices.

Julie’s nonprofit had an average employee retention of 24 months. Every two years, most of her twenty-person team changed. Of those who left within two years, most were due to a culture mismatch — numbers consistent with national trends. With an average salary of $70,000 and an estimated turnover cost at 75% of annual salary, Julie was burning over $1 million in the revolving door.

Determine the ideal culture for your team

Julie used our tool to determine the ideal culture for her team. She discovered that a Collaborative team best addresses the nonprofit’s mission and challenges — one focused on teamwork and innovation. She had been hiring highly-qualified people who were individually competitive, which was undermining coordination. She was also hiring process-oriented people who wanted the comfort of executing routines rather than explore new ideas. Both were creating workplace friction and frustration.

Hiring for culture only works if you have clearly defined the values and expectations of your desired culture. Now, she can begin hiring the right people. Cutting turnover in half will save her nonprofit $500,000.

  1. Put people in roles that match their leader persona. Part of Julie’s turnover challenge was burnout — a common problem for nonprofits. Good people worked very hard, grew exhausted, and burned out. Their last six months on the job were marginally productive. Julie’s team was physically diverse, but most tended to think the same way.

Our leader-persona assessment led to some interesting observations. First, her team was imbalanced toward detail-orientation. This partly explained the innovation problems — she did not have Mavericks or Pioneers who were hard-wired to challenge the status quo. Her Operators and Reconcilers worked very hard to come up with new ideas, and some ideas were very good. But the work exhausted them, contributing to the high turnover for these positions.

Second, she had Jim, her only Maverick, working as the chief of staff, which meant he was trying to play the Reconciler role of building and managing consensus among the team. Jim was a super policy advocate, but he was terrible in this new role. Julie, an Operator, found herself constantly refereeing disputes among the team – something Jim was supposed to handle. She was tired of it. Jim was growing frustrated, too, and she did not want to lose him.

Julie put Jim back in the advocacy role. She is seeking more Mavericks or Pioneers to support her need for innovation and is hiring a Reconciler for the Chief of Staff position.

5. Involve your team in creating the annual business plan. Like most nonprofits, Julie had a 5-year strategic plan. She outsourced the work to a team of consultants. They listened carefully to Julie and the board about the challenges the nonprofit was facing and the main capabilities and initiatives to advance their cause. The consulting team produced a very well-organized strategic plan that was supposed to result in $2 million growth.

The problem was that no one other than the consultants really understood the theory of success, so everyone just kept doing what they had been doing. This was not going to yield better results. Her team was like the other 90 percent who failed to execute their strategies successfully.

Create a new strategy

Julie worked with us to create a simple new strategy to address the changes in the environment. She explained the updated approach to her team and how each of their efforts contributed. Using SLA’s implementation plan model, she had her teams develop their annual tasks and requirements. They were, in effect, aligning their own work plans for the year to the strategy. Dedicating three one-half days to this effort was painful.

But the payoff was immediate. There were no more unresourced, pie-in-the-sky ideas, disconnects between activities and desired outcomes, or competing silos. By outlining the needed resources and setting their own deadlines, the teams gained ownership and accountability for the execution.

Julie reckons that change alone boosted employee engagement from about one-third to about two-thirds.

These five new habits are helping Julie double employee engagement, effectively doubling her workforce’s productivity at very little cost.

Julie is an amalgamation of clients who have experienced these challenges and outcomes.

 

What is your organization’s ideal workplace culture?

Ideal Workplace Culture

Organizations thrive when their official values and workplace culture are in sync. Major problems occur when those values are mis-aligned, leading to employee turnover and disengagement. These problems drain your revenues — it’s like having a big hole in the bottom of your bucket. 

89% of employees who leave within 18 months do so for culture reasons. Replacing them may cost between 50% and 200% of that position’s annual salary. Workplace incivility costs an estimated $14,000 per affected employee. Getting the culture right helps your team grow sustainably.

Workplaces develop one of 4 dominant cultures: Innovative, Collaborative, Authoritative, and Cooperative. Find out which workplace culture is best for your company and the values that support it. 

Hiring the right talent that fits your culture will improve employee retention and engagement.

Three Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover

Reduce Employee Turnover

Reduce employee turnover

“Employee turnover is killing us,” Johnny told me. “We had a nearly 100 percent turnover last year. We can’t create any momentum. Projects get stalled. Our leaders get consumed in the hiring process rather than serving our clients. Our clients get upset. We cannot survive like this.”

The Problem

Employee turnover is a silent revenue-killer. Employees tend to leave organizations due to unhappiness rather than seeking better pay and benefits. Hiring and training a new manager could be as high as 50% – 200% of the position’s annual salary.

What Gives?

Employers tend to hire for talent rather than for culture. A myriad of technological tools rarely help. As a result, employers often hire people who are not a good fit for their culture. This practice can create a toxic work environment that drives away your talent. 46% of employees reportedly leave within 18 months, 89% of those due to culture.

Solutions

1) Define your ideal workplace culture (our tool can help – click HERE).

2) Align your values and workplace culture

3) Screen for qualified people that fit your workplace culture. It is much easier to train jobs skills than to change a person’s workplace habits.

Heading over a cliff

“Johnny” was a senior leader in an organization that was heading over a cliff. Employee turnover was a symptom of larger issues: a chaotic work environment, shifting priorities, and no strategy. “Winging it” had enabled the organization to seize emerging opportunities and gain some early clients. But that mode of operating had become a habit — the company was chasing cash. They were in peril.

The BIG 3

They needed help getting the 3 BIG things right: Leadership, Culture, and Strategy. This included creating a proper strategy and implementation plan, instituting some procedural discipline, and getting the culture right. The last one would be the most challenging.

The company had tried to address the problem by organizing “culture days.” They spent time doing interactive exercises to get to know one another better. They had so-called “radical candor” sessions. They argued over and selected their values. They felt good for a few days. Things seemed to get better.

Reality

Then reality struck. Within a week the same old problems and practices were back. Employees grew more disillusioned. Several quit.

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding,” Johnny told me. Even the best strategy would not overcome the culture problems the company was facing.

“How well do your values align with your workplace practices, Johnny?”

“Don’t you mean: how well do our workplace practices align with our values?”

“Is there a difference in the two statements?” I asked.

“The answer on alignment is ‘Not well.’ The way I phrased it suggests we should align our workplace practices with our values. That’s what everyone teaches. You phrased it differently — your values should align with your workplace practices. Isn’t that backwards?”

Employee turnover plunged

Their values list was heartwarming — focused on cooperation and happiness. The founder actually ran the company on creativity and agility — even if that meant a chaotic work environment. No amount of culture days would change the founder’s DNA.

Johnny understood that he needed to hire employees who could thrive given the organization’s realities. To add candor and avoid cynicism, he recognized that the company would need their values to reflect what they expected in practice.

Johnny began to hire for culture. The company had what we call an Innovative culture. They valued creativity and results over process and co-working relationships. In the hiring process, Johnny deliberately sought qualified people who could thrive in their workplace. Employee turnover plunged.

Hire for culture – deliberately

Gregg Williams, the interim Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns in the latter half of 2018, hires deliberately for culture. He emphasizes a cooperative culture: teamwork and execution over individual stats and player creativity. He starts players who show they have bought into the culture. The Browns won 5 games in the second half of the season — more than they had in the previous 3 seasons combined.

Aligning values and culture improves employee engagement and reduces turnover. Use our tool below to discover your ideal culture archetype — Cooperative, Collaborative, Authoritative or Innovative. Once you have established your ideal culture, align your values accordingly.

The bottom line

Hire qualified people who fit your company’s culture and you will reduce the costs associated with turnover and disengagement.

3 Ways to Tell if Your Culture is Killing Your Organization

  1. Is your annual turnover higher than 20 percent? Hiring a new employee could cost as much as 50% to 200% of their annual salary.
  2. Do you have toxic leaders or employees? Workplace incivility costs an estimated $14,000 per affected employee.
  3. Is your workplace culture out of step with your strategy? If so, your team is underperforming. This is part of the reason most strategies are never executed.
Workplace Culture Economics

Culture eats talent for breakfast

“Culture,” the late management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “eats strategy for breakfast.” I like to see them as two essential courses, along with leadership, of a 3-course meal. Two out of three is not good enough. A poor culture will undermine a good strategy and drive out good leaders. Poor leadership will damage a solid culture and strategy. A bad strategy will impede the growth of a well-led team.

Culture eats talent for breakfast … and spits out anything it does not like. Talent that matches culture becomes part of the organization. Talent that does not fit gets rejected.

Here’s the trick: your workplace culture is not the same as your workplace values. The culture is defined by what actually occurs at work — hour-by-hour, day in and day out.

Organizations that focus their hiring practices on talent tend to have workplace cultures that grow organically — regardless of the official values that hang on the walls. Hire competitive talent and you will get a competitive culture, even if your official values champion cooperation and collaboration. Hire cooperative talent and your push for a competitive workplace will find resistance. Hire talent that is at odds with your values and you will eventually have a toxic culture.

One former client, James Cook Media, was experiencing an annual turnover of around 100 percent. This fast-paced, innovative company, was hiring highly talented people. The problem was that the new hires expected a steady rather than dynamic work environment. The revolving door was a massive drain on revenues that were bankrupting the company.

We help define culture.  We get results.

We helped them define their culture and the types of employees that would best fit. They began making culture fit their top priority. This dramatically reduced turnover and helped save the company from bankruptcy.

The American Association of Suicidology was experiencing declining revenues. Their dedicated employees had low levels of engagement due to poor strategic direction. When Colleen Creighton took over as the Executive Director in 2017, she recognized the need for a proper strategy. We worked together on this with the board of directors. Once approved, we coached the staff to develop a business plan to implement the new strategy. In effect, the staff was creating their own work-plans for the year.

Employee engagement rose from about 40 to 80 percent — with significant impacts on greater revenue, lower costs, and higher levels of initiative.

Here are three quick ways to check if your culture is damaging your organization:

  1. Is your annual turnover higher than 20%?
  2. Do employees report workplace toxicity?
  3. Are your culture and strategy aligned?

According to one study, poor culture fit accounted for 89 percent of hires let go within 18 months.  

Use our workplace culture quiz to help you identify the ideal culture for your organization, so you can specify values that make sense and improve your hiring practices.

 

Leader Development is Like Gardening

Leader development is like gardening

Leader Development is Like Gardening

I was struck recently by a Harvard Business Review article called “The Feedback Fallacy” by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. The authors rightly criticized the faddishness of so-called radical candor and radical transparency, noting that such critical feedback is often counterproductive (and may be used as an excuse for office bullying and toxic behavior). The authors also caution that performance feedback can be idiosyncratic, revealing biases of the person giving feedback.

Instead of providing critical comments, the authors argue that leaders should focus on what each person does right and encourage them to do more of it.

This approach has its merits. To be sure, recognizing when people are doing something right is good for morale and self-esteem. People are more inclined to repeat and improve upon their natural strengths than to spend time and energy improving perceived weaknesses.

At the same time, I know I get better when my speaking coach, Jan Fox, tells me to stop doing X and to do more of Y. She’s tough, but always supportive. She helps me improve what I do well while also helping me tackle my problem areas. Would you want a speaking coach who ignored your “ums” and “you knows”?

Jan’s approach is best summarized by what Strategic Leaders Academy business owner John O’Grady calls gardening – you help the person amplify their natural strong points and prune away what impedes growth and performance.

The key to doing this well is by focusing on improvement without trying to turn someone into something they’re not. No amount of feedback, for instance, will transform an extrovert into an introvert; no amount of coaching will change a detail-oriented person into a visionary. Demands that someone become a different person are counterproductive.

This is the idiosyncratic problem noted by the HBR authors: leaders tend to try to clone themselves; that is, their feedback can be aimed at making the employee become more like the supervisor. This approach only works when the employee has natural inclinations that are similar to those of the supervisor. For everyone else, the feedback is ineffective and often causes resentment. Over time, you can imagine how this damages diversity and balance in the organization.

Proper gardening – proper leader development – is a process.

It begins with knowing yourself and your employees. Knowing ourselves helps guard against idiosyncratic feedback and promotes diversity and balance. Knowing our employees helps us to provide feedback and developmental experiences that are most likely to bring out the best in each person and to prune away problem areas.

Our leader-persona assessment is a good first step to becoming a proper gardener for your employees. Knowing each employee’s leader-persona will enable you to help them be the best Operator, Reconciler, Maverick or Pioneer they can be. You will also reduce the tendency to provide morale-damaging idiosyncratic feedback.

Forge Balanced Teams
Take our leader-persona assessment below

“Our employee engagement improved from about 40% to 80%, thanks to Chris’ support.” Colleen Creighton, Executive Director, American Association of Suicidology.

Let’s discuss ways we can help you have positive outcomes, too.

Pro Tips:

  • Amplify your Operators’ strengths in planning and execution. Give them the tools they need to excel at these tasks and to hold people accountable. Don’t needle them about needing to be more visionary or more outgoing or to speak more during meetings. Do, however, address behaviors that may come across as badgering or clinging to a problematic status quo.
  • Amplify your Reconcilers’ strengths in teamwork and consensus-building. Empower them to iron out differences among teams or teammates. Don’t pester them about needing to be more innovative or a better planner. Do, however, address tendencies toward watering down issues, status quo bias, or running themselves ragged trying to please everyone.
  • Amplify your Mavericks’ strengths in solving wicked problems. Give them important issues to address and the license to pursue new ideas and solutions. They will need Operators and Reconcilers to keep those solutions feasible and grounded in reality. Avoid criticizing them on attention to detail or not being sufficiently enthusiastic in social gatherings. Do help them address challenges associated with aloofness, impatience, and impracticality.
  • Amplify your Pioneers’ innovative strengths. Encourage them to challenge the status quo and to come up with ways to push the envelope of performance. Make sure Operators are nearby to keep their ideas prioritized and practical. Avoid beating them up about attention to detail or planning. Do help them address issues associated with a lack of prioritization and overloading people in good ideas.

Follow these guidelines and be better at delivering helpful, thoughtful, and productive feedback to your team.