Amid Constant Change, 3 Fundamentals of Leadership Remain the Same

Even though many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted around the US, Gallup research shows that 45% of full-time workers in this country are still working from home. While one-third of these workers would prefer to go back to their workplace when the time comes, twice that many would choose to continue working remotely even if all restrictions were removed. Why? Because they like it better.

Does your organization have a vision for how to implement the changes involved in bringing people back to the workplace? Is your leadership team working on a re-entry plan? Have you communicated with your people to find out whether they want to continue working from home, go back to their previous work area (if that’s even possible), or work out a hybrid solution? The time has come for these plans, decisions, and conversations!

Bear one thing in mind, though: whatever the new world of work looks like in your organization, your basic functions as a leader do not change. To ensure your organization remains successful and your people remain content, engaged, and productive, you must remember:

1. All good performance starts with clear goals. Clarifying goals is about individuals and leaders working together to align on what needs to be done, when, and how. It’s the leader’s job to ensure each team member understands both what they are being asked to do (areas of accountability) and what a good job looks like (expected performance standards).

2. Diagnose and match. For optimum performance, leaders must meet with individual team members to diagnose their development level on each task or goal. They then apply a leadership style with the appropriate amount of directive and supportive behaviors to meet the needs of the person at their level of competence and commitment on that task or goal.

3. Provide feedback on a consistent basis. In The New One Minute Manager®, Spencer Johnson and I shared the importance of One Minute Praisings and One Minute Redirections.

  1. An effective praising focuses on reinforcing behavior that moves people closer to their goals; so it’s a good idea not only to praise goal achievement, but also to praise progress toward a goal. When you catch someone doing something right—or approximately right—follow these steps:
  • Praise the person as soon as you see or hear about what they did.
  • Let the person know what they did right—be specific.
  • Tell them how good you feel about what they did, and how it contributes.
  • Encourage them to do more of the same and make it clear you support their future success.

Praising is a powerful activity—in fact, it is the key to training people and making winners of everyone you work with.

  1. When people are still learning, and are clear on a goal but their performance isn’t up to standard, redirection is effective. When a learner makes an error, follow these steps to help them get back on track:
  • Redirect the person as soon as possible after the error.
  • As the leader, be sure you have made the person’s goal clear. If not, be accountable and immediately clarify the goal.
  • Confirm the facts and review the error together. Be specific about what went wrong.
  • Let the individual know how you feel about the error and its impact on results.
  • Tell them you think well of them, you know they are better than their mistake, and you will continue to support them as they move toward goal achievement.

Remember, the ultimate aim of redirection is to build people up so that they will continue to learn, improve their skills, and achieve their goals.

Monumental change is happening in workplaces all over the world. Whether or not you and your team members all return to the workplace, one thing remains the same: Leaders must be as consistent as ever in the basics of supporting and caring for their people. Goal setting, diagnosing development level and applying the appropriate leadership style, praising people when they do things right, and redirecting people when they get off track is still the best formula for helping your people and your organization thrive.

About the Author

Ken Blanchard

Dr. Ken Blanchard is the cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of Blanchard®, an international management training and consulting firm. Ken is the coauthor of The One Minute Manager, as well as 65 other books with combined sales totaling more than 21 million copies.

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