Work Zone: Leaders deliver both happy people and profit

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Imagine your bosses giving you an assignment. Do they tell you to do with it what you will? Do they push you into long hours to finish it by a set date?

You complete and hand the assignment in. Do they give you a smile and a gold star? Do they tell you to up your game and work harder next time?

According to Tasha Eurich, principal of consulting firm the Eurich Group in Denver, effective leaders must learn to balance two key behaviors. On one side of the scale, there is the "people" behavior of the boss who shows compassion and wants to please employees. On the other side, there is the "results" behavior exhibited by the boss who wants things done, done right and done quickly.

Ms. Eurich said many people believe these two natures can't co-exist. "Most people think it's a trade-off," she said.

But she said the finest of leaders can balance these characteristics. Rather than emphasizing one behavior over the other, molding oneself to share both traits equally is possible, she said.

These so-called bankable leaders, said the author of the upcoming book "Bankable Leadership: Happy People, Bottom-Line Results, and the Power to Deliver Both," are able to give their employees recognition while also urging them to be better. It's a more successful route to take compared to "being a pushover" or "dragging dead bodies," as she described it.

Balancing these traits can deliver financial results as well as a comfortable and content environment in the workplace.

Ms. Eurich cited a 2009 study by Jack Zenger, co-founder and CEO of training consulting firm Zenger Folkman in Orem, Utah, and his colleagues in which the researchers observed the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent of leaders at a large bank. On average, the worst leaders' departments had net losses of $1.2 million. The best leaders' departments reported profits of $4.5 million, she said.

Like just about everything in life, the most effective way to become a successful leader is dedication and practice, Ms. Eurich said.

She said the first step is learning where you stand -- not only in your own eyes, but in those of others as well. That helps to determine what you need to improve upon.

Once a leader has decided where she or he stands, pick no more than two behaviors to focus on. A common mistake leaders make is creating more goals than they can handle, she said.

Ms. Eurich gave the example of a method she advises clients to practice while on their journey toward being an active listener. She dubbed it the "Photo Frame Trick."

"When talking to someone, imagine a picture frame around them," she said. This way, the complete focus is on them and their words.

At times, though, a concept she calls "Delusional Development" gets in the way. She has described it as "the futile hope that just by wanting to get better at something and knowing enough to be dangerous, you'll show improvement."

Putting together a development plan and just wishing for it to happen isn't effective. "The amount of deliberate practice you choose will be proportionate to your improvement," she said.


Christina Gilbert: First Published August 11, 2013 4:00 AM


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