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The Hard Data On Being A Nice Boss

By Emma Seppälä, author of The Happiness Track; also co-director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project and Faculty Director of the Women’s Leadership Program at the Yale School of Management; and Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, DIRECTOR, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP: We agree with Emma Seppälä that more than anything else, what determines employee engagement is the nature of the relationship between each employee and his/her immediate manager. However we do not agree that leaders should be “nice” or “tough”; we say they should be both. The universal answer to the question “who would you work for willingly/be your ideal boss?” is “a person who has a sincere and genuine interest in me as an individual and enables me to realise the best in myself”. A person, in other words who cares for AND grows me. Leaders need to evidence “tough love” for those in their charge. Of the two criteria, however, care is primary. This is because care is what gives leaders the licence to grow their people. Leaders can be anything other than “nice” just as long as they are acting with their people’s highest self interest in mind. The core criterion for success as a leader is not behaviour but intent.

OUR SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE, WHICH WAS PUBLISHED IN HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: An age-old question is: Is it better to be a “nice” leader to get your staff to like you, or to be tough as nails to inspire respect and hard work?

Most people still assume the latter is best. The traditional paradigm seems safer: be firm and a little distant from your employees. They should respect you, but not feel so familiar with you that they might forget who’s in charge. A little dog-eat-dog, tough-it-out, sink-or-swim culture seems to yield time-tested results … right?

New developments in organizational research are providing some surprising answers to these questions.

What putting pressure on employees to increase performance does is increase stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.

Stress brings high health care and turnover costs. In a study of employees from various organizations, health care expenditures for employees with high levels of stress were 46 percent greater than at similar organizations without high levels of stress. In particular, workplace stress has been linked to coronary heart disease in both retrospective (observing past patterns) and prospective (predicting future patterns) studies. Then there’s the impact on staff turnover: research shows that workplace stress can lead them to look for a new job, decline a promotion, or leave a job.

Is it any better with “nice” managers? Do their employees fare better — and do kind bosses get ahead?

Contrary to what many believe, Adam Grant’s data shows that nice people can actually finish first, as long as they use the right strategies that prevent others from taking advantage of them. In fact, other research has shown that acts of altruism actually increase someone’s status within a group.

Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy and her research partners have also shown that leaders who project warmth – even before establishing their competence – are more effective than those who lead with toughness and skill. Why? One reason is trust. Employees feel greater trust in someone who is kind.

And an interesting study shows that when leaders are fair to the members of their team, the team members display more citizenship behavior and are more productive, both individually and as a team.

Jonathan Haidt at New York University Stern School of Business shows in his research that when leaders are self-sacrificing, their employees experience being moved and inspired. As a consequence, the employees feel more loyal and committed and are more likely to go out of their way to be helpful and friendly to other employees. Research on “paying it forward” shows that when you work with people who help you, in turn you will be more likely to help others (and not necessarily just those who helped you).

Such a culture can even help mitigate stress. While our brains are attuned to threats (whether the threat is a raging lion or a raging boss), our brain’s stress reactivity is significantly reduced when we observe kind behavior. As brain-imaging studies show, when our social relationships with others feel safe, our brain’s stress response is attenuated. There’s also a physical effect. Whereas a lack of bonding within the workplace has been shown to increase psychological distress, positive social interactions at work have been shown to boost employee health—for example, by lowering heart rate and blood pressure, and by strengthening the immune system. In fact, a study out of the Karolinska Institute conducted on over 3,000 employees found that a leader’s qualities were associated with incidence of heart disease in their employees. A good boss may literally be good for the heart.

In fact, what may come as a surprise to many HR directors, employees prefer happiness to high pay, as Gallup’s 2013 Workplace Poll shows. In turn, happier employees make not only for a more congenial workplace, but also for improved collegiality and customer service. A large healthcare study showed that a kind culture at work not only improved employee well-being and productivity but also improved client health outcomes and satisfaction.

Taken together, this body of research shows that creating a leadership model of trust and mutual cooperation may help create a culture that is happier, in which employees help each other, and (as a consequence) become more productive in the long run. No wonder their nice bosses get promoted.

But what constitutes a compassionate leadership style and workplace exactly? That is a trickier question. Many companies try to offer well-being “perks” such as the ability to work from home or receive extra benefits. A Gallup poll showed that, even when the workplace offered benefits such as flextime and work-from-home opportunities, engagement predicted well-being above and beyond anything else. And most of the research suggests that a compassionate workplace fosters engagement not so much through material goods as through the qualities of the organizations’ leaders, such as a sincere commitment to values and ethics, genuine interpersonal kindness, and self-sacrifice.

What is clear is that we’re going to have to start valuing kindness at work more. One depressing study out of Notre Dame suggests that for men, the more agreeable they are, the lower their pay rate. Because agreeableness does not impact women’s salary, the researchers theorize that when we don’t conform to gender norms, we’re punished. The answer is not for men to be cruel, but for us all to help change the norms. With a little skill, there are ways to be agreeable while not being a pushover or a softy. And then maybe we’ll all be a little bit happier at work.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE

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Your Diary Never Lies

By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.

Caring for and growing people does not cost money, but it does require time – in fact, a considerable amount of time.  Further to this, caring and growing people cannot meaningfully be done by email because it is, by definition, a face to face activity.

More specifically care and growth gets done, as opposed to talked about, in three contexts: one-on-one discussions, team meetings, and out in the ‘field’ where direct reports are ‘playing the game’ or getting the work done.

The starting point for leaders to translate the Legitimate Leadership principles into practice, therefore, is for them to spend sufficient time with their people.  Typically, this requires leaders to change, sometimes radically change, how they are spending their time and what they are giving their attention to.

That leaders do spend sufficient time with their people is critically important because the prime indicator of what any person cares about is what they give attention to and where they spend their time.  This is simply because one has time for what one cares about.

Leaders who genuinely care about their people successfully shift their attention from the results to their people.  Their change in focus of attention is consistent with their shift in intention from being in the relationship with their people to GET results out of them to being in the relationship to GIVE to their people what they need to become exceptional contributors and realise the best in themselves.

When leaders do not make the twin shifts in intention (from ‘get’ to ‘give’) and attention (from results to people) their people will undoubtedly conclude that whatever is important to their leaders, it is not them.  They will infer, from the lack of time spent with them, that they are not valued relative to whatever is getting their leaders attention.  Trust, willingness and loyalty will suffer as a result.

Where any leader’s attention is focused is reflected in entries in his/her diary or calendar. Leaders who are doing their care and growth job have scheduled regular times in their diaries for one-on-ones, team meetings and for ‘watching the game’.  Leaders who abrogate or avoid their care and growth responsibilities have fewer or no such entries in their diaries.  Leaders’ diaries, in other words, never lie.  They are an accurate barometer of what leaders are choosing to make important to themselves and hence spend their time on.

The bottom line is simply this.  People trust leaders who they are convinced care about them.  Leaders will only be seen to care if they spend time with and give attention to their people.

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May 2019 – Question of the Month

By Ian Munro, director, Legitimate Leadership.

QUESTION OF THE MONTH:  Legitimate Leadership say we need to move from being a results-driven business to being a people-driven business?”

ANSWER: Many people think that Legitimate Leadership says that in order to succeed a business needs to move from being results-driven to being people-driven.

But we do not say this. Sustained success isn’t about committing to results or to people; it’s about committing to excellence.

The standard defence of a single-minded focus on results is, “We aren’t here to make friends. This is business. We’re here to deliver. And delivering means getting results.”

All of this seems true, but it doesn’t work because it doesn’t deliver excellence and value-add to the customer, and therefore is not sustainable.

Initially, a focus on the results will produce an upward curve. The job is getting done and only people in the business who do things to get the results are tolerated.

But pressure to sustain and get the result starts to show. External competition means that we become increasingly reactive in our actions and our decisions. Previously we weren’t competing with anyone; we were just giving it our best.

Internal and external turf wars develop and trust declines. There is increased accountability for output, and we worry less about accountability for input.

Stretch becomes stress. Results tend to flatline.

Strategy is unlikely to address the real problem, which is that people don’t want to be there.

In fact, in being mostly concerned with what we can get out of people, we have created a culture of taking, and by implication we have turned those around us into takers.

So, to cure this, presumably we should focus on people … right? Because when we have this focus performance goes up … correct?

No, when we have a focus only on people, with no concern for the results that they produce, we get a similar pattern.

Again we start with the energy to conquer the world. This results in collaboration and purpose, and together these drive performance. We attract talented people.

Actually, at this stage we attract both givers and takers – but we don’t make any distinction between the two.

Out of concern for everyone’s feelings, we give them lots of positive feedback. But we are diluting the real feedback which would grow, develop and encourage a culture of excellence. And some people start to abuse this because they are not confronted on these things.

Performance starts to drop. Soon the people who are doing a good job experience increased workload and strain because the work shifts to them. Those people soon don’t want to be there.

Customers start to wonder why they are now experiencing mediocre service.

Finally, there is financial underperformance, restructuring and redundancy.

So, to revert to the question, we must obviously balance our focus on people and results … right?

No, what is needed is a single-minded focus on excellence! Our answer is that businesses should focus on both of these things (people, and the results they produce) at the same time. Not in terms of what we are taking from them, but in terms of what we are giving to them. It is AND, not OR, and it is what leads to excellence.

I give X this task because I genuinely want her to be excellent at it and I’m offering my help because I genuinely want to help her. And I’m saying ‘you can do it yourself’ because I genuinely want her to learn. I’m not doing it so that I can get something out of her. I’m doing it so that she can become a better software writer/rider of a bike – so that she can one day win the Tour de France.

When we increase excellence in the person, what happens to the result? Does it fall away?

No, other things being equal, the result also goes up.

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May 2019

Featured

Question of the Month: Does Legitimate Leadership say we need to move from being a results-driven business to being a people-driven business?”
Many people think that Legitimate Leadership says that in order to succeed a business needs to move from being results-driven to being people-driven …
Your Diary Never Lies
More than perhaps at any other time, a leader’s sincerity is put to the test …
The Hard Data On Being On Being A Nice Boss
A leading business expert is warning that male narcissists perform well in job interviews but make disastrous leaders …

E-mail [email protected] for more information

Question of the Month 
By Ian Munro, director, Legitimate Leadership.
Question: Does Legitimate Leadership say we need to move from being a results-driven business to being a people-driven business?”
Answer:  Many people think that Legitimate Leadership says that in order to succeed a business needs to move from being results-driven to being people-driven.
But we do not say this. Sustained success isn’t about committing to results or to people; it’s about committing to excellence.
The standard defence of a single-minded focus on results is, “We aren’t here to make friends. This is business. We’re here to deliver. And delivering means getting results.”
All of this seems true, but it doesn’t work because it doesn’t deliver excellence and value-add to the customer, and therefore is not sustainable … Read the full answer by clicking here
 To submit your question, e-mail [email protected] 

ARTICLE: YOUR DIARY NEVER LIES
By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.
Caring for and growing people does not cost money, but it does require time – in fact, a considerable amount of time. Further to this, caring and growing people cannot meaningfully be done by email because it is, by definition, a face to face activity.
More specifically care and growth gets done, as opposed to talked about, in three contexts: one-on-one discussions, team meetings, and out in the ‘field’ where direct reports are ‘playing the game’ or getting the work done.
The starting point for leaders to translate the Legitimate Leadership principles into practice, therefore, is for them to spend sufficient time with their people. Typically, this requires leaders to change, sometimes radically change, how they are spending their time and what they are giving their attention to.
READ THE FULL CASE STUDY BY CLICKING HERE

ARTICLE: DON’T HIRE THE CONFIDENT ONE – HE’LL BECOME A BULLYING MANAGER
By Emma Seppälä, author of The Happiness Track; also co-director of the Yale College Emotional Intelligence Project and Faculty Director of the Women’s Leadership Program at the Yale School of Management; and Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.
COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, DIRECTOR, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP: We agree with Emma Seppälä that more than anything else, what determines employee engagement is the nature of the relationship between each employee and his/her immediate manager. However we do not agree that leaders should be “nice” or “tough”; we say they should be both. The universal answer to the question “who would you work for willingly/be your ideal boss?” is “a person who has a sincere and genuine interest in me as an individual and enables me to realise the best in myself”. A person, in other words who cares for AND grows me. Leaders need to evidence “tough love” for those in their charge. Of the two criteria, however, care is primary. This is because care is what gives leaders the licence to grow their people. Leaders can be anything other than “nice” just as long as they are acting with their people’s highest self interest in mind. The core criterion for success as a leader is not behaviour but intent.
OUR SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE, WHICH WAS PUBLISHED IN HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: An age-old question is: Is it better to be a “nice” leader to get your staff to like you, or to be tough as nails to inspire respect and hard work?
Most people still assume the latter is best. The traditional paradigm seems safer: be firm and a little distant from your employees. They should respect you, but not feel so familiar with you that they might forget who’s in charge. A little dog-eat-dog, tough-it-out, sink-or-swim culture seems to yield time-tested results … right?
New developments in organizational research are providing some surprising answers to these questions.
What putting pressure on employees to increase performance does is increase stress—and research has shown that high levels of stress carry a number of costs to employers and employees alike.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE
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April 2019

Featured

Clarifying Expectations and Watching The Game – The Antidote For Dangerous Assumptions 
“When a manager engages a new-start he or she will inevitably have expectations. Many of these are likely to be legitimate …
What ‘Care’ Requires Of Leaders When Their People Have Personal Problems
More than perhaps at any other time, a leader’s sincerity is put to the test …
Don’t Hire The Confident One – He’ll Become a Bullying Manager
A leading business expert is warning that male narcissists perform well in job interviews but make disastrous leaders …

E-mail [email protected] for more information

Question of the Month 
By Ian Munro, director, Legitimate Leadership.
Question: How do you implement care and growth if the company’s existing reward system is tightly coupled to results?
Answer: The Legitimate Leadership Model says people should be held accountable for their contribution. Not how hard they tried or how much effort they put in, and not whether the result was achieved or not, but their actual contribution against an agreed standard.
The leader then needs to determine whether the contribution made was on, above, or below the standard; understand why this was the case; and then reward, recognize, censure or discipline appropriately …Read the full answer by clicking here
 To submit your question, e-mail [email protected] 

VIGNETTE CASE STUDY: CLARIFYING EXPECTATIONS AND WATCHING THE GAME – THE ANTIDOTE FOR DANGEROUS ASSUMPTIONS 
By Peter Jordan, associate, Legitimate Leadership.
When a manager engages a new-start he or she will inevitably have expectations. Many of these are likely to be legitimate, based on the new recruit’s prior experience, qualifications and other aspects, as explored in the recruitment process.
No recruitment process is however a substitute for a systematic and thorough “watching of the game” during the probation period. This diagnostic will bring to the fore any gaps in ability which may have been undetected during the recruitment process. Perhaps of greater importance, watching the new start’s game will reveal levels of energy and engagement (summarised as “willingness issues”) which are much more difficult to assess via recruitment instruments.
Similarly, the new employee will also have expectations related to his or her new position. The sooner these are made explicit via one-on-one meetings the better.
READ THE FULL CASE STUDY BY CLICKING HERE

ARTICLE: WHAT ‘CARE’ REQUIRES OF LEADERS WHEN THEIR PEOPLE HAVE PERSONAL PROBLEMS
By Wendy Lambourne, director, Legitimate Leadership.
More than perhaps at any other time, a leader’s sincerity is put to the test when her people have problems of a personal nature. When a genuine personal problem arises – the death of a loved one, a divorce, a serious illness – do leaders notice and do they care?
What a leader should and should not do in these situations is a matter of debate. Should she approach an employee who has a personal problem but doesn’t want to talk about it? When is the best time to broach an issue? How should a sensitive issue be tackled? Is it ever appropriate to speak to someone else about the employee’s problem, especially if he has asked the leader not to?
To none of these questions is there a clear answer. The really critical question in fact relates not so much to the “when”, “where” and “how” of the problem but to the “why”.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE

ARTICLE: DON’T HIRE THE CONFIDENT ONE – HE’LL BECOME A BULLYING MANAGER
By Rosamund Urwin, British journalist.
COMMENT BY WENDY LAMBOURNE, LEGITIMATE LEADERSHIP: Rosamund Urwin’s article is deliberately provocative and stimulates some useful reflection on leadership.
Legitimate Leadership does not agree with everything that is stated as ‘fact’ in the article. The view that 60–70% of bosses are ‘bad’ is too pessimistic. Our experience suggests a less bleak outlook and that most people in authority can learn, with concerted practice, to lead effectively.
We also do not agree with the cut-and-dried gender bias. Our experience is that there are both men and woman who are good ‘care and growth’ leaders – and the converse.
But we absolutely agree that ‘leadership should be about managing down: turning a bunch of people into a high-performing team’. We also concur that not only appointment but also promotion decisions should be made with consideration of the individual’s leadership behaviour and practice as experienced by those who are on the receiving end of those behaviours and practices – namely, direct reports.
We also agree that ego–driven people in leadership roles are a problem. This is because the job of the leader is too make others, not themselves, big.
There are however other personal attributes which, if they are features of the leader, can undermine their capacity to lead. These are outlined in the article ‘Can anyone Lead?’ by Wendy Lambourne. In addition to being ego–driven those in authority will also not be effective leaders if they are virtuosos or cannot let go of their preference for the technical stuff; are overly-affiliative; can’t let go and trust others or are micro managers; are trapped in victim mode; and lack compassion/empathy.
OUR SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE: A leading business expert is warning that male narcissists perform well in job interviews but make disastrous leaders.
Job interviews should be scraped to prevent narcissists — who will go on to mistreat their staff — from being hired as managers, according to the author of a new book by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.
Chamorro-Premuzic a professor of business psychology, believes that interviews encourage bosses to hire in their own image, rather than on merit.
“They invite us to perpetuate our biases,” he said. “What you need is data-driven assessment: CVs, psychological tests and analysis of past performance.”
He believes that the most self-aggrandising applicants perform better in interviews than their more humble and more understated peers.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE