Why We Set Our Leaders Up to Fail and What to Do About It.

ARCHIVE_009_Jack-Welch_GEHaving trained in excess of a thousand leaders over the past 24 years, I often hear and see that their biggest challenge is managing their teams. Most leaders struggle with getting their people to perform to the best of their ability.

So why is that? I find that a lot of leaders get promoted (or buy a franchise) having no experience at leading people, it’s expected to just happen overnight when you get the promotion. A lot of leaders have been a colleague and worked alongside their peers and because they are great at customer service, selling, or being organised they get the promotion. This is where it can fall apart as they now have to give direction and instructions to their peers. Some new leaders go too hard first of all and some go too soft, both don’t get the right result.

So here’s five tips for any new leaders (and the old hands as well) from a very successful CEO, Jack Welch of GE fame.

  • Invest in developing your people – don’t think you have to be the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with great people. Great leaders have the “generosity gene”, they love to see people grow and prosper.
  • Don’t reward people who have great results but bad behaviour – don’t promote people who kiss up and kick down as Jack calls it – “this kills culture.” The negative impact of a selfish person on a team exceeds the positive impact of a generous person. Right people on the bus and the wrong ones off.
  • Provide meaning – make sure your team know what they are part of, and why. Team member’s productivity lifts dramatically when they know their work has meaning. Jack shared some data that when call centre leaders illuminated how their organisations products and services made a difference, team member productivity spiked by 28%.
  • Let your team know where they stand – too many leaders leave their team in the dark about how they are doing. Great leaders give feedback that is specific and focuses on the behaviours that work so team members can repeat them or identify the behaviours they are looking for. Some research he shared stated that over a third of feedback conversations made performance worse rather than better.
  • Give people the confidence to try new things – Jack grew up with a stutter that he still has, yet as CEO, his role required a lot of public speaking. He credits his mother for providing him with the confidence to overcome this – she said to him “You are so smart, your tongue can’t keep up with your mind!” Have high expectations for your team, and look for the potential in the team member that they may not see themselves.

Some great lessons in these five tips. Please feel free to share with any of your colleagues who are struggling with getting the best out of their teams.

Roger SimpsonRoger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Retail Solution” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service and selling skills.