Leading an organization involves a keen understanding of that company’s core values and implementing them at every level with team members.
World-class leaders who are invested in the longevity of the companies they oversee know that words hold power. Whether they are written or oral, words carry the possibility to injure, impede, influence or inspire. Leaders of excellence also realize that they are not the smartest person in the room and so seek to engage all viewpoints.
Inevitably as organizations grow and on any creative project, differing opinions arise--and leaders of excellence know that dissent is paramount to evolution. Contrasting opinions add color and encourage conversation essential to a final masterpiece.
Some of my favorite phrases to use when there are differing opinions include:
1. “Tell me more.” This is a judgment-free way to get the individual communicating to elaborate more. Even if I’m sure I understand what someone is saying, this allows them to elaborate. It also buys some time for me to process and allow others--if in a group setting--to really listen and process, too. It conveys genuine curiosity (caring) and a seeking to know and respect the other individual’s point of view. There is always that chance that maybe I did not understand, and I want to give plenty of space to hear them out.
2. When things may get especially tense and it is glaringly apparent that an issue may be creating a divide: “I have a different perspective.” This takes it out of making someone “right” vs. “wrong” and does not sound accusatory. As such, it encourages the other parties to listen rather than feeling attacked and possibly becoming defensive, which can quickly send positive efforts in a downward spiral.
In the day-to-day of running a business and inspiring a team, leaders of excellence also realize that every person is a human being, and as we all know too well, some days are just easier to get through than others.
We all have pressures bearing down on us, and “life happens”– and often at the most inconvenient times. Not crucifying a team member for missing a deadline or not being on top of their game as they normally are is mission-critical to foster success.
3. Phrases such as “Are you doing all right? How can I help?” encourage the human connection and continue to bond loyalty, because the team members are assured they work for a caring environment. And they let them know that they are not alone. They also allow the leader to assess the situation and bring in some support if said team member may be out of commission for a while.
4. And finally, and by no means less important, is the art of regular, daily appreciation for team members. Catch them doing something right and good. Call them on it--privately, publicly, however you have to--but let them know: "You are doing great!"
Be specific. Say, "I love how you handled the delicate situation keeping the customer happy and motivating your team! Well done!"
Studies show that employees will continue to repeat good acts/work/behavior, and an employee who feels valued is a long-term employee and will most likely be contributing to the successful longevity of the organization.
Kerry Lee Doehr is CEO/founder and CEO of event planning business Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events, as well as Engaging Inspiration, a business dedicated to marketing, events and training for the special event and hospitality professional. She is committed to progress in the industry that goes beyond trend and design, saying, "Who we are and how we handle ourselves ethically is more of a barometer to business longevity and branding than all the money in the world spent on advertising."