Welcome to First Thursday! On the first Thursday of each month, Corporate Speech Solutions features an expert that has a skill or expertise that will enhance your professional skill set. Today, we’re joined by Tony Chatman, a corporate relationship expert. For over 15 years, Tony has helped individuals and organizations improve their leadership skills, team building, and interpersonal effectiveness. Today, he shares some of his key strategies for taking your leadership skills to the next level and becoming a ‘force multiplier.’
Last year I hosted a going away party for a close friend. It was a small gathering of some of his closest relationships. Within two weeks of the party, my friend would be deployed to Afghanistan where he would spend the next year aiding the military reduction in force. As he sat in my living room pondering his uncertain future, we each took turns, expressing our love for him and his family, providing words of encouragement, and vowing to protect and help provide for his wife and their two young children while he was gone.
As we went around the room, there was one person whose words I personally had been waiting to hear. He was an officer in the army (soon to be promoted to Lt. Colonel) and had attended many of these “deployment parties” as he called them, so I knew that his perspective would be unique. But I was in no way prepared for the lasting effects that his words would have on my perspective of leadership.
The officer began his sharing by saying, “You are what we in the army refer to as a ‘force multiplier’ The overall effectiveness of your group is increased by your presence. Because of your personality and character, you bring out the best in each and every resource you come into contact with.”
Those words resonated with me. As one who trains leaders, I often hear other leaders and even experts give all types of definitions of what a leader is. But whether referring to the ability to provide vision and direction; the ability to solve problems; or the ability to motivate others; there is one question that is rarely asked when talking about leadership effectiveness: “Is more accomplished by the person’s presence than would have occurred if they weren’t there?” Is this leader a “force multiplier?” Whether you’re there or not, here are three practical strategies that will awaken the force multiplier within you.
- Flex Your Style
Years ago, one of my mentors gave me a piece of advice I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Tony, you have to stop leading people with a herd mentality. You’re not just leading a group, you’re leading a group of individuals.” That was an eye opening moment. People don’t come in one flavor; they all have many differences that make them who we are. Whether it is differences in personality, gender, culture, belief systems, or the different experiences that shape and mold how they think and what they value, these differences will have a great effect on what it takes for them to be led effectively.
Unfortunately when leading teams, many leaders don’t consider the individuality of their people. Instead, they have their own leadership “style.” That style is effective in certain situations and with certain people, but no one style works in all situations and with all people. Often the people we find difficult to lead are really just the people that our style doesn’t work with. Leaders who are able to adapt their leadership style to fit the needs of the people they lead and the circumstances they face are consistently more effective than those who stick to their style.
- Leverage the Power of Praise
Praise and recognition is one the most powerful tools a leader has in his or her arsenal to motivate and engage employees. It’s also one of the most overlooked tools as well. In their book The Carrot Principle, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton state that 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving. They also report that 65% of North Americans report that they weren’t recognized in the least bit the previous year. Yet Gallup links an increase of recognition with lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction and increased productivity.
Periodically I encounter the executive or business owner who seems almost offended by the thought of giving praise or recognition to his employees. The problem is that once your mantra becomes “why should I praise them for what I already pay them to do,” you’ve laid the ground rules for how things go. It’s all about compensation and that’s all. When that’s the case, there is no loyalty and you shouldn’t expect it. You’ve told them it’s only about money. Loyalty is both earned and reciprocated, and money rarely does either. That leaves you and your organization vulnerable. Anyone can easily pick off your best people simply by offering them a little more than you.
If you want to bulletproof your organization from the threat of losing talent to the competition, you need to make sure they receive a consistent dose of recognition. Praising people for a job well done makes people feel special. Honoring them makes them feel special. Awards and certificates, special gifts, even gift cards can make people feel special. Make them feel special and they’ll want to do whatever they did to earn the praise again. Praise and recognition don’t just affect work, they increase effort. Work is contractual; effort is personal.
- Have a Positive Attitude All of the time
Years ago, as I was preparing for my first leadership position, my mentor said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Tony, you just lost the luxury of having a bad day.” I had never thought of it that way. I never considered having a bad day a luxury, but he was right.
What leaders don’t realize is that their emotions, whether positive or negative are contagious. Sigal Barsade, a Wharton management professor who studies the influence of emotions on the workplace says, “Emotions travel from person to person like a virus.” The result of this contagion can have a dramatic affect on your business.
A Gallup study by researcher James K. Harter found that business unit sales and profits could be predicted by employees’ emotions. People’s emotions impact their performance, and if they’re healthy and happy, they perform better
Recently I heard an interview with the owner of a start-up business. As he discussed his business model, he casually mentioned that he has no real managers. His reasoning was that if he hired the right people, managers weren’t necessary. If this business owner had worked with force multipliers, his perspective would have been different. He never would have decided that he didn’t need someone who makes his employees better and increases their effectiveness. A force multiplier is never expendable.
The phrase “He changed my life” has become common place among those who have heard Tony Chatman’s message. Yet, Tony is not just a world-class keynote speaker having delivered over 900 presentations; he is also a corporate relations expert with over 15 years of experience in business leadership. In addition to being one in four people in the world certified in “Method Teaming”, a metrics driven methodology for creating and operating influential, purpose-built teams, Mr. Chatman has a reputation for equipping organizations like the U.S. Secret Service, the E.P.A. Chase Bank, Estee Lauder and N.A.S.A. with skills in leadership, teambuilding and interpersonal effectiveness. Whether instructing executives in succession planning, providing surgeons with communications training, or motivating Secret Service agents, Tony’s approachable style, breadth of experience and stellar presentation skills combine to make him an ideal choice for any audience.
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