The days of “one size fits all leadership” are over. Leaders today must understand their team dynamics as well as the specific personality traits, values, and attitudes of their team members. Today’s leaders must also know themselves, their style, strengths as well as weaknesses. (For example I need to work on patience) Each team member has their unique gifts, as well as their way of processing change. Leadership today requires skill to drive lasting change that adds the most value. If you have not had a DISC profile completed for yourself I highly recommend you invest in this inexpensive tool. I like to plot my profile with all team members to help me understand our common or contrary traits. You can read examples of assessments I took years ago, here.
In today’s economic climate leaders are identifying roadblocks to serving customers and driving change. Some of your team will loyally follow your direction, some will be slow to adopt changes, and some will fight change. Leaders often misinterpreted these individuals as not following “the leader” when in reality they are not executing “leadership directives”. (There is a big difference)
So what are we to do when a member fails to execute strategic and tactical changes we have asked them to make? The first place I turn is the Bible. In Psalms 51:1-6 David models how we are to deal with sin; “if we deal with sin (missing the mark) genuinely, openly and immediately God will lessen the severity of discipline Discipline is designed to drive change, to help us obey. If God sees we genuinely want to change, obey, the need for stern discipline is not required. We should model the same with our team members.
We all have a number of correction arrows in our leadership quiver;
1. Seek first to understand, seek the true why the team member failed to implement the change
2. Share why you changed direction, give them the time to digest what you have probably had weeks to digest: change management is a process
3. Make them a part of the change, ask for their input
4. Share the value these change initiatives have made for other team members
5. Have a performance improvement discussion (a Discipline discussion)
The trouble I see is leaders (new leaders in particular) use the fifth arrow first when they should save discipline as the last arrow released. When you use the discipline arrow it takes the least amount of skill. This is the only arrow that also pains me upon release as it means I failed to find the “why” behind someone is not getting on board with changes. In addition, this arrow is often dipped in the poison of threat: “if you do not change your behavior, future disciplinary action up to and including termination may occur”. This arrow always finds its mark. The trouble is once landed the poison of the threat invades the body of your team member and permanently taints the relationship.
Market leading organizations build a foundation of trust not threats.
When dealing with employees that fail to follow your direction, remember you have a number of arrows to try before you use correction through discipline.
What are your thoughts?
Is there a time to fire the 5th arrow first?