Thursday, April 30, 2015

Great Bosses Don’t Discount Others, They Validate Others

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:

I believe we are all leaders in our families, communities, and workplaces. “But wait,” you say, “I’m not a formal leader in my organization.” That may be - but it doesn’t mean that you’re not a powerful influencer. The reality is you are - we all are - in daily conversations with others.
Our conversations with others might have neutral impact. More likely, though, our conversations have a powerful impact. Those conversations inspire, discount, validate, or erode others’ skills, ideas, efforts, and accomplishments - whether we’re aware of it or not.

As powerful leaders and influencers, let’s carefully consider a leader's responsibilities - and a leader's reason for being.

In a recent post and podcast, I proposed this draft purpose of leadership:
“Effective leaders set high standards for performance and values, validate efforts and contributions, and ensure cooperative interaction and performance in a trusting, respectful work environment.”

So far, most people have said this rings true for them as they consider their best bosses, how those bosses behaved, and how they inspired top performance and great team citizenship. I’d love your feedback, as well.

I hope you can see how this purpose of leadership statement applies not only in the workplace, but in our communities, neighborhoods, and families, too.
I believe we are at our best as leaders and influencers when we express gratitude for people’s skills, efforts, and ideas . . . when we clarify purpose and goals . . . when we praise progress . . . when we redirect instead of punish . . . when we celebrate cooperative interaction, not competitive interaction.

What prompted this was a number of unfortunate interactions I overheard or observed recently. These were “you’re not good enough” messages, delivered unkindly.
The intent of the influencer (some were parents, some were formal leaders, some were peers) might have been to inspire greater performance from the listener. Their impact, though, was deflating and defeating. You could see it, immediately.

If what people are doing and saying is not beneficial, effective leaders and influencers must engage - to educate about the opportunity or reset the agreed-to goal or to listen and learn about what's getting in the way of aligned behavior and contribution.
There are hundreds of options available to us, as influencers, to value the listener while inspiring aligned behavior.

Degrading, deflating, dismissing, or discounting a person’s efforts, skills, progress, and ideas is not going to create an engaged, willing partner.
Those behaviors certainly don’t create a safe, inspiring, engaging, productive environment with colleagues, family, or neighbors.

We leaders and influencers need to make civility a minimum standard in all of our interactions. We can control our words, our tone, our intent, our decisions, and our actions to be civil to others.
With a little extra consideration, we can extend that civility and reach towards acknowledging others and validating others' contributions.

How might you live the leader’s purpose in your next interaction? Plan ahead, be of service, and dive in.

S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. He’s the CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group. After a 15-year career leading and managing teams, Chris began his consulting company in 1990. Since 1995, Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. His blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos can be found at

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