The former are what I call “amplifiers” and you’re indeed fortunate if you’ve had the chance to work with/for one. The latter are, sadly, a dime a dozen and “lead” from positional authority, or basically they hide behind their titles.
I watched the movie Apollo 13 again (for the eleventeenth time) recently, and I was struck by the leadership qualities of, not only Jim Lovell, but especially Flight Director Gene Kranz. This true story of NASA’s mission to the moon in April,1970 was later dubbed a “successful failure” because the manned spacecraft was ultimately brought back to earth without harm to the crew of three.
Kranz (who was all of the age of 36 at the time) had taken control of the Apollo missions a mere two years earlier. He proved to be a calm decisive leader in an extremely volatile and stressful situation. Immediately following the explosion and the ensuing chaos, he said, “Okay, what do we have on the spacecraft that’s good?” He chose to look at what was still working – and workable – so that they might build off of it.
I realize you may be saying, “Okay, I’m not trying to land a spacecraft on the moon, so what does this have to do with me?” Well, my point is that amplifiers make a positive impact on their business, their teams, and their communities, and if you want to take it up a notch in your business, look at what amplifiers choose to do.
- Looks for and finds the best in others. An amplifier knows that her job as a leader is not to put in what was “left out” of her team members, but rather, to draw out what may have been left in.
- Conducts a MOLO analysis. Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, or start from scratch, an amplifier will look objectively at the situation and ask what results do we want more of, and what do we want less of? He builds on what’s already working.
- Identifies each person’s strengths, points them out, and assigns work that will leverage those strengths.
- Builds people up and instills confidence, rather than pointing out all of the team member’s flaws. I have worked with many coaches over the years, and have found the best ones are obviously amplifiers. One in particular, though, who was highly recommended, felt that it was his job to point out every single minuscule flaw in my work. I don’t remember receiving one positive or even constructive bit of feedback from him. I got to the point that I was so self-conscious that I just shut down. When tension is up, creativity and performance are down. From that point forward, I vowed that I would be an amplifier for my clients, and even if I had to really dig, I would find something positive and constructive in their performance to build upon.
- Asks thought-provoking questions, requiring team members to seek out the answers. You know the ole adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Solve all the problems and answer all the questions and you teach your team member to run to you for every little thing. Amplify the abilities of your team member by teaching him to solve problems and seek out solutions. In other words, allow him to use his brain. Radical, I know.
- Provides stimulating and challenging work. Research shows that ease is actually a path to dissatisfaction. In fact, when it gets easy, we tend to check out. Yeah, who knew? So provide work that allows team members to stretch, use their strengths, and feel useful and valuable.
- Creates an environment of continuous learning. Good is no longer good enough. In today’s ever-changing and evolving business climate, if you’re not constantly changing and evolving, then you’re falling behind and pretty soon you’ll find yourself left in your competition’s dust. Provide opportunities for employees to constantly learn and grow. Millennials, in particular, are looking for
- Treats employees like her best customers. Remember that your customers will never be more engaged than your employees. So if you want loyal and engaged customers, you know what you gotta do.
Remember that being an amplifier is truly a daily choice. In each interaction you have the opportunity to either amplify or detract from your team members. Will you be a total Betty Buzzkill, or will you be an AMPLIFIER?
- What are you doing to amplify the best in those around you?
- How can you apply these tactics to bring out the best in your team members?
- Pop a comment in the blog and share your tips and best practices for creating an engaging team.
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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication. In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.