My masters thesis focused on the effect of leadership training on leadership practices back on the job. In other words, I wanted to know if all those hours of training translated into actual changes in behavior.
The basis for my research was a model put forward by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, who co-wrote The Leadership Challenge. After some interesting conversations with friends, I decided to revisit the topic in their recent webinar series.
Jim began sharing quotes with 2 very different perspectives on the impact of leadership. He shared a moving story of how the success of a leader lies in their use of the skills we all have inside: intelligence, heart and courage.
More notably, however, they pointed out the relationship between one’s own values and our workplace behavior. In other words, if someone has strong values personally, they are more likely to commit to an organization with similar values. Conversely, if they are clear on the organization’s values but not their own, they are likely to give a C- effort.
He shared that you must practice something 2 hours a day if you want to stay the same (think about this in relation to things you do for fun, like tennis) and more, of course, if you want to improve.
What stuck with me was Jim’s assertion that encouragement does not only matter, but make a notable difference.
I facilitate many meetings where leaders say “I don’t know what they want; I certainly don’t need a pat on the back to do my work.” And yet, the research shows that when you get encouragement, it does help you perform at a higher level. The magic ratio, it seems is 3:1 positive to negative, and it has to be done on a regular basis and has to be genuine.
Though it’s been a few years since I’ve written my master’s thesis, the theory that inspired me rings true. I suppose, in a way, I’m still learning from the same authors who inspired my journey so long ago (hey! not that long!).
What can you do to be a better leader?