The Advance Your Leadership Podcast is loaded with insights and knowledge from Bev Benwick herself. This podcast is aimed towards leaders who want to discover both innovative and proven methods for engaging with employees and guiding them to success. Each episode tackles a different issue that leaders commonly encounter and presents solutions that can only be found through the experience Bev has to offer.

Surviving and Managing Workplace Stress


Written Transcript/Summary – Surviving and Managing Workplace Stress

AYL Podcast #10 Summary

Surviving and Managing Workplace Stress ~ 5 Take-Action-Now Steps!

When you are stressed in the workplace, how do you show up for others? And that goes for home life too. It may be that you work in a small, medium, or large organization. OR…You may be an entrepreneur trying to get your business of the ground. Stress has a way of seeping into most areas of your life. While mild stress, perhaps encouraged by events that drive up anxiety to some degree, can actually work to an advantage for some individuals, it does not for all. We each have a threshold as to how much stress we can perform effectively with before we start dropping the balls as we say. Under high levels of stressors, particularly when the conditions that bring it about are chronic:

  1. We start to lose our ability to see patterns.
  2. We lose our ability to be a creative thinker.
  3. We can react inappropriately to deadlines and demands.
  4. We may be delivering hard messages without consideration or notice of how they land for others. That in itself is damaging to relationships, which brings about even more stress.
  5. If we feel out of control internally, we typically try to exert more control over our external world. This may not bode well for others around us.
  6. We may not notice the nuances that are going on around us. Or for some, it might be the complete opposite and you notice every little detail which may produce even more concern for you.

While working with clients I find that self-awareness of personality type and emotional intelligence are key items to help us understand what stressors impact us and why. And, such information can help one create an action plan to better support yourself to manage your stress. Of course it may not be possible for you to have access to personal assessments or a professional to support you with a worthwhile debrief of such reports. But it may be something you wish to consider doing in the future. So, here are 5 Action Items you can do now to help you better manage your stressors! And… anyone can do these! 1. Schedule yourself into your weekly calendar – Many of you who are reading this will be reacting to what I have just put down as the #1 action item. You are not alone… my clients do too! You are likely so busy doing… so busy going to meetings… so busy trying to meet the expectations on you… so busy managing relationships. Where is the time for you? Schedule 2 one-hour sessions during the work week, time to catch up on your business reading, or get through that pile of paperwork to be looked after, or complete reports that are sitting on your desk or in your computer and always in the back of your mind, OR just take the time to do the much needed thinking as to how to move forward with an initiative or decision. Question: What time of the day are you less likely to be interrupted by meeting demands, etc.?

Question: What might get in your way of this action item being successful?

Question: What else could you do that will ensure you are committed to this time for you each week?

Question: How will you let others know that this time is booked?

Question: What will you do to give yourself permission to take the time for you?

2. Recognize what relationship repair work you may need to do. Avoiding those difficult and challenging relationships will only seek to feed your stress. It is time to deal with this and clear the slate for a fresh start. The most difficult conversation… is the one you are not having. 3. What activities seem to help give you energy in times of stress? Identify these and make certain you put them into your daily schedule. You really need to take care of yourself in such times to maintain a balance. 4. Treat others with respect… all the time. You are adding to your stress with that relationship if you do not. You will set up a situation for relationship repair work to be done. Relationships – you have to invest to withdraw! 5. Get on your follow up! If you are making promises of follow up to others, make certain you do just that. Failure to do so will generate emails and calls to you as people are trying to check in to see where things are at. This just increases what is coming at you… and it won’t stop until you get back to them. A delay in such follow up will erode the relationship, which means it is eroding trust of you… and possibly your team, your division, and/or your company. The only way to do this is to get in front of it; deliver on your promise to get back to them, even if you have to deliver not so great news.

Re-energizing Divisional Teams

Group Of Business People Working Outdoors With Work Related Imag

Written Transcript/Summary – Re-energizing Divisional Teams

AYL Podcast #9 Summary

Re-energizing Divisional Teams

Does your team or teams seem to be busy but just going through the motions of getting things done? Have the team members or the collective group been fatigued by the demands of the workload for some time? Do you struggle as the busy, even ‘’run off your feet’’ leader to find the energy to be the inspirational lead that you should be? Does it seem that team members a now failing to connect to the bigger vision of the company as a whole? Have the lines of individual roles blurred over time?

The above questions and the common responses are present more often than they should be. If you are answering a yes to the majority of the questions presented here, perhaps it is time to consider taking the following action…..reenergizing your divisional team. This doesn’t have to be a complicated process. It’s possible that you could do this in a half day with a smaller team. IF you have several team members then you need more time to allow for contribution by each member. Two half days sessions should be sufficient. And of course there is always the exception. Remember….we are talking today about RE-ENERGIZING THE DIVISIONAL TEAM. If you have never set this up to begin with you may definitely require a bit more time. Remember in such discussions we need to consider how we collect data when needed so that you get maximum contribution from individuals team members. Some items, such as values, can be extremely personal to many people. In such situations, I would suggest you learn to use post it notes to collect people s thoughts, collect them in a vessel which gives them privacy, and delegate someone to post them on the wall or white board ( whichever you use). While posting this information it should be clustered in like thoughts. In this manner you will be able to get the information out there with anonymity, and have everyone participate.

  • Establish the divisional strategy based on alignment of the overall organizational strategy.
  • Define the vision for this team to deliver on strategy (Who must we be as a team to deliver to the organization?).
  • Identify and embrace the values of this team (What personal/professional values are important for us to uphold as a divisional team that are in absolute support of the organizational needs?).
  • Develop and craft the divisional team’s mission statement if you haven’t done one or the mission statement needs to be refreshed. (What is your purpose, to whom, and how do you need to be to convey your intentions to all aligned groups and the greater organization?).
  • Discuss, reach agreement and commitment. Record and distribute the following to team members:
  1. Discuss & Refresh – Who owns what on this team (role definition)? Look to your defined roles and job descriptions, if you don’t have them in place – they should be and you need to get busy developing them. Perhaps they have been in place for some time and need an updating. If you have the luxury of an HR department they should be able to support you in this endeavor. If not, you and the team have some work to do to be absolutely clear on this.
  2. Discuss & Refresh – How do we build a foundation of vulnerable trust? Think to how the team comes together in meetings, on tasks, in idea generation, in debriefs, in decision making and general discussion. What is the trust level? Can you be comfortably vulnerable with each other in discussions in order to be authentic? Strong levels of trust should be at the foundation of every team. It can take work to get there if it is not in place. A suggestion – you may wish to have someone external to the team facilitate such conversations. This is the time for a representative from Human Resources, or Organizational Development departments to be of service. You may wish to give consideration to an outside consultant or leadership coach to guide this type of meeting, you do need someone who has an objective ear to the discussion.
    • What workplace behaviors arise from the values you have agreed to or refreshed?
    • It is worthwhile to discuss and adopt an agreed upon language that you use that is respectful of others. e.g. Instead of ‘’being in conflict’’ can you and team members be comfortable with the phrase ‘’creative tension’’.
    1. Discuss & Refresh – How will we make decisions as a team?
    2. Discuss & Refresh – How will we communicate and collaborate?
    3. Discuss & Refresh – How will we resolve conflict?
    4. Discuss & Refresh – How will we hold each other accountable?
    5. Discuss & Refresh – Who do we, as a team, need to be to commit to collective success?
    6. Discuss & Refresh – How do we assure high performance?

    Teams need to be conscious of how they treat and perform with other members. Dysfunctional teams can get in the way of performance for each other, for the department and for the organization as a whole. Putting the work into building greater trust on teams is vital to contribution, effectiveness and productivity. Refreshing the points that I have brought to you today is important – don’t be running on exhausted or stagnant agreements of past. Team members also change over time, you may have members who have not been part of prior team building processes. Remember, the dynamics of a team can change with even just one new member. Doing such work with your team gives you leverage when something goes wrong. Agreeing to commitment to these areas makes the difficult conversation an easy one when you need to deal with challenging team situations. Refreshing such work is revitalizing and makes agreements highly relevant to the ever changing needs of your team and the organization. To Better Leadership, Always!

The Stages of Team Development

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Written Transcript/Summary – Leadership and The Stages of Team Development

AYL Podcast #8 Summary

Leadership and the Stages of Team Development

Definition of a Team

“A team is a small number of people who come together with complementary skills and are committed to a common and agreed upon purpose, performance goals and approach. As a team they hold themselves accountable to the agreements, both as a whole and individually.”

Typical Indicators of the Four Stages of Team Development


  • Polite, Impersonal
  • Hesitant Participation
  • Test Behavioral Expectations
  • Discusses Peripheral Problems
  • Attempts to Identify Tasks and Parameters
  • Decides on Information Needed
  • Watches Team Leader Closely
  • Accomplishes Minimal Amount of Work Together


  • Conflicts
  • Competition
  • Disunity, Tension
  • Fluctuations of Relationships
  • Concern over Excessive Work
  • Polarized Group Members
  • Watches Team Leader Closely
  • Accomplishes Minimal Amount of Work Together


  • Establishes Procedures
  • Able to Express Emotions Openly
  • Sense of Team Cohesiveness, Spirit
  • Trust Among Members
  • Common Goals
  • Developing Skills
  • Respects Members’ Contributions
  • Accomplishes Moderate Work


  • Informality
  • Members Willing to Help Others
  • Close and Supportive
  • Builds Links to Other Teams
  • Flexible and Open
  • Functions Do Not Become Redundant
  • Distinct Roles & Contributions
  • Accomplishes Maximum Work

Suggested Team Activities in Each of the Four Stages of Development


  • Provide opportunities to make contact, bond, and get to know each other
  • Clearly define and discuss expectations and boundaries, including personal needs
  • Clarify roles and responsibility within the teams and cross teams
  • Acknowledge and empathize with members feelings of confusion, ambivalence and even annoyance
  • Communicate team members personal needs


  • Discuss team performance compared to goals and objectives set
  • Focusing on managing the workplan, milestone and resource needs
  • Focus on team process issues, and clarify decision-making roles and responsibilities
  • Discuss what has been learned
  • Plan for celebrations of team success


  • Conduct regular check-ins to ensure sharing of information and resources, feedback, and evaluation
  • Check problem solving and decision making processes to ensure effectiveness
  • Clarify key cross group dependencies and encourage more contact cross group
  • Plan for celebrations of team success


  • Experiment with and develop new methods for meeting team goals
  • Consider implications of the work from a change management perspective
  • Think about how to transfer knowledge created by the team
  • Consider implications of work for the broader business
  • Identify and decide how to address cross team gaps
  • Cross train within the team for development and expertise sharing

How to Lead Creative Teams

Creative team working round a laptop

Written Transcript/Summary – How to Lead Creative Teams

AYL Podcast #7 Summary

How to Lead Creative Teams

Welcome to Advance Your Leadership with Bev Benwick. This is Podcast # 7… How to Lead Creative Teams. Frequently, I have the opportunity to work with a leader of creative teams. This is not always a smooth conversation as some leaders really struggle with inspiring the creative minds and wrestle with the creative personalities in the workplace. I personally had this experience decades ago when I headed up a company that had several creative people, 3 of my 5 teams where exactly that. And….at that time in my career I was one of those ‘’no nonsense’’ leaders…you can imagine how popular I would have been with those who wished for a culture that promoted their creativity. Fortunately, I did observe what was going on and tried to alter my style somewhat at that time…although this wasn’t easy for me. Over the years I have grown to highly value the creative worker…..and that has been my motivation to lead differently in this regard. Being creative naturally is a gift! Do our companies need creative departments….of course. Your industry will determine the need for the creative teams….but most companies that I work with have either a marketing team and a communication team. If given the size of your company, neither exists, than you likely have an individual in the role(s) or perhaps you outsource such activities. On the other hand….your company may employ a number of creative teams for product development as well. Are the leaders of such teams, or you personally, leading in a way that promotes and inspires creativity…..or do you or others lead in a way that actually serves to minimize or stall creativity. I would like to support your leadership with some thoughts about – being a better leader of creative teams:

  1. Exercising your coaching skills with this type of team will go a long way towards success with a creative team. Using a telling or coersive style of leadership falls flat with such a group. Making suggestions and asking for the thoughts of team member, or simply being far more inclusive than you may normally be can really payoff and bring about greater inspiration and contribution.
  2. Generally speaking, most creative people are visionary. If you are a leader who is rooted in tasks and details by your natural preference, you will need to think out of the box with regard to your leadership of a creative team. Leadership is not management, although you may certainly have some management activities to do in your day as well. But.leadership is the transformational piece, not the transactional piece. Vision must be articulated with excitement and clarity to your team. Who do you need to be to inspire, motivate and engage these people, not just the heads..but as well the hearts of these team members to bring about a high performing creative team.
  3. I find most people access their creativity when in a ‘’fun’’ or ‘’light environment. This is not always easy to fulfill in a busy work environment particularly if the overarching company culture is highly structured and stoic and/or reactive. If you have ever dealt or walked into the creative offices of an advertising firm you may well know what I am referring to here. Even look to the new corporate cultures in the technology sectors today. I am not saying that the company doesn’t have a serious nature towards its goals or objectives. What I am referring to is how they treat their creative teams. I ‘most often see an easing of the so called ‘’rules and regulations” in the culture for such teams. I see companies looking to offer agility and inclusion as a way to attract such creative talent. Hmmmmm…what does that tell you about the needs of creative people to do what they do best. What activities or different ways of doing work can you come up with to best inspire your creative group?
  4. Pretty much everyone has an expectation to grow and develop as they join a company…creative folks too! Leaders do have a responsibility to be the initiator of such for those that work for them. Creative people usually love to be challenged. Change up your game as a leader…..create a development or learning plan for each member of the team. What might that look like…here are a few of ideas:
    1. Let team members take turns at leading team meetings and preparing the content and agenda. You may wish to pair people up here to do so. Remember…you are still the leader and must use effective delegation to ensure this activity doesn’t fall off the wagon. If you have young team members….they need a lot of guidance…so to assure success….communicate/guide/ and create milestones that put the preparation in front of you to guarantee a productive and informative meeting. This is helping each member develop some leadership skills.
    2. Rotate different types of assignments. Let team members have some variety in what projects they work on. This will help develop further capacity in them….and is a bonus for you when something goes sideways or you have team member reduction for whatever reason.
    3. Develop presentations skills of everyone on the team. This may be presentation skills for internal or external use. As a leader….you again want to effectively delegate such a development activity. Lay out the plan, use guidance, discuss thoughts with those involved, and create milestones that allow for a check of quality and progress.
  5. Create an accepting culture on your creative team relative to idea creation and sharing of ideas and information. If you truly want people to be ‘’creative and out of the box’’ then you must foster an environment or team culture that promotes adventure and risk with regard to putting ideas forward. I find creative teams love to brainstorm…..without judgement. Actually this is true for many teams when they are asked to generate ideas with the exception of those teams who really do enjoy the debate, but debate seems to be specific to certain professional environments. So…..let your style and the environment create a ‘safe’ atmosphere to promote the creative activity that lets these teams flourish. Slapping down or readily negating ideas will only shut down contribution and productivity of creative individuals and teams.

I hope this has given you some ideas about bolstering up your own leadership qualities to bring something different to your creative team! Thanks for joining me today! To Better Leadership Always!

A Better Understanding of Resolving Conflict at Work

Business people

Written Transcript/Summary – A Better Understanding of Resolving Conflict at Work

AYL Podcast #6 Summary


Conflict is an interesting thing in the workplace. Sometimes even the smallest of situations can escalate into conflict even when appearing to be a pretty benign item. Many companies have a culture of high conflict in meetings or interactions. Some business cultures appear to be relatively calm, but no doubt have their moments of tension. What happens when people are at what we might term as – butting heads? Or perhaps you witness the Win – Lose attitude with people around you. Or….you practise this behaviour yourself. Is conflict a product of:

      • the workplace culture?
      • of leadership styles?
      • of poor systems and processes?
      • Trust issues?
      • Personality clashes?
      • Competition between departments/line of businesses

My answer would be a resounding YES….and many more!! However, when we really look at the conflict itself and the people involved….here in lies the secret as to how we focus our attention in a conflict situation and how we respond to the conflict at hand. What’s interesting is that how we focus our attention and respond to the conflict can actually add to the conflict situation with absolutely zero intention of the individual who sets off the spark. Most of us are unaware that this is even happening if we are the catalyst. So….if we feed the conflict….or poor gasoline on the fire….does the conflict ever go away? This question is worth considering….. tendencies such as resentment, frustration, irritation, anger, anxiety, worry, fear may partially or fully derail relationships greatly impacting the activities and outcomes of those that need to work together to bring about business results. Let me share a story with you in this regard: As always names and business descriptions are altered. Sarah, a Director of Finance, worked for an exceedingly busy company with offices in many states. She was excellent in terms of putting into play processes and systems that made her department function exceedingly well. Given that one of the functions reporting to her was the payroll dept., you can understand how important accuracy and efficiency in this system was. Payroll errors are the one area where you don’t want to have mistakes! But…with a recent change…something went off the rails! Department heads were up in arms as they were confronted with numerous complaints from their individual workforces. Frustration and anger grew throughout the day….and eventually led to a meeting of all department heads and Sarah. These leaders tried to temper their anger to convey their concerned message to Sarah. Sarah was a Thinker….very analytical person, she was also a ready to take action kind of person. As Sarah was in the meeting the wheels of her intellect where going at Warp speed. She was working things out in her head as worried leaders spoke to her. Quite suddenly, Sarah thought she had the answer! If you had been sitting in the meeting watching her….you could readily see the light bulb in her head switch on. She leapt out of her chair…made a quick departure from the meeting and moved to action. What do you think might have gone on for the other leaders in the room that she just left? Well…if you had said they were still in conflict…you would be correct….most of them were. Why would that happen? There are some very specific needs relative to our personality type that would not have been met with Sarah’s quick exit. Her ability to quickly problem solve and move right to action to try and solve the errors and rectify a bad situation, while of great value, still left many who felt like she did not listen to them….like she did not give any value to relationships in the room, like she was unfair by not staying and talking this out. A few, were able to move on pretty quickly…mainly those that matched Sarahs analytical style. How long do you think it might take for Sarah to regain those relationships….and do the relationship repair that was needed? How do you focus in conflict – I suggest that you write down what is resonating with you as I speak to this…… The thinker or analytical person will put their attention on the following:

  • What the conflict is about
  • Opinions and principles
  • Analyzing and tolerating differences
  • Clear and spot on delivery
  • Maintaining a firm and possibly unwavering stance

The feeling person, or one who tends to come from their heart will put their attention on the following:

  • Who is involved
  • Needs and values
  • Accepting and appreciating differences
  • Tactful delivery
  • Ensuring give and take conversation or atmosphere

What is your inner experience relative to the conflict situation:

  • For some it is challenges to or of trust
  • For some it is challenges to or of authority
  • For some it is challenges to or of beliefs
  • For some it is challenges to or of values

What is the desired outcome that you want?

  • For those that have trust concerns, it is a defined process or the ability to see progression
  • For those that have authority concerns, it is complete resolution or closure
  • For those that have beliefs concerns, it is intact relationships
  • For those that have values concerns, it is respectful listening

I wish that I was able to speak with you individual here with regard to your responses. But….I am certain you can see how different our attention and reactions or responses are to the conflict of others in the room. Let’s look back to Sarah again for a moment. What could she have done differently that would have left all in the room in a good place relative to the conflict at hand? If Sarah had taken the time to for open listening and further exploration, if she had taken the time to check in with each person as to how they were doing in terms of intact relationships, if she had taken the time to put forth her thoughts on a possible solution- things would have been much different. We can only hope that Sarah went to work to do relationship repair or she would have ongoing conflict to deal with and that is never productive. Let’s hope she didn’t remain blindsided as to how others saw this behaviour as that of an aggressive adversary. Leaders need to grasp these conflict differences and understand the value in this awareness. How often does conflict play out in your workplace? Probably with a fairly high frequency. I have never worked in an organization, as an employee, as a leader or in my Executive Coaching role where I have not seen or heard of many conflict situations. Questions for reflection:

  • How do you show up at times of conflict?
  • What do you believe others would say of your behaviours or tendencies at such times?
  • How do you currently take care of the other leaders or employees in the room?
  • What could you do differently knowing what you know now?

When Controlling Leaders Get in the Way

Strict boss talking with secretary

Written Transcript/Summary – When Controlling Leaders Get in the Way

AYL Podcast #5 Summary

Category: Leadership Style

When Controlling Leaders Get in the Way

Introduction: Welcome to the Advance Your Leadership podcast with Leadership Coach Bev Benwick… A dialogue meant to enhance the leadership of our listeners….a contribution to greater business success All podcasts along with additional information are available on Bev’s website at advanceyourleadership.com Hello – Bev Benwick here from Advance Your Leadership – Welcome. I would like to chat today about leadership styles. More specifically I will be discussing one particular style – the controlling leadership style. Actually I refer to it as Command and Control. Others may refer to it as a Coercive style, but whatever the name, this style has its negative aspects, but also its positive influence on people, and the overall company/or organization What do I mean by Command and Control – Here are the behaviors we see most often from this style of leadership…

      • A highly ”telling” style.
      • Unwillingness of sharing the authority.
      • Highly directive.
      • Usually the controlling leader is overwhelmed….their plate is more than full.
      • Generally they are poor delegators? Why – no one else can do the work like they can – no one else can get things done as effectively and efficiently.
      • In their style they do not show up as promoting collaboration.
      • Often leaders who operate heavily from this style are not good relationship builders in the company/organization.

There is a positive aspect to leading from Command and Control…

      • In times of chaos….this leader’s highly directive style can readily move people along to meet deadlines.
      • Think of it like this and I will take it out of our normal work context…… If there was a fire or a massive disaster of some sort, who would you want leading the process? This is the leader who with take charge and bring order to chaos in an efficient and timely fashion.
      • Sometimes, in my role as an Executive Coach I have subordinates or peers of such a leader who tell me – but I know exactly where I stand with this person because they are so direct – and I like that about dealing with them. And yes…sometimes I (Bev) see this as true. But, from my years of coaching leaders I often find that while direct, there can be a big piece that is held back by such a style, particularly if the style is in place to strategically push people away. I am speaking here, where it may have been a modis operandi for years – as a way to protect oneself – for whatever that means to this leader. In such a case….you may never really hear exactly what they think relative to the relationship or relationships around them. Their actual plans for those relationships may be held very privately, and can blindside the intended when actions are put into play.

So yes, there is a positive influence here with this style. This should be ONE of the leadership styles used, and for very specific times and situations.What are the trust levels in this type of leader’s organization, company, division, office? Overall, if the leader leans heavily on this style it produces a ‘low’ trust environment. The leader doesn’t exhibit behaviour that demonstrates that they trust their people to take on key pieces. Those that report to such a leader pick up on that low trust and their behaviours in turn are a reflection what such leadership brings on to others. How do you think this type of style impacts those around this type of leader?

      • People will feel devalued.
      • People will be uninspired.
      • People may be exhausted by the style.
      • Peoples insecurities may arise.
      • Clearly they will be unhappy.
      • Growth and opportunity may well be minimal here, particularly because we likely have a leader who is unable to shift to a coach like style to create a learning environment for those that report to them. Opportunity for new positions could be possible though as there is likely a fair amount of churn, meaning people moving on.
      • It’s a matter of time before really talented people are looking for a change….either a redeploy within the company….or quite often they self – select out of the company.
      • People will feel like the leader is ”steam rolling” right over top of them.
      • Depending on what emotional patterns pull for an individual when stressed, we could well see people who are running emotionally from a place of anxiety, fear, anger, even sadness and shame or any combination thereof.
      • With this style seldom does the leader take the time for ”active listening’ with their people. By that I mean given them their ear and truly seeking to question and seek to understand the other person.
      • This style will likely not show up only for those in the reporting structure, it will show up with peer groups and leadership team members, although the behaviours may be modified. Most often in these types of relationships the Command and Control leader will be seen as ”the difficult to get along” with person in the room.

I have a question for you, if this is the style you tend to lean into the most – what do you need to do let go of to bring about a different and better way of leading? Should this style of leadership be prominent in your organization, what is the impact to the people…at all levels? People can work from a place of resistance under this type of leadership. If you have been listening to my other podcasts….you will be well aware…productivity, effectiveness and contribution will be eroding – impacting your business and impacting bottom line results. What can you do to enhance your leadership?

      • Drive up self – awareness with regard to your leadership style, its important.
      • Enroll in a course that can support this.
      • Hire a professional to support you in this regard. There are a number of superb assessments that can help to uncover your styles. Please ensure that you use such with a qualified professional who can do an in depth debrief with you and help you develop a resulting action plan to move forward more effectively.
      • Find a trusted colleague to talk to, one who will absolutely be authentic with you and provide meaningful feedback about how you show up for others.
      • If you are a key leader in your company and you see this style with others around you – think to what leadership styles would be more appropriate to get the results that you need in this firm. Look for a professional who can help you introduce this type of change in the company.
      • If you work with an HR or OD dept. in your organization, seek their thoughts and guidance on how this could be supported for better results.

To Better Leadership Always… Take care.

An Interview with Bob Benwick

Cheerful businesspeople handshaking

Written Transcript/Summary – HR Challenges and How to Beat them An Interview with Bob Benwick

AYL Podcast # 4 Summary

An Interview with Bob Benwick

HR Challenges and How to Beat Them

Introduction : Welcome to the Advance Your Leadership podcast with Leadership Coach Bev Benwick… A dialogue meant to enhance the leadership of our listeners…. a contribution to greater business success …. All podcasts along with additional information are available on Bev’s website at advanceyourleadership.com. Bev Benwick here from Advance Your Leadership. I have a guest with me in today’s podcast. That would be Bob Benwick, an expert in the field of Human Resources and Organizational Development. You may be wondering about the last name of Benwick being a commonality here. So to end the mystery- yes – Bob is my better half! Bob has decades of HR experience with an OD (organizational development) flavor. In our Executive coaching office, R. W. Benwick Associates, he is the ‘sage” of HR solutions. Bob also imparts his wisdom and experience to the learning audience in one of our local universities. So……. I have asked him to join me today to help bring some thoughts and possible ideas and solutions to my audience which supports small and medium size business owners, key leaders and managers with regard to their leadership of people. 1. Bev: As an organization/ company grows the people challenges grow with it. You tend to look at this through the eyes of an HR professional…But….From your experience of working as an Executive Coach with this sort of company what do you see as their top 3 people challenges for leaders? Bob: A number of things come to mind – 1. Many leaders really don’t listen when they communicate. They talk….and they have a lot on their minds and they tend to shut down when others talk. Effective leaders really need to learn to listen. The leader needs to pay attention to the non verbals too. The need to listen between the lines. 2. Leaders tend to not be very clear about terms of their expectations for their employees. What do we need to accomplish, by when do we need to accomplish this, and how will we know this is accomplished, what are the metrics for success. 3. Leaders often focus on themselves. It’s about them….not their people. They need to change this paradigm and start focusing on others. What can I start doing, stop doing or continuing doing to help you help yourself be successful in your job? Bev: You know, you brought up some really good points there. One I want to elaborate on…we see so much going on in this regard in our coaching practise. Put what is going on in your head aside. Acutely listen…seek to understand what others are saying. This is just so critical to get the results that you as a leader want. Bob: Absolutely key…in order to understand you need to ask questions. Most leaders don’t know how to do this….I mean asking powerful questions. Listen to what the individual is saying back. What is it that they need? What are they thinking? Have a powerful conversation. You don’t always need to approach with the solution. If this is your approach….you had better be 100% right…..and no one is that right. Bev: No they aren’t. We are actually tapping into the area of Emotional Intelligence here. We so often believe we understand what is going on for the other individual…which is a big, big mistake. This is an assumption, we need to sit back and seek to understand…never should we overlay our assumption on what is going on for someone else because of our own prior experiences. Would you agree Bob? Bob: Absolutely, I couldn’t have said it better. Bev: I see so many mistakes in this area. 2. Bev: How does the young or smaller company deal with these HR type of challenges where it just isn’t possible to think of the resources for an internal HR person? Bob: Well, as you know I like to keep things as simple as possible. First of all, you mentioned smaller firms, most firms out there are smaller firms. Either individually owned or family owned. They are usually well under 100 people. They would not typically pick up an HR person until they have over 100 employees. As a result, you the leader need to get on top of this yourself. I mean get on top of the labour standards act/requirements for your area, take a course on HR management at a tech college or university. You need to get after this…you cannot give it a shrug of the shoulders should you be in a situation where the human rights people come after you for an issue. You need to be familiar with this. If you have a discomfort with this, or feel inadequate, what you need to do is go out and find an HR contractor. Find someone who is a HR consultant with about 15 – 20 years experience in a complex firm. They can help you go from A – Z without you having to go through every letter of the alphabet. Bev: Good advice. There are some really talented people out there in this field as contractors these days. A tremendous tip to those who are listening today. It’s impossible to put the resources needed to put an HR person on staff. Often we see small and medium size business leaders just hope for the best with HR issues that arise, or at best we see leaders align HR functions with Accounting departments. I don’t really see HR and Accounting as a good fit to get the best results for the people or the company. Where do HR and Accounting come into play, maybe for budgeting, but not much else. Bob: Absolutely Bev: I only see that not being a good solution. I really like your thoughts about going out there to find the right HR consultant for your needs. 3. When we are looking at that HR professional to support us…what type of HR professional is the best fit for a small company? Bob: As I mentioned before, my recommendation is to look for someone who is very very knowledgable, who has depth of skill in what your needs are. Someone who worked in complex organizations who has experience in the many functions of HR – training, recruiting, performance review systems, benefits, org development, labor relations. Eceterra. Some who has been there, who has done that. People who have a complimentary style to your style. Do not go out and hire someone, I repeat do not go out and hire someone. Bring in someone who you can trust no matter what HR issue comes up. They can shadow consult with you. It’s all about being strategic to be successful. Bev: What are the questions we can ask to get someone who is a fit? We can get someone to deal with the ugly HR problems that we don’t want to deal with, the dehiring, the layoffs, the labor relations issues. But….how do we find someone who steps beyond the transactional issues, who can support leaders with the transformational pieces of leadership? Is that possible with a contractor? Bob: It’s hard to do so! What I recommend you – don’t have to get someone who does it all. For example: If you have some labor relations issues bring in an LR specialist, if you have recruiting issues bring in an excellent recruiter. If you are wanting to redesign your company bring in an organizational development consultant. If you need training and development, bring in a training and development consultant. Bring in these people, typically by word of mouth – I know if people called you Bev – you could give them suggestions as to who to call for many specialities. You could provide some great names. Business owners/leaders need to get the experts those that can help you do what you need in efficient and effective ways. Helping you keep your costs down, and get that biggest return on your investment. Bev: Thanks….some good pieces here for consideration and keeping the budget in mind! Bob: Yes…don’t add to your overhead! 4. At what point of growth do you see it viable for a company to put together an internal HR Dept? You said that one shouldn’t be adding to overhead, and that 100 employees is that magic number. Is that really the breaking point? Bob: Yes…by that point you are struggling with many HR challenges. You need to be on top of the state/province legislation, labour law, recruiting, human rights. Your organization is probably sophisticated enough at this point that you probably need to bring in an internal expert, but do not create an HR empire. Keep it down to a minimum, bring in someone who is really capable and empower them to bring in the experts, so that you don’t need in house experts. Few firms can afford that, only very large firms/organizations can afford that….keep this to a minimum. Bev: We refer to the small business here, we also have in our audience medium size business owners and key leaders. Firms running up to 600 people here. We are coaching ourselves in some similar size firms recently, and watching HR development in such. They too had very transactional people in HR for some time and then brought in very capable people who could support the transformational needs of leadership. Can you speak to this a little? Bob: Yes, there has been a trend of late where firms are off loading a lot to those transactional HR firms, both large and small consulting firms that are out there. They can provide payroll, recruiting, and other items. The HR professionals you keep on board, the head HR person, should be at the executive table, so that the organization is constantly advancing its HR strategy. You need powerful strategy to plan for the future, making sure that the right people for the right spots are there at the right time for that organization to turn on a dime competitively. So that means, the HR person has to be there with a core group of experts, or bring in externals when they need to. Keep that group lean and mean and strategically focused. Bev: Thanks for that. I hear you about HR being at the executive table, they need their voice. Someone has to look after the people here. Bob: Can I intrude for a minute here? Bev: Yes you can. Bob: Listen, what do you think organizations are made up of? They are made up of people, it’s not plants and equipment, processes and systems. Those are all important, however, an organization/company is all about people. If you don’t have that honed you will struggle to be successful in business. Bev: I agree with you. And you know who I am. I used to be all about bottom line results as a leader. I have to say…and I will admit to our audience…Bob changed my life in terms of how I thought about people and leadership. I had to do some big changes. I changed my whole recruiting process to tell people about who I was as a leader because – I could land with my style and turn people quite off and I just didn’t give it consideration. I don’t think I ever would have thought about putting HR at the board room table until I met you. I have had a lot of growth in my own leadership outlook in the past number of years. Please listen to Bob and what he has said in this regard, it’s vital. 5. Bev: With Advance Your Leadership it’s all about leading the people and looking at how costly our mistakes can be when we don’t really lean into our leadership role. Are we measuring the right things? As leaders in small and medium sized business we are doing a lot of recruiting, particularly as divisional leaders and managers, it is so difficult to get the right people in the right seats on bus so that we march in the right direction to grasp that vision and bring it to reality, productively and efficiently. Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share with us in this regard….in terms of getting the right folks on the bus? Bob: Organization/companies are all about people. The organization is a reflection of the people in the organization. What you want to do, whether you can afford to or not, and that will be the discriminator here – You want to go out and recruit and select the best of the best, not the best of the worst. When you hire the best of the best, it’s like getting thoroughbreds into your organization. You want to onboard new hires effectively and get very clear once they are on board, that they understand expectations – what are the deliverables. You will be paying top dollar and benefits (which is on average 40% of total compensation), and bonuses/incentives on top of that. You need to support them well, you want to get the best out of the best that you have. You want to avoid hiring plough horses and having thoroughbred expectations. It does not work! If you spend the time up front doing that, then what you need to do is remember when dealing with thoroughbreds, you get the hell out of their way. They are clear on their expectations and you get out of their way, you are a resource to them. Saying….you let me know what I can start doing, stop doing, or continue doing to help you help yourself be successful. That is your role as a leader. This is how you get high quality results through people. Now there is a little bit more to it ….finesse what I have just shared with you. If you want to Advance Your Leadership, this needs to be your focus. Bev: This is the piece where I have said, we need to lean into our leadership. We need to hire great people as Bob has said. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of those competitive salaries. We may have to have a more junior workforce that we develop if that is the case. Bob: But….high potential junior workforce. If you don’t have the salary to work with, go out there and hire Hi Pos. You want to invest in them as much as possible to grow them in the role. But…you have to be very patient with these people…very patient. Bev: But…this is the true test of your leadership skills. Absolutely the true test. You know what comes to mind here – is the quote from one of Kouzes and Posners books – if you want to test your leadership – start thinking of your employees/workforce as volunteers. This comes from such a different perspective. You are stepping into your transformational leadership skills here, this is far beyond transactional skills. Bob: I am glad you said that, there is something that is really key here between leadership and management. Leadership is about creating an environment where people want to get in there each morning to work with you, their peers and team members. Why – because you have created a vision that is compelling and you have engaged their hearts and their heads. Management, which is very important once you are clear on what you want to achieve, is around planning, controlling, and organizing what you want to achieve. You cannot manage people, it is like herding cats. You have to LEAD people. You need to tap into people’s hearts and minds, you can’t manage people, you can only motivate people – that is leadership. Bev: That is what Kouzes and Posner speak to with that question. You don’t have that paycheck working for you if you are leading volunteers; imagine what and who you need to be to get the results to move that organization forward. Bob: Quite frankly, I hear things from leaders like what is going on here with the morale, we are losing money like crazy, and we are not achieving the things we want to achieve – right – because your people don’t like working there. Bev: Exactly, you want people to get up out of bed each morning looking forward to going into work to start their day….with a smile on their face. Bob: The most difficult job you will ever have is being a leader, a manager, and a coach to your people. There is nothing more difficult. 6. People challenges are costly for a company – how do you think this impacts the bottom line to a business? Bob: Well, if you are making very poor leadership decisions, eventually people either quit physical or quit mentally. Now, in terms of physical quitting, voluntary turnover is an enormous cost to a company. If they quit mentally that means that people may not be showing up at work on Monday or Friday, they are not engaged fully in their work, the biggest expense you can have in a company is paying your people not to work. Bev: We as leaders can get so focused on our results, pushing product out the door, responding to customer needs, raising money……and NOT paying attention to the people problems and not measuring these problems effectively. You as a leader have a vital role to lead the people….if you are not doing this… you have bigger issues than you probably even know. And…there is great expense attached to this that you likely haven’t even considered or yet uncovered. I have a message on my website to small and medium size business leaders – it says – are you losing 4,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000,100,000 plus a month …conceivably these are very real figures for not paying attention to such issues. 7. So, in closing here – What 3 practical tips can you give to the listeners that can start them down a positive path of getting the right people on board in this regard? Bob: Well, with the objective of having simplicity here, firstly, get really clear as to where your organization/company is today. What structure do you have in your company currently? Where do you want your company/organization to be in 3 year, 4 years, and 5 years. Do so in strategic planning sessions. What does the structure look like in the future, what will the roles look like at that time, who would be best fit for those roles. Do a one pager on this. Let’s call it a Position Guide. List the overall responsibilities for each role, list the kinds of areas that there needs to be delivery on. Then look at the job specs – what is the minimum education required, what is the minimum experience required, what skills set are required technically, and the non technical skill sets such as high level of communication, key problem solving etc. What special skills might be required, such as certifications etc. Take your time to recruit, and be clear on what we have mentioned here. The Japanese have an expression – you have to go slow to go fast. When you go out to recruit, be in a position to take your time so you are not rushed – that is when you get into trouble. Then what happens is you move from recruiting to selection mode. When interviewing be very clear as to what you have already determined your needs are. This is when a HR professional can be very helpful to you. Make sure that you assure the success for a new person moving into your organization. You want to set people up for success by accelerating their transition into your company effectively. I know Bev that you have a number of systems to support such activity. These are the fundamentals. Get that professional to help you do this. Again…don’t hire someone to add to your overhead. Bev: There is one piece that I want to bring forth when we talk about recruitment – that is – are they ”a fit” for the organization/company. Bob: I am glad you brought that up. There are 3 things you look for when you are interviewing and making hiring decisions. There are a lot of professionals that don’t know this. First is can they do the job. Well, you wouldn’t in all likelihood have brought them in for an interview if they couldn’t do so. Secondly, Will they do the job. Are they self motivated? Are they driven? Or do they need to be told what to do? Are they a person to keep you, the leader, in the loop? Thirdly, is what you brought up Bev – are they are fit for the culture – the team? A culture is – this is the way we do things around here. Is this person’s way of wanting to do things a fit for this company’s culture? Many people will quit if they are not congruent with the new organizations/company’s culture. The friction is usually with the boss or owner, and at such times, people will self – select out of the organization. Or the organization may create an opportunity to re deploy elsewhere in a larger organization or an opportunity for the person to move on. Bev: You know I do so much research in this area. These figures are no surprise to you Bob, but perhaps are to our audience. A minimum of 9% and as much as 32% of voluntary turnover in a company can be avoided with improved leadership skills. Bob: And…the related cost of turnover to a company is through the roof. Bev: Another point that I was jotting down as you were speaking is – and I will mention we have seen this often in the work that we do. We have watched bad hires in key positions repeat themselves with nothing but great damage to the division, company. Bob: Often it is because smaller firms have leaders who are running at frantic paces trying to keep up – they are making less than optimal decisions – with direct costs impacting the company – not to mention the indirect costs. Other people who surround that position are trying to pick up and carry far more that is theirs to own to keep things moving forward. That can’t possibly be effective or efficient. Those kind of costs are astronomically high – that’s why most businesses are out of business in 7 years. These are non-learning organizations. Learning organizations take the time to look at these challenges and take the time to leverage their findings and resources to and make the best decisions. Bev : These bad decisions that you have mentioned greatly impact those around a failing or failed leader. It goes beyond this. The new leader then comes in and takes a considerable amount of time before they are a net contributor to the company. If this process keeps going on because of a new leader – and another new leader – and another new leader – imagine the demotivation that goes on for the team members. How do you keep those team members inspired and motivated to carry on with leadership that is a mis-hire, a misfit, and we see this happen repetitively in the role. We have seen this go on in companies…we have seen people leave for exactly these reasons…they start to look at this as craziness. This keeps everyone who is in that reporting structure in transition, every time this happens. Bob: this drives anxiety levels up in organizations. There is an inverse relationship between anxiety and performance. With high anxiety in an organization, performance plummets. The idea is to bring that anxiety down to a level of anxiety that is healthy. There is a level of anxiety that really is healthy and keeps everyone sharp. But…if you drive anxiety up to a dysfunctional level, it will always hit your bottom line. Look to the customer satisfaction level surveys, when anxiety is up and it impacts customers negatively in whichever way that is – you will drive customers away….and that gets to your bottom line. Leaders may say – what’s going on here – people have lousy attitudes. Non leaders operate here. Leaders understand this and drive the company/organization through the people. Bev: Exactly – Leadership is about people. It is about prospering through the contribution, effectiveness and productivity of your people. You alluded to chatting further about onboarding today Bob. But…we have put a lot of information out there today. I think that subject should be forwarded to another podcast in the near future. To better leadership….always! Take care

Leadership – Change and Resistance

Overcoming challenges

Written Transcript/Summary – Leadership – Change and Resistance

AYL Podcast #3 Summary

Category: Leadership Styles

Leadership – Change and Resistance

Introduction: Welcome to the Advance Your Leadership podcast with Leadership Coach Bev Benwick… A dialogue meant to enhance the leadership of our listeners…. a contribution to greater business success All podcasts along with additional information are available on Bev’s website at advanceyourleadership.com Hi, Bev Benwick here with advanced your leadership. Today I’m talking about leadership and change and resistance in your organization or company. In talking about the introduction of change in your company and how to overcome or minimize the resistance of change we will realize what we can do to get the buy in of people. Change can bring out the best in some people and the absolute worst in others. Personality type has a lot to do with this. You’ll easily recognize those early adopters of change. I say that you probably know who they already are in your company and generally they are people with a future focus. Some may have a great sense agility they can easily adapt to various situations. Many people have this but others do not. We need to recognize who those people are and I know these names will be coming to you. We need these people to be early ambassadors. You need to reach out them to help increase the bandwidth to influence others. There’re those who prefer working in the present and the past. If it’s not broken don’t fix it kind of people. And they can really dig their heels around change and impede your progress. Stress factors in for others. Some you may know of their stress levels. Or there maybe some great stress levels at home that are impacting there threshold for change and they may not be able to adapt to change readily. Perhaps that’s ongoing for that person. Perhaps it just kind of surprising someone isn’t readily buying in all of the sudden when every other change initiative they’ve been there for you. So just take the time to think of the three components I will talk to you about with regards to change today. I want to set you up for success. Doing so time and time again and having changes that are not working for you will promote the language of “oh right another flavour of the month attempt to change.” Is that a language you want for your company culture? I don’t so. So let’s look at these three factors. And these are ones that we use in our office. We’re very small-company and we don’t have to just give consideration to large-scale changes. These can work in the smallest offices if you have change. It can be major piece of equipment coming in, or your trying update technology, perhaps its software. What do you do to get people ready to use this new equipment or software. We need to look at it as a change initiative and use it as a checklist for you. The level of discontent is key here. I’m not talking about your level of discontent with the way things are. And it’s why you want the change. I’m talking about the level of discontent of the group of people that you wish to move forward, that’s who we need to convince to buy in, not you. So is the level of discontent of your people high or low is the first place to look. And how does it work for you here. I’m going to suggest we sign a number to this for measurement. Just a little bit easier to illustrate. And we are going to look at a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest level discontent and 1 being the lowest level of discontent. So if discontent is high, let’s say 7, 8, 9 or 10 it works in your favor to move people forward. They are unhappy right now with the way things are going. They’re more apt to embrace the change because they know they are moving towards what better might look like. However if it’s low let’s say a 1, 2, 3 maybe even 4. People aren’t unhappy not enough to embrace the change that you wish to put forth. The discontent is so pivotal to bring about change and if we consider that when it’s low is there something you can do to actually drive up discontent. What about educating others in terms of why you think its not working. Just turning up the volume onwhat’s not working. There are ways to actually manipulate the level of discontent and I don’t mean that maliciously I mean in the positive nature. The level of discontent is just so critical of the success of your change initiative. If you got high discontent it works really well for you, if it’s low clearly it doesn’t. But if it is low you absolutely have to drive up the next two pieces to levels 9 and 10 in terms of your delivery to help overcome the discontent you may not have. The next piece, we look at number two, is vision and how well articulated is the vision of what better looks. Many visionary leaders don’t realize that several folks in their office will struggle to see vision and it’s a big mistake that’s made. We can’t make that assumption. Not everyone is future focused, not everyone can readily see a big picture. So how can bring value, communicate this more effectively to those who are more detail oriented. Well it’s about breaking it down into pieces. Helping them build the puzzle so they can see the whole picture. They need to understand what’s in it for them. Where is the value here? The one challenge that I see, particularly if you have exceedingly high visionary leaders is the fact that they will struggle to break it down into pieces that are small enough for some of the other people who are extraordinarily detail orientated to see. There just too big picture people and often there is a huge gap in the ability to communicate there. What of value is to find the interpreter in the room or the interpreter on the team. That person kind of gets you as a visionary leader, but more importantly the person gets the other people that are highly sensing or highly detailed. They are a natural interpreter. Learn to look for them and learn to use them in times like this because they can help you communicate or understand how you need to come across to present the change to all in the organization. The third piece we are going to look at is first steps. And what I’m speaking about here is how compelling are those first steps. Will the vision have to be so well articulated we need to see the steps to take it out there. And how clear are they. Are they well laid out steps to move forward to the change. Can all involve grasp these steps. Can all involved move forward with regards to the clarity of the steps that are there. Are the steps exciting enough to encourage change and propel people forward? That’s just so important. But what you need to do is replace the frustration, the anxiety and maybe even the anger for some. You need to replace this with excitement and momentum for moving people forward.Think to how you can build momentum for change. Think to how you can move people in the direction of a vision. Engage the ambassadors to help bring those others along. These are all the steps to building critical mass with a common understanding of the value of the desired change. So seek to minimize the resistance of change in your company, your division ,or your office. By thinking through these three elements I’ve shared with you today. Set that change up for success. To better leadership always…….

Leadership and Motivation


Written Transcript/Summary – Leadership and Motivation

AYL Podcast #2 Summary

Leadership – Motivation in the Workplace: Meeting the Basic Needs of your Employees

Model: The ERG Theory of Motivation by Clayton Alderfer takes into consideration Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs This model is easy to explain…I will present it in a linear fashion…but it is a continuum. It absolutely has relevance in our personal lives and today I use it in the business context. I find this really valuable for the leaders I work with. It has great meaning for employee motivation. Moving Through the Stages There are 3 stages – in our workplace context – Why do people join companies/organizations? Lower level need of existence (Stage 1) is of our survival – We need to provide for ourselves and others, a home and food on the table. We need to meet lower level needs to be able to move along to the other levels or stages. Stage 2 is our need for relatedness. This is a need for being part of community, to have common goals that we collectively work towards, for engagement with others. Stage 3 is about our need for growth and development – in our humanness we want to grow and develop. Learning can be highly motivating. Having growth opportunities gives us something to work towards. This is about motivation and reward. Declining Motivation As in the other stages, when the opportunity does not present itself for the higher level needs we tend to illuminate the focus on the lower level needs. An example, if growth and development (Stage 3) is not available to the workplace then the focus will go on to community (Stage 2). Not all companies have a training and development budget. This really shifts the responsibility of growth and development to the leader – what learning activities can the leader create that builds great competency and opportunity for each employee. With the absence of growth and development opportunities an employee will seek their motivation through Stage 1 and Stage 2. Some may not be satisfied to do so and may well be looking to exit the organization. Should growth and development be waning and if community (Stage 2) breaks down, then the focus goes on to survival needs (Stage 1), in other words, self-preservation, such as, let it be them not me that loses my job. Community will generally break down with major changes of a negative note such as significant terminations, layoffs. Community may also break down with major senior leadership changes that support a more dramatic/impactful leadership style that is a big shift from the current norm. Compensation, benefits are what will meet the survival needs (Stage 1). Should compensation not meet survival needs obviously the individual needs to make a decision. Do I need to move on? Something we may hear from one who is heavily weighted on the survival component of this model is – They don’t pay me enough to stay here! Is employee motivation at a healthy level in your company/organization? What goes on in your company/organization to ensure engaging community in the workplace culture? What goes on in your company/organization to ensure growth and development? Do you have an HR or OD department that supports growth and development…as a leader you have a role in this…don’t leave it up to HR or OD. If you are in a smaller company you won’t have the luxury of these professionals for sure….you will need to lean in to this leadership activity to support the fulfillment of the higher level need. What could you do: how about opportunities for people to cross training for positions – this is good all the way around for the office, you the leader and the employees, rotational positions, special projects, opportunities to sit on committees, research projects, rotate who will lead your team meetings, let employees create upcoming agendas for meetings. What can lead to the breakdown of any one of these needs with in your company/organization? Let me share 2 stories with you to demonstrate what can happen. Story #1 – The downturn in 2008, 2009…..where some big industries had massive layoffs.With extreme cost measures in place before employee cut backs happened, you can be assured growth and development opportunities and budgets would have been reduced significantly. Often we hear about hiring freezes, elimination of positions prior to reducing the workforce through de-hiring processes. Employees start to worry…..stress will be pulsing throughout the organization. While growth and development has deteriorated, the pressure on community is high….the community starts to suffer some cracks. The engaging community now wains….self-preservation has become a reality. The workforce knows something is up….and now it is about saving your own job. Massive cuts happened to many…..some stories shared with me were about seeing almost all of one’s colleagues let go in one afternoon….in one case that meant 60 people from one department gone within hours. Who is left standing…..one with a job….yes….but one incredibly demotivated and worried survivor. What will it take to re-engage and motivate the remaining employees so that they can truly be effective and productive under such conditions? Story #2 – Rumor was out that a company was struggling, there already were cuts to training and development budgets……and rumor had it there would be cuts to employees. The Director, who truly cared about his employees, didn’t miss a beat with regard to training and developing his people.

  • He already had a robust plan in place and for years had a significant role in ensuring the growth of his people without a reliance on an HR department, they were a smaller company …..HR didn’t exist in this firm.
  • His people were loyal and terrific team members.
  • The thought of having to let people go in the near future made sleep elusive for him.
  • The directive to cut 6 people from his team became reality…that was 1/2 of his people. Beyond thinking about…how will we get the work done….his concern for people was greater.
  • Not just who would be gone….but how would he keep those who were left engaged and motivated.
  • This is the Hallmark of brilliance as a leader.
  • He engaged those who would be the surviving members of the cuts to come up with a plan to support those who would be leaving.
  • They were there in spades for those who lost their job.
  • They were the shoulder to cry on and the pillar for those who needed to vent.
  • They continued the Friday lunch with their team members who had been let go.
  • They looked for job opportunities for them….some called friends who were in the position of hiring for other companies to promote those who needed work.
  • They helped out with resume creation and references.
  • They kept up communication, they kept up the engaged community.

The then intact team had a greater workload now that they were leaner….but this team was highly motivated…they felt good about who they were and moved forward seamlessly. What can cause deterioration of the higher level needs…? As we have heard in the stories I shared…clearly a downturn of business was at the root of both stories. But….here are some other thoughts for you:

  1. Smaller companies who don’t have the budget for trainings and development opportunities.
  2. Mergers and Acquisitions can quickly change the climate of an organization, cultural differences in companies coming together can dramatically impact community and may well impact growth and development of people….people are often de-hired in the company that is acquired….and sometimes in both companies
  3. A change in top leadership in a company….generally we see significant changes in a company when a new President/CEO comes in.
  4. Budget allocation changes and vital training and development dollars move to other needs.

As a leader of others…..you can see that a critical function of your role, regardless of the complexity of your portfolio is to ensure a collaborative engaging community in the workplace and opportunities for growth and development…during good times….and bad.

  • But….you as a leader, need to ensure your motivation and drive in the tough times to keep you at your peak!
  • Many leaders want to hide behind closed doors or react to conditions with paralysis which delays decision making and sends stress rippling throughout a company.
  • You can be exceedingly worried about the company if you are an owner….and/or worried about your position’s viability if you are a key leader in the firm.
  • Find a way to manage your own emotions and stress that allows you place your concern towards others who look to the leader for guidance and certainty in stressful times.

Thanks for being with me today! To Better Leadership, Always!

The Cost of Poor Leadership

a man lost all state

Written Transcript/Summary – The Cost of Poor Leadership

AYL Podcast #1 Summary

The Cost of Poor Leadership

Introduction: Welcome to the Advance Your Leadership podcast with Leadership Coach Bev Benwick… A dialogue meant to enhance the leadership of our listeners….a contribution to greater business success …. All podcasts along with additional information are available on Bev’s website at advanceyourleadership.com. Hello – I am Bev Benwick with Advance Your Leadership. I am an Executive Coach who works with Business Leaders. What do I do….I help my clients to enhance their leadership of others through their effectiveness of leading those that work for them….and for leaders that starts with greater self – awareness. What is leadership – Leadership is about supporting those you lead as your subordinates, those you are team members with, and those who are your peers. It is about creating a positive and motivating environment for growth, both of people and for the business. As long as we get the work done through people they need to be #1 on your list. And it is only under such that you will benefit as a business leader in getting greater productivity and effectiveness, contributing to a successful bottom line. While taking the time to develop and support people can be daunting to the hands on results oriented leader…..the cost of not doing so can be an extraordinary loss…one that most small business and many medium size business leaders do not bother to measure…or perhaps just don’t know how. Why do I do what I do? Leaders want to bring about obvious results that are profitable and easily measurable. They need to focus intently on this…..but we need to get the work done through people to bring about those results. Not all leaders are masters of getting the best contribution and effectiveness through their people. In fact, few are masterful of this. Story – I must own up here…..I was one of these leaders…I am not proud of my leadership of others from decades ago. I gunned for results….all the time…some folks around me must have felt like I was steam rolling right over top of them. I was totally unaware of how I was showing up for the workforce….why, because I only let the revenues and bottom line results run my actions and get my attention. AND..then I grew up….someone in my life encouraged me to take a deep look at myself. I have done a tremendous amount of self- awareness work over the years. I have dramatically changed my leadership style…..all for the better. But, I sure do wish that I knew then what I know now. Gosh, when I think to employee turnover alone…and what that must have cost …..or the people that I actually demotivated because of my style, or my tendency to run meetings….and I do mean RUN meetings. But that was then, one can bring a difference to the future….you too can bring about change. Most are not born as the natural leader….but we can learn to be much better at this. What do we measure in orgs….P & L generally. Revenue in (gross and net) and Expenses out. Why don’t we more often look to what the cost is of ineffective leadership of others? It seems to me by increasing the power of our leadership in this regard we would see very different bottom line results over a period of time. Sustainable results….growth results even. What would that do for your business? This isn’t actually something elusive….it’s very attainable by either bringing in a professional to work with you the leader….or taking training in this regard. But it is work, it is mindfulness, it is about making changes! Let me give you some idea of what the cost is to a company or organization for NOT taking the time to produce better and more effective leadership.

    • Loss of loyalty
    • greater churn of the workforce
    • unnecessary and time consuming conflict
    • obstacles to the decision making process
    • perhaps a blaming culture
    • employee resentment that causes work to rule attitude
    • internal departments that compete instead of being supportive of one another
    • Leadership that is disconnected from the workforce ( I am aware of companies where it can take weeks for an employee to get an appointment to talk to their boss – really?)
    • an uncaring workforce that forces late deliverables to clients
    • loss of clientele from badly handled customer service

On that point alone I would like to share a story with you. A friend of mine, a VP in private sector company shared with me something that she uncovered while visiting with a client. BD (business development) people were actually telling customers what a terrible place the company was to work….now really….would you expect your customer to want to keep doing business with you? While the employee was out of line to do so….what was actually behind the motivation for someone to so liberally speak like that to a client? Her feelings were that it was a result of the disconnectedness between leadership and those doing the work…it was an ongoing tense and disconnected culture. So…who owns that? Well…..I would have to say leadership does….this is what poor leadership can produce. Terribly costly, should you lose a client to an event like this. Truthfully, I could go on and on with the activities we see arise out of poor leadership in an organization. I invite you to think about……What goes on in your business? Here are some actually figures on the cost of poor leadership – Poor leadership practices cost the organization and estimated 7% of their total annual sales Did you know…..A minimum of 9% and as much as 32 % of voluntary turnover in a company can be avoided with improved leadership skills Companies are functioning with a 5% to 10% drag on their productivity that would be eliminated with better leadership practices. Some people I mention that to are surprised it is so low….however we will have some highly functioning teams that will contribute to minimizing the actually figures from a poor performing team. IMPORTANT : Truly effective leaders….need to be the most self – aware people in the company! Self Awareness brings on Relationship Awareness. And relationship awareness and relationship management are an absolute must to fully engage your workforce. Yet…often the key leaders are the least self-aware. I have to wonder….why is it that we hire or promote leaders….and simply hope for the best. Few companies actually arrange for the hired leader or promoted leader to be professionally supported to assure their success. Should that leader have the ability to positively impact those that report to them….do you realize that one employee’s productivity alone can increase by as much as 27%!! That is massive. How could key leadership ignore such a figure? If I am describing you and your company in this podcast, what do you need to do to start turning around the leadership and develop a culture that readily enjoys more effectiveness and contribution from its workforce? Take that first step and support yourself, and other leaders around you to increase self – awareness. Find a professional and or training to make this happen. Getting data or information is helpful….but like anything we must be committed to taking action for change and ultimately obtain results. Others often emulate the behaviour of senior leadership….Please give consideration to this question: What type of leadership do you want to model to others in your company or organization? And…a caution here…can you afford to misstep? To better leadership…always! Take care

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