If you are a key leader in a family, organization, community, sooner or later you will find yourself wanting your team members to function in a more effective way. You will find that there are times when your people are not meeting expectations. This is going to happen! And that’s not a prophecy, it’s a fact!
When that happens, you will be tempted to do something that most leaders do which doesn’t work. You will be tempted to call the team member and give them feedback. You will try to encourage them to step up and improve their performance. In essence, you will tell them that what they are doing sucks. They need to stop that and start doing the right thing. If you are careful, you are going to use the sandwich method to make sure that you put the negative feedback between two positives ones to make it more palatable. You will try to be as gentle as you can.
However, what happens if your feedback doesn’t work? What if they still continue with the undesired behavior?
A key thing that people often forget is that when people are underperforming, they know about it. They are often not unaware of that fact. Also, in many cases, the people themselves don’t want to underperform. So telling them that they are doing the wrong thing is not going to help them. They already know that. Threatening them with the power to fire them is not going to help either. They are likely already scared of that.
In a real sense, people are like machines that run on an operating system called their belief system. People will live out what they believe. It’s hard to stop a person from doing what they really believe. But if a person believes the wrong thing or something that is incongruent with the culture around them, they can get stuck. They don’t know how to change what they are doing which is being perceived as wrong.
So what is the effective solution?
True leaders inspire. They move people to do things that they themselves didn’t believe they could. They help people get out of their own darkness and discover that they can walk in the light. They make them believe that they can. Leaders do this by helping people amend corrigible flaws in their belief systems. When you help people to self-actualize like that, they would love, appreciate, and follow you with passion.
How do you inspire them? Should you tell them some positive things–like they are doing a great job when they obviously aren’t? No!
St. Augustine once said, “Right believing leads to right living.” He is right. When a person is not living right or performing right, you can always find the cause in their belief system or their value system. What that means for the leader who wants to be effective is that he will be more successful when he or she focuses on lifting up the core values, encouraging everybody on the team that they can and they must. They will do well to be focused on their mission and vision that inspires people. They will do well to be focused on the strategy and help people see how it is possible. In addition to that, the leader must then use wisdom to figure out what the underperforming staff member needs to help him be able to perform at his best. The question you must ask yourself, “How can I help him do his best work? What obstacles may he be facing that I can work with him to remove so that he can have the freedom to do his best work?” With that you are not focusing on his weaknesses. You are focusing on how you can work with him to help him shine brighter and do his best work. That with a focus on creating the best culture for excellence will lead to great performance. Core values, mission, vision, strategies are the DNA of the organization and will help you create the right culture for flourishing in your family, community, or organization.