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Managers: Help Your Charges See Your Vision


By Laura Morrissey

People can be difficult in any area of life. At work there has to be a certain way of dealing with people. In a leadership role, we all know that compassion is a necessity, and it would be good to see that being a compassionate leader and positive force pays off and that you have reason to be proud of your subordinates. Sometimes, though, we just don’t see this happen.

As a leader you’ve probably worked incredibly hard to get to where you are now. As someone with no fear of hard work, if your team isn’t do as well as they should, you’re probably the type to roll up your sleeves and work even harder to compensate. It’s in your nature, so that’s what you do.

By doing this, you are enabling this cycle to continue. You might make excuses for your staff or think that you need a different team of people to succeed. While one or two might be somewhat a 'lost cause,' you as a leader are the one that can do things differently and motivate your team so team cohesion and productivity are strong forces in its identity. Your overcompensating in order to set a high standard might be what you think is best for the team, but you are actually failing them by being a defeatist.

People end up in leadership for different reasons. Some aspire for a leadership role. Others fall into it after proving strong in their original job role. The transition from being a standout individual to a responsible manager is a challenging time due to the pressure to see results quickly. For some, there seems to be a knack for getting the best out of people whereas others are promoted into roles for which they aren’t prepared.

So, how do leaders who aren’t defeatists deal with a difficult team? They apply a mirror self image in order to improve behaviors and results within the team.

The mirror self image

The concept of the mirror self image is based on developing a vision in the people you work with, both as a team and individually. Michael Zwell, author of "Creating a Culture of Competence," has written extensively on the analytical shift required to move from story-based models to skills discussion of practical leaders.

Zwell believes that people tend to only do what they believe that they can do, or in some cases, less. We are all limited by our self-image and also derive beliefs about our capabilities based on past happenings. In short, your behavior and the results derived from the past mirror your beliefs. When the self believes in a wider range of possibility, the performance will also stand a chance of improving.

Nothing will change until leaders start to believe in themselves and their people

In most instances, nothing will change until an inspirational leader comes along. Even when this person comes along saying, "I believe in you," to each and every employee, the chances are that very little will change quickly.

It is likely that the workforce you are dealing with will all have different issues that are holding them back, all depending on their past experiences. For example, people that are low in assertiveness probably learned that they shouldn't take the lead or be assertive at a young age. The same principle applies for those who seem to be naturally low in initiative. Not just limited to childhood, negative traits that leave us limited in self-belief can develop at any age if we fall under the wrong guidance.

You, in your leadership role, have the potential to provide your people with a vision of where they are going and convince and inspire them there is a way of getting there together.

Connect the dots

A good manager of people will help every individual to connect the dots from corporate vision to the self and how each individual's behaviors and performance impact corporate success in terms of fulfilling the vision. This needs to be done in a way that suits each individual. Managers need to know what motivates every individual to create visions for individuals becoming bigger and better.

An organization's productivity is a direct result of the quality of the vision of its employees. Communicating the vision correctly and positively is the key. Restrictions can appear in the form of not wanting to correct or lecture individuals or not offering inducements or rewards because you feel the vision should be motivating enough in and of itself.

Invite the individuals that you lead to turn your visions into reality, and work with them to develop practical pathways for the investment of more effort and time into their personal and professional development. If they see you care about them, they will want to succeed in their jobs. Cohesive team coaching and regular encouragement of behavioral changes guide the individuals you work with toward their personal visions that will over time align with your own.

This is much more effective than showing displeasure and goading them whenever they fall short of your expectations or hopes.

What you do and don't do: The damage is equal

In your leadership role, what you do and don't do is equally as important an indicator as what is expected. When we only pick our errors, defects or omissions and demonstrate frustration, anger and disappointment toward the people we want to lead, then we direct their attention and energy in a negative direction. They will be much more likely to develop fears, anxieties and aversions. Failure to recognize effort and progress is also very discouraging.

By adopting the mirror self image approach, your management will no longer include ineffectual behaviors. Developing others is commonly the hardest part of a management or leadership role. Developing the ability to use vision to inspire people to become better versions of the self is not a job that we all intrinsically know how to do. It becomes even more difficult when development must intertwine with corporate vision that will ensure execution, as a vision without execution is hallucination. This matters even more so in the business world when results directly measure productivity.

Corporate results reflect the quality and size of the body of employee's self image. Inspire your employees by giving them reason to believe in themselves. Never doubt or withhold praise. We all have our own anxieties, and leadership needs to a guiding hand that will help each employee to overcome theirs.

Image credit: Flickr/Yahoo

Laura Morrissey is a writer for Everything Disc UK, a Team Cohesion tool for assessing human behavior in the corporate world. She loves to engage leaders and professionals globally through her motivational and leadership articles.

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