Guest Author Bob Cooper “Balancing Two Sides of Work”

Balancing Two Sides of BusinessI would like you to think about a great boss or mentor you had sometime in your career. What made them great? When I ask this question to seminar participants or during an executive coaching session I get responses such as “Gives me excellent ongoing feedback”, “Has a vision and knows how to execute the strategy”, “Builds an excellent and supportive team”, “Took the time to teach me the business”, and “Is supportive, respectful and compassionate.”

As you look at the above responses, what comes to mind? In asking this question to hundreds of people in many settings it has led me to one conclusion – great leaders know how to drive business results, and inspire others to want to follow.

When teaching service excellence workshops I often discuss the two-sided service coin. One side represents the “technical” side of service, the other the “human” side. The technical side of service represents the day to day responsibilities of one’s job (e.g. assisting customers, completing reports, etc.). The human side involves building the relationship with all internal and external customers (e.g. acknowledging the customer, following-through on customer commitments, demonstrating kindness and respect, etc.)

Great organizations recognize that everyone needs to pay close attention to both the technical and human sides of the customer experience. So what does this have to do with leadership. In short – everything!

If you develop a sound business strategy, but fail to build the human experience, bad things can and will happen. Think about the restaurant which serves outstanding food, but delivers poor service. Will you return? I suspect you probably will not. Top performers will leave your organization if you fail to treat them with complete and total respect. Increased turnover means increased costs to your business. Performance and morale will suffer, and trust can erode.

The following are suggestions for all leaders to develop a culture that addresses both sides of the coin:

1) Look in the Mirror – Do you effectively balance the coin? If you focus only on the day to day technical side of the business, and fail to address the human side, you may fall short. For example, if you are running a meeting and do not engage others through effective collaboration, you may not attain true consensus. The group might not achieve the best decision for the business, and some team members might feel that you do not value them or their ideas. If you walk by the receptionist and do not say good morning, how might he or she feel? Acknowledging others and showing respect helps to keep your team’s head in the game. The last thing we want is a receptionist who feels under appreciated. After all, who makes the first impression for the business?

2) Teach Business Strategy & Customer Relations Skills – Starting with senior leadership, every executive must be on the same page relative to business strategy. If we are going left, everyone should know why we are going left and how this compares to our competitors, and grows market share. Every executive must model excellent interpersonal skills by showing respect at all times, thanking others for their contributions, acknowledging everyone they meet throughout the day (this means everyone – no exceptions). Great leaders also take the time to engage other members of their team in strategy development, and mentor others to think strategically. They see themselves as mentors, and take great pride in helping others to learn and grow. They are also patient with team members, recognizing that every individual is unique and learns differently. They turn mistakes into opportunities for learning and growth.

3) Lead with Your Heart – In writing “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom” – my objective was to get current and future leaders to test their assumptions about leadership. My goal is to create a dialogue about this most important issue – leaders who lead with integrity and compassion are models of excellence. Doing the small things such as showing a member of your staff that you are concerned about their sick spouse or their career aspirations forms a powerful bond. This facilitates the building of trust and mutual understanding. Your people want to know you care. They want to know that the project they just handed to you is as important as their personal struggle.

You see – we bring both our hearts and our minds to work every day. People don’t lock their hearts up in the car before they walk in the door. Authentic work cultures have individuals working hard to achieve excellence, and at the same time show caring toward their fellow colleagues.

The best leaders I have worked with understand this topic very well. They are the individuals who were my greatest mentors. People like Bill, Susan, Warren, and a few others whom I have discussed over many years with you. It’s been a long time since I have seen any of them, but I remember them like it was yesterday. The reason why I have such fond memories is because they were brilliant business people who achieved excellent results, and most important, they were and are great people!

I ask that you commit to balancing the two-sided coin. Bring your “A” game when it comes to leading the business and building outstanding business relationships. You will achieve great business results, and you will have a lasting impression on your most important asset – your loyal followers.

For a complete listing of our services, please visit us at www.rlcooperassoc.com or call (845) 639-1741.

RL Cooper Associates’ book Heart and Soul in the Boardroom outlines suggestions for leaders to develop highly respectful and ethical work cultures and is available in the Manage My Practice Store. For additional information about their services, please visit www.rlcooperassoc.com.

Should (Female) Leaders Cry at Work?

Many years ago at my first management job, I cried while firing an employee.

It was the first time I had ever fired someone, and this employee was an older woman whose part-time job was being eliminated. She comforted me, patting my arm and offering me a Kleenex.

Although no one else saw me cry, I was extremely embarrassed and vowed then and there that I would never cry at work again. It took a few years, but I learned to control my emotions and was able to stop crying at work. It was a big step forward for me in attaining the professionalism I craved. Or was it?

Are Women Dinged for Crying at Work?

Much has been written about the negative cultural and professional interpretations of women crying at work. Tears may signal the crier is weak, vulnerable, unable to handle stress, or god forbid, hormonal!

Criticism of crying relates more to crying about work issues than crying about personal issues; most people will give a pass for crying about very bad news – an accident, death, or disaster. But crying about lesser-ranked home issues at work is not usually tolerated if it happens on a regular basis.

Leaders are held to a higher standard than other employees. At the time I cried during the firing, I believed that crying at work was not only inappropriate for a leader, but would limit my ability to succeed in my field – a field full of strong male doctors!

Why is Crying in the Office Seen as a Women’s Issue?

Anne Kreamer explains it in her book It’s Always Personal; Emotions in the New Workplace

  1. Women cry more than men at work. Kreamer discovered that women cry nearly four times as often as men.
  2. Women’s tears are much more visible. “Women have six times the amount of prolactin (the hormone that controls tears) than men do and our tear ducts are significantly larger,” she says. “Additionally, women’s tear ducts are anatomically different from men’s which explain why women — for example — tend to gush tears while men often barely elicit a trickle.”
  3. Women often cry when they are angry or frustrated, whereas men’s tendencies lean toward physical expressions of strong emotion.

In my desire to learn to control my emotions, however, I found myself struggling to transition from my daytime persona as a cool businesswoman to the warm and nurturing mother and wife I wanted to be at home. My husband even came up with a loving way to let me know when I hadn’t switched gears from work to home successfully. “Take off your manager’s mask,” he would say, “You’re home now.” Eventually I decided that I wanted to be the same person at work as I was at home, and I started the journey of allowing myself to be compassionate and show emotion while being a strong leader.

Only later did I find out that there is a name for this balancing act – it is Emotional Intelligence (EI).

What is Emotional Intelligence?

“When misused, emotions can lead people into catastrophe — yet feelings are also the key to trust, communication, motivation, and optimal decisions. The difference is emotional intelligence (EQ), the science of using feelings effectively.” (www.sixseconds.com)

SixSeconds recently released a landmark analysis called “Women’s Leadership Edge: Global Research on Emotional Intelligence, Gender, and Job Level,” Over the world, 24,000 leaders and workers were surveyed and the findings were that “In key aspects of EQ, women in leadership roles are even further ahead of their male counterparts, suggesting that these differentiators may be essential for females to advance their careers. For both females and males, the new data suggests important opportunities for leveraging strengths to become more effective at people leadership.”

The answer then, is to understand your own emotions, and leverage that understanding to your advantage in the workplace.

Here are a few of my own rules:

  1. Try not to cry at work because you’ll have all kinds of explaining to do. It can and will happen to almost all women, so get past it and go on. Unless you cry at work regularly, life and your career will go on.
  2. If you find that your emotions are close to the surface and you think you might lose emotional control at an inopportune moment, back off and either take a few hours or a day off, get some extra sleep or if you can, work at home for the day instead of going in to the office. Just a little distance can do wonders.
  3. If there is someone who seems to challenge, frustrate or anger you, always sit beside that person in a meeting. Never sit beside your supporters, no matter what.
  4. Do not be afraid to share things with staff about your experiences (especially bad decisions and embarrassments) when it helps them to put things in perspective. Telling your story makes you a real person, which of course, you are.

Guest Author Bob Cooper: Leading with Emotional Intelligence WILL Drive Bottom-Line Results

Rotten Pumpkins

Image by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

In the book “Primal Leadership ”“ Realizing The Power Of Emotional Intelligence”, the authors Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee discuss the importance of both personal competence (how we manage ourselves), and social competence (how we manage relationships), relative to achieving long-term success. Personal competence involves both self-awareness and self-management. Social competence deals with social awareness and relationship management.

Many people reading this may be wondering how these concepts link to business success. What does this have to do with achieving a positive bottom-line? Aren’t these the “soft skills” that are nice to have, but not essential to build profitability?

I recognize that many people want good hard data to back up the idea that leading with emotional intelligence is critical to build and sustain a business. Rather than present you with productivity and turnover data, employee satisfaction statistics, etc. I ask that you reflect on the following questions and come up with your own conclusion:

1.    What happens when a leader yells and bangs the table when something goes wrong? What impact does this have on others? Who wants to do business with them?
2.    What happens when a top performer is taken for granted, and not sincerely acknowledged?
3.    What happens when a member of your team is going through a difficult personal situation and you don’t take the time to listen and show empathy?
4.    What happens when a leader says his/her employees are the most important asset, but rarely shows it?
5.    What happens when the boss asks a direct report to get him/her a cup of coffee and never reciprocates?
6.    What happens when a leader does not build team unity, but allows conflict amongst team members to grow?
7.    What happens when a leader fails to build the competence and confidence of team members?
8.    What happens when the leader is not aware of his/her strengths and limitations?
9.    What happens when the leader is not able to handle adversity and change?
10.    What happens when the leader is not transparent in communications, giving
others the feeling that the truth is being withheld?

The following are a few suggestions to enhance your emotional intelligence:

1.    Keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control.
2.    Show all employees that you value their contributions and respect them as individuals. Find ways to recognize and reward outstanding performance.
3.    Pay attention to other’s emotions, understand their perspective, and show an interest in helping them whenever possible.
4.    Recognize and meet other’s needs ”“ be willing to serve them.
5.    Model what it means to be a good team player.  Develop team standards and hold yourself and others accountable for “living” these behaviors.
6.    Know your strengths and limits, and surround yourself with individuals with complimentary strengths. Great leaders know they are only as good as the team they surround themselves with.
7.    Develop team members by giving honest and timely feedback, and offering guidance to help them to reach their full potential.
8.    Demonstrate the ability to be flexible in handling changing situations. Help others to work with you to overcome obstacles, and move in a new direction when necessary.
9.    Display transparency through communications and behaviors that demonstrate honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness.
10.    Be optimistic, and help others to see both organizational and individual potential.

These are just a few issues to reflect on. These are important to employees, especially top performers. When I am asked about what I believe to be an acceptable turnover rate I always answer, “It depends on who’s leaving, and why they are leaving.”

If you truly believe that employees make the difference, then you will want to make sure that all the above questions are addressed in a positive way.

The price an organization pays when it loses the heart and soul of its employees is beyond measure. Leaders who don’t take these questions seriously, and violate the underlying principles, will lose their followers.  Without followers, no real leadership exists.  Without followers, your business becomes a house of cards ”“ ready to crumble. It’s only a matter of time before you see an erosion of market share. If your competitors embrace these principles, and thus have loyal followers, they will deliver exceptional service, and develop more innovative products and services. I have witnessed CEOs and other executives removed because of a lack of emotional intelligence.

Creativity and innovation are unleashed by leaders who demonstrate high integrity, compassion, and show they truly care about their employees.

Leading with emotional intelligence makes good business sense. It is not a “soft skill” it’s the real truth.

Bob Cooper is the founder and president of RL Cooper Associates, an innovative healthcare organizational and management consulting firm. With over twenty-five years experience in people and organizational development, Mr. Cooper’s focus is placed on identifying strategies that maximize organizational effectiveness and fundamental transformation by enabling individuals and groups to reach their full potential.  In addition to “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom”, Mr. Cooper is the author of “Huddle Up ”“ Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Service Excellence”, and “Leadership Tips To Enhance Staff Satisfaction and Retention.” Mr. Cooper holds an MS in Human Resource Management and a BA in Economics. He is also a member of Strathmore’s Who’s Who.  Bob can be contacted at rlcooperassoc@aol.com.