By Shawn P. Quigley
Previously on Leadership
In our last post (Leadership Equation), we discussed an equation for leadership. Using that equation to further our discussion on leadership, we will delve into the two major drivers: Experience and Attitude.
Experiences of a Team Member
Let us first look into experience. As we can all attest that our experiences commonly jade how we approach every situation, good or bad. It is the nature of people; in general, to relate one thing to another so they feel more comfortable with new situations. This is a good thing as we can recall from our first post were we discussed how this stopped us from being eaten by wild animals in the past. However, one should ask is, “how this will affect our ability to lead people or manage a project?” As in our previous post, we discussed the issue of letting our experiences be the sole driver for how we react to new situations. We can conclude that it if we only use past experiences and do not maintain an open mind we would be doing both our workers and ourselves a disfavor. So now we have the question of how do we overcome our natural propensity to use past experiences? We do not; we add them into the equation as a starting point not the full conclusion. This is a topic in Organizational Learning and known as the Mental Model.
Experiences Provided to a Team Member
Now let us look at what experiences we provide our people. We can do little to change the experiences people already have had, but we can mold the ones they gain while part of our project or company. Having said that, what are we doing to ensure we provide our people constructive experiences? The most common answer to this is that training was provided. Training; while useful does not always provide useful or productive experiences. Experience is gained from the actual interaction and how it is handled. Do we as leaders or managers provide our people positive or negative experiences? This again falls back to the Organizational Learning in that it relates to the Mental Model and Systems Thinking. Do we listen before we react or just react? Do we help them come to a productive conclusion or do we just override them, i.e. pushing a negative experience on them?
Team Member Attitude
This is a good starting point for our second part of this topic, Attitude. From our last post, we saw that attitude makes the other major part of the equation. What makes up a person’s attitude? Everyone has a disposition for a certain type of attitude based on their past experiences and their personality. As we covered earlier, we can do little to nothing about past experiences, but can and should play a major role in the ones they obtain during their time working as a member of time. Most people’s attitude is generated by their feeling of belonging and worth: this is discussed in the work by Maslow and Zig Ziggler. Both of which are easily shown to the individual through two way discussions about the goal(s) of the company and listening to suggestions from the team member. By listening, we mean more than just acting as if we hear what they have to say. It means to provide constructive feedback and maintaining an open mind to the possibilities of their suggestions containing some merit.
Throughout our discussion today, we have talked about how to enhance our workers through providing positive experiences and shaping their attitudes, but when we look deep into this philosophy we see that the majority of what we have discussed relates mainly to our employment of a Learning Organization or better yet being an example of a Leaning Individual.