In part one of this two-part blog series, we introduced Value-Added Leadership and considered it in the Context of Leadership and Management Skills.
In part two, we'll look at how to be a value-added leader to inspire the best from your team and I'll share my top 7 actionable ways that you can start to add value as a leader right now.
How to Be a Value-Added Leader Who Inspires the Best from Your Team
In Amy Cuddy’s book, Presence, she observes that there are two main questions we have when we evaluate people:
Can I trust this person? Known as ‘Warmth’
Can I respect this person? Known as ‘Competence’
Notice that trust comes first.
In a team where there is individual competence, but little trust, the benefits of that competence is not fully utilised. It shows up in the team as poor performance, negative interpersonal reactions, and difficult to manage teams.
The starting point for value-added leadership is trust. Understanding your team, establishing trust, and developing skills are all core requirements to maximise individual competences.
Understand What Drives Your Team
We often think we know what drives our employees.
A recent survey of 1000 employees by BPS World showed the main reasons employees stayed in their jobs were:
Enjoyment of their job 47%
Being well paid 30%
Progression prospects 13%
Almost half of all those surveyed cited enjoyment as the main reason for staying in their role; not money, not career prospects, enjoyment.
Adjusting your style and focus because you understand your team’s drivers is a skill you’ll develop as you use value-added leadership.
7 Ways You Can Add Value as a Leader
Here are some actionable activities and questions you can consider as a way to add value to your leadership, immediately.
1. Recognise Success, Show Appreciation and Express Gratitude
When was the last time you were recognised or appreciated for something you did (I hope it was recently!)
It felt good, right?
Recognition and loyalty are two sides of the same coin, so:
How will you show that you appreciate your team or a member of your team?
What would gratitude look like?
How would you lead in this?
Acts of recognition, appreciation, and gratitude don’t have to be large scale and ‘showy’. Add them to meetings (to ensure consistency) or 1:1s. But don’t forget that the ad hoc 'noticing’ of someone 'in the moment' is extremely powerful too.
Key Takeaway: Value-added leaders notice and acknowledge
In the BPS World survey, 38% of employees rated being treated well and respected by their employers second, as we saw, after enjoying their jobs (47%). And, of course, these two aspects are closely linked.
Respect is a core value for most people and their organisations, yet one of the most common conversations I have with teams is about lack of respect; within the team and with managers.
In the Harvard Business Review respondents to a survey "ranked respect as the most important leadership behavior. Yet employees report more disrespectful and uncivil behavior each year."
So, how do we, as managers and leaders, create respect in our team?
When the issue of respect (or lack thereof) shows up, team performance will be suffering and relationships will be under stress. It is a sensitive time.
The value-added leader recognises that there is an issue and looks first at themselves and their interactions. They then facilitate change through a process of team development and inclusion, leading the way by living up to high expectations of behaviour.
Key Takeaway: Value-added leaders understand their team and establish norms that show respect and inclusion
3. Reinforcement of Shared Values and Commitments
A shared commitment to common goals underpins the purpose of a team. Shared values help steer the team in a unified direction.
Consider for a moment… when do you feel most enthusiastic and motivated about a project or activity? When are you willing (and happy) to go the extra mile?
Shared values and commitment to the goals of the team, by the team, are powerful motivators. Of course, people ‘do their jobs’ (most of the time!), but we all know how different it feels to be passionate about what we do; we come alive, we feel energised, we are enthusiastic!
Have you recently discussed values in your team; an individual's values and those of the team/organisation? Are they aligned? How do you cater for difference and make it a positive?
Key Takeaway: Value-added leaders explore personal and organisational values
4. Interest in Others
Are you genuinely interested in the people in your team?
Curiosity is the great revealer about who people are. You’ll discover what drives them, what they care about, what they need, what they can contribute.
Individuals and teams are affected by external and internal factors. These, for all of us, wax and wane through time. Unspoken difficulties can change behaviour and performance can become a ‘development’ issue rather than a short term dip in resilience that needs temporary support.
By showing a genuine interest in your team you can facilitate resilience by understanding where support is needed and adapting to short term needs.
Key Takeaway: Value-added leaders know their teams
5. What You Give out - You’ll Get in Return
Adam Grant writes in ‘Give and Take’ that successful outcomes are unlikely to happen at the expense of others.
Leaders who give support and engage, without tying it to a specific return on every occasion, are generally more successful than those who have ulterior motives or are egocentric in their interactions.
In an engagement and interactive sense, “If you give enough people what they want, you will get what you want.” - Zig Zigler
Key Takeaway: Value-added leadership encourages a team culture of giving support and positive engagement without specific expectations of return
6. Practice Emotional Intelligence - Lead by Example
Emotional Intelligence doesn’t mean keeping a distance and being unfeeling. It means considering options before acting with intention.
The capacity to express thoughts and feelings and respond without negative emotion is a skill that's important to develop. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, your motivations and values, provides the bedrock to lead with assurance and humility.
Day to day pressure often means there is little ‘intentional thinking gap’ between something that happens and our response.
Leading by example with emotional intelligence provides an opportunity for the leader’s behaviour to be emulated within the team or organisation.
I call it ‘Mind The Gap’ — in essence being ‘mindful of the space’ between stimulus and response and being intentional in your action.
So, where might this show up in your leadership?
Ask a question rather than offering a solution: Even in a crisis, could you ‘Mind the Gap’ to encourage confidence and self-reliance in others?
Take a moment: When you feel a rush of frustration, how might you ‘Mind the Gap’ to intentionally facilitate a constructive outcome that will help prevent the same issue arising again?
Notice your triggers: Are you aware of them and do you acknowledge them? How will you ‘Mind the Gap’ when they occur?
Key Takeaway: Value-added leaders put emotional intelligence into practice
7. Develop a Coaching Style
Moving towards a coaching culture is gaining traction, but it's not an easy or ‘soft’ option — it's about creating an environment that values people and organisational performance; knowing the two are intrinsically linked.
A coaching leadership style is proving to be much more effective with today’s employees.
Leaders who create a coaching culture instead of an autocratic one create an adaptive, resilient, talented and agile workforce; and the value-added leadership style is inherently based on coaching values.
Three Things You Can Do Straight Away
Listen: the ability to listen is a powerful skill. See what shows up when you listen and allow spaces without response.
Ask open and challenging questions: encouraging others to create the answers empowers and enables.
Coach ‘in the moment’: you don’t have to set aside a specific time, take every opportunity as it arises.
Key Takeaway: Value-added leaders use a coaching style to help create resilience and ownership
Looking to the Future
As leaders and managers, the imperative is for financial performance and hitting targeted objectives. Of course it is! But how we show up in our role and work with our colleagues is a key factor in that success.
Putting Value-Added Leadership into practice will create a return on investment as your team or organisation all pull in the same direction, with goodwill, openness and positive intent.
As said before, it’s not always an easy option, especially when implementing in less healthy existing environments, but perseverance will deliver dividends.
At Time-2, our mantra is all about ‘Enabling’ — many will ‘talk the talk’ but how do we enable the ‘walk the walk’.
It takes intention, courage, and action to create new ways of doing things; to try something new, especially with interpersonal relationships.
Often, when a lot of information comes our way, we put off action. So, I have a question for you… What ONE thing?
What ONE thing will you do to be a Value-Added Leader or add to your portfolio of value-added leadership skills? Putting your ONE thing ‘out there’ makes it real and a commitment!
Take a moment to think about what it would look like and then tweet your ONE thing using #whatONEthing and tag us @time2enable
Interested in taking a deeper dive into how you can become a better Value-Added Leader?
Contact me for a free half-day Value-Added Leadership Review (worth £900) for your team or organisation, which includes:
4 hours of consultation time
Pre-visit phone call and visit plan
Written report and recommendations
Post-visit phone review of report and action plan suggestions
Confidentiality and a sensitive approach.