Effective leadership is the cornerstone for building a high performing organization.
To improve organizational results, leaders need to become more innovative, more agile, and drive deeper levels of engagement.
As the head of sales for a large club membership organization, Bob knew how to turn on the charm and bring in new members. As a leader, Bob is charming, fun, and likeable, yet he can also be scattered, tough, impatient, and controlling with his employees. In recent years the organization began to see memberships fall and the acquisition of new members was becoming increasingly difficult.
As membership sales declined and membership attrition increased, Bob would go out and make the sales himself. He found it difficult to hold his salespeople accountable for their sales goals because he wanted to be liked as a manager.
What Bob wanted from his staff was more innovation, risk-tasking, new ideas, and a sense of urgency.
However, the more membership struggled, the more stressed Bob became and the more dictatorial he became.
As stress increased, Bob’s charming, need-to-be-liked leadership style changed to attacking and blaming others and dominating and demonstrating inflexibility with problem-solving. As a result, the performance of his sales staff continued to decrease.
This created a vicious cycle with his people. They would sit back and wait for Bob to blow up, and then they would simply do exactly as they were told. Everyone was afraid to make a mistake. Bob’s people knew he wanted more, but nothing seemed to take hold.
Then Bob received REAL Leadership feedback during a consulting engagement with Stop At Nothing.
This feedback that illustrated his leadership strengths, his derailers, the impact his strengths and derailers had on engagement, and how his leadership positively or negatively impacted organizational performance.
The data showed Bob’s main leadership strengths were:
- Business skills, capabilies, and knowledge
- Driving new ideas in the organization
- Providing growth and development opportunities for his people
His main leadership derailers were:
- The inability to create a trusting environment
- Emotional self-regulation
- Empowering his people
When Bob saw clearly how his leadership style held back organizational performance and how his derailing behaviors inhibited positive engagement from his sales staff, it was a true wake up call, and he decided he needed to make serious changes in his leadership behaviors.
Using the REAL Leadership model, Bob focused on a few key areas to help him make the necessary changes so he could drive different organizational results.
The REAL Leadership model consists of:
- Resilience: Resilient leaders have a strong sense of self and the ability to thrive amidst disruption.
- Engagement: Engaging leaders inspire, empower, challenge, develop, and align people.
- Agility: Agile leaders are flexible, change, evolve as needed, and have the skills and capabilities to drive innovation, agility, and performance.
- Leadership Wisdom: Wise leaders practice transparency, authenticity, compassion, are ego-less, work for the greater good, and are purpose-driven.
Bob’s improved leadership style led to a 30% increase in membership sales and a 10% decrease in membership attrition in just 60 days.
He focused on 4 main areas using the REAL Leadership methodology:
- Exercise to Manage Stress. This is part of Resilient Leadership: By working out consistently, he became more “zen”, as he likes to say. This helped him with his emotional volatility and he can now respond rather than react.
- “Meetings without Bob,” with the goal of Engaging Leadership: Instead of meetings where Bob told his people what to do, he gave his sales managers the problem statement and left the room. He would come back and listen to the sales team talk through all the pros and cons generated from their ideas, and then he would mentor and empower them to implement their solutions. He even began to employ social media with his team to encourage all to share powerful daily inspirational messages with one another.
- Employ flexible approaches, which demonstrated Agile Leadership: Instead of shooting down ideas, Bob began to admit his concerns and fears. When the team wanted to take risks, when they had ideas that were outside the box, or when they had ideas that didn’t fit his mold, he began to take a step back and consider different approaches rather than outright rejecting them. By being more flexible with a variety of approaches to solving sales problems, this allowed for more open dialogue and discussion, and better decision making.
- Focus on transparent, real conversations, which leads to Leadership Wisdom: Bob learned to bite his tongue and practiced authenticity, and having real conversations led to increased transparency with his team. Having real, transparent conversations led to increased employee engagement, which in turn increased trust. Bob was already well-liked, but as a result of these changes he started down the road of becoming a truly inspirational and wise leader.
Bob changed his leadership behavior by improving his resilience, being more open and agile to others ideas, and showing he valued another’s perspective.
This increased engagement with his people and his peers. This led to more open discussions and better membership sales solutions. Bob improved organizational results by changing his leadership style. Bob and his team talked more, questioned more, and dialogued more. Bob genuinely feels that the changes in his leadership and communication style was what made the key difference in improving sales performance.
Bob’s stress levels are definitely lower as he is able to depend on others to help solve difficult problems. His people are much more engaged and inspired to do more.
What Can You Do?
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Co-Founder, Managing Partner
Stop At Nothing, Inc