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Stuart Hardy Group moderatorThe company name is only visible to registered members.02 Dec 2008, 2:02 pm
Currently I work a lot with leaders on the topic of empathy...and how to gain the commitment of those that are led. Leadership is measured by those that we lead....without them leadership does not exist. If we think of a 'good ' leader that judgement is based on how well he or she has met the needs of those that are being led in the context of the wider objective.
We all have a finite amount of energy, to give to all the things we do in life, both negative energy and positive energy- the positive 'supports' something, and the 'negative' resists.
Lets think of this as a scale of minus 5 to plus 5
Minus 5 = War
This is when you are totally resistant to something....you would 'go to war' to resist it happening. This is very high energy...and very rare in our lives to be this committed to something not happening..it also stops as focusing on anything else - it takes over!!
Minus 4 = Battle
This is when you would go to battle over something - not as committed as war...but high energy still. Very visible...very obvious...and pretty determined. In the business context for leaders Minus 4 and 5 are quite easy to deal with...because the are transparent and clear...worst case we can fire these people!!
Minus 3 = Active Resistance
Slightly less energy....but quite common in organizations and teams...particularly at times of change. Usually based on disagreement....it is an area of focus as leaders ...because we need these people on our side...and because the energy is not so strong - with careful behavioral change management these people can be supported to move to a more positive state...and at least because it is Active Resistance they are 'visible'!
Minus 2 = Passive Resistance
Dangerous area...low level energy...but it can be like a virus in an organisation...that spreads and infects...if left alone may well mutate into Active Resistance.....the problem is for leaders...it's difficult to spot....
Minus 1 =Apathy
No leaders want this....these people are invisible...and a drain on resources..from an energy point of view...this is low level...and there may be many things in our lives that we feel apathetic about....it becomes a problem if they start to dominate our 'levels' of commitment.
0= No information
Plus 1 = Passive Interest
Very common - socially and in Business..."yup...sounds a good idea...how Interesting'...but I'm personally not going to do anything...particularly common at board level meeting...I hear it all the time. Low energy....zero effectiveness!
Plus 2 = Active Interest
More energy now...but still very little in the language I use at that management meeting that genuinely says I am going to commit anything to it 'Yeah great idea - I'm with you on that - I always said we should follow that route'
Very dangerous for leaders...they think they have support but suddenly they look over their shoulder and their 'followers' have gone...also a common level of commitment from poor sponsorship on projects - there is nothing 'Real' in there!
Plus 3 = I'll Try
THE most dangerous area to find yourself in...and we have all been there...how many of us have made new year resolutions...I'll try and give up smoking...and what usually happens....six months later you are still smoking...and actually because there is a reasonably high level of energy involved we usually feel guilty at having let ourselves...and sometimes others down. It is a fascinating area 'Ill Try'...and we spend a lot of time there with the things we think we should do...but don't commit to with high energy. Interestingly as toddlers it OK to try...we say to our kids running in the race at Sports Day..." as long as you try your best - thats OK"...but somewhere in the teenage/young adult years this changes - suddenly just trying is not enough and all around us expect us to succeed- Oh its tough out there!! One thing is for sure though - Lance Armstrong does not get up on the morning of a Stage in the Tour De France as say to himself "I think I'll try and win this" - It is definitely something more
Plus 4 = Qualified commitment
This is a good place to be if we want to get things done. basically we are saying " If this this and this are in place ..THEN I will give it my total commitment. Realistically this is as far as many of us get...and for leaders to create working environments that allow Qualified Commitment that is a great skill - and really where all leaders should aim. However it is high energy so we don't do this for many things.
Plus 5 = Total Commitment
Very rare...very high energy...probably reserved for very critical or life and death decisions where we HAVE to completely commit to survive or change something....not likely to happen in business...and if you manager says to you " Yeah I'm totally committed to you boss" ..be suspicious - it's probably not true.
So what does this all mean for leaders. The most important thng is to firstly ask yourself as a leader..How committed am I to this objective...If it is just an I'll try..then you seriously have to challenge yourself as to whether it will really happen...and if so..what will it take to move you to a level of Qualified commitment. If you personally are not more than an I'll try...its very difficult to expect that of those you lead.
Having done that you have to ask the same question of those that you lead...just where are they...why are they there...and how can you move them up the scale. Once you do this you will realise more, the danger of those low energy areas such between -2 and+2..they are so difficult to find in your people and teams.
Having the Emotional Intelligence and the honesty to able to challenge yourself like this as a leader makes you far more empathetic to the needs of those you lead in terms of generating commitment to achievement..the life blood of good leadership.....so next time you decide to do something...just ask your self "Where am I" on that simple scale...and then decide whether that's a good place to be. Personally I've fond this a very useful tool in helping leaders understand how to generate commitment at work.
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