Category Archives: Better Leaders

Empowering-through-delegation

Empowerment through Delegation

Effective delegation attitudes can be taught and learned. Because of people’s diverse backgrounds, these attitudes come more naturally and are more easily understood by some people than others. When desire is present, however, any attitude or personality trait can eventually be developed. Continually observe leaders around you, glean ideas from books and articles, make a conscious decision to infuse your thought processes with positive ideas and belief in others and encourage appropriate team behaviour. Here are several actions you can use regularly to set the stage for an empowered delegation environment:

  • Think and talk in terms of “we”, not just “me”.
  • Actively encourage and seek feedback and suggestions for improvement within the operation
  • Recognise that mistakes are part of the learning process
  • Replace the word “failure” with other words in your vocabulary, like mistake, learning experience or test.
  • Know your personal strengths and limits
  • Be willing to entrust others with parts of your role
  • Rotate leadership responsibility for meetings and projects when appropriate
  • Include all contributors’ names on reports, memos and other communication
  • Constantly communicate and repeat the team goals and your reason for working together
  • Be available for others, at the same time, encourage resourcefulness and creativity. Effective delegation gives the message: “Do whatever it takes – you have the talent!”

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Empowering-your-leaders

Empower Your Team to be Leaders in 2020

Empowerment is the creation of a motivational climate that releases power, resources and responsibility to each team member to foster maximum engagement, involvement and commitment to achieve the desired results. No matter how ambitious, talented, or self-disciplined you are, at some point it becomes necessary to involve other people in achieving your goals and creating better results.

As you plan for the new year in 2020, consider how you can achieve better results, increase productivity and success by empowering your team to become leaders. Empowerment is the means for accomplishing your goals. Empowerment extends productivity beyond the organisational skill and knowledge of one person. It is the art of enabling others to take action.

Empowerment is an essential building block in win-win interdependent human relationships, regardless of your position and responsibilities. Allow others to make more decisions and they will bring more commitment to any team or department endeavour. Impart a degree of ownership to others and they will become involved in your vision and action plan. This is true in sales, education, hospitality, customer service, management, manufacturing or any other field.

Empowerment allows anyone striving for personal and professional development to develop and move forward. Because it is the essence of true leadership and influence, empowerment achieves results and progress through enhancing the involvement and commitment of others. In the past only leaders were allowed to control information flow and decision making, taking full credit for the results. Today, however, it is widely recognised that all team members can make valuable contributions to the plans and decisions and share in both the responsibility and credit for outcomes.

Empower those who are in the best position to take action by giving them the direction, knowledge, resources and authority they need. Communicate your respect for your team members through delegating some of your traditional authority and power to them. Handled correctly, empowerment multiplies your efforts to accomplish your vision and goals. Empowerment takes many shapes and forms – self-directed work team, asking for ideas, turning over the leadership of meetings, delegation of training responsibilities, flex-time policies, surveys, cross training and other methods that encourage participation, input and feedback. These strategies are just some of the tools for empowerment.

Recognising the expertise of all team members will unleash their creativity. In today’s diverse, internationalised, information culture, top down autocratic control is obsolete. Mutual respect, reasonable delegation of authority, open communication, and mutual commitment to the team and organisational goals are the hallmarks of an effective organisation. Give employees the responsibility to adapt, respond and take advantage of opportunities.

Experimentation and innovation must occur regularly to keep up with any work characterised by customer interface, information or techonology change. Consumers increasingly demand instantaneous service and faultless quality whilst expecting low prices. To address these demands, train your team members in more that just the required procedures. Help them to understand the spirit and purpose of their work. Even temporary workers need information and training to function as empowered, dynamic team members,

Tapping into the existing values and vision of team members is the key to nurturing accountability and commitment of the team. The story is told of a traveler who visited a stone quarry and asked three of the workers what they were doing.

“Can’t you see?” said the first one irritably. “I’m cutting a stone.”

The second replied, “I’m earning a living.”

The third put down his pick and thrust our his chest proudly. “I’m building a cathedral.” he said.

How people view their work makes a significant impact on both short and long term productivity. All workers perform and respond to change best when they are accomplishing work or goals that matter to them. A synergistic, empowered and productive team consists of individuals who view their input as meaningful and significant.

The Benefits of Empowerment

  • Retention of creative, skilled people as they participate and share in the success of the group
  • Higher engagement and commitment from team members
  • Logical, reasonable policy and decision making based on information from diverse sources in the organisation
  • High calibre information flow as people know their ideas are welcomed, respected and acted upon
  • Decreased waste and inefficiency as people closest to situations take improvement initiatives and activities
  • Ideas captured in time to respond to market needs
  • Unique competitive advantages derived from maximising the talents of all of the individuals in the organisation
  • Increase “High Payoff” time for upper management
  • Improved morale as group members enjoy belonging and becoming emotionally and intellectually involved in projects.

Initiating the process of achievement through empowerment can take longer than imposing an agenda upon others. Strict, top down control fails to fully use the potential of individuals. As a result, team members show only short-lived effectiveness along with little or no responsiveness or adaptability to outside events. In contrast, once people experience the fulfillment that comes through empowerment and involvement they are eager to adapt and make full use of their potential. They recognise the many personal benefits they reap as the organisation succeeds and their responsibility and effectiveness expand through empowerment.

Set your goals in 2020 to empower your people to become leaders.

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Mistake 2 Failing to Lead by Example

Failing to Lead by Example

How often do managers use the phrase, “just do as I say,” or something similar? Usually, it’s right after they’ve done something that contradicts their words. Managers regularly fail to recognise that team members closely model their own behaviour on their manager’s behaviour. 

By acting in a manner contrary to what they have asked of their team, managers undermine their own position and significantly weaken their ability to achieve goals and outcomes. 

When managers just ‘talk the talk,’ they become models for the wrong types of behaviour. Effective managers know they must ‘walk the talk.’

So what are some of the cause of this mistake?  

Managers often let themselves down by saying one thing and doing another.

  •  Sometimes it comes through laziness – it’s easier just to do something the same old way.
  • Other times it comes through forgetfulness or a lack of care – the manager can’t remember what was said and what they meant.
  • Or because of lack of time, they are tempted to cut corners and just go with the easiest or simplest option.

Leading by example takes some effort, but should not be overwhelming for any manager. 

Unfortunately, some managers believe that behaving differently to the way they demand that their people behave shows their authority as the ‘boss.’

Sadly, “Connie the Contradiction” found this out the hard way. She asked her team to be on time for their regular Monday morning meeting. She requested that they have their ‘Work in Progress’ reports to her by Friday lunchtime each week. She also promised to provide feedback to each team member in a regular catch-up session.

So imagine the team’s consternation when she routinely showed up for the meeting 10-15 minutes late, and forgot to gather all the reports before she walked out the door each Friday. To make matters worse, she seldom caught up with the team to provide feedback. She became a walking, talking contradiction…a running joke to her team and others in the organisation…let alone, a highly ineffective manager. Over time, the team started to mirror her behaviours.

Acting in a way that contradicts a previously stated position not only sets a manager up for failure…it can fragment a team’s unity.

In this situation, not leading by example shows a lack of respect and sends a message that what has been asked for doesn’t really matter. In other cases, it may substantially reduce the confidence team members have in their manager’s ability to lead.

Managers need to reflect on their own actions and behaviours and ask “Are these the actions I want my people to take in order to achieve optimum results?”

So what are some of the ways that this mistake can be avoided?

  • Managers should be highly consistent in what they say and what they do. There should be clear alignment between the two, and little, if any, room for employees to get the wrong idea
  • Managers also need to behave and communicate in a fashion consistent with their objectives. They should be the bedrock that others can trust and rely upon to show the way.  

If “Connie the Contradiction” had followed her own direction and led by example, the team and others would have continued to adopt the right way of doing things, resulting in more effective teamwork and results, to name just a few benefits. Over time, she would have also earned and retained her team’s respect, and gradually strengthened her authority and effectiveness as a manager.

We have seen countless managers who make their lives difficult because they don’t realise the importance of leading by example. They refuse to recognise, or fail to accept, the responsibility that goes with being the manager. They fail to see the tremendous potential of personally setting the benchmark for desired behaviours, actions and attitudes.

When properly coached, such managers can quickly change…and it’s amazing how positively their transformation is accepted by the team, and how much the organisation benefits. 

‘Leading by example’ will contribute to the manager earning greater respect and trust from their team. By being prepared to show leadership, and being consistent in thoughts, words and deeds, others will engage and adopt the desired way of doing things. In time, this will lead to greater productivity and to achieving results which more closely align with the overall goals of the manager and the organisation.

To be effective, managers need to not just ‘tell’…they need to show!

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MISTAKE 1 Not Making the Transition From Worker To Manager

Not Making the Transition From Worker To Manager

Failing to effectively transition from being a worker to being a manager is one of the most common mistakes new managers make. Moving from being a worker in a team, responsible for their own actions and outcomes…to being a manager of a team, responsible for the actions and outcomes of others… can be very difficult.

In not completing the transition, managers can make previously effective relationships awkward, and cause unnecessary stress for themselves and others. This can in turn lead to low team morale, ineffective teamwork, reduced productivity and loss of self-esteem.

To make the transition, managers have to decide to be a manager, not a worker…you can’t be both. You need to be either a chicken or a duck…you can’t be a ‘Chick-a-Duck’, still a worker, but not yet a manager. 

So what are some of the reasons why managers make this mistake?  

The failure to transition happens for a number of reasons, some of which include:

  • The worker being promoted to the role of manager as a highly effective worker, but not yet possessing sufficient skills and confidence to manage others. 
  •  The worker not receiving appropriate training or mentoring in the role of manager. They get promoted and left to fend for themselves.
  •  The manager being uncomfortable directing others. Delegating work to others can feel like passing the buck to a new manager. Even worse, some see it as admitting that they can’t cope with the work or the workload.

Take Craig the Chick-a-Duck for example. He was a top-performing customer service officer and enjoyed being one of the team. He was well-liked and related well to his colleagues. His strong performance as a worker saw him promoted to the manager’s role. 

He’d observed others in the role and often heard people, including himself, grumble about their manager’s approach. Being promoted to manager, he thought he could do it better. But he quickly found the role was very different from what he was used to.

He had responsibility for the team, but didn’t receive any training on how to function as a manager. Nor did he receive the benefit of any mentoring, or access to the wisdom and experience of others.

In trying to work with his team as the manager, he quickly reverted to familiar attitudes and behaviours – the worker behaviours of his previous role. He tried to maintain the same friendships he’d had as a worker whilst being the boss…jumping in to do the work others were supposed to be doing rather than fulfilling his own role. 

He was hesitant to delegate and give firm direction…forgetting that he was meant to be leading the team. These actions undermined his authority as a manager, his confidence in his own capabilities and confused his team.   

So what are some of the ways that this mistake can be avoided?

  • To begin with, prior to assuming the role of manager, the worker could complete a proven psychometric assessment to identify their abilities, work style preferences, behaviours and personality type. The assessment will help identify possible development opportunities and strengths and weaknesses in relation to the role.
  • They could then be mentored and coached about the changes they need to make to succeed in their role. New managers also need to be provided with appropriate training to ensure they are ready and able to manage. 
  • Initially, they should be mentored to help them perform effectively. New managers should be encouraged to seek out experienced people who can share their knowledge in a positive and supportive way.
  • Managers should also take the time to get to know their team from a manager’s perspective. Knowing what motivates individuals and how they want to be managed, allows a manager to act appropriately, move beyond being a worker, and perform more effectively as a manager.
  • Importantly, new managers should be encouraged to identify and apply desirable behaviours that both suit their personality style and engage their workers. 

Our experience has shown that given the right introduction and training, people can learn to become good managers. 

They can learn to identify and implement new behaviours and attitudes to effectively transition into more demanding or complex roles.

One of the many benefits of a well planned transition is their ability to become a more effective manager in a shorter timeframe. When managers are fully engaged in their role, they are empowered to use their untapped potential to make a positive difference in themselves, their team members and their organisation.

When workers are prepared, trained and supported to become managers, they create the opportunity for themselves and others to shineAnd importantly, they provide the organisation with stronger, more effective leadership.

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Lead with forward thinking

Lead With Forward Thinking

Tomorrow’s business environment will be characterized by more complex problems, even faster rates of change, improved technology, increased global competition and the commoditization of most products.

It will become more and more difficult for organisations to develop and maintain a unique advantage over competitors.

To create this competitive advantage, the motivational leader of the future will have to develop in these areas:


01-Leadership is a relationship1. Leadership is a relationship

Leadership is about people. You don’t lead things, you lead people. You lead people through the relationship you have with them.

Only when you are able to build positive, trusting relationships with team members will you be able to effectively lead them. You can only develop trusting relationships by spending time with people, interacting, showing your belief and trust in them and sharing experiences.

When you have relationships based on trust and experience, you know you can depend on each other, no matter what the future holds.
 


02-Lead through goals and values2. Lead through goals and values

It is impractical to try to change and control everything people do. When team members know their own and the team goals, and are committed to the organisation’s values, they will almost always act in ways supportive to the organisation.

The key will be the leader’s ability to crystallise and effectively communicate the teams and the organisational goals and values to team members.
 


03-Balance work3. Balance work

Believe in people, train and develop them continuously and give them the opportunity to accept responsibility for significant achievement. Just as devastating as the failure to delegate is overdoing delegation.

Giving too much of your own authority and responsibility to others who are not adequately trained, who do not share your goals, or who are overworked, means that you will soon be out of touch with the operation.

You will lose the insight you need to influence the direction in which the team and the organisation are moving. Avoid this trap by maintaining a written delegation plan that details what you plan to delegate and to whom, supported by a schedule for implementing your plan.
 


04-Focus on Strength4. Focus on strength

When people grow, the team and the whole organisation benefits. Everyone has both strengths and weaknesses. The leader’s responsibility is to put team members in the right role to best utilise their unique talents and abilities whilst upskilling them for further growth.
 


05-Multiply your leadership5. Multiply your leadership

Make yourself available for new assignments and increased responsibilities. If you are already at the top, developing someone to take over is even more important. The ultimate measurement of a leader’s success is how many other leaders they have developed.

Organisations succeed in direct proportion to the number of leaders they have. With only one or a few top leaders, organisations must resort to a hierarchical bureaucratic structure to manage and control the actions of employees.

This structure is destined to fail in a fast-paced, ever-changing and competitive business world. The ideal goal is to develop everyone into a leader. Every employee can develop their own personal leadership abilities.

Study people, learn their strengths, their personal goals and their desires. Then give them opportunities to develop new abilities and learn new skills that will make them more valuable as team members and more fulfilled as individuals.
 


Become the leader who develops leaders.

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Guide others by your attitude

Guide Others By Your Attitude

As a leader, your responsibility is to create a learning environment through your demonstrating attitude toward innovation and change, and by communicating your belief in the potential and worth of your team members.

Your attitudes and positive expectations establish their receptiveness to behaviour change.

The attitudes of your people toward upskilling and improvement will almost always be a direct reflection of your own attitude. If you fear change or are concerned that developing employees may lessen your importance, then your team cannot grow.

Upskilling and developing your people is the most effective way to achieve greater results, productivity and change. The success of any training or development program is determined by the extent of the attitudinal and behavioural change of trainees. However, as the leader, you must continue to show your belief in them and reinforce their growth.
 

During and after the program, your team members must believe that the change in their attitudes and behaviour is appreciated.

If the new approach and behaviour goes unnoticed, people will quickly revert back to the old, more comfortable attitudes and behaviour. Encourage people to grow and use more of their potential. Reinforce your belief in them and their importance and value to the team and the organisation.

Catch them doing things right.

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Leadership Analysis

Putting The Spotlight On Leadership Competencies

Are we getting what we want (or need) from our leaders?

Latest results from more than 10,000 respondents to the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey conducted by Leadership Management Australia (LMA) put the spotlight squarely on the most important leadership skills and competencies we expect to see in our leaders.

“You can’t always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you just might find,
you get what you need…”
You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Rolling Stones (1969)
 

It seems we know what we want, but as the song goes, we can’t always get it. Many of our organisational leaders are behaving in ways that are misaligned with what is expected of them or needed from them by the people they seek to lead.

Leadership competencies

The recipe for effective leadership is reasonably simple to follow. People working at all levels of organisations have a succinct and focused set of expectations that leaders can fulfil – if they put their minds to it. The main focus of leadership competencies and skills expected of our leaders relate to communication, problem-solving and decision-making and developing and coaching others.

The rankings of the leadership competencies thought to most clearly enable leaders and senior managers to do their jobs well are understood across all levels.

Despite some variation across the levels, the same top 7 out of the 16 competencies listed are reported as the keys to effective leadership:

Leadership competencies Employees
Ranking
2019
Managers
Ranking
2019
Leaders
Ranking
2019
Communication skills 1 1 1
Problem solving and decision making 2 3 5
Developing and coaching others 3 2 2
Teamwork 4 5 6
Planning and organising 5 4 7
Building relationships (internal and external) 6 6 4
Strategic thinking 7 7 3
 
Q. All
Looking at this list of leadership competencies, please nominate which you believe are the five most critical competencies that leaders and senior managers need to do their job well today.
 

 Whilst strategic thinking features more prominently in the minds of Leaders and problem solving and decision making are higher on the list for Employees and Managers, the reality is a common set of expectations of the leadership skills and competencies needed to perform well as a leader.

Leadership behaviours

New Manager Leading a Team

When we look at how these skills and competencies become evident in the behaviours of our leaders, there is generally solid alignment – many of the expected leadership skills and competencies are obvious in the behaviours exhibited.

For example

The skill of problem solving is high on the list for competencies expected in our leaders and also features in the behaviours demonstrated by Leaders as seen by Managers and Employees.

However, there are also some clear gaps between the ways in which Leaders believe they behave and what their Managers and Employees see.

For example

Where Leaders believe their most clearly demonstrated leadership behaviour is motivating and bringing out the best in others, Employees rank this 13th and Managers 11th in terms of behaviours displayed by their leaders.

Employees and Manager see their Leaders operating with a strong results orientation more than any other behaviour suggesting that their Leaders’ motivations (and the resulting behaviours) are heavily skewed towards results more than the people who enable those results.

Two important behaviours witnessed by Employee and Managers from their Leaders are being supportive and remaining composed and confident in uncertainty – very important when many organisations are facing increasing volatility and uncertain economic times.

Clearly there is a need to align the desired or expected leadership skills and competencies and their practical demonstration through the leadership behaviours we see from our leaders. This will enable us to get both what we want AND what we need.

Leadership behaviours Leaders (about themselves)
Ranking
2019
Managers (about their leaders)
Ranking
2019
Employees (about their leaders)
Ranking
2019
Motivating and bringing out the best in others 1 11 13
Developing others 2 5 7
Solving problems effectively 3 4 4
Being supportive 4 2 2
Operating with a strong results orientation 5 1 1
Role modelling organisational values 6 9 12
Making quality decisions 7 10 9
Remaining composed and confident in uncertainty 8 3 3
 
Q. Leaders
Looking at the list of leadership behaviours below, please identify the FIVE behaviours you exhibit most as a leader/senior manager of your organisation
 
Q. Managers and Employees 
Looking at the list of leadership behaviours below, please identify the FIVE behaviours you see most from the leaders/senior managers in your organisation

Clearly there is a need to align the desired or expected leadership skills and competencies and their practical demonstration through the leadership behaviours we see from our leaders. This will enable us to get both what we want AND what we need.

Strategic importance of leadership development

In light of this clear need to align the necessary and expected leadership skills and competencies with their demonstration via leadership behaviours, the strategic importance of leadership development has never been more pronounced.

More than seven-in-ten across all levels of organisations recognise leadership development as either the most important (14-19%) or one of the top few strategic challenges (58-63%) facing their organisations’ future:

  Leaders (Executives/Senior Managers) 2019
%
Managers (Middle Managers and Supervisors) 2019
%
Employees (Non-Managerial/ Supervisory Employees) 2019
%
The most important strategic challenge for my organisation 19 15 14
One of the top few strategic challenges for my organisation 63 58 58
Just below the top few strategic challenges for my organisation 14 17 16
Not an important strategic challenge for my organisation 3 4 4
 
Q. Which of the following best describes how strategically important leadership development is for your organisation’s future?

Reassuring is the fact that 82% of Leaders recognise the strategic importance of leadership development – a clear nod to the need to devote time, money and resources to develop tomorrow’s leaders.

So what does this mean for our leaders?

Leaders and senior managers need to remain vigilant in developing their leadership skills and competencies and consistent in demonstrating the desirable leadership behaviours.

By regularly thinking about and acting in accordance with the expectations of their people, leaders will demonstrate what leadership is about and greatly assist in developing quality leadership and quality leaders for the future.

Given the critical importance of leadership development to the future of our organisations, leaders owe it to the next generation of leaders to lead well, be the example these emerging leaders can and will follow and help others to learn how to lead better in future – to be both what they want AND what they need.

Become a highly effective and respected leader

Whether you’re an experienced leader or aspiring to become one, there are steps you can take to grow your skills, knowledge and capacity to motivate and inspire. LMA offers a range of short courses and in-depth development programs that support your key people to excel in this arena, effectively unlocking the potential of your entire team.

Explore our Leadership & Management Courses today, and see our upcoming course dates and locations in our current course schedule.

Are you a manager or a leader

Are you a Manager or a Leader… What’s the difference?

Over recent years there’s been an abundance of articles highlighting the differences between Managers and Leaders.

Many of these articles compare the characteristics of Managers against those of Leaders, as if they were entirely different and separate roles, usually characterising them at totally opposite ends of the personality spectrum.

Managers

Managers are often portrayed as the Black Hats – focused on results and numbers-driven by processes and systems, whilst showing little empathy, care or consideration for their people.

Leaders

Leaders, on the other hand, are often portrayed as the White Hats – charismatic and innovative change agents who engage and inspire others through displaying care and consideration.

What’s the difference?

The reality is that these are not two distinct roles. Nor are they opposites.

Management and Leadership are inseparable in today’s organisations. Those in Management/Leadership positions must incorporate the qualities and characteristics of both Manager and Leader in their roles. They go hand in hand.

Nor is it a situation of just Black or white. It’s more like 50 Shades of Grey when it comes to the level and mix of Management capabilities with Leadership competencies and characteristics required today.

The traditional model of management, in which leadership was considered one of the 4 functions of management, has evolved over the last 50 year.

4 Functions Of Management

 

PLANNING, ORGANISING, LEADING & CONTROLLING

In the world, the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s most management structures were more hierarchical with more layers of command. Managers’ roles generally, concentrated on producing outputs according to standard processes as efficiently and effectively as possible. During this time, employees held greater respect for the authority vested in the position of a supervisor or manager (Positional Power). Generally, there was also a higher regard for a manager’s age and experience.

THE WORLD HAS CHANGED.

continuous improvement

In today’s fast-moving world, the “Status Quo” is extinct. Continuous improvement, innovation, agility are the focus and nature of our competitive business world today.

People now challenge the status quo of titles, authority, age and experience. A title or position is no longer sufficient to ensure they can achieve the best results out of people. Employees today judge their managers and leaders on their actions, attitudes, behaviours and leadership competencies. 

To perform effectively in a Management / Leadership role in organisations today, people require a much higher degree of leadership than in the past. But they must also have capabilities in the other 3 areas of management.

Where Your Authority Comes From

As a supervisor or manager, your authority is derived from your position in the organisation. This is your Positional Power. You have been appointed to represent management to those for whom you are responsible.

Your team’s knowledge of the organisation’s vision, values, goals and expectations come through you. Your position gives you the authority and the responsibility to make decisions and to allocate resources to reach the team’s quality and productivity objectives and goals.

Exercise Your Authority Effectively

Effective Management

How you exercise the authority of your position determines the results you are able to achieve. Those who take an authoritarian or command approach, purely using their Positional Power, achieve limited results from their people.

However, exercising true leadership is moving beyond the Positional Power of your title into developing your Personal Power through earning the respect and trust of those you manage.

Managers who understand that they must develop their Personal Power in order to more effectively exercise their Positional Power, are the successful leaders of today and the future.

Their ability to lead, direct, engage and influence the behaviour of others is based on their ability to earn the respect and trust of others. Yes, they still focus on outcomes and still demonstrate skill in planning, organizing and controlling.

Leadership goes beyond and enhances management. Genuine leadership involves gaining engagement and commitment from those you manage, so they, like you, understand and willingly play their part in the overall purpose and success of the organisation.

Leadership involves the ability to communicate, to enable and to empower people to take meaningful and productive actions. Leadership is creating exceptional results for and through people.

Summary

So, in summary, you are both a Manager and a Leader with the power to exercise and develop both your Management capabilities and Leadership competencies.

Become a highly effective and respected leader

Whether you’re an experienced leader or aspiring to become one, there are steps you can take to grow your skills, knowledge and capacity to motivate and inspire. LMA offers a range of short courses and in-depth development programs that support your key people to excel in this arena, effectively unlocking the potential of your entire team.

Explore our Leadership & Management Courses today, and see our upcoming course dates and locations in our current course schedule.

6-steps-to-dealing-with-Customer-Complaints

6 Steps to Dealing with Customer Complaints

In an ideal world, your customer service skills mean that there are no complaints. However, it’s important to be prepared to handle them if they should occur. Strong customer-oriented professionals have a positive attitude towards complaints. They see them as an opportunity for improvement and a chance to rebuild and strengthen the relationship with the customer. Research tells us that less than 5% of unhappy customers will make a complaint. Most of the 95% who will not complain, will stay away and will tell others of their problems. Apply these customer-orientated tips in dealing with complaints to create a positive outcome for all involved:

  1. Listen actively

Allow the customer to explain the problem as they see it. Ask open questions to ensure you understand their concerns and that the whole problem is on the table. Allow the customer to let off steam if necessary and don’t take this personally. They will feel better and you may pick up valuable clues as to the real issue. Repeat back what you have heard to check you have heard it correctly. This also demonstrates that you are taking the complaint seriously.

  1. Apologise and empathise

To the customer, you are the organisation. Apologise promptly and sincerely on its behalf. Even if you are not responsible for the problem, you are sorry that it has happened. Show that you recognise and understand the customer’s feelings. Use the customer’s name frequently to connect with them at a personal level and choose words that accurately reflect their mood. Don’t react emotionally, make excuses, blame the customer or others in the organisation, bureaucratic procedures or suppliers. Remain ‘Above the line’ at all times. The customer is not interested in your problems or excuses, just the solution. Recognise that through your attitude, you can affect the customer’s behaviour.

  1. Take responsibility

Use positive language, focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Take care not to over-promise. Involve others if you need more authority to solve the complaint. If possible, offer several solutions and involve the customer in choosing the right solution for them. Stay calm, positive and in control of the situation. Remember, always take a complaint professionally, not personally.

  1. Thank the customer

Complaints are your opportunity to improve and to strengthen relationships. A sincere expression of appreciation to the customer will reassure them that you are taking the matter seriously, that you value their custom and that you welcome their feedback.

  1. Follow it through

Set the action plan in place immediately and check that it is completed as promised. If you have agreed to a deadline, stick to it. Keep your customer informed along the way. Share the experience with others in your team so that they can learn and develop their own skills in dealing with complaints. Use the complaint as a catalyst to suggest or set in place systems, policies or actions that will prevent the problem occurring again.

  1. Go the extra mile

Look for further opportunities to prove your interest in your customer by providing a little more than they expected, try to think outside of the box when coming to a solution for the customer. Follow up to check that they are happy with the resolution of the issue. Keep in touch through letters and emails to ensure the relationship continues. See complaints as an exciting opportunity to improve performance at all levels and to reduce complaints in the future.

Most organisations have a formal procedure for handling complaints. Ensure that you are aware of these procedures, or work with your team to prepare one if it does not exist. Whether you are the first point of contact, or become involved at a later stage, the most important ingredient to success is your attitude in handling the complaint. Bringing an ‘Above the line’ approach to the process, communicating with empathy and by applying the following steps, will ensure that a positive outcome can be achieved for all concerned.

Developing-a-‘Be-of-Service’-Attitude

Developing a ‘Be of Service’ Attitude

“Customer Service is not a department. It is an Attitude.”

Multiple research reports show that customers were willing to spend more with a company that they felt provided an outstanding customer experience and excellence in customer service. Learning more about the skills, attributes and knowledge required to become customer service professionals is only one part of your development journey. This effort will only pay dividends when you also develop your genuine ‘be of service’ attitude. Excellence in customer service is actually 80% attitude and 20% skills and knowledge. The right attitude provides you with the approach you need to use your skills and knowledge to your full potential.

Further develop your ‘be of service’ attitude by applying the following strategies to customer interactions:

Have Confidence

Projecting confidence gives the impression that you are able and willing to help a customer. Confidence comes from ‘knowing your stuff’ and believing you will be able to tackle any challenge that comes your way. For customers, competence is a signal that lets them know that the person they’re working with has the requisite skills and abilities to complete their transaction or resolve their issue.

Think Positively

Our thought process and how we choose to think is reflected in our attitude. Every situation or moment has dual ways to look at it. It is up to you to choose how you would like to react to the particular scenario. Even if the situation is challenging and taking a toll on your patience, you will have to try and find out the tiniest positive aspect present in it. Setting the tone for a positive interaction can help to guide the way to a successful customer experience that will result in a favorable outcome for your customer.

Keep an Open mind

Being open-minded typically makes us more adaptable to a unique work environment or a challenging situation. It gives us the ability to consider alternative approaches to problem solving, to take risks and look for opportunities. Taking the time to consider all possible outcomes of a situation, the good, bad and in-between allows us to reframe the situation and think about it with an open mind resulting in a positive solution for the customer.

Take Ownership

Bring an ‘above the line’ attitude to all of your customer interactions. This approach means taking personal responsibility and ownership, being proactive and solution focused. Consider the difference between a customer service representative who takes no responsibility and one who acknowledges the concern and communicates a willingness to find a solution. We all know which person we would rather deal with and we also know which interaction will enhance the customer experience.

Remember, attitude is everything and whether your attitude is good or bad, it is this attitude that people are going to remember more than anything else. The good news is that you control what attitude your customers will remember. With a genuine ‘be of service’ attitude you are able to make full use of your skills, knowledge and attributes to meet the needs, wants and expectations of each one of your customers.

Can you can implement some of these strategies to develop the right attitude for business success and a ‘Be of Service’ attitude in the workplace?