A Good Leader Listens

What sets leaders apart? Good leaders not only ask good questions, but they actually listen to the answers. Ask people in your organization: “What does our organization REALLY reward?” Listening to the answer may help you achieve a huge increase in results.

Over the years I’ve worked with thousands of leaders, and I’ve learned that many organizations reward the wrong things.

Some organizations may pay lip service to rewarding people for what is viewed as the right things: getting the right results in the right ways. But what they may really reward, often in terms of promotions and job perks, are things like “not rocking the boat”, seniority, managing their image, working HARD, but not SMART.

Transform Wrong Rewards into Right Results

Here is a way to transform wrong rewards into right results.

1. Find out what your organization really rewards. Take some time to ask the people in your organization what brings them the highest rewards. The answers may surprise you. Resist the urge to get caught up in those answers. Don’t make value judgments. At this stage, you are just an observer. Simply compile the list and ask them what they would find more motivating.

2. Execute a “Stop-start-continue” process. Gauge each item on the list against results your organization and employees really need. Does it help get results? Does it detract from results? For each item, identify the problem and who controls the solution. What reward do you stop, what do you start and what do you continue?

3. Evaluate what your leadership rewards. When your leadership rewards the wrong things, you’re getting a fraction of the results you’re capable of. However, since we see the faults of others more clearly than our own, it may be more difficult identifying and dealing with your own issues rather than your organization’s. Work with a trusted team member to be sure you’re giving yourself a fair assessment. Use the stop-start-continue method to improve your own leadership reward behavior.

Continue to Pursue the Healthy Reward System in Your Organization

–Set aside special times and places to have your team focus exclusively on rewards evaluation, making sure they continually link the answers to what’s important to them, thus increasing results.

–Keep the link between right rewards and better results in sharp focus. This is not an academic exercise. It’s not meant to simply make people feel good or vent their frustrations. Don’t devolve into name-calling and finger-pointing. The idea is not to use the rewards evaluation to punish anyone or as a platform for stirring up dissatisfaction but instead for what it is meant to be: a powerful tool to get people engaged.

Commit to Ongoing Evaluation for the Best Success

You’ll get results, but don’t expect overnight success. Just keep asking, What does my organization really reward? In the long run, when tackling the challenges that comes with listening to the answers, you’ll be getting better results as well as sharpening your leadership skills.

People often complain about a lack of recogntition, let’s stop talking about it and start doing something about it!

Ingrid Kelada

Business Psychologist/Happiness Expert

KCC Inc.