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Five management techniques that should be consigned to the dustbin

For the last 15 years I’ve been studying positive psychology and employee engagement, spending time with those who are ‘thriving at work’.

I’ve interviewed employees who are experiencing feelings of vitality and energy with beliefs that they are learning, developing and making progress towards being their best self. Engaged employees more likely to agree with statements such as, ‘I eat, live, and breathe my job’, ‘At my work, I feel bursting with energy,’ and ‘I find the work that I do full of meaning and purpose’.

Safe to say that your organisation needs more of these people. Indeed, they are your competitive advantage.

Good news! ‘Leadership: The Multiplier Effect’ is about creating a flourishing business culture. Even better, we consign a whole raft of tired olde worlde leadership ideas to George Orwell’s fabled Room 101, a darkened place where your worst leadership nightmares can be laid to rest. Our view is that the brave ‘newe worlde’ requires a rethink and an injection of mojo-enhancement.

First up, bin your service level agreements. Martin Luther King got it just about right. How did he start the civil rights revolution? Did he stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and wave a sheaf of papers, ‘I have a set of service level agreements and a strategic plan’? Err, no. His impassioned ‘I have a dream…’ speech brought to bear three things: connection, potential and purpose. Mr King started a civil rights movement by articulating a dream. The good doctor had a passion for doing the right thing.

Second – linked to the above – lose the overblown notion that as a leader, your job is to inspire people. Carrying that particular yoke of responsibility is so pressurised and exhausting – it’s no wonder your shoulders are sagging. We’d rather you change your focus. The leader’s job is not to inspire people, but to be inspired. This is much more than a clever play on words and we want to prove what you already know – once you release the pressure valve of having to inspire your people, it allows you to work on inspiring the only person you can really take charge of – yourself. And, guess what, in a serendipitous alignment of the planets, you will accidentally inspire your team.

Third, when it comes to setting goals too many leaders get bogged down with SMART. If ever an acronym needed a makeover, it’s this one. SMART objectives are the Bridget Jones knickers of goal-setting. If you want to kill the passion in your team, set them a target that is like last year’s, but just a little bit higher.

If you want to be truly world class, we advocate that you go against the tide of traditional management thinking and set massive goals. We call them huge unbelievably great goals, or HUGGS. A HUGG is something that is currently out of reach – you have to grow, innovate and engage in order to achieve it. A HUGG is on the edges of achievability but it’s not out of sight. It might be that you only get half way there – but your achievements will reach far beyond ‘a little bit better than last year’. A HUGG isn’t something to be afraid of – it’s something to aspire to.

#4. Brace yourself. Here’s some controversy. Somewhat counter-intuitively, we strongly advocate that you start putting your customers second. Yes, second! Employees must always come first, because that way they’ll put the customer first. It’s nigh on impossible to have raving fans if you haven’t got raving staff.

Our number 5 is to shift your focus from the x-factor to the why-factor. Dare to pose some knee-trembling questions; Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And the biggest one of all, why should anyone care?’

If you haven’t got a clear ‘why?’ for your organization then how can you expect people to care? How can you make sure you attract and keep the right people? Every person, team and organization knows what they do; some even know how they do it, in other words what makes you/them different from the competition, your USP. Very few – in fact only the inspired few, have the why-factor.

Your ‘why?’ isn’t about making a living or even making a profit – it’s about a higher purpose that acts as a guiding light in everything you do. The stronger an individual employee’s ‘why?’ the more likely their internal motivational boiler will be belting out energy.

Which brings us full circle, back to Martin Luther King…

Andy Cope. Mike Martin & Jonathan Peach

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