Clues that signal when it’s time for new leadership approach

 

What if there was an approach to challenges in the workplace that improved relationships, increased collaboration, and created an environment of mutual trust and respect? 

If you, like most leaders in manufacturing environments, have experienced that sense of “If only I could get my workforce more engaged in helping solve problems,” then it may be time to try the powerful Interest-Based Leadership approach. Or, if you’ve found yourself saying, “Most of my employees really want to contribute to the success of the organization, but there’s that 5 percent (or more!) who seem focused on creating problems instead of solving them,” then read on. In unionized organizations, interest-based leadership skill can be particularly helpful in overcoming adversarial, distrusting relationships, and paving the way for more productive engagement.

The great news is that there are organizations of all types where employees (and union leaders) collaboratively develop and implement solutions to business problems. It all starts with leaders who understand and are skilled in an approach to problem solving that considers the interests and concerns of all parties who are involved in or might be impacted by the situation. The interest-based process invariably results in better outcomes that all parties end up wanting to support because they have had a voice, or a hand, in creating the solutions. Simply put, it's a different approach with better outcomes.

Is your organization ready for a different approach? Here's a checklist to determine whether the time is right for you to consider utilizing Interest-Based Leadership:     

Circle T or F to indicate whether the following statement is true or false most of the time in your organization.

T

F

We rarely involve employees in problem solving. It is viewed as management work.

T

F

Problem-solving is more of an exercise in "checking the box"; the real goal is to come to a solution quickly and with the least involvement possible.

T

F

In problem-solving meetings, participants assume the leader has the best answers.

T

F

In problem-solving meetings, there is more 'telling' than 'asking.'

T

F

Management relies on a consistent group or individuals to give feedback on and/or to implement the ideas of others.

T

F

Management relies on a consistent group of employees to provide input when problem solving.

T

F

There are frequently things left “unsaid” and “undiscussed” in meetings.

T

F

We discourage disagreements between individuals or groups.

T

F

We jump to solutions before we’ve adequately defined or agreed on the core issue.

T

F

Once we have an agreed-upon solution, we don’t clearly define action steps and who is responsible.

If you answered True to:

1-2 questions: Your organization is doing well creating a collaborative, trusting environment. Incorporating the principles of Interest-Based Leadership could enable you to achieve even more dramatic results.

3- 6 questions: There could be a lack of trust in your organization that affects the morale and commitment of employees, and creates a difficult environment for leaders to be successful. 

7-10 questions: Your organization’s progress is likely being stifled by distrust and lack of innovation from employees as well as leaders. An Interest-Based Leadership approach could help overcome organizational paralysis and get your organization on the road  to higher levels of involvement and ultimately, more positive results.

If Interest-Based Leadership is an approach you’d like to try, complete each step of the six-step model in order, without skipping a step. Here are the steps:

6 step IBL model2This model will help you create an environment in which:

  • Employees feel valued and respected for their role and expertise;
  • Issues are properly defined before problem-solving begins;
  • The interests and perspectives of others are heard in advance of problem-solving or decision-making;
  • Those impacted by problems have opportunities for input, and subsequently have higher levels of buy-in to solutions;
  • Employees, or their representatives, are included in decisions that affect them, and they sense that their input is genuinely valued;
  • Meetings, and the implementation of solutions, happen more effectively because actions and accountabilities are clear to all concerned. 

To learn more about the model and the benefits of using it, you may want to read my 3-part blog series; check out a case study that demonstrates the measureable results it helped achieve in the Federal Aviation Administration; or learn about Interest-Based Leadership™ Training. Whatever you do, I hope you’ll give Interest-Based Leadership a try. You have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain from improved results, greater employee engagement and more productive relationships.

Vicki Kelsey is a member of the Consulting Consortium at Overland Resource Group, a 30-year-old firm specializing in helping its clients achieve operational improvement through employee engagement and labor-management collaboration. She is president of VKAL, Inc., where she develops and delivers highly customized learning solutions that focus on both the learner and the business. Vicki's approach incorporates Accelerative Learning principles improving learning retention and decreasing time to proficiency. Vicki can be reached at v.kelsey@orginc.com.

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Comments

  • Good article, Vicki. I particularly like the easy, self-administered list of T - F questions - they really illuminate the fundamental elements of a management - employee relationship that are crucial to a trusting environment. One suggested modification - the box labeled "Agree on Option(s)" could be clearer if it were labeled "Select best Option", or "Decide on Best Option". That's really what is happening at this step, and it's what produces the decision that is then the subject of the Action Plan.

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