Coaching corporate leaders and managers in organisations around the world gives me an insight into the values, culture and leadership ethos of those in charge. Despite being in different countries, there seems to be little difference in the lack of life balance and effectiveness (especially in meeting scheduling) and therefore, perhaps not surprisingly, reducing stress and getting more done, are primary concerns for my clients.
Here are the three most frequently actions (insider secrets!) that I recommend:
1. CREATE BRAIN-FRIENDLY BUFFER TIME
Stop allowing meetings to be scheduled back to back. I once delivered training to an international organisation whose workforce turned up late and stressed to everything because of this bizarre habit. There was literally no time for them to walk or log in to the next meeting, get a drink, have a ‘bio break’, never mind actually prepare.
All this time needs to be accounted for and included in your scheduling so that you arrive at your next appointment feeling relaxed and ready to contribute. Stress induces a limbic (emotional) response in the brain which makes you less likely to want to collaborate with others or be very creative i.e. you won’t be that useful in the meeting anyway!
My coaching and supervision clients will recognise that I have set appointment times that reflect this important brain-friendly buffer time in my day. Plus, it makes scheduling meetings so much easier because there are clear boundaries.
2. FOCUS ON RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING
Humans are social beings and we thrive when we feel connected and cooperate with others. It saddens me that many leaders (male and female) forget that their direct reports, colleagues or suppliers are also human, as their interactions are purely task driven and they have no knowledge about their lives at all.
In a group situation (which a work environment is) many people will actually be more motivated by feeling included than e.g. having autonomy. Taking the time to get to know those who you work with is not “a waste” – it will reap rewards. This includes support staff. After all, would you feel loyal towards and work hard for a robot?
3. BE VULNERABLE
Feedback can be frightening and the expression, “Can I give you some feedback?” has been shown to induce limbic activity in the brain, similar to a potential threat to our survival. This perhaps explains why many leaders carry on regardless and it is only when their HR / Learning & Development team instigate mandatory 360 Feedback assessments (their direct reports, colleagues, boss, suppliers complete them anonymously) that they learn uncomfortable truths.
I coach senior executives to celebrate and acknowledge their strengths, plus support and challenge them to hear the feedback given and make changes to achieve brain-friendly peak performance and leadership. As part of this, I recommend that they organise a specific meeting for the team (and with individuals) to share the results, their thinking and feelings about them. Yes, this is not what they are used to doing and can be scary, however without exception, my clients report that by being vulnerable, the team has been brought closer together and encouraged others to open up too.
Regularly asking “How can I be a better boss / colleague / supplier for you?” and “What would you like me to do more of?” will increase your transformational (servant) leadership style, helping those who you work with, which in turn will positively impact your results – and the success of the organisation.