Chapter 4: Method 1: Authentically Respecting Stakeholders
Chapter 5: Method 2: Maintaining a Relationship Focus
Chapter 6: Method 3: Learning to Help Followers
Chapter 7: Method 4: Fostering Follower Change and Transformation
Chapter 8: Method 5: Learning Followership
Chapter 9: Method 6: Taking a Horizon Perspective
America is a nation of doers, not thinkers. Americans value theories and systems that work, not those that are merely intellectually elegant. The techniques of inner leadership flow out of this ideology and define discrete behavior sets that guide leaders in their day-to-day relationships with followers. While the techniques and skills delineating this leadership theory are applied uniquely by each leader, they constitute a generic body of practice any inner leader can productively use. Two kinds of leadership techniques stand out. The first deals with the personal preparation of the leader. The second concerns leader actions to prepare followers to function in a shared values trust culture. Part II focuses the reader on the techniques of leader preparation. Subsequent parts deal with the techniques of inner leader action to induce follower compliance.
Of course, inner leaders use many of the common leadership techniques discussed in the traditional literature. Like all leaders, they allocate scarce resources, recognize and reward outstanding performance (Badaracco), set corporate goals, and otherwise establish policy and procedural performance and service expectations. They also plan, issue orders, evaluate performance, and encourage workers to behave in terms of set standards and practices. These are essentially management techniques, whether or not they are practiced by a leader, and are not discussed here. Rather, the focus is on the those techniques peculiar to inner leaders functioning in work communities and seeking essentially personal goals.
Preparing for inner leadership is a change process for both leader and led. The key to success is in intimate relationships leaders create with their followers in the work community. These relationships rely on authentic caring for all followers, helping them to become the best persons they can become, learning to be both leaders and followers in what becomes an intimate relationship with other members of the work community and seeing their joint work from the perspective of a future they all help create. Inner leadership is a social activity that takes place in relationships between people, between people and the work, and between leaders and the several communities with which they interact. These relationships become the primary environment within which inner leadership takes place.
Inner leaders have evolved several techniques that set them apart from other leaders or managers. These techniques summarize a growing list of specialized knowledge, skills, and tasks that represent common patterns (Slywotzky and Morrison) of behavior that differ in significant degree from behavior of top leaders or managers. As they reference leader preparation to lead, six of these attitudinal and behavioral paradigms - techniques - are unique to inner leader success: learning to authentically respect all stakeholders, learning to help followers, fostering change and transformation, learning followership, maintaining a relationship focus, and taking a horizon perspective.
Inner leadership involves some complex and unique concepts. In essence it relies mostly on using the common values most people intuitively accept. One of these values is respectful, caring, even loving, behavior toward followers. Respecting coworkers is critical to the leader's success. Successful inner leaders have internalized feelings of respect and enjoyment in working with all stakeholders in the common enterprise, and they show it. Leaders who treat members of their work community with old-fashioned courtesy and respect reap rewards of increased member commitment (Johnson), better productivity, and increased involvement.
Of the various focuses of preparation inner leaders need to internalize, perhaps the most critical is learning to respect (Lombardi) all their coworkers. The key to success in using any of the techniques described in this part is in the need for leaders to prize each person and the capacities of each individual stakeholder. Respecting all the people with whom they are in interaction is critical to success here. Inner leaders have adopted the philosophy (Crosby) of inner leadership and have internalized feelings of respect, caring, and enjoyment - even love - in working with others in the common enterprise.
Caring is defined as feelings of concern or interest for another (Fiedler and Chamers). It is a part of the idea of consideration, one of the two traits of leadership coming out of post–World War II research. The other is initiating structure (Bass). Respect also implies caring. It is nothing more than the Golden Rule in the workplace. But the caring must be authentic. When leaders trust their followers by letting them function without tight controls, they create a follower perception that leaders really respect and care for them (Gibb). Trusting followers see the leader as open, interested in them, and worthy of their reciprocal trust. While openness is risky, leaders' willingness to be open enhances their inherent trustworthiness. Caring leader behavior communicates the leader's willingness to serve the needs of followers, as well as corporate goals.
The most significant definitional characteristic of inner leaders is that they relate to every person in their work community in ways that enhance that individual. This kind of leadership requires specific behavior that actualizes people values. Inner leaders respect their followers enough to seek opportunities and create systems to share planning, decision making, and work methods determinations with them. This caring behavior includes common courtesy toward others, listening to understand, and otherwise showing consideration for the ideas, actions, and opinions of others (Braham). It is seeking out stakeholders and counciling-with them. Leaders who value those they work with have a penchant for close interaction with them. The several specific techniques leaders use to operationalize this people-oriented values leader model ask leaders to esteem the uniqueness and capacities of each of their stakeholders. The central techniques are described in this chapter. They are elaborated in the activities following this discussion and, indeed, through this resource.
Hertzberg's research confirmed that Douglas McGregor's theory Y ideas were correct. When inner leaders treat employees as McGregor specified in his theory Y - with a basic respect and confidence in their ability and desire to work to a high standards of effectiveness and responsibility - they are more productive and hard working. Implicit in this factor is the idea of mutual trust. Trust is vital to any organizational action. It is the lubrication that allows all parts of the organization - and all individuals - to interact smoothly (Fairholm). Leaders must trust their followers, and the followers must trust their leaders if they are to lead. Inner leaders rely on the good will of their followers to do what is needed. Force, authority, formal structural roles, and other negative sanction systems cannot substitute over the long term for basic mutual trust relationships.
More and more, leaders are called upon to develop trust relationships with their followers (Palmer). Such a relationship is built on many things, among them is the need to articulate clear goals, sound policies, and a basic love and respect for others (Lombardi). Leadership based on core spiritual values of leader and led take place in a culture supportive of relationships characterized by factors like these, factors that are sensitive to the needs of both the followers and the leader. Leaders care for their followers, they respect them, and they like them as friends (Caill).
The character of stakeholder groups is changing. Highly educated workers are becoming the norm. They are more aware of general conditions in society and of the specific development patterns in their organizations. They are also aware of and work to achieve their own potential and satisfy all their needs, if possible, at work. They want to use all their capacities in ways that benefit them and their several communities of interest - family, career, religion, social group(s), and friends. And they expect their leaders to be proactively helpful in this effort.
Followers seek development of their own capacities and talents for success in each of these communities, either directly or as by-products of their work. Leading this kind of coworkers asks leaders to consider them as a whole, not just as discrete bundles of skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to do some work. The leader's role is expanding to encompass concern for this kind of growth of the total person of each stakeholder who wants to lead, and increasingly is capable of leading, the corporation - or parts of it - him or herself. As these workers become the norm in the workplace, inner leaders will have to share their leadership with these almost coequal stakeholders.
Learning how to do this is a new leadership technique for many, one for which few have received formal training in the required skills.
Equally important in leader preparation is the acquisition of the skills useful in changing other peoples' values and behavior. Helping followers mature is essential to the idea of inner leadership. Inner leaders see each follower, customer, and client as unique. They relate to each person in ways that enhance that individual (Lombardi). This kind of leadership requires the leader to adopt a mind-set that values people and that actualizes their common values. It is egalitarian. The leader seeks out opportunities and systems to share planning, decision making, and work methods determinations with each individual to add to that person's personal capacities to make a contribution and to help them mature into their best selves.
Part of this caring technique is focusing the attention of the group members on what they (the leaders) think is important. Centering the group on behavior that reflects the vision the leader has set defines a key element of inner leadership skill. The key here is that the vision is intended to realize the leader's needs whether or not it also realizes corporate needs.
The literature is beginning to describe a variety of behaviors common to this new leadership. Bennis and Nanus identifies four major skills inner leaders demonstrate as they behave in their relationships with coworkers of all kinds. He says leaders have acquired skill in managing self, the work community's attention, its meaning, and its level of trust to help insure they accomplish their personal aims. They exercise these skills so followers can fully participate in doing the work the leader wants done. People want to make a difference, and if leaders let - help - them do it, they gain adherents to their vision objectives.
Inner leaders communicate their respect - caring and love - in every action taken and in every word spoken and deed performed. They convey their concern for followers through multiple acts. They are responsive to the values followers hold, their beliefs, and their feelings (Crozan). Respectful, caring behavior also includes allowing others to function independently insofar as is possible within the work community's values and vision. Locke's research into professional leadership failures cites unconcern, insensitivity to others, and disregard of the humanness of their coworkers as major causes of leader derailment. Successful leaders behave in opposite ways.
Most people want and need a degree of independence to perform their work on their schedule and in their way. Within the known constraints of the technique or of the parent work organization's policy, inner leaders strive to allow workers to show some creative independence on the job as a way to increase group solidarity and productivity. Caring facilitates this kind of guided autonomy that includes helping stakeholders become capable of doing more than they formerly did.
Caring about people is nothing more than a highly developed concern for others. Inner leaders feel about leading their stakeholders the same way that craftsmen feel about their craft. Real craftsmanship, regardless of the skill involved, reflects genuine caring; and real caring reflects the leaders' attitudes about self, about their fellows, and about life generally. Caring is an inner leadership technique that, if present, permeates all aspects of the work community - its people, clients, suppliers, and customers.
Caring presupposes respect. We cannot communicate caring and at the same time humiliate a coworker, a client, the work unit, or the program. Caring implies unstinting support. Caring techniques operationalize the Golden Rule in the workplace. Leaders who care about their followers give time and attention to workers and to what they do. Caring inner leaders listen to colleagues, customers, clients, and constituency groups. They treat them as respected colleagues who deserve their time, attention, good will, and honest concern.
Leaders living by this inner leadership philosophy use the simple technique of treating coworkers and customers as adults and as trusted friends. Treating coworkers as adults means treating them as fully functioning mature colleagues capable of self-directed activity. As they treat coworkers as adults, leaders become partners in the mutual enterprise (Johnson). Thus, inner leaders listen respectfully and patiently to their coworkers (Braham). They value workers as individuals, not as interchangeable parts of the industrial machine. They expect extraordinary things from ordinary workers, and the workers usually deliver extraordinary results. The leader's respect for others may be tough minded and still communicate caring and respect (Lombardi). Caring leaders can still expect competence, but they honor it when it is given.
Treating coworkers with respect implies a willingness to prepare them and to set reasonable and clear expectations.
Recent literature is almost unanimous in defining leadership in terms of loving and caring for followers. Caring behavior comes from deeply held beliefs and perceptions about people, who they are and their essential goodness. Caring - love - is a definitional attribute of interpersonal excellence. Inner leaders come to love their coworkers, the services they jointly provide, their clients, and all the people with whom they work. Caring is central to leadership. Inner leaders are excited about what they do and whom they do it with. They nurture their colleagues out of a genuine concern for them (Clement and Rickard).
Central to inner leadership philosophy are a few communal values most Americans intuitively accept. One of these is common courtesy. Perhaps it should be called uncommon courtesy since, in many organizations, it is so seldom practiced. Nevertheless, inner leaders who treat others with old-fashioned courtesy reap rewards of increased commitment, more productivity, and fuller involvement because, simply, courtesy works.
Inner leaders place value on people, not solely on control fads - like Quality Circles, Job Enlargement, Organizational Development, Human Relations, Total Quality Management, and the like. These fads have often been relied upon to induce followers to behave in predetermined ways. This is a top-down focus relying, primarily, on the leader's power. A better approach, one seldom used it seems these days, is courtesy. Courtesy is an alternative to these control system fads. It focuses not on authority for compliance but on cooperative interaction to accomplish mutually held values by mutually prepared people who like each other.
The inner leadership model prioritizes consideration for the emotions and needs of stakeholders. Leaders respect the talents, feelings, concerns, and values of workers, constituents, and their citizen-customers. Treating others with courtesy means seeing them as friends as well as coworkers or subordinates. Friends have fun with each other. They joke, laugh, cry with each other. Inner leaders respond to this follower human need as they listen to their coworkers, smile at them, and otherwise encourage a friendly atmosphere. While CEOs may, on occasion, deal with employees in these ways, they typically subordinate these actions for action intended to control their workers' behavior, not to accommodate their feelings.
Inner leaders are avid listeners. They listen to customers, employees - all stakeholders. Listening is characteristic of inner leaders. In fact, leadership is a process of intimate relations with followers, the purpose of which is to unleash the followers' capacities (Peters and Austin 1985). Active listening responds to this follower need and to values that reflect respect for and regard for them. Leaders actively try to understand their stakeholders (Tesolin). Listening lets them gain raw impressions - that is, unfiltered or interpreted data - from customers or employees. It lets leaders focus on strengthening their followers as they hear and try to understand their innovative contributions and, as appropriate, allow them to implement them. In such cases, followers grow, and both they and the work community prosper.
Several listening styles can be discerned from experience. Some listeners are judgmental, evaluating the speaker's words and ideas. Others are interpretive, attaching meaning to ideas immediately, sometimes prematurely. They run the risk of biasing others' ideas vis-à-vis their own prejudices. Some listeners are supportive, confirming and encouraging others'ideas (Braham). Still others are probative, seeking answers to the what, why, and where of the speakers' ideas and information. Another style is giving attention and empathetic responses to the speaker in an effort to show you understand what is being said.
Inner leaders, however, characteristically practice a special kind of listening called naive listening. Naive listening is listening as if you have never heard the idea being expressed before. It is a technique for maximizing concentration on what is being communicated. Naive listening is a new way to think about listening. It is an active process of paying respectful attention to others to find out fully what they want to communicate to us (Fairholm; Cashman and Burzynski). It is, simply, listening with an open and accepting mind to find out what the speaker is saying. After the correct information transfer takes place, the leader can then accept or reject the communicated data based on its merits. But naive listening provides the correct information upon which to base later judgments.
The key to naive listening is to listen to understand. This kind of listening asks leaders to remember key words, resist distractions, review key ideas, and be open and flexible. It asks them to refrain from evaluation until the end of the idea, to remain mentally and physically alert, to take notes, and to stop talking. You can't learn with your mouth open. Naive leader listeners ask questions, prepare in advance for the topic being discussed, listen empathetically, and routinely restate the talker's key points as a check.
Inner leaders have internalized feelings of caring, respect, and enjoyment in working with all stakeholders in the common enterprise, and they show it.
Caring - defined as feelings of respect, concern, or interest for another - is a part of the idea of consideration; one of the two traits of leadership coming out of post–World War II research.
Caring leader behavior communicates the leader's willingness to serve the needs followers have.
Inner leaders respect their followers enough to seek out opportunities and systems to share planning, decision making, and work methods determinations with individuals.
Leaders who value those they work closely with have a penchant for close interaction with them.
When inner leaders treat coworkers with a basic respect and confidence in their ability and desire to work to a high standards of effectiveness and responsibility, they are more productive and hard working.
Have I developed strong listening skills?
Do I acknowledge that listening as a key element of successfully fulfilling my leadership role?
Do I listen for the values the speaker is communicating, as well as information?
Learning to be an inner leader engages the individual leader in specific caring behaviors. The following may be useful to both individual leaders and to leader trainers to gain experience and comfort in caring for followers.
Introduction. How the leader demonstrates caring in his or her relationships with employees is as varied as the number of leaders studied. From the following case situation emergent leaders can see how caring is and can be employed in the workplace.
Read the case situation carefully and make notes of possible aspects of answers to each of the analysis questions at the bottom of the case.
Jeff Smith, president of Zion Corporation, is successful. Zion owns 206 franchises of the Sonic Accelerator retail chain, which generate $76 million in revenues for the company. Smith's stores make 21 percent more than the national average, and turnover is incredibly low for retail industry, with a supervisor's average tenure at 13.8 years. Smith knows what he wants, how to keep his employees, and how to run his business for high profit.
In a work world in which everyone will tell you that you need to be soft, participative, open to ideas, and empower employees, Jeff Smith appears to be an anachronism. He runs his business on the principle of "my way or the highway." He tolerates little deviance from what he wants and from his instructions and training. He is absolutely sure he knows the best way, and more than one employee is scared to disagree with him. He likes keeping people a little off balance and a little uneasy so that they will work harder to avoid his anger. Smith even has his own "Leadership Commandments," and he will fire those who break any one of them twice. The eighth Smith commandment is "I will only tell you one time."
Smith's stores run like clockwork. He does the top-level hiring himself and is reputed to spend as long as ten grueling hours with a prospective manager and his or her spouse. He wants to know about their personal lives and financial health and looks for right responses and any signs of reluctance to answer questions. Smith says: "I want them to understand this is not a job to me. This is a lifetime of working together. I want partners who are going to die with me." If you are one of the selected few, you are expected to be loyal and obedient. Once a quarter, you can also expect a Smith "loyalty" meeting, where he will take you away with other supervisors to a secret location with no chance of escape. You can expect to be blindfolded, put through survival exercises, and sleep in tents before going to a luxury resort to discuss business.
For all their stress, trouble, and unquestioning obedience and loyalty, Zion employees and supervisors find a home, a family, a community; and a place to grow. If you have problems with your husband, like Sara, the wife of one of Zion's supervisors, you can call Jeff. He will listen to you, chew your spouse out, and send him home for a while. Smith says, "I don't want you to come to work unhappy, upset, about anything, because I don't think you can be totally focused on making money if you're worried." He pays his employees considerably above national averages, plays golf with them, and gets involved in their personal lives. Smith wants to create a bond that lasts. A few years ago, he spent $200,000 to take 138 managers and their families to Cancun for four days. They got training on better time management and marketing techniques and on how to be better spouses.
Smith also likes to have fun. Practical jokes, including gluing supervisor's shoes to the floor, are common. But he also works hard. Eighty-hour weeks are common, and he starts his days earlier than most. He is not above taking on the most menial jobs in the stores, and he is willing to show the way, no matter what. His presence, energy, and unbending confidence in his way make converts. Smith has created an organization that is consistent and simplifies everybody's life.
How would you describe Jeff Smith's leadership style?
Why is he successful? Would you work for him? Why? Why not?
Suppose Jeff came to you, a leadership coach, and asked for your help. What would you tell him? Develop a "leadership development plan" for Jeff suggesting changes in his leadership approach you think are better than the one he now uses. Analyze what he is doing well and what needs change.