Tag Archives: Barry Z. Pozner

Reminders for the Day for Every Leader – from Kouzes & Posner, Encouraging the Heart

All of these quotes come from the terrific book, Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others
(The Jossey-Bass Business and Management Series)
by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner (2003).  It is the best book I have ever read on how to help people do their best.  This is the task of actual leadership.  Here are the quotes:

This story is a constant reminder to us of the power of a very simple principle of human performance:  people like to be recognized for doing their best.

Encouragement increases the chance that people will actually achieve higher levels of performance.

Encouraging the Heart is ultimately about keeping hope alive.  Leaders keep hope alive when they set high standards and genuinely express optimism about an individual’s capacity to achieve them.  They keep hope alive when they give feedback and publicly recognize a job well done.  They keep hope alive when they give their constituents the internal support that all human beings need to feel that they and their work are important and have meaning.  They keep hope alive when they train and coach people to exceed their current capacities.  Most important, leaders keep hope alive when they set an example.  There really is nothing more encouraging than to see our leaders practice what they preach.

Really believe in your heart of hearts that your fundamental purpose, the reason for being, is to enlarge the lives of others.  Your life will be enlarged also.  And all of the other things we have been taught to concentrate on will take care of themselves. (Pete Thigpen, Executive Reserves)

Ask yourself this question:  Do I need encouragement to perform at my best?

We don’t do our best in isolation.  We don’t get extraordinary things done by working alone with no support, encouragement, expressions of confidence, or help from others.  That’s not how we make the best decisions, get the best grades, run faster, achieve the highest levels of sales, invent breakthrough products, or live longer.

The best leaders…  over and over again, express their belief in the innate goodness of human beings.

When leaders expect people to achieve, they do.  When they label people underachievers, performance suffers.  Passionately believing in people and expecting the best of them is another prerequisite to encouraging the heart.

Leadership development is self-development…  To know what to change in our lives, we need to understand what we’re doing that is getting the results we want and what we’re doing that is not.

Most people produce more in an environment where they get positive feedback, and productivity diminishes where there is little or no feedback or where they only hear from their leaders if something is wrong.

The set-up-to-fail syndrome “is self-fulfilling and self-reinforcing – it is the quintessential vicious circle…”

High expectations or low expectations both influence other people’s performance.  Only high expectations have a positive impact on actions and on feelings about oneself.  Only high expectations can encourage the heart.

We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional. (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken).

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You can purchase my synopsis of this book, with handout + audio, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

In Management (and in Many Other Endeavors) – Don’t Forget the Basics in this Complex World

This story is a constant reminder to us of the power of a very simple principle of human performance:  people like to be recognized for doing their best.
Encouragement increases the chance that people will actually achieve higher levels of performance.
James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner, Encouraging the Heart:
A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others

———

It’s all so complicated.

It’s all so simple.

We live in a complex world.  The complexity is growing almost by the day.  Managing is tougher than it used to be.

We live in a simple world.  Managing requires learning, and mastering, the basics – over and over again.

Business Week has a click-through article, Twenty Tips for First-Time Managers. It is a good, quick reminder of many of the basics.  I have pulled a few of the tips out.  But it’s worth the time to take a look at the full list – especially if you are managing people. Here are some of those tips:

1.  Learn the Business
2. Meet with Your People Individually
6. Develop Each Person (Including Yourself)
It’s the universal question: How can I take my employees to the next level? Like anything, it requires planning, attention, and commitment. Start with recognizing each person’s strengths, goals, and areas for improvement. From there, establish individual plans, no different from your department plan. Seek out opportunities where they can learn and contribute (and move out of their comfort zones). Check in regularly on their performance. Face it, your reports won’t all stay in their jobs forever. Know where they want to go; motivate them by helping them get there.

9. Build Bridges with Other Departments
14. Treat Them Like Adults
15. Care About Them Personally
No one aspires to be a lousy manager. It’s often the accumulation of little things—careless comments or hypocritical acts—that erodes camaraderie and trust. Fortunately, little things like a private gesture or kind word also set managers apart. So how can you strengthen your relationships? Start by learning what makes them tick. Are they looking for money, recognition, influence, or meaning? Who are their family members and pets? What are their interests? Most important, accept them for who they are. You won’t mold everyone into a superstar, but steady performers bring equal value over the long haul.  (Kouzes and Posner tell us to personalize recognition).

18. Provide Ongoing Communication
19. Be Consistent

Do You Know Your Weaknesses/Deficiencies? – (David Brooks says that this is our “Underlying Problem”)

(William Baldwin): “What is one big mistake that you’ve made in your life and what did you do to make it right?
(Miss Philippines, Maria Venus Raj): “…There is nothing major, major, I mean problem that I have done in my life…”
(at the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant)

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There is one theme that crops up again and again– in business books, in newspaper columns, even in the Miss Universe Pageant.  Here is the theme:  people do not know (or understand, or grasp, or “face”) their own weakness(es).

I first grasped the depth of this problem in reading Peter Senge years ago.  He worded it this way:

“People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, and their growth areas.”

And in a recent revisiting of the great book Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner, I read of it again:

We saw, over and over again, that leadership doesn’t depend on mystical qualities or inborn gifts but rather on the capacity of individuals to know themselves, their strengths, and their weaknesses, and to learn from the feedback they get in their daily lives – in short, their capacity for self-improvement.

Leadership development is self-development…  To know what to change in our lives, we need to understand what we’re doing that is getting the results we want and what we’re doing that is not.

And now, again this week, David Brooks, in his NY Times column A Case of Mental Courage, has these paragraphs (excerpted):

In this atmosphere, we’re all less conscious of our severe mental shortcomings and less inclined to be skeptical of our own opinions. Occasionally you surf around the Web and find someone who takes mental limitations seriously. For example, Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway once gave a speech called “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment.” He and others list our natural weaknesses: We have confirmation bias; we pick out evidence that supports our views. We are cognitive misers; we try to think as little as possible. We are herd thinkers and conform our perceptions to fit in with the group.

But, in general, the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one’s own mental feebleness. Today’s culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse.

To use a fancy word, there’s a metacognition deficit. Very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking and what they should do to compensate. A few people I interview do this regularly (in fact, Larry Summers is one). But it is rare. The rigors of combat discourage it.

Of the problems that afflict the country, this is the underlying one.

Here are my reflections:

#1 – You do have deficiencies. There is some error, some mistake, some incompleteness in the way you think, act, work.  If you think you are perfect, then I hate to tell you, but people will not trust you, you will not be as successful as you could be at helping others grow and develop, and you will not win the Miss Universe crown.

#2 – Spotting your weakness(es) takes great courage. Good luck.

#3 – Spotting your weakness(es), and then working to correct it/them, is the best thing you can do for the next chapter of your business and personal life.

#4 – And, I hate to tell you this, but when you spot that next weakness, there will be another one to tackle after that, and then another, and still another….

And, yes, this post is, of course, written to me also.

Coaching Anyone? – Some Practical Ideas You Can Use Right Now

Recently, I delivered my synopsis on the now classic Encouraging the Heart: A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner.

From the book, here are the seven essentials of encouraging:

1.              Set clear standards
2.              Expect the best
3.              Pay attention
4.              Personalize recognition
5.              Tell the story
6.              Celebrate together
7.              Set the example

Side comment:  in Susan Scott’s excellent book, Fierce Leadership, she encourages every leader to intentionally plan, and then initiate, those important conversations they need to have.  She suggests that every leader prepare, carry around, and use this sheet of paper:

Conversations I Need To Have:

Name:  _____________________________   Topic: _____________________________

Name:  _____________________________   Topic: _____________________________

Name:  _____________________________   Topic: _____________________________

In the midst of the presentation of the Kouzes and Posner book, I shared this idea.  Take a sheet of paper.  Turn it sideways.  Draw four boxes – one box for each of the four people that you most need to coach/mentor/encourage.  (If you have more than four, then use two sides of the sheet of paper).

Assign one of the four names to each of the boxes.  Divide each box into two halves.  And, constantly update, and use your notes to have those crucial, improant conversations.

Each box will look something like this:

A couple of observations.  If you actually want to help people get “better,” and get the best out of people, it is important to do more praising than correcting.  A lot more praising.

Second observation:  a retired military sergeant told me that the boxes look very similar to an initiative that he followed in the military.  The point was the same, but the wording was different.  Instead of praise/teach & correct, they used:  sustain/improve.

I think this is a practical way to help a coach serve more effectively, and especially more intentionally.

(One footnote:  John Wooden used to plan all of his practice sessions, to the minute, on 3×5 cards. And he was very intentional and direct, calling players by name, praising them, and teaching/correcting them).

A Message from Vaclev Havel — We Need A Workplace Built for Human Beings

We lead by being human. We do not lead by being corporate, professional, or institutional. (Paul G. Hawken, founder, Smith and Hawken)
(quoted in Encouraging the Heart:  A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Pozner.

——————–

One of the great struggles in this or any era is this struggle – how do we maintain our common humanity?

Vaclev Havel

I was reading the brilliant speech given by Vaclev Havel when he assumed the presidency of his country  – still Czechoslovakia at the time — delivered in Prague, January 1, 1990.  (It’s available here).  He begins it with some withering honesty.

My dear fellow citizens, 
For forty years you heard from my predecessors on this day different variations on the same theme: how our country was flourishing, how many million tons of steel we produced, how happy we all were, how we trusted our government, and what bright perspectives were unfolding in front of us.
I assume you did not propose me for this office so that I, too, would lie to you.

But it is this paragraph that grabbed me most strongly.  It is not a new accusation, but he stated it so very clearly.

The previous regime – armed with its arrogant and intolerant ideology – reduced man to a force of production, and nature to a tool of production. In this it attacked both their very substance and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skillfully working in their own country, to the nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning was not clear to anyone. It could not do more than slowly but inexorably wear out itself and all its nuts and bolts.

As I have written often, the question of jobs – where will the jobs be? – is, I believe, the great question of this era.  But in the pursuit of answers to that question, we also have to answer this:  how shall we view the people who do these jobs?  The answer has to be this:  as human beings.

————————

(Yes, this speech is in the excellent volume/compilation Lend Me Your Ears, edited by William Safire – which I am reading, and re-reading, very slowly).

And, yet – in the midst of hard and honest truths, we all need to be encouraged

Honored and not diminished. That’s how we all want to feel.
James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Pozner, Encouraging the Heart:  A Leaders Guide to Rewarding and Encouraging Others

discourage: verb. To deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit.
encourage:  verb. To inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; hearten.

discourage: dishearten.
encourage: hearten.

I don’t remember the source, but years ago, I heard an interview with a laid off auto worker.  His plant was being shut down. He said something like this:  “I did everything right.  I worked hard.  I never missed a day of work.  I was promoted.  I did what they told me to do.  And now…,” and then he trailed off.

He sounded…  disheartened.

There really are forces beyond the control of many individual workers.  And of all the things I sense about today’s work environment, fear is seemingly omnipresent, and growing greater.  People are worried about their jobs, their careers, their futures, their mortgages, their children’s future…  It is a tough time.

So, I thought about the terrific book I read and first presented years ago, Encouraging the Heart.  But I did not just think of the content, though it is excellent.  I thought of the title itself.  I thought of the need of the hour – and I think that need is the need for encouragement.  People are discouraged, disheartened.  And they need to be heartened.

Whatever else a leader brings to his or her workers, encouragement needs to be at the top of the list.

Do you lead people?  Are you encouraging them – or discouraging them?

Here’s how I worded it in my introduction for my presentation for Encouraging the Heart:

we all need to be encouraged to do our best. Literally — we need to be encouraged; we need to receive encouragement, in order to do our best.

And this much is clear — no leader should ever do any discouraging.  There will be more than enough discouragement coming from other sources…