This summer I delivered my I to the 4th Power program, over six weeks, to 50 mid-level to early senior leaders in a Fortune 500 company.
I say that mouthful for one simple reason: Despite being impressive, high-performing professionals with 15-20 years of work experience, they drank up the curriculum like it was their first water after a long journey in the desert.
Most managers today have come up in lean organizations. They haven’t had the benefit of strong mentoring along the way — their supervisors have been too busy doing their own individual contributor work.
That means people take what they can get along the way. Maybe they get lucky and have a good boss, so learn through osmosis.
But sadly, what I see more of are managers who are performing…but at a high cost.
Maybe they’re burnt out, really burnt out. Or have given up and are looking outside the organization. Or are doing a good job on paper, but their abrasiveness sends their team members to H.R. on a regular basis.
What’s frustrating from my perspective is that these managers are thirsting for knowledge. They want to feel a sense of agency, confidence. And they want to show up with lots of positive, productive energy.
So how do you meet them where they are? I do it using four principles. It’s pretty simple; remember, they are eager for the knowledge:
Impact: In my experience, when people truly understand the positive impact they have on team and organization, they can let go of judgment about where they’re not as strong. It may sound counter-intuitive, but that makes their confidence soar.
Influence: I hear a lot about boundaries from managers who feel constantly put upon. When these managers learn to speak up in ways that are positive, not complaining, they seem more mature and poised. You are more open to listening, and they feel a greater sense of their own influence.
Initiative: Leadership says they want employees to take initiative, but don’t realize they’ve created a culture where failure is not an option. Leadership has an important role here, but employees can also learn how to put their managers’ responses into perspective. They can increase their resilience, quiet the inner critic, and take more initiative with less fear.
Innovation: It’s simple. When individuals on a team have the self-awareness from knowing Impact, Influence, and Initiative, the team has a stronger collaboration that lets them take on bigger challenges.