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(Un)Common Sense Leadership Tips

Back on Feb 11th I blogged about Simple Truths of Leadership – Micromanagement. In that post I shared some key missives from a book I was reading at that time, “Creating Magic – 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney.” Since then, I was able to finish reading the book and I wanted to share some practical tips from the book with my blog followers. My intent was to take the most salient points from the book and provide the information as quick hits ways of improving your leadership capabilities – or those that you coach. I waded through the pieces that were not practical or feasible for some organizations and I simply focused on leadership strategies that were easily implemented. I am not sure that all of these are leadership ‘strategies’ per se as much as they are leadership tips. The other piece of the pie for your consideration is whether or not they are all that ‘common’ as many managers and leaders in organizations don’t seem to employ them! To that extent, I will provide the top “tips” from the book:

Creating magicTIP #1 – Focus on the COACH model:

Care – by focusing on individuals’ development.
Observe – close observation of the workplace will allow leaders to identify what needs to be improved with their staff (i.e. employee behaviour, work practices, etc.)
Act – in a timely fashion when addressing performance or behavioural issues – in other words, do not delay in addressing these types of issues.
Communicate – self-explanatory, but you need to be able to get the attention of your employees and be able to convey messages effectively in order to be a successful leader.
Help – this follows on to the entire coaching concept whereby great leaders show their staff how to perform better and they are clear about setting the proper performance expectations for their staff that align with the organizational operating guidelines.

TIP #2 – Eliminate Hassles

One of the great tips provided as a leadership strategy was to “Eliminate Hassles” for your employees by “constantly querying them.” The author, Lee Cockerall, suggested that a practice he used in his career with Disney and Marriott hotels was to utilize Start, Stop, Continue” meetings. Essentially, these were team meetings he held to encourage his employees to think about “processes, rules and operating guidelines.” Essentially he was engaging his employees to provide feedback to him in the context of which processes/rules should be stopped, (because they were impeding business success and customer service), which ones should they start (i.e. develop or commence doing) and which processes and rules needed to continue to be followed because they were providing business results. This simple practice is a great way to engage employees, build trust and foster an environment of open communication.

TIP #3 – Meet regularly with direct reports

This is another one of those common sense tips that just doesn’t seem to be followed all that commonly. The author provides a framework for discussion in employee meetings called “The Four P’s: People, Processes, Projects and Profit.” During these 1:1’s, recommend that you should be focusing on:

People – how are their direct reports doing (if they have any) and what succession/employee development plans are in place and what is being done to get non-performers back on track.
Processes – what is being done in this area to improve employee performance and customer service.
Projects – what specific initiatives are being worked on to improve things in their area of responsibility.
Profit – have your employee(s) provide reports on their department financials – sales, cost, etc.

Tip #4 – Follow the ARE model

Appreciation, Recognition and Encouragement are three (free) tools that leaders have at their disposal to motivate and engage their employees. ARE should be used to “build self-confidence and self-esteem along with individual and team performance.” This is another one of those simple tips that separates leaders from managers but is never utilized enough. Making appreciation, recognition and encouragement part of your leadership DNA is what truly separates the great leaders from everyone else. The end result is low(er) turnover, higher levels of engagement and employee satisfaction. The bottom line results are shown in sales/revenue, profit and customer satisfaction.

To learn more about these Common Sense Leadership Strategies, I encourage you to read Lee Cockerall’s book, “Creating Magic – 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney.” The specific tips that I have commented on in this blog post are all found in Mr. Cockerall’s book. While there is nothing earth shattering contained in the book, there are some basic principles and practices identified that many managers should be employing. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Amazon.ca

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