One can only do so much. Leaders draw on group strength. How drivers motivate strivers:
• Make tough calls. Shortly after becoming chief technology officer at PayPal three years ago, James Barrese made a bold move. He scrapped a tech infrastructure that’d long been in development.
First, it was moving too slowly. Second, “technology had evolved, and there were other options to consider,” Barrese told IBD.
Rallying his team to start fresh and aim for a breakthrough mobile payment system required executive cheerleading. “You have to signal to the organization you’re going all in on this,” he said.
• Set parameters. Talented types run with ideas — sometimes too far. “If you’re not careful, suddenly you’re solving world peace,” Barrese said. “Make it so you have very clear goals.”
• Learn ropes. Ignorance is no excuse. Barrese makes sure to learn technological intricacies from team members. “Then I can be a much better partner to them when they’re trying to move an obstacle,” he said.
• Be a seeker. Barrese urges his group to pursue knowledge.
“I think it’s critical that people spend part of their day learning,” he said. “You just need to make it a habit.”
Look to the future. “You need to have some part of your team working on what the experience will be in three to five years from now.”
• Bring them up. Savvy leaders encourage staff members to grow professionally. But less than half of top chiefs believe their direct reports have C-suite skills, according to a Deloitte study. And of midlevel executives on the rise, just half have access to leadership training.
The stats don’t surprise, said Chris Roebuck, author of “Lead to Succeed.” “There appears to be an assumption that junior executives can get away without training,” he said. “That’s utter rubbish.”
The winning formula that he teaches management types:
Treat employees like professionals, tell them what’s going on and encourage and praise them.
• Stay tuned in. While writing his book, Roebuck watched 100-plus episodes of “Undercover Boss.” The TV show puts chiefs in disguise so they can work elbow to elbow with the rank and file.
Most realized that they’d lost touch with how much effort employees exert trying to reach goals.
“Assuming they are not is insulting,” Roebuck said. “We must never forget that the figures that come across our desk relate to real people.”
• Walk the talk. Workers don’t respond to titles; they respect ability.
“Position power tends to be the weakest form of getting someone to do something,” said leadership coach Erica Peitler, author of “Leadership Rigor.”
Technical expertise lends credibility. What carries more weight is personal power, which comes from a mix of management skills and emotional intelligence.
Some leadership intangibles: curiosity, empathy and the courage to say what needs to be said.
“It’s a skilled profession,” Peitler said.
• Polish people skills. Fundamentals such as communication and relationship building should be carefully honed.
“You have to be socially curious about how people interact,” said Peitler. Figure out what makes workers tick, and you can better motivate them.
Peitler’s advice: “Build a rich toolbox and be flexible to the needs of those individuals.”
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