Friday, August 21, 2009

Lessons from Kathryn:
The Likeability Factor


So I know many of you from Boston to Singapore who read my blog may be waiting with bated breath to find out what I learned from Kathryn this week. Wait no longer my friends...

This week I didn't really ask Kathryn any serious questions about coaching or anything else leadership related. She began our meeting as she always does by asking about what's happening for me both personally and in my job. I began telling her about this week's wedding, and being that it's such an amazing story it's pretty much what we talked about during our meeting. She found the story about the wedding to be as cool as all of you did. Of course it was very enjoyable for me to tell her about it, as it's had me literally on a cloud all week long that has lasted to this moment.

When I got off the phone, I thought to myself, "Drats! Besides talking about the wedding I only asked her a few little piddly things about my work...did I just waste that time? I could have been learning something about coaching and leadership and I just blabbered on about my weekend..."

Actually, no it wasn't a waste. I realized something else I've learned from Kathryn and that is that people want to do a good job for a manager they like. Individuals perform better for those they actually enjoy working with. One of the first keys to likeability is having a genuine interest in people's lives. A manager who is likeable tends to be gifted in motivating others to fully engage and accomplish the company's objectives. Robert Levering, the primary researcher for Fortune magazine’s ‘Best Companies to Work For’ studies, found that organizations with positive employee relationships produce 15 to 25 percent more. Inspiration and respect really are at the core of productivity.

I have a unique vantage point from both sides of this issue. At one job, I am managed, at my other job, I am a manager. I do realize it is my role in management in the church that helps me to appreciate Kathryn more -- both the responsibility that rests upon her shoulders, and the value of what she imparts to me. There are times I have wondered about those I manage or have managed over the years...do they realize how much rests upon my shoulders? Do they understand how many things about work keep me up at night? Do they truly appreciate the level I have gone to in investing in their lives? All of these things cause me to appreciate Kathryn's leadership more because I do know the cost of leadership.

Kathryn is very likeable. If somebody she manages doesn't like her, they are just a loser and there is really no other way to slice it. She's very caring, always "processes relationship before task" as I call it, is creative, interjects humor into anything possible within the workplace, and much more. Even her memos about submitting reports ooze with creativity. Her leadership style motivates you to want to do a good job, for her, but also for your own benefit. She's big on the fact that we should all take ownership of our successes and celebrate them which is something she did gave me kudos for this week, noting my involvement in the wedding planning.

I'm learning how much fun it is to work for a likeable manager but also being motivated to be a more likeable manager. I know people won't always be crazy about us in leadership -- sometimes we have to make hard decisions people won't like, and there is a price to be paid. The higher you go the higher the price. As Elbert Hubbard one said, "To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing." I acknowledge that to be liked cannot be our main goal in leadership. otherwise we'll never get anything done. However, there is a balance there. I have thought about my team over the years that I've managed. Years ago two people were working for me that didn't share mine or Larry's values at all. They didn't like us or what we stood for and ultimately they didn't respect us. Not surprisingly, productivity was at an all time low and frustration was high. The end of the working relationship couldn't come soon enough. Contrast that to those I current manage who have been with us for a long time by ministry standards. I won't put words in their mouth and announce on my blog that they are crazy about me, or that I definitely have the likeability factor. That's up to them to speak for themselves. But I will just say, I don't think they would spend holidays with me or come over on off times and sit in my jacuzzi and talk if they didn't like me. If I didn't like my boss, you couldn't pay me to sit in their hot tub. Seriously.

Some might say this is the likeability factor run amok or over the boundary lines but I think it's a little different especially in ministry when you move away from all of your family and those you work with many times become your family. We have always treated those we work with like family...I think the difference now is, we have a group of people who appreciate it.

In a nutshell I've learned from Kathryn this week the importance of the likeability factor -- appreciating it from the person who is managing me, and striving for this kind of relationship in those I am managing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think there are many Christians who are closer to their church family than their own blood relatives. I'm one of them. I believe this goes along with Scripture that when we are rejected, He will raise us up. That includes "brothers and sisters in the Lord" and older Christians who become Spiritual parents. Most Christians are not blessed to work for Christians so it is so important for the local body to be that place of encouragement. I look forward to our Life Connections (small groups) and our weekly church services...to be fed, but also touch base and fellowship with my "family!"
Ruth, PA