“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.”
In a world where many aspire to leadership it is imperative that we are clear regarding the impact of constructive leadership as opposed to destructive leadership. Whether your context of leadership is the boardroom, classroom, family room, or ministry, successful leadership is predicated upon it being constructive rather than destructive. Unfortunately, many leaders and influencers are unaware that their style and manner of leading is destructive until the ramifications are in full swing and extremely difficult to dial back. A constructive leadership style lends itself and the organization toward success and must be embraced if one desires to be a premier leader in today’s society. We WIN through constructive leadership!
One of the first things that I want to address is that constructive leadership does not mean leading without correction, hard conversations, or even discipline. As a parent there will be times that you have to correct your children. In relationships of all types, moments will arise where difficult conversations must take place. As a leader you are tasked with leading in all areas which may include corrective or disciplinary action, but the methodology you employ in disseminating the aforementioned is what differentiates your leadership from being constructive rather than destructive.
Let’s utilize what many Human Resources experts refer to as the Feedback Sandwich to demonstrate an effective way to have a corrective or difficult conversation. The Feedback Sandwich begins with expressing something positive, followed by addressing what needs to be corrected, and finishes the conversation by expressing another positive point. As we expand this model in detail, I believe that you will find this to be an effective tool in whatever context of leadership or relationship you are engaged.
First, begin the conversation by sharing the person’s strengths. Articulate the things that they are doing well. Showcase their WINS. Inquire about the processes they utilize to garner success in the specific area(s) in which they are WINNING. Whether it is your child, ministry partner, employee, or business partner, everyone wants to know that they are doing something right. Beginning the conversation with a WIN disarms the hearer and brings a sense of relief that the intent of the conversation is not a negative one.
Secondly, proceed honestly and directly to the areas that require improvement. It is critical that we are honest in this area. You must express the areas that require improvement in a manner whereby the person is clear on what needs to be done and why. In order for the situation to remain constructive it is equally important that you address the behaviors, performance, or whatever it is that needs improvement rather than making the issue about the person. While correction may be difficult to hear, when communicated properly the end result is mutually beneficial. Whether the context is a personal relationship, business related, or ministry, the method of communication is as important as the actual message with some communication experts arguing that the medium of communication IS the actual message.
Finally, end the corrective conversation on a positive note by sharing the positive results of those areas being addressed. No one wants to have a conversation where they are told “improve or you’re fired”, whether that be in the context of a personal relationship, employment situation, or ministry opportunity. Those words are destructive and will likely only contribute to the decimation of the relationship. Ending the conversation on a positive note allows the person to not only believe that improvement is possible, but that you have an invested interest in their success to improve.
WINNERS recognize that building people up is the best way to get optimal value from the relationship while simultaneously building morale and faith in the relationship. A great leader is able to see the greatness and strength in those that they lead. Moreover, the successful leader is able to communicate in such a way that those who follow recognize their own greatness and happily bring the gifts of their virtues to the table each day!
We WIN through Constructive Leadership!
Dr. Craig L. Oliver - #iWINatEBC