By JANINE FINNELL, Executive Director, Leaders in Energy, and CWEEL Board Member
Managers need to be more cognizant of their leadership styles and, through more conscious listening practices, develop stronger awareness of the team members they manage. In order to achieve the results that are expected of the organization, they should apply SMART goal-setting and coaching strategies that maximize employees’ potential.
These were some of the important messages I took home from a two-day Management EssentialsTM seminar, offered by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) during its GLOBALCON event on March 20-21, 2017 in Philadelphia, PA. The seminar was organized by the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL), a component of AEE, which helps women professionals to advance in the energy industry.
The objective of the seminar was to empower managers to achieve optimal performance from energy managers, engineers, and team leaders. Managers also received coaching on how to dedicate time to reflect and be aware of how their leadership style affects their teams.
Seven concepts resonated with me that you may find helpful in improving your capabilities as a manager.
- Strive to do five new things a day to give you greater flexibility, enhanced versatility, and more capable problem solving. Neuroscience research shows that new patterns can be developed in the brain to bring about more creativity and flexibility from engaging in new daily activities. Examples include switching a watch from one wrist to another, sleeping on a different side of the bed, taking a new route to work, etc. By exposing the brain to novel, adaptive experiences, it is challenged to work in different ways that help to create new neural pathways.
- Set SMART goals, meaning develop Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Resources, and Time-specific goals. Establish SMART goals that can then be used to set performance objectives and targets for you and your employees to strive towards. In addition, get consensus on a schedule of periodic reporting on progress.
- Make it a practice to “catch people doing something right” every day. On the other hand, when a team member knows what to do and how to do it, but is not getting it done, use “corrective coaching” to remedy the situation. Point out “What you did well was____” and “What you can do even better is ____.” This approach is recommended as an alternative to the more traditional “sandwich” technique where an issue needing improvement is sandwiched in between two positive comments.
- Utilize enlightened and more effective managerial leadership styles, such as servant leadership, consultative leadership, collaborative leadership, transformative leadership, and co-active leadership. These styles are beginning to supplant the traditional hierarchical “command and control” management, where managers led “at” team members, rather than leading “with” employees. Collaborative styles utilize more two-way communication and acknowledge that everyone is creative and resourceful. Managers need to think like detectives to uncover the strengths and weaknesses inside their teams.
- Improve your conscious listening skills by learning to identify and use more open-ended questions (What…, How…, Tell me more about…, Help me to understand…), versus close-ended questions (Are…, Will…, When…, Where…, Did…, and Who…). The seminar also introduced four behavioral styles: Doer, Thinker, Talker, and Guardian. Find out what behavior styles you have in your teams so that you can understand staff from the “outside in.”
- Ask yourself “what am I missing?” Become more self-aware by reflecting on what important details you may be missing because of your personal “selective attention”. This can also be helpful in recognizing our blind spots.
- Identify your key values and what motivates you, and similarly learn about the key values and motivators of your team members. This will help you inspire and motivate team members and to better understand them from the “inside out” as a component of emotional intelligence. As expressed in the Bold New Directions materials that were presented in the course, “Emotional intelligence is the ‘something’ in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results.”
The program was designed to provide a clearer understanding of fundamental management strategies and how to most successfully and effectively apply them. The course instructor, Jim Hornickel, is a seasoned management specialist and the CEO of Bold New Directions, Inc. He has worked in over 50 countries worldwide. Bold New Directions focuses on transforming people and performance through learning.
The seminar drew from the latest knowledge across a spectrum of disciplines from management science, psychology, and neuroscience research on the brain. Hornickel included role playing and exercises with partners to help us better understand key management strategies.
These concepts will truly help me in strengthening Leaders in Energy and for me to strive to obtain the best from team members. But this was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the valuable content conveyed in this seminar. Consider taking this course in the future at an Association of Energy Engineers conference, which are offered throughout the year in various locations in the United States.
Janine Finnell is the Executive Director of Leaders in Energy, an organization that connects clean energy and sustainability professionals to catalyze changes for a transformative energy system, economy, and world. She also heads the Career Development Committee on the Association on Energy Engineers’ Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership Board.