Leadership Lessons ezine by Mark Sanborn
Who wouldn’t want to have a “Fred” as a service provider, coworker or employee?
The only people I’ve encountered who don’t like Fred-like behavior are the “Derfs” (the opposite of a Fred). They know that Freds make them look bad.
Lately I’ve been getting questions about how to have more Freds within an organization. While there is a chapter in The Fred Factor that deals with this topic, in this article I’ll provide some additional ideas you can use to develop Fred-like behavior in those with whom you work and live.
Praise for You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader
“…I call his book a “little” book only because of its size… In reality, it is a very big book, full of big ideas that are worth reading…” David Mercer – Mercer Capital
Invite. In my latest book, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader, I define leadership as an invitation to greatness we extend to others. If we have accepted that invitation ourselves, then our job is to extend it to others.
One of my mentors, Dr. Earl Kantner, spent 21 years in the Ohio Department of Education developing young people. He said, “My goal was to develop them to better quality than they ever thought they could be and by golly they achieved that. They were just tickled—they never knew they could be that type of individual, so as you can imagine that was inspiring.”
Showing people how to be more than they thought they could be is one of the highest callings of leadership.
Expect. When employees are hired, and the hiring is done well, expectations are made clear. We should always expect an employee to do a good job, but why not raise the bar and expect the extraordinary whenever possible? Not many employers aim that high. There is no reason why you can’t.
Teach. Make sure you give people the training and tools they need to successfully meet the expectations. I can expect you to run a marathon, but if I don’t have you train and prepare, the odds are greatly diminished that you’ll finish the race.
Do you have ongoing training programs around the principles of The Fred Factor? Since there are four principles, it would be easy to integrate a teaching or reinforcement session into a staff meeting once each quarter. Are you looking for and sharing examples of Fred-like behavior, both within and outside your organization? Do you use bulletin boards or email to distribute these examples?
Unblock. Begin by removing barriers that prevent Fred-like performance: silly rules, regulations and policies and limited time and other resources are examples. Ask employees, “What do you need to perform more like Fred more often?” That’s a quick way to find out what is holding people back.
Recognize and Reward. Behavior that is rewarded tends to be repeated. Put the spotlight on Fred-like behavior whenever you see it. Use both formal and informal recognition, and include both customers and colleagues to recognize those in your team who have been “Freds”.
Recognize little successes with verbal praise, and big accomplishments with tangible rewards commensurate with the results. Consider giving employees note cards that say “Thanks for being a “Fred”!” that they can pass on to those within the organization they appreciate.
Insincere or shallow recognition programs will fail. People don’t want gratuitous praise. They want to be acknowledged for legitimate accomplishment. Cutesy or cursory attempts to reward and recognize will waste your time and annoy employees.
Appreciate. Appreciate people not just for the successes they achieve, but for the attempts that they make as well. It takes an observant person to recognize someone who did his or her best to be Fred-like, even if the attempt failed. We need to remember that the path to learning is paved with attempts and failures.
Relax. Someone recently asked how they could achieve Fred-like performance without creating stress. If your attempts to encourage extraordinary performance are stressful, you’re not doing something right. Freds don’t work harder to do better because they have to, but because theywant to. Leaders create want to. The process should be fun. I know that using phrases like “be a Fred” or “Fred-like behavior” can be seen as corny. I am less concerned with the language used than the intent, and much of the language I use in my books is meant to make learning easier and more enjoyable.
So relax. Aim for developing more Freds and for becoming a better Fred yourself. But don’t let it stress you out. That’s just not the spirit of Fred.