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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

John Quincy Adams


“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”

John Maxwell

In most organizations, leadership development equates to helping those with management titles do a better job leading direct reports. At LifeWork Systems, we assert that leadership development is for all people, from CEO to front line staff. Some methods are antithetical to this and others expand leadership in all for full engagement.


What tactics does NOT foster leadership development

These include any approach based in limiting and fear-based beliefs about people or that require subjugation to an authority figure. These diminish internal motivation because external motivation is valued instead. Here are four common ways we squelch leadership development in people and perpetuate diminished intrinsic motivation:

  1. An autocratic approach. In this, the limiting belief held about people is that they can’t be trusted. The management approach is to manage people, using a power-over dynamic in which accountability is doing “what I say or else.” Behaviors fostered are resentful compliance and rebellion and resistance and sabotage.
  2. Incentives and rewards. Dangling carrots in an effort to elicit increased productivity and good citizenship, has been proven in copious research to be harmful. When using it, you believe people are selfish and lazy and that your job is to motivate them so they jump through your hoops, doing what you want. This fosters artificial competition and scarcity, distracts from quality, and diminishes internal motivation. Autocratic and rewarding approaches have been people because “work” despite unrecognized and long-term negative side effects.
  3. Bestowing judgments (favorable and unfavorable). When leaders bestow praise (different from encouragement) or shaming saying things like, “go make me proud” or “I’m so disappointed in you, we foster people-pleasing, brown-nosing and repression of reasonable challenges to authority. These suppress authenticity and creativity.
  4. Pampering and spoiling. When we do for people what they are capable of doing for themselves, including reminding, advising and coaxing when none are needed, the belief is ‘they can’t’ Then the management approach is rescue and enabling, fostering assumed inadequacy and entitlement.


A tactic that DOES foster leadership development

  1. A responsibility-based approach. In this, you hold positive beliefs that people are great and if they don’t appear so, they want to be great. You make sure they are given support to adopt task ownership; the management of their relationships, productivity, engagement, emotional intelligence, and a success plan. Their internal motivation and engagement increase. They consistently bring their A-game to every effort.

Not only is leadership development of all people crucial, without it your people experience an activated inferiority complex with related internal and external struggles of every kind. They then weaken your organization and impede your business success objectives. I am happy to help you to make this shift from ineffective culture tactics to those that increase employee engagement and expanded human potential you need. Let me know if I can help!


Why People Hire Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems

Business owners, community leaders, and educators hire Lifework Systems because they want the advantages of an extraordinary workplace and recognize a systems approach ensures consistency and sustainability in the transformation process. They know that conscientious employees grow your business and improve your reputation, giving you competitive advantages. We help organizations instill into every person a common language and toolset for how to participate in a responsibility-based Teal workplace. Visit our website at www.lifeworksystems.com, and click the link at the bottom to complete a culture assessment and schedule your first consult to review a report on your feedback, all at no cost.  You can also contact Judy Ryan at 314.239.4727 or at judy@lifeworksystems.com.

This article is published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly in Judy’s column on The Extraordinary Workplace, July 2020.