Think HBR

To improve leadership effectiveness - make it personal

Michael Schmidt
Leadership Management Australia
Duane is the Operations Manager at a small manufacturing business west of Newcastle. He was at first a somewhat reluctant participant in one of our development programs. He didn’t have the time, there were lots of work hassles, and it was clear he was not running the shop – it was running him.
Five or six workshops into the program Duane walked in with a big smile on his face. We couldn’t wait to hear why. Duane was now in charge. He then outlined a series of changes he had been progressively implementing which were now bearing fruit. It became clear he was now managing the work flow, his staff - and his customer’s expectations.
Duane had implemented the ‘one on one’ personal leadership concepts. A structured ‘one on one’ leadership approach can significantly improve a manager’s effectiveness in any type of organisation. It is based on the concept that, while a leader may lead a team, they also have an individual working relationship with each person in their team which, if carefully engaged/ activated, can provide powerful benefits to an organisation.
Duane had implemented informal one on one discussions with each of his team members on a regular basis. In those discussions he took the opportunity to:
• Get to know his people better thereby developing their level of engagement.
• Discuss/clarify their position accountabilities and set new expectations.
• Discuss the employee’s future with the organisation and potential development needs.
• Provide genuine recognition and positive reinforcement of what the employee had been doing well.
• Address any concerns or gaps in their performance or attitude – with positive outcomes (While there are always exceptions most employees want to do the right thing.)
• Sought and received constructive feedback from individuals on how to make their areas and the workshop function more efficiently.
• Discussed with individuals how they could contribute more to the ‘team results’ – setting new expectations.
• Implement a business improvement process focussed on reducing errors.
For many managers this is a whole new way of managing. It is moving away from being reactive to issues to being focussed on positive engagement. Many organisations rely on a formal appraisal programs but they are often too narrow and too infrequent to be used as an effective management tool. Investing the time in having regular meetings with each person is the key to making it work.
Leadership development programs provide participants with a range of skills but often lack a structure to allow those skills to be used most effectively. The regular one on one leadership approach provides this structure and can be used effectively at all levels in an organisation. It is especially useful for leaders who lack the confidence to engage with employees in a team setting.
For more information please contact Michael Schmidt on 1300 417 144 or
Michael Schmidt Michael Schmidt
Michael Schmidt's background includes roles in human resources, training and business improvement in various sectors including professional services, manufacturing, transport, industrial and government organisations. He now facilitates leadership development training through LMA in the Newcastle, Hunter and Central Coast region.