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Leaders Model the Way--To Friendship

“As leaders model, promote, ask about, teach about, encourage and make room for people to care about each other, not just increased productivity, increased productivity may actually follow. High performing teams derive from high-relating individuals.” David and Wendy Ulrich in The Why of Work.

What a wonderful message to hear. It is in tune with the holiday spirit—a message of abundance. Leaders can increase productivity AND foster friendships and caring in the organization. The Ulrichs cite research by the Gallup Organization that reveals:

  • Employees who have a best friend in the organization are 7 times more likely to be highly engaged than those who do not
  • Employees with a best friend in the workplace are twice as likely to be satisfied with their pay. This number stretches to three times as satisfied for the lowest paid workers.
  • Employees with a close friend at work are 27% more likely to see their strengths as aligned with the company goals.

And the list of good goes on . . . fewer accidents, higher productivity, lower absenteeism, satisfy customers better, innovate more. . . .

Leaders can model and make room for workplace friendships by understanding that not everyone knows how to make friends. Leaders can develop friendships with their peers to model the way. Second, leaders can learn, teach and model a few simple skills:

  • Make and receive what the Ulrichs call “bids.” Bids are simply openings for conversation, such as asking a question. Responding to bids is noticing that the person reached out and responding positively.
  • Listening and using appropriate self-disclosure
  • Navigating closeness and distance—providing people an opportunity to work with people they don’t see day to day and also balancing interaction with quiet
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Making amends—leaders model appropriate apologies. A good apology has 3 parts, “I’m sorry; it’s my fault; what can I do to make this right?”

When leaders model these 5 behaviors, between people and among teams, engagement, productivity and satisfaction can result.

Happy Holidays! May your workplace be a model of abundance.

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Expanded information, case studies, business applications and missed opportunities from the real world that you can use to further leadership development in your organization, is in our quarterly journal Leaders’ Work. For a sample issue, click here