By Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, FAAN
“Personal and organizational effectiveness is proportionate the strength of leadership”. John Maxwell
My students often ask me about books that have profoundly influenced my thinking about management and leadership. A book, that I found helpful in my own leadership journey, was published initially more than a decade ago and recently updated and re-released in 2016. The newest edition of First, Break all the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently is an update from Gallup on what they have found that the world’s greatest managers do differently. The authors culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by the Gallup organization with great managers throughout the world across more than 25 years. What they found was that these managers did not hesitate to break virtually every rule held sacred about leadership by conventional wisdom. These great managers focused on turning each employee’s unique talents into high levels of performance.
What Great Managers do Differently
Gallup researchers have found through their research that the critical factor in building a strong workplace is not pay, benefits, perks or a charismatic executive leader but rather the front-line manager. A key insight that authors f by the from the world’s greatest managers was the following: People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough. This is counter-intuitive to what most managers do in having the same expectations in every area for all their staff. Great managers select employees for their talents rather than simply years of experience, define the right outcomes, focus on the employee’s strengths and help their staff find the right fit for their skill set.
The Questions that Really Mattered in Looking at Retention
Through their research, Gallup found that how an employee answers the following 5 questions is closely linked to whether they plan to stay with an organization:
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- Do I have an opportunity to do what I do best every day?
- Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
- At work, do my opinions count?
These questions probably look familiar to you because they are included in the Gallup employee engagement survey Q12. If your organization either does not do regular surveys or these questions are not included, leaders should consider asking staff how they would respond to them.
The Takeaways for Nurse Leaders
I found this book compelling from first reading, and the content seems even more relevant today. It explains why so many traditional notions and practices are counter-productive in healthcare today. Our workforce is very diverse composed of four different generations. Each generation has different values, beliefs and attitudes based on their life experiences. A one size fits all leadership approach will no longer work. Without satisfying an employee’s basic needs first, a manager can never expect the employee to give stellar performance. The basic needs are: knowing what is expected of the employee at work, giving her the equipment and support to do her work right, and answering her basic questions of self-worth and self-esteem by giving praise for good work and caring about her development as a person. In addition to meeting these basic needs, leaders should not spend their time trying to perfect each person. Great outcomes according to Gallup research occur when managers do every they can to help their staff cultivate their talents and become more of who they already are.
Read to Lead
Gallup (2016). First, Break all the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers do Differently. New York: Gallup Press.
© emergingrnleader.com 2017