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Leaders: How are Your Daily Behaviors Impacting Your Team?

Every leader has an impact, every day. Do you have a positive impact, defensive impact, or somewhere in between?

Research over the past ten years shows that a leader's impact is powerful - and, too often, negatively influences employee sanity and production.

A 2017 study found that bosses with mood swings have a greater negative impact on employee stress and productivity than bosses who were consistently nasty (!). 320 workers in three companies (two in the UK and one in India) were the foundation of this research.

A 2017 meta-analysis found that stressed-out bosses have a significant negative impact on employee morale and performance. The research team examined findings on leadership, stress, and burnout from over 150 studies from more than 25 countries.

A 2012 meta-analysis compared 279 studies and found strong correlations between perceived unfairness by bosses and employee depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, and being overweight.

The most damning evidence comes from the 2009 Swedish WOLF study which analyzed data from 3100 men to see whether the leadership qualities of their bosses impacted heart health. Their findings indicate that men who rated their bosses as poor were at a 20% greater risk of developing heart disease over a 10-year period.

Lousy boss impact and the improving global economy might contribute to US employees quitting their jobs at a higher rate than seen in two decades! In August 2018, more than 3,900,000 voluntarily left their jobs. In addition, the low unemployment rate means these players find new jobs quickly.

If leaders want to attract and retain talented, engaged agents who perform at the highest levels - and love their boss, company, and customers - leaders must consistently demonstrate positive impact.

How can leaders understand the quality of their impact daily? Leaders could ask their agents, but they may not get accurate or actionable feedback. The best approach is to use a valid, reliable assessment that helps leaders understand their current impact on others in the workplace then help them improve it by employing different strategies with others.

One of the most effective assessments I use with clients in this is Human Synergistics' Leadership Impact report. This comprehensive tool provides insights from the leader's self-perspective as well as descriptions by others - their boss, peers, direct reports, and indirect reports - on the impact the leader is currently having on others as well as on the effect that leader would ideally have.

Results are mapped in three sets of behaviors: constructive, passive-defensive, and aggressive-defensive.

Leaders have constructive impact when they create an environment that motivates others to relate well to people and approach their work in ways that satisfy their need for growth, achievement, and cooperations.

Leaders have a passive-defensive impact when they create an environment that leads others to feel insecure or apprehensive, controlled and constrained, and uneasy about interpersonal relationships within their organization.

Leaders have an aggressive-defensive impact when they create an environment that leads others to feel anxious about their status and influence, worry about how they look relative to others and fixate on short-term (often irrelevant) performance criteria.

These sets of behaviors are reported in a visual circumplex (circular profile) to show the type of impact the leader is currently having (Impact on Others) or would ideally like to have (Ideal Impact).

Here's a sample circumplex showing one leader's Impact on Others - in this case, a combination of feedback from this leader's boss, peers, direct reports, and indirect reports.

Employee Satisfaction Needs

You can see that this leader's impact is primarily aggressive-defensive (red) and secondarily passive-defensive (green). This leader is not seen as having much constructive impact in their work relationships today.

When compared to this leader's Ideal Impact (below), we see that this leader desired to have extremely strong constructive impact and very little defensive impact - a very common ideal circumplex.

Leadership Impact

Seeing this data in visual form helps leaders realize the gaps they're creating today - and inspires leaders to increase their individual constructive impact through more frequent use of prescriptive strategies and infrequent use of restrictive strategies.

The Leadership Impact assessment provides detailed feedback on leader effectiveness, behavioral ratings, and strategies, which offer an undeniable snapshot of current impact.

The data in this assessment - along with coaching - can help leaders have positive, validating, constructive impact on their bosses, peers, and team members.

There are dozens of effective leadership assessments available to call center directors and managers today - this one works well with my clients.

Don't leave your leadership impact to chance. Invest time and energy in learning how you're impacting people in your workplace today and modifying your strategies to have constructive impact in the days to come.