After dedicating a large portion of my professional life to helping leaders develop new skills to improve workplace performance, I’ve come to a startling (and perhaps career-limiting) conclusion: Employee engagement, motivation, and results are less about introducing new leadership behaviors and more about just stopping the stuff that makes employees crazy.
Let me frame this as a little parable. Leaders in a mythical company worked diligently to create a lovely gardened footpath. They design it to honor, inspire and rejuvenate the workforce. But no one used it. Why? Because — unbeknownst to the leaders — the employees were walking around every day with sharp stones in their shoes. All of their energy was focused toward relieving or coping with that discomfort; so taking additional painful steps — regardless how lovely the path — didn’t even occur to them.
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