The internal tussle between our life at work and outside work is usually focused on how to find time for family and other pursuits. But Jonathan Raymond, a consultant based in Ashland, Ore., believes there's another divide between professional and personal that causes difficulty and pain.
The former chief executive officer of EMyth – the coaching company that works with entrepreneurs on the principles in the book of that name – noticed it as he started burying himself in pastimes like meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.
They were changing him as a person.
But they seemed out of bounds at work, not the kind of activities that would help him be an authoritative leader. Over time, he realized that incorporating them into his work could make him a better leader.
"We need to start taking risks in the spirit of blending personal and professional growth, and consider whether we are keeping two things separate that should be together," he says.
It's not about the mediation, mindfulness or yoga. He shrugs off "Kumbaya leadership." He believes in accountability and even micromanagement. And it's not just about yourself – allowing yourself greater latitude as a leader – but about ensuring this divide is eradicated for your employees. He calls it "good authority," and while most of us have bad memories about authority figures in our lives, this is about ensuring you provide a better model.
At its core, it revolves around three principles:
- The deepest purpose of a business is to change the lives of the people who work there. He feels this is something most business owners are not comfortable admitting since they were taught their company is about providing a product. Yet, often their fondest moments are about helping an employee achieve something outside work, such as buying a dream home. “But we don’t have permission to own these achievements. It’s supposed to be about profit so this is kept secret,” he says.
- One role of leaders and managers is to show people how professional and personal growth are inseparable. If you help an employee to be better at taking risks or manage time more effectively, that’s not just about work. It bleeds into the rest of their life. At a deeper level, people seek to fulfill their potential – in both their personal and professional lives.
- The way to get people to be engaged is to be more engaged with them.
He frowns on the term "employee engagement" and the moaning about how employees are unwilling to be fully involved. Instead, he thinks the problem is management engagement – their failure to actively mentor, coach and hold accountable their employees. "People don't want to disengage. They disengage because of the way they are managed. So it's management engagement we need to fix," he says.
He contends most managers don't mentor properly. Sure, they offer encouraging words and quick advice, as he did. But he learned, he writes in his book Good Authority, "what my team needed was something else entirely. They needed me to listen. They needed me to hear what they were saying and do something about it … And they needed me to set clear boundaries and make sure everyone was held accountable to the same standard. They were not lazy. They were not incompetent. And they were not uncaring. They were waiting."
Maybe your staff is waiting as well. Listening and understanding means sometimes avoiding making decisions for your team, difficult as that will be.
"You know you are on track when you could give an answer to an employee but withhold – you say, 'I could give you an answer, maybe right or wrong, but I think you should figure it out yourself,'" he says in the interview.
Micromanage relationships with people, not the tasks they are doing. Use what he calls "the accountability dial," which starts when you notice something and quickly mention it to a subordinate, hoping they will adjust.
If they don't, turn the dial up by inviting them in for a chat, showing the importance of the issue, and trying to understand each other better. If that doesn't lead to improvement, you go through other stages on the dial, setting limits and even dismissing the employee if necessary, since others are watching and learning.
Good authority is not about no authority.
It's about accountability and conversations, managers engaging with staff and finding out what makes them tick – professional and personally – and helping them to grow.