Connecting Hearts and Minds

Teamwork session offers tips for effective leadership.

teamwork change

Effective leaders connect their heads (how they think) and their hearts (how they feel) with their hands (what they do). That was one of the key takeaways from Tuesday’s educational session titled Teamwork: The Critical Enabler of Transformational Change. Bob Cancalosi, director of GE Global customer leadership education and member of the ACR Commission on Leadership and Practice Development, delivered the presentation to a group of about 50 conference attendees.

Cancalosi said a manager’s approach is important because research from the Corporate Leadership Council shows that “more than 70 percent of an employee’s commitment is based upon their manager’s actions” and that “engaged employees can yield up to 57 percent more discretionary effort.” It’s also well documented that the number one reason people leave their companies is because of their immediate managers.

“Here is something to think about,” Cancalosi said. “Every single day as a leader, when you wake up, where do you want to be on this equation? Do you want to be influencing the 70 and the 57, or do you want to be the reason that somebody is putting their resume out on Monster.com, trying to get the heck out of your organization?”

Leadership Steps

Managers can take several steps to ensure they have a positive impact on their teams, including helping their employees understand how their work aligns with their team’s and organization’s goals. One way they can do this is by repeatedly reminding employees how their work fits into the larger picture, Cancalosi said.

“When you repeat the same message six times over a period of time, you drive up retention of the message to 70 percent,” he said, citing a study from the University of California. “I just keep telling leaders: repeat to remember and remember to repeat, repeat to remember and remember to repeat. Keep telling the same story over and over.”

Another way leaders can build high-performing teams is by cultivating a sense of trust with their employees, Cancalosi said. Managers can foster trust by recognizing excellence, sharing information broadly and in context, and creating a candid environment where everyone can speak freely.

Along those same lines, Cancalosi noted that leaders should pay close attention to their body language. For instance, he said, when managers roll their eyes at employees, it immediately signals that they’re not interested in their employees’ contributions, and their employees will stop sharing ideas. “Your body will always say what your mouth will not,” Cancalosi said.

Tailored Approach

While numerous leadership models exist, Cancalosi said simply deploying a cookie-cutter style will not work. Leadership is situational and must be tailored to different environments and different moments in time. “As leaders, I believe one of our goals is to breathe life into people,” he said. “But there are times you do need to deflate them a little bit [when egos take over],” he said, adding that leaders must find the appropriate ratio for each scenario.

To close, Cancalosi repeated an acronym that he said he often shares with his clients. He asks them if they “H.A.V.E.” what it takes to be a great leader. “Are you humble, are you authentic, can you show vulnerability, and then do you show empathy?” he asked. “If you can get that on top of the brilliant IQs that we all won in the DNA lottery, that’s what makes up the best leaders and the best teams.”


 By Jenny Jones, Imaging 3.0 specialist

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