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Andrew Amrhein

The SLII Experience™ , by Ken Blanchard, is a leadership training program that I love. In it, Blanchard describes two parts of an individual’s abilities: Competence and Commitment. Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations on topics that I think are under the Commitment category.

Commitment, as Blanchard describes it, is a combination of an individual’s motivation and confidence. Motivation focuses on “interest and enthusiasm,” confidence focuses on a person’s “self-assuredness.” In other words, this is the emotional or psychological side of the performance equation. What I see is that when developed, good confidence, motivation, commitment, etc. can lead to something extremely important: resilience. According to Webster’s, resilience is, “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.”

Part of your role as a leader is to work to build your team’s resilience. Mistakes are going to happen. A resilient team can handle it well and take corrective action quickly. A resilient team doesn’t get mired down in resentment or negative self-talk. But leaders often miss (or avoid altogether) opportunities to build resilience and, instead, are often deterred by it.

What do I mean by that? Let’s take giving feedback as an example. Most leaders struggle with giving feedback. There are lots of reasons why, but very often, one of them is a fear of demoralizing or de-motivating the other person (a sign of lack of resilience). “I don’t want them to feel bad (or get mad),” or “I want to keep them,” or “I don’t want to send the wrong signal.” This logic robs your employees of not just the opportunity to perform better, but also (more to the point of this article) of the opportunity to become stronger mentally. Contrary to establishment thinking in our industry (maybe), it is the leader’s role to engage and improve the mental/emotional side of their team’s abilities.

Therefore, using Blanchard’s framework as a guide with a focus on resilience, let’s look at feedback in a different light. Giving feedback is an opportunity to improve both performance (competence) and resilience (commitment). As the leader, recognize that you are discussing issues of “Competence”- e.g., the quality of work needs to improve,- but that a person’s reaction may be out of a struggle for “Commitment”. Do not be deterred by the person’s reaction- fix it! Those are two separate issues and need to be addressed separately. Performance needs to improve AND the person’s ability to accept feedback needs to improve. It’s the role of a leader to help in BOTH areas.

Giving feedback absolutely must happen. So, when you see resilience issues, say “Hey, Sammy, listen. There are some things that need to improve on this job, but that doesn’t make you a bad person, or a bad employee. So, you missed a few things, overall you’re doing great. This is why we do walk-throughs. What I need is for you to be eager about catching the misses, and improving going forward. Can you do that?” I’ve even gone so far as to say directly, “Relax, buddy. I’m not gonna fire you,” when I see someone taking the discussion very personally.

To make this happen, you’ll need resilience yourself. So, recognize your own needs internally as well. It is also fair to say that some people will not improve and maybe won’t last. But many can and will! Be resilient in your efforts to build resilience! Give yourself positive self-talk. Even with minimal effort, I’ve seen the result be an engaged team that’s eager to learn. A small investment can have big pay-offs.

All the best,

-Andrew Amrhein

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