Guest Post by John Baldoni

How can I help you do your job better?

That is one of the most potent questions in management when a senior executive puts that question to an employee. Offering such assistance is a recognition by the executive that his job is to help others do their jobs better.

The other day a CEO with whom I work took at question a step further. When one of his direct reports said that he was feeling good about the work and the company, so much so he said that on a scale of 1-10 most days he was at 10. To which the CEO responded. “Let me know what it will take to keep you at 10 all of the time.”

Saying that made the employee, himself a senior leader, feel ten feet tall because he knew the CEO had his back, which in turn would allow him to do his best for his team and function.

Skeptics might say that when executives put themselves out to help their direct reports they are being too easy on them. That such attitude will breed complacency and discourage people from doing their best. In reality, if that were true it would mean that not only was the executive a fool to offer to help, he was a fool to hire people who would be content with the status quo.

When you hire people who are motivated to stretch themselves to reach goals for themselves and their teams, you stoke the fire of their engines when you provide support. Failure to acknowledge them, or worse failure to support them with resources is what is demotivating. Not words of praise.

Let’s be clear when an executive offers help, often he does not mean he does the employee’s job for him. For example, if a CEO walks the factory floor and notices that a worker on the line is struggling with a task, the CEO’s job is find out why the individual is having difficulty. Is it due to lack of tools, resources, training, or plain incompetence? All but the last item (incompetence) can be addressed by allocating resources where they will do the most good. And it is up to the CEO to get his management team engaged to solve the issue.

As much as it is a senior leader’s job to assist others, there is the expectation that the employee deliver. The help the senior leader offers may be a reallocation of resources or it may be a re-prioritization so that the employee and his team gets what they need to do the work properly. This is not a handout; it’s a call to action. The employee own up to his part of the bargain and deliver what’s expected.

Such reciprocity gets to the heart of employee engagement. People want to come to work for a boss and for a company that supports what they do. At the same time, employees need to deliver on what management asks and expects. While strategies and initiatives may be clearly articulated, never underestimate what it means when a senior leader offers assistance.

A leader who believes his or her job is to help others is a leader who knows what it takes to inspire others to do their best work.

JohnBaldoni 2 HeadShot

John Baldoni, leadership development chair at N2Growth, is an executive coach and the author of many books, including MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership. Visit John @ 





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