For Mark Fritz, author of "Lead and Influence", and visiting professor at Porto Business School no one can achieve great success working by themselves, so “team work is essential to achieve success”.
You say that “in leadership success is a team sport (…) and for both yourself and your team”. This is a very clear statement but is this something that it is used in the day-to-day reality of business life?
[MF] No one can achieve great success working by themselves. It takes a team effort and our success is really based on the quality of the relationships we create, and how we surround ourselves with people who have strengths in our weaknesses. There is a great saying: “show me the quality of your contacts (your relationships), and I can predict your net worth”. Working by yourself only uses your capacity. Building a team around you and working together towards on a common goal uses everyone’s capacity.
In you book, your recommendation is to ask questions. You even say “the more you ask, the more you understand your people”. And this leads teams to achieve a better performance according to yourself. This is something that really happens nowadays in companies or is just theory?
[MF] Many leaders don’t ask the right questions. Just asking if their people have completed a task doesn’t help the leader learn anything. The best leaders don’t tell their people how, but ask about the how. Your people will take more ownership of their own how than in the one the leader tells them to do.
Ask your people how they are going to accomplish something and the milestones they need to meet in order to achieve it. Now, you learn if your people really know what they are doing, and they reveal the leader you need to be to get the best performance from them. If they have good answers on the how, you can let go a bit, because you understand they know what they are doing. However, if they give you poor answers on the how, you need to manage them tighter; because you are still responsible for the team’s achievement. Again, ask your people about the how, and they reveal to you the leader you need to be.
In your book, “Lead &Inﬂuence”, you say that young leaders quite often question “So why is having a good character so important”? In your opinion, ethics is really taken into account?
[MF] Character in leadership is about living the equation of “Do = Say” and showing consistent behaviors to your people. Especially behaviors aligned with both the company and the leader’s values. Whenever leaders are not consistent, it raises a question mark in their people’s minds, and people don’t follow their leader as closely anymore.
Related to character is how a leader handles their emotions. If the leader is always over and under reacting to things (a yo-yo), then again their people will be reluctant to follow the leader closely as they never know what behavior to expect. For these types of leaders, their people are always checking with the leader’s assistant... “Is it a good time to talk with the boss? Is he or she in a good mood today”?
Leadership is about inﬂuencing others and, as you say, “getting people to do and achieve what you want them to do”. But there is a very thin line between influence and manipulation…
[MF] Manipulation is doing it for only your own beneﬁt, and inﬂuence is doing it for both our beneﬁts.
Here’s a question: did your parents ever get you to do something you didn’t want to do? Were they inﬂuencing you or manipulating you? They were inﬂuencing, as they were doing it for your good too not just theirs!
Successful leaders are inﬂuencing their people for the beneﬁt of themselves and their people, and inﬂuence is also getting people to do something they don’t like doing or are afraid to do. It all comes back to intent.
Good and bad leaders can also be identified by the way they delegate…
[MF] A sign of a weak leader is just delegating annoying tasks. The strong and successful leader is delegating meaningful outcomes to their people to deliver as this is the fastest way to grow their people.
Think of it this way: if a leader is doing something their people could do and is holding onto it and not delegating it, then the leader is slowing the growth of their people. In many ways, the leader is now competing with their people and preventing them from grow.
Weak leaders view their people as a risk as if they grow too fast they might take my job. Remember, delegating and not training, is the fastest way to grow your people.
“Listen to the others” is a rule of thumb, in Leadership. Is this something as common as it should be?
[MF] The best leaders are listening because it is the easiest way to know how to lead and motivate their people. So, then why do so many leaders not listen? Because these leaders think they know all the answers and the fastest approach is to just tell their people what to do. If you just tell your people what to do, then they will not be any more capable in one year than they are now.
Also, micromanagement comes with a speed limit. Tell your people what to do all the time, and team speed is really the manager’s speed... not the team’s.
What is your idea of the “perfect” leader?
[MF] There is no perfect leader, and a leader needs to change their approach based on the people they have in their team. However, a good leader is doing two things well. They are delivering great performance and they are helping their people to grow and use their potential. The team’s potential is based on how everyone in the team is using their own individual potential.
If you had to address a message to young managers and future leaders what would it be?
[MF] Seek out leaders who will help you grow faster and will delegating meaningful work to you.
You get two beneﬁts. You get to grow faster and you have a role model above you to learn how to be a better leader when you become one. Also seek out mentors and go ask them for advice. They will help you grow faster too, and successful mentors want their advice to be successful too and will often take action to help you too.