Business leaders have to deal with a wide variety of responsibilities and duties throughout each workday. Juggling work and communicating effectively with peers and employees can stress out any leader. However, it’s possible to take a deep breath and take control. In fact, one needn’t just adapt to the current culture of a place. That can be changed and influenced for the better. Jennifer V. Miller, the founder of The People Equation, chatted with us about managing workplace dynamics as a leader and having influence with integrity.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to where you currently are professionally as the founder of The People Equation?
I began my career many years ago as a human resources generalist. Since then, I’ve been a front line supervisor, training manager, and performance consultant for large organizations. My projects included managing a leadership development program for emerging and high-potential leaders. From 1995 to 2015, I was the managing partner for a workforce development consulting firm. In 2009, I launched the People Equation blog. In 2016, The People Equation, LLC, will open its doors with a focus on providing online resources and digital training materials to help professionals “master the people equation.”
Do you think everyone has the potential to be a leader? If not, how do you identify potential leaders?
It depends on how one defines “leadership.” If you stick with a traditional definition of a leader as someone with a formally recognized title or role, then it’s likely that not everyone is suited to lead. If, however, you look at leadership more broadly – as an opportunity for someone to recognize a need and step up to help fill that need – then, yes, everyone at some point or another in their life has a chance to lead.
What is most important when it comes to managing workplace dynamics as a leader?
Leaders must be aware that “workplace dynamics” exist. It’s amazing to me how many leaders simply don’t take the people equation into account when deciding how to deal with their team members. I always tell leaders that, whenever there is more than one person in a room at any given time, the opportunity for interpersonal dynamics comes into play.
How does a leader help improve workplace dynamics?
First, pay attention. Look around at how your message is being received. Body language tells you a lot if you keep your eyes open. Second, when you craft important messages – ones that have potential to be emotionally charged – give thought to how you expect the recipients of the message will respond. Be ready to address concerns, clarifications, and push back.
Can a new leader change workplace dynamics when joining a team, or is it essential to simply adapt and lead with the dynamics as they are?
Absolutely. Yes, a new leader can shape the dynamics of a team, but it won’t happen overnight. For example, if the previous team leader was a by-the-book stickler for details and the incoming leader is more free-flowing, it’s going to take a while for the team to adapt to the leader’s style (and vice-versa.)
Do you think positive thinking is an essential part of achieving success?
Undoubtedly. One of the best books I’ve read on the topic of positive thinking is Dr. Kathryn Cramer’s Lead Positive. Positive thinking isn’t about just “sunshine and roses.” It’s about finding what’s “right and what’s working”(according to Cramer) in challenging situations.