Yoho: Leadership Is Key to Thriving Amid Change

by Kyle Clapham

What do those who own, manage or lead home improvement companies have to look forward to? And what will be needed to fulfill the challenges of thriving, not just surviving, in this new and ever-changing environment?

In many organizations, after a thorough evaluation, someone is selected to perform leadership tasks that are necessary for the success of the company. Later, that same individual may leave the organization, voluntarily or otherwise, because some aspect of their leadership performance did not meet the needs of the organization.

Frequently, that same individual moves on to another organization and, for whatever reason, meets the needs of the new employer. This is even more complicated when the leader is an owner and cannot abandon the responsibility without grooming someone from within the company or searching outside of it.

This latter process can be analyzed by examining the phrase, “Whatever happened to what’s his name?” This exclamation is recited often without understanding the real reasons for the perceived failure of the person who wore the mantle of leadership.

Organizational Strengths and Weaknesses

In many organizational structures, there are those who function with a perceived high level of performance; yet those individuals may lack certain behavioral practices that would enhance their value to the organization even more while creating greater job satisfaction for themselves.

Moreover, those individuals, by not recognizing their low efficiency in certain areas, may be denying those they work with and themselves the benefit of self-actualization (achieving one’s full potential). Dr. Abraham Maslow describes this concept in his groundbreaking study of The Hierarchy of Needs.

Failure Is Often an Unintended Consequence

As an example, frequently a failing leader is identified as someone with a history that possessed certain skills or behavior, which was perceived as beneficial to the job description. The same individual may function with low skill levels in other areas of behavior such as tolerance, empathy, negotiating skills or the ability to resolve conflicts.

Most organizations have experienced similar circumstances. More may face these circumstances in this new critical business environment, yet neither they nor those who supported the selection sought methods to identify and then work at improving a specific skill set or methods for improving performance in given tasks or specific circumstances.

All of the latter led to the creation of the Leadership and Competency Evaluation (LACE), which is not a test. There is no pass or fail implied in its usage. However, it was developed to enable owners and management to develop an honest assessment of their current competencies and leadership qualities.

The ultimate outcome of which can provide an opportunity for the individual or organization to develop a plan where certain skills below an acceptable range can be implemented, modified or augmented. The plan of action may vary, and future evaluations will determine progress.

Leadership and Competency Evaluation

An action plan for increased efficiency becomes specific to an individual’s method of being trained. Based on the responses received to the LACE questionnaire, an individual’s report will indicate their current level of development in 25 personal skills.

Addressing the degree of competence for these 25 personal skills enables organizations and individuals to create programs to enhance performance. The individual’s development of these personal skills is categorized in three levels: Well Developed, Moderately Developed and Needs Development.

Reviewing and Evaluating Such a Report

  • An individual needs to examine the completed report with an open mind. If an individual thinks they do not have areas of performance to improve, they need time to reflect on the benefits of increasing certain skills. Some low competencies may even surprise individuals, until they accept them as an opportunity for personal growth.
  • It isn’t necessary for individuals to strengthen every competency immediately. Consider first the competencies that are most beneficial to your/their current career track for focused development.
  • Those in management or human resource development should be open for discussion regarding the report, thus they will aid individuals in developing a plan.
  • It is often helpful for individuals to journal (keep records of goals and day-to-day accomplishments).
  • Typically, owners or upper management will view those being selected for leadership with a desire to improve their skill set positively and may be able to contribute valuable ideas and direction for the journey of personal and professional growth.
  • Remember, the essential purpose of the LACE evaluation is to enable individuals or organizations to develop an honest assessment of current competencies, measured against fulfillment requirements for individuals or organizations.

Twenty-five competencies are considered key behavioral practices, which contribute to professional performance. (You can see a chart of all 25 in the online version of this article.) These become valuable assets to increase the level of job satisfaction. An individual’s responses to the LACE questionnaire indicates their current level of development in each of these 25 areas.

Communication Skills (Purposeful Goals)

This competency evaluates the extent to which you listen, respond and provide genuine feedback to others in order to strengthen relationships. This evaluation asks the question, “How effective are you at maintaining open and honest dialogue with colleagues, fellow employees, superiors, customers and strangers in your network in order to establish efficient communication channels?”

Recommendations for Overall Improvement

Low scorers need to spend time collecting useful data, information and studies on communication skills, then carefully assess methods of implementation for themselves and those they may train as a means of opening up general communication channels and building relationships. It can also be used as a format when initiating relationships with new contacts and relative strangers.

Ways to Strengthen or Improve Communication Skills

  • Give others time to finish speaking before forming your own reply in your conversations. Ask questions to broaden your understanding of the issue. Listen, maintain your focus and concentrate as much as possible.
  • Experiment with different communication methods so you can appeal to a wider range of people.
  • Recognize that your actions are likely to speak most loudly when you are communicating to others.
  • Practice varying your personal communication approaches to suit the situations that you encounter.
  • Avoid complex, jargon-based or overly technical words or phrasing that will make it difficult for your audience to understand or to act upon your message.
  • Watch for small or subtle changes in the mood of the speaker or the way in which things are said in words or behavior.
  • Concentrate as much as possible on what the other person is saying, and not on thinking about your next response.
  • Summarize what you think you heard from time to time to be sure that you have heard them properly, and reassure them that you did. Consider phrases such as, “Could you please repeat that?” or “Tell me more.”
  • Make a conscious decision to talk substantially less and listen more. Learn to smile, nod or look quizzical when appropriate.
  • Deliver your message using a pace and style that is comfortable for others.
  • Suggested reading: Power Linguistics or Neurolinguistics Programming.

Note: Email admin@daveyoho.com for a sample of what this report looks like and how the ideas built within it can be addressed in today’s complex business world. QR

Dave Yoho Associates is the oldest (since 1962), largest and most successful consulting firm representing the remodeling and home improvement industry. It is credited with the introduction of Step Selling—Post Negative Suggestion, The Total Offer Concept and Right vs. Left Brain Selling to the industry. The firm has a staff of account executives who consult for large and small retailers, manufacturers and service providers. For more information, email admin@daveyoho.com or visit www.daveyoho.com.

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