Leadership Language

Leadership Language
October 3, 2018 Virtual Consulting

By: Gideon Malherbe, VCI Founding Partner

A company facing transformation must address a significant amount of divergent thinking amongst employees. This includes thoughts and talk about where are we going, how are we going to do this, how will this effect me, and more. Uncertainty and doubt enters the system.

Leadership basically has two alternative tools to handle the situation. One is to increase discipline and sanctions in order to make people comply (“threats”). The other option is to design incentive schemes, both social and monetary, that will promote better performance (“rewards”).

Instead of trying to herd cats through high expectations, rules, and policies, try designing incentives that create common interests and a common language game. Use extensive socialization through the company social platform to ensure inclusion in the narrative and constant reinforcement.

Examples of worthwhile social incentives are small privileges like better parking, flexible work hours, casual dress, or even a pizza party. These provide social esteem. Variable pay and bonuses are monetary incentives that are tried and true.

All in all, make sure the incentives are material and they will go a long way to overcome any resistance to change. As a leader, be clear about where you want to take your company and align incentives directly with performance. The goal is to move the company into a language game of common interests and rewards.