Kevin Wilson was a great leader, but his team was not producing the results he knew they were capable of. One day he arranged a meeting with Jim Hefner, a recently retired executive who had built and led a team that shattered every single company performance record. “Jim, how’d you build such an amazing team? They not only outperform the rest of us but they seem to have more energy, confidence and fun than anyone else.”
“Kevin, I’m a big fan and follower of (CSE). It’s a branch of industrial-organizational psychology known as Core Self-Evaluations. That’s what made us so successful. Ever heard of it?”
Kevin shook his head, “No.”
Excitedly, Jim leaned in to explain: “Well, CSE is the personality trait responsible for our temperament, our wellbeing, and how we judge our circumstances. It also drives our behavior. Those with high CSE are far more positive and confident in their abilities, satisfied with their jobs and perform them far better than those with low CSE. As a manager, your job is to coach and raise each of your employees’ CSE levels.”
Jim is correct; as a leader, your primary focus should be to personally coach the best out of your team members and raise their CSE levels. Doing so will ensure you are more satisfied with their work and perform it better. Fortunately, CSE can be easily assessed and increased by:
Shifting the “Locus of Control”
The “Locus of Control” is determined by the extent to which a person believed they control their success or performance. Employees who believe that they control their future (Internals) have an internal locus of control and are generally happier, more empowered, and more productive than those who attribute their success or performance to fate or their surroundings (Externals). As a result, internals are more satisfied with their work and perform better than externals. You can find out whether an employee is an internal or external by simply asking “What’s been responsible for your success/performance?”
If the answer reveals an external locus of control shift power back to your employee by asking “How has believing that you aren’t causing your success affected your career?” Let them explain so they can really experience how they’ve been limiting themselves, then ask: “If you knew that you were in complete control of your success, what would be possible?
Increasing Emotional Intelligence
Employees with a tendency to easily experience unpleasant emotions like anxiety, depression and despair have lower emotional intelligence (EQ) and will react far more negatively to stress. Because their EQ levels are lower, their ability to connect, understand and influence others is severely impaired. For Kevin and others in leadership positions, the need for emotional stability is even more paramount, as they are the face of the organization and set the tone for employee morale. If you have an employee that’s emotionally unstable consider asking: “What can you do to not get so stressed out next time you have a presentation/sales call)?” Or “What might be a more appropriate way to react to an upset client/colleague?
Self-efficacy is the trait responsible for how likely we are to succeed with current goals and tasks, or take on a challenging assignment or “write it off” as impossible. (How likely we are to adhere to a diet or workout program is dictated by our self-efficacy.)
Those with high self-efficacy are more determined and persistent when dealing with adversity, and more likely to welcome new challenges as opportunities. The greater a person’s belief in their own power to influence an outcome the more likely they are to succeed with a new challenge. The following four step process can help you develop someone else’s self-efficacy:
- Build confidence- Question any belief they might have that is limiting their performance. For example, if an employee thinks they aren’t experienced enough to manage a project you can remind them of their unique strengths and capabilities.
- Promote modeling- Have inexperienced employees watch other colleagues with similar skills perform more advanced tasks so they too can develop those positive, “can-do” beliefs.
- Evaluate to motivate- Rewards, recognition and positive feedback are key to helping your employees feel more competent, motivated and open to growth. Negative feedback can devastate those with low self-esteem, as they almost always take it personally.
- Optimize the environment- Create a vibrant, energetic, stress-free workplace that encourages your staff to get the nutrition, exercise, and rest they need so they can perform their best.
Increasing their Self-esteem
Self-esteem is the approval we have of ourselves and the extent to which we see ourselves as capable, significant, successful, and worthy. It is the most essential of the CSE domains since workers with low self-esteem are often unproductive because they are indecisive, fear making mistakes and strive for perfection which leads to frustration when it isn’t attained. Generally they are highly irritable and pessimistic, and can drain the positive, enthusiastic energy of their more self-assured colleagues. Predictably, those with low self-esteem are more likely to be unsatisfied with their jobs, performing them considerably worse than those with higher self-esteem. To boost the self-esteem of your employees:
- Recognize and celebrate their successes and accomplishments as much as possible.
- Express your gratitude and appreciation to them for the contribution and difference they keep making.
- Be a model of kindness and compassion to others, especially those with lower self-esteem.
Jim Hefner understood that coaching the best out of his team meant raising their CSE levels. He did everything he could to raise those levels and as a result his team was always more satisfied with their work, performed it better, and were more confident, motivated and enthusiastic. They were also far less stressed, had less conflict, coped more effectively with setbacks and were better equipped at capitalizing on opportunities. To better engage, empower and motivate your greatest resource and boost the bottom line lead like Jim and raise those CSE levels.
About the Author
Ascanio Pignatelli is an award winning speaker, seminar leader, coach and author of the forthcoming book Lead from Need. He is the founder of ApexCEO, an executive coaching and leadership development group that helps C-level executives develop the leadership and communication skills to create more engaging workplaces. To book Ascanio for your next speaking event or workshop, please call him at 310.913.2313 or visit