Police Detective Columbo is the role model and provides motivation information and insight for building an important leadership skill: Lead By Inviting Participation and Input. This skill is one of the Four Skills That Make or Break All Leaders ) and Columbo was a master at it! Columbo was an American detective mystery telesion series that ran from 1968 to 2003. I am a fan of the show!
These three actions helped Columbo solve every case AND can serve as key leadership motivation information to help you engage the people you're leading. They also work especially well with employees who are unhappy, defensive or who seem like 'difficult' employees. Do like Columbo and you'll be leading by inviting participation!
Watch The Great Lt. Columbo Make an Arrest:
Often when difficult or tough employee situations come up Leaders tend to do one of two things:
With these two normal reactions, the problem doesn’t ever go away; it just gets bigger!
But if we do what Columbo did, "Stay Close, Ask Questions & Stay Neutral," we can begin to manage, not ignore, disgruntled employees, customers, friends, or family members.
We can use this leadership motivation information to investigate, examine, move toward, and into the situation. Getting close and involving the "suspect" by asking questions, seeking to understand, and focusing on remaining neutral and non-defensive can help you get answers and gain insight into what's happening in the situation/'crime.' (Side note: taking deep breaths can help you' with the last one!)
That's why this skill: Leading By Inviting Participation and Input, is one of the Four Skills That Make or Break All Leaders.
A great way to get opinions, perceptions and information from people in organizations is by conducting online surveys (including: organizational climate, team effectiveness, 360 feedback, customer support and post training surveys).
Any and all feedback you seek and can gather will give you, the Leader, valuable clues that can really help you solve performance mysteries on the team.
Online surveys (that are presented to employees correctly - see my Seven Tips for Successful Opinion Surveys video article, here) work because they provide a non-threatening avenue for getting close. People can express and share their ideas, frustrations, suggestions and feelings within a lightly structured framework.
Also, just choosing to tune-in (listening aggressively---another key leadership skill) to someone who's disgruntled, by asking sincere questions with a sincere desire to understand (NOT debate), can change the dynamic, and help you move toward more answers and less resistance.
Be like Columbo - Stay Close, Ask Questions and Stay Neutral!