THE LEADER’S 7: The 7 Languages Your People Need, Want, and Benefit Most Hearing from Leadership

Keep the Conversation Going Series – 2022 Philly SHRM Symposium

By: Katie Calabrese

At the recent Philly SHRM Symposium, I had the pleasure of joining a packed ballroom for the session, “The Leader’s 7” led by Andre Young, Founder, You Evolving Now. Mr. Young’s presentation was energetic, funny, and, as you’ll see in the highlights that follow, very educational.

Mr. Young kicked us off by defining what he means by leadership in the workplace, namely, that leaders should marry what they want to do, and give, with what the people they’re leading, need.  This is a combination of “personal leadership,” which is how we relate to each other and form connections, and leadership skills, which are the specific skills required to lead a team at an organization.

Effective leaders start by identifying what types of employees they have on their team, as follows:

  • Employees who are inspired and motivated tend to demand a lot of their leaders, but the payoff is that they’re productive and ambitious. Leaders should take care to make sure these employees aren’t too busy, but not too bored. It is also critical to help foster these employees’ career goals.
  • Employees who are new and unknown are a blank slate. Leaders would do well to encourage them to become inspired and motivated.
  • Employees who are steady stream tend to be content where they are. They are reliable but can be a challenge to motivate and incentivize.
  • Employees who are here, but not are disengaged. At worst, they’re a drain on the team. However, employees are sometimes disengaged because of having untapped potential. It is a leader’s job to determine if that is the case. Not all disengaged employees will turn into success stories, but it may be worth a try.
  • Employees who are grouchy. There is one on every team, and sometimes it cannot be helped. It is the leader’s job to determine whether poor leadership is the cause of the grouchiness and, if so, to correct it.

Once they’ve determined who their team members are, effective leaders will assess what their team members need, and align the way they lead with those needs. This is the crux of The Leader’s 7.

  1. Goodie Time. These employees are highly responsive to perks and “treats.” This need is one of the easiest for leaders to fulfill.
  2. Quality Minutes. These employees benefit most from short, frequent, quality conversations with their leaders. For leaders, this is higher effort, but also high reward.
  3. Recognition and Affirmation. These employees want to be recognized for their contributions and derive encouragement and motivation from it. Making gratitude and recognition a regular part of one’s leadership practice is a good way to reach these employees.
  4. Knowledge and Advancement. Learning and/or growth are what drive these employees. Leaders should keep in mind that not everyone who wants knowledge wants to advance, but also that it is difficult to advance without gaining knowledge.
  5. Employees who are inspired and motivated by incentives tend to be very motivated and inspired by them. Leaders can capitalize on this group’s productivity.
  6. This employee need is less about what is motivating and more about work style. Leaders should recognize when flexibility is a priority for an employee and do their best to accommodate that.
  7. Basic, but critical. Sometimes all an employee needs to succeed is courtesy and respect. Leaders should always be respectful but should take extra care to meet this need for employees who need it the most.

The best leaders will lead their employees according to those employees’ need(s). Everyone has all these needs to some extent, but we tend to lead in the way that meets our needs, first. The needs that resonate the least with us are those we think of last when leading others, and leaders should be cognizant of that when working with their teams.

It is also easy to dismiss some of these needs as silly—Mr. Young raised the specific example of a manager feeling that they “shouldn’t have to incentivize someone to do their job.” It is a fair stance to hold, but it could also backfire. Mr. Young emphasized that even small investments into individual employees’ needs can yield hugely beneficial results.

I loved this session and came away from it with practical tips for leading my team.

About the Author

Katie Calabrese is the head of talent management at Security Risk Advisors, a boutique cybersecurity consulting firm. She started her career as an attorney before transitioning into Human Resources. Katie has extensive experience in the professional services industry, having worked for two different AmLaw 100 law firms. Katie is also a member of Philly SHRM’s Thought Leadership Team.

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