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by Kelly Coash-Johnson, KCSAE Secretary

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with other national educational associations in Omaha, NE. We were invited to go to the Gallup campus and hear from Dr. Tim Hodges, Executive Director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's CliftonStrengths Institute. He shared with us information gathered from a study conducted by Gallup on workforce needs and what followers need from their leaders. The Gallup meta-analytics found four universal needs that followers have of leaders; trust, compassion, stability and hope. People look for these traits in their leaders as a signal that their life will be OK and that they can be part of the solution.

As a follower of strategic leadership, I have prided myself on data-driven decision making and creative problem solving to lead my organization and people. What this presentation did for me is to give me a solid reminder that I can use all the data in the world but unless I have trust, compassion, stability and hope it really won't matter in the end. The following questions were suggested to us as we start engaging with our teams and starting real conversations about growth for the organization.

Trust in the workplace refers to psychological safety, mutual respect, and open communication between employees and management.

  • What do I currently do as a leader that I should have you take more responsibility for, or completely own?
  • When faced with a complex problem, what is the best way for me to offer support that helps us build trust with one another?

Treating someone like a cog in a machine or an assembly line for production is far from a compassionate act. People want to matter, on the job and beyond the job.

  • When you succeed, what is the best way for me to recognize you?
  • Beyond work, what is important to you and why?

When asked about how leaders contribute stability to their lives, followers frequently use words like security strength, support and peace. Things work better when employees feel a sense of stability.

  • What is outside of your span of control that you're worried about? In that area, what is within your span of control? How can I best support you in that area?

When you as a leader build hope in followers, it raises their sense that there are better days to come. Hope enables followers to be more resilient when they are faced with trying or difficult time, both professionally and personally.

  • What are you excited about in the future?
  • How does your work connect to the mission or purpose of our organization?

For me, I could pick four different people on my team that needed each of these characteristics from me. I know that we can't be all things to all people at once, but I do think it is easy to look at our team members as individuals and simply ask them the questions. Once I can apply my own strengths to each of their needs, they can further their own growth and development.

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