What is Critical for Organizations Seeking to Retain High Performers? Versatility

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In her latest book, "Versatility: A Prerequisite for Leadership Success," Dalton reveals how leaders can develop resonant messaging that neutralizes even the most challenging behaviors at any level in an organization.

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Leaders must realize that resonant messaging, borne of versatility, isn't 'soft stuff'; instead, it's the cornerstone of talent retention which is already becoming a survival strategy

"Increased individual productivity must become the deliberate, voluntary choice of each employee," according to Francie Dalton, CMC, president of Dalton Alliances, Inc. "Those who hope to succeed in evoking such commitment from culturally, generationally, and behaviorally complex organizations must quickly master the art of resonant messaging." This, she says, is the "antithesis of a 'one-size-fits-all' style of managing, which puts leaders, indeed entire organizations, on the fast track to failure."

Widely known as a "tough love" C-level consultant, Dalton is frequently quoted in the media on leadership and performance, delivering hundreds of speeches and workshops on these topics for both associations and corporations worldwide.

In her latest book, "Versatility: A Prerequisite for Leadership Success," Dalton reveals how leaders can develop resonant messaging that neutralizes even the most challenging behaviors at any level in an organization. Peter Clayton of TotalPicture Radio, a popular career and leadership podcast, recently interviewed Dalton.

Clayton addressed newly reported talent shortages, which Dalton asserts are both real and imminent. "The U.S. is facing severe labor deficits, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Leaders must immediately prioritize retention efforts to prevent competitors from poaching talent.

"Leaders must realize that resonant messaging, borne of versatility, isn't 'soft stuff'; instead, it's the cornerstone of talent retention which is already becoming a survival strategy," says Dalton. Versatility provides specifics for optimizing interactions with each of the seven workplace behaviors both up-line and down-line. In the interview on TotalPicture Radio, Dalton defines them.

For example, "to be successful with Commanders," says Dalton, "understand they won't relax their need for control until you've demonstrated that you'll do the work the way they would do it." This means, of course, that one has to "anticipate what the Commander would want, and how the Commander would approach the work," she told Clayton. "Only then can they trust you enough to let go a little."

On the other end of the personality spectrum from Commanders are those Dalton refers to as "Drifters." Known for their creativity and innovative prowess, Drifters thrive in an informal environment and are particularly challenged by structure of any kind. "To manage Drifters successfully, delegate short assignments representing a variety of types of work. Be flexible, lighten up, and make work fun."

Between these two extremes Dalton identifies five more behavioral styles that may indeed be highly disruptive. "Attackers," for example, are caustic, hostile conquerors who, despite their rough edges, augment organizational success in part by taking on tasks that all others want to stay miles away from and by pointing out flaws in public documents and presentations prior to their release.

"Pleasers," while conflict-averse, bring a spirit of cooperative collegiality that warms and humanizes the workplace. "Performers," although self-serving politicos, are charismatic and ambassadorial. "Avoiders" may be safety-oriented and precedent-bound, but they're low-maintenance adherents to policy and procedure. "Analyticals," while micromanaging procrastinators, are also organizational sentinels, monitoring processes and compliance. When strengths and work assignments are properly aligned, each style is of unique and necessary value in the workplace. "The secret is to package your own behavior so that each style wants to help you," says Dalton.

An important take-away from both Dalton's book and her interview on TotalPicture Radio is that those who supervise others "... need to accept that they are complicit in evoking the very behaviors they most want pruned out of the workplace. That's why 'Versatility' was written - to deliver that 'Ah Ha!' to readers." Executives and managers she has coached have responded. "Once it's clear that editing our own behavior will positively impact others' behavior, enhancing both organizational and individual efficacy, productivity, and success, we become more willing to self-edit. "

Dalton's podcast interview is in the Leadership Channel of TotalPicture Radio, and includes a complete transcript. "Versatility: A Prerequisite for Leadership Success," is available on Amazon.com, and from your favorite bookseller

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