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3 Critical Things Every Leader Needs to Know About Evolution Management

Image result for Coaching“I can’t get them to report their numbers,” he said with some frustration. It wasn’t just the reporting of the numbers that was an issue for this sales manager, it was the productivity of the entire team that was down, as well. This manager was more than frustrated, he was border line discouraged. I often heard, during our one-on-one coaching sessions, there was not enough time to ensure the numbers were reported. He would say, “The staff was already overloaded.” He would express to me that his organization was, “Short staffed and it wasn’t the staffs fault” Delegation of his tasks were not an option because the current assignments that he delegated were not being completed. I told him that if he was going to be a great leader, then he must embrace evolution management.

Does the case above seem all too familiar? In the book, Servant-leadership Across Cultures: Harnessing the Strength of the World's Most Powerful Management Philosophy, the authors express the following about leadership; “Obviously, being rational and expressing emotions are both important elements of functioning in life” (Trompenaars & Voerman, 2010). Because leadership requires both emotion and controlled thinking, leaders often become conflicted when dealing in the complex situation encountered by mid-level management.

The manager in this story had already read my book, Leadership Coaching as a Strategy for Employee Development, and knew all about the Cycle of Resistance caused when a manager blames their staff or specific team members for issues. He wanted to remain positive. He did not want to show his emotions in a blaming or judgmental way. He wanted to build positive outcomes and this was a challenge. My question to this manager was, “When you have the conversation with your staff about the change in behavior you need them to make, are you having the conversation from a place of care or correction?” You can have the same conversation, say the exact same words as another leader, and get two very different outcomes. This type of situation is what I refer to as the leadership double-entendre. There are three critical things that keep leaders from effectively using emotion and controlled thinking to gain the results they want from their team.

1.      Using Authority Instead of Influence  

Without a full embracing of evolution management, you are controlling outcomes, utilizing authority. Authority has its place in business but is contrary to the leader's ability to lead. Most people believe, that to be a leader, you need authority. Authority is dangerous. Anyone can be a leader. Leaders do not need authority to influence. As a general rule if you are embracing authority then you are not truly leading. You are controlling. Evolution management is a management philosophy in which, managers and their team fully embrace the concept that their job is to help the company evolve into a strong more efficient and successful enterprise.

Evolution management embraces input from each employee and gives them ownership of their role. Evolution management can be defined in three distinctive pillars and they are adaption, improvement, and growth.  Leaders have to adapt to win, no matter the environment or company culture. Companies that are unwavering in old marketing, forms, policies, procedures, and processes are unwilling to adapt. This “set in stone attitude” is a sure path to resistance with your staff.  There is an internal need in every human to be of value to others. Your unwillingness to be flexible reminds people of your position of authority but not your leadership. True leaders listen to feedback and adapt. “Unlike [a] transactional processes, in which the employee, doing well, is rewarded for his or her efforts after the fact, here leaders take the initiative. First creating the conditions in which people love to work and then gaining the benefit of increased employee effort that is the reciprocal response to a great place to work that brings out the best in people” (Pendleton & Furnham, 2012). This willingness of the leader to allow the employee to make changes, have more authority, engages the employee in the improvement process. Look for what that employee could improve in their current role and sing their praises.

Once the employee is engaged in the improvement of the “business” they will be generally engaged in the role. You goal as a leader is not to solve the challenges for them but coach them in their endeavors to improve. With strong engagement leaders will inevitably see growth.

2.      Using Positive Emotions Instead of Negative Emotions

It is extremely important that leaders master negative emotions. It is often a leadership challenge with the leader only embraces positive emptions. Understanding your team’s negative emotions and delivering negative emotion is required of leaders. Business is not always rainbows and sunshine. You cannot burry your head to the reality of the situation. The use of a negative emotion can transform a person, team, or organization. “With age and maturation, emotions begin to direct a person’s attention to important changes” (Adams, 2010). As a leader the evolution of your emotions from negative to positive in any situation is the solution to productivity with your team. Because humans are emotional creatures this emotion is important in connecting with your team.

I often adapt situations that I feel frustration and evolve the emotion to fascination. The important part of your goal as a leader is to recognize your emotions. Your staff has to recognize the evolution of emotion, as well. Team members will adapt right along with you.  Let that fascination evolve into improvement for the business. Engage your team in the current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the situation.

Get really fascinated with the situation. Negativity defines a moment in time that it’s time to change something. Your team seeing you pour your heart and soul into managing emotions will garner you a lot of respect. Teaching your team what you know about negativity now will speed this process up. In our case study above the manager was encouraged to ask his team for solutions to his “challenges!” Great things can happen when the leader starts from the emption of disgust. Think about it, the person who is overweight that say, “I had it!” This person changes. They adapt, improve, and grow in their goal to lose weight.


3.      Using Mr. Excuse Instead of Mr. Resourceful  

Everyone has in their mind two subconscious voices Mr. Excuse and Mr. Resourceful. Mr. Excuse often delivers excuses no matter the situation. Theses excuses are “reasons,” why growth can’t happen. Mr. Excuse is the voice that often says, “We don’t have the time, money, energy, skill, or any number of other excuses.” Mr. Excuse is known for saying, “I’m too old, young, smart, dumb, skinny, fat, lazy etch.” On the other hand, Mr. Resourceful is looking at every situation for the advantage in the situation. Mr. Resourceful is known for making comments like, “We all have the same 24 hours in a day and clearly there are other companies and leaders who can, I’ll find a way.” Mr. Resourceful draws to your consciousness all the resources you have at your disposal and other resources that you did not know were available. This is the creativity that is deep within you. These two men are governed by your personal and company values. “The objectives of this leadership construct are to encourage high organizational performance and, equally, self-led followers” Fairholm & Fairholm, 2009).  Evolution management really picks up growth in an organization once the team understands Mr. Excuse and Mr. Resourceful. When an organization can limit Mr. Excuse and grow Mr. Resourceful the organization grows and becomes extremely profitably and productive.

In our case study, there were a number of factors keeping this manager from reaching his organizational and personal goals. To begin with, he was trying to get his staff to do things utilizing authority instead of influence. Second, he was trying to start with positive emotions when truly negative emotions needed to be addressed. Lastly, Mr. Excuse was working strong in his team’s mind and he needed Mr. Resourceful working hard for him. Leaders who can embrace influence, understand the important negative emotions, and engage Mr. Resourceful every day is a practitioner of Evolution Management.


Adams, T. H. (2010). The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide : Proven Paths for Leaders and Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Fairholm, M. R., & Fairholm, G. W. (2009). Understanding Leadership Perspectives : Theoretical and Practical Approaches. New York: Springer.

Trompenaars, A., & Voerman, E. (2010). Servant-leadership Across Cultures : Harnessing the Strength of the World's Most Powerful Management Philosophy. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Nathan Bush, MBA, NALP is the leadership and influence expert for real estate professionals.  He is the Accounts Receivable, Accounting Manager for Affinity Property Group and a licensed Missouri Realtor. Nathan’s book Leadership Coaching as a Strategy for Employee Development serves real estate professionals and property managers to break the “Cycle of Resistance” facing their organization. For more information visit: and download his book for free.


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