Phil Eastwood, founder and director of Fiore Group Training, Inc answered a few questions for us recently to help explain the origins and reasons for creating SONAR Leadership.  As a workplace specialist in respectful workplace behavior, workplace violence prevention and workplace communication skills, Phil’s new program SONAR Leadership continues the theme providing training on leadership by influence.

Question: How to you see workplace leadership has changed in the past 30 years? 

 I think that leadership today is more transparent, with those in leadership roles understanding that their role is more to do with influence rather than “I’m the boss and therefore do as I say.” 
I also believe that leaders are found at every level of an organization, not just in the C Suite area. 
Leadership is more accessible today, with relevant leadership education opportunities not being limited to those who are tapped on the shoulder because they knew the right people.    

Question: How have the changes in social behaviors and attitudes impacted workplace morale? 

Today’s workplaces are made up of a variety of different generations. There are the Baby Boomers, Generation X’s and the Millennial’s. Each one of them responds to a different style of leadership and each one of them has very different expectations of what their workplace culture should look and feel like. Generation X’s look for honesty and transparency to be demonstrated within the workplace whereas Millennial’s look for engagement and also actively expect to be part of the decision-making process affecting their workplace. When either of these generations don’t feel fulfilled it negatively impacts their workplace experience.

Question: Why are we seeing so many ill prepared middle managers in a position of leadership?

I honestly feel that many people find themselves in positions of supervision, management and even leadership without having necessarily been exposed to relevant training which is appropriate for their positions. The people whom they are now responsible for will therefore have unmet expectations from those individuals as a result of the organization failing to properly prepare those persons moving into those supervisory, managerial and leadership roles. 

Question: How does influence differ from demands?

When we look at the difference between a leader that demands and a leader that influences, we see that the influencer understands and uses individual and team abilities and motivations to achieve a positive impact in the workplace. The influencer understands that it’s important to know the personal motivators of each of their employees as well as understanding the personal abilities of each of their employees and then matching that alongside the motivations and abilities of the other members of their team to draw the very best out of them. The influencer also understands that they need to provide an environment where each person can feel relevant, valuable and engaged.

Question: Is influence more soft skilled?  Does it have the same power to get bottom line results?

Influence is definitely about the soft skills because it focuses entirely in dealing with relationships. During the course of getting to understand employees the influencer will recognize the limits of someone’s capacity to perform to a certain level. It is at this point that the influencer is responsible for developing that individual further so that they can achieve more. There is a chance that the demanding leader may achieve those same bottom-line results but they will lose half the people in the organization along the way since today’s generations will not stand for a leader that does not respect them as individuals and they will just go and work somewhere else.

Question: Why the name SONAR Leadership?

SONAR is an acronym that stands for SOund Navigation And Ranging and is a technique that uses sound transmission to communicate with objects on or under the surface of the water. Often what is going on underneath the surface of the water is much more important than what can be seen on top of the surface. When we think back to the Titanic, it was not the top part of the iceberg that sank the unsinkable ship, it was the part below the surface of the water that did the damage. It is important therefore to find out what is going on beneath the surface and in order to do that, a sonar is used. There are two types of sonar. There is a passive sonar which is essentially listening for the sound made by vessels and an active sonar which is emitting pulses of sounds and then listening for the echoes as they come back. I developed the idea of sonar leadership to describe the very best type of leadership behaviour in which the leader is not just listening in their workplace but is actively communicating out in their workplace and then listening to the responses that they receive. 

Question: Why did you develop SONAR Leadership training?

I developed the SONAR Leadership program as a direct result of realizing that it was important for today’s leaders at every level of an organization to have an understanding of the importance of dialogue within their area of influence. By understanding what is really going on beneath the surface of the workplace, supervisors, managers and leaders will be able to develop those relationships with employees which enable them to hear their needs, understand their values as well as their motivations. It is only by doing that that trust will be built. Employees who work in High Trust Organizations tend to have the most fulfilling workplace experiences.

Question: Who will SONAR Leadership help and why?

The SONAR Leadership program will benefit those who are wanting to learn more about the essential practices required of today’s leaders and the types of behaviours that are vital in today’s workplaces. We talk about the importance of the Generous Leader, and how it is their responsibility to guide and mentor those employees that they are responsible for by being generous with their experience and time. We talk about the leader’s responsibility to coach others and discuss the ways in which that can be done. We also talk about the importance of the leader understanding who they are as a leader and how they show up in the workplace. One of the last things that we discuss with them is the issue of ethics and personal accountability and we provide them with an excellent decision-making tool to give them guidance in making what are sometimes tough decisions.

Question: Does SONAR have a relationship to your other courses?

SONAR Leadership builds further on the concept of our other relationshipbased training programs. It is therefore a natural fit in our suite of courses which reflect our mission for “Creating Incredibly Safer Workplaces.”

Question: Who will benefit the most from a course like this?

I would like to say that everyone that takes this program will benefit equally but I think honestly it is best suited for those participants who want to learn more about who they are as a leader and who have a desire to grow personally and develop professionally with the resulting positive impact in the lives of those that they are responsible for.

Learn more about SONAR Leadership
Register for SONAR Leadership in March 2016
Book an in-house training session for your organization or business