My late father grew up in southern Italy. I remember him singing Italian songs, particularly this one, O Sole Mio (My Sun). He loved the Three Tenors, but now there is a new generation or young talent with their own twist on this classic. Three Italian teen boys called Il Volo are enthralling a new generation of fans.

The same holds true for your leadership. The same old tune will not ring true with today’s worker. The new generation workforce requires powerful leadership in a different way. Unlike yesterday’s leaders, today’s leaders must exchange their power for employee performance.

A power exchange might sound counter-intuitive since power has traditionally been synonymous with leadership. However, a power exchange yields a highly energized team whether you lead any combination of full- or part-time employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers or other “free agents.”

In Power Exchange, I describe four simple “power converters”–practical steps that leaders can take to boost accountability and performance:

  1. Explain
  2. Ask
  3. Involve
  4. Appreciate.

Any leader of any team at any level can use these four power converters to lead today’s changing workforce. The result is an advantage for your team that is sustainable and hard for competitors to replicate.

Let’s see how a team leader, Todd, and an employee, Kristen, progress through the power converters:

  • Todd: “Hey, Kristen. I’m glad I bumped into you. I wanted to talk to you about something. We really need to improve our response time on special orders.” (Todd is explaining the game.)

  • Kristen: “OK, I understand.” (Kristen is simply observing.)
  • Todd: “You’re on the front lines with this issue. Why do you think our response time has increased lately?” (Todd is asking for input.)
  • Kristen: “Well, the new system migration has had its bumps. But I think the bigger issue is that we weren’t prepared for the recent promotional campaign to our VIP customers. Our call volume from VIPs has increased by 80% for special orders over the same period last quarter.” (Kristen is participating.)
  • Todd: “We need to discuss your ideas on how we can get back on track. Our response time has a direct impact on our bottom line, so I’ll give you whatever support you need to take care of this.” (Todd is involving Kristen.)
  • Kristen: “That sounds great. Let me send you some initial recommendations before our meeting. I’m confident we can identify a good solution and implement it quickly.” (Now Kristen is committed to solving the problem.)
  • Todd: (After the solution is implemented.) “That was a great job, Kristen. I really appreciate the way you took the initiative to explore solutions and make them happen.” (Todd is appreciating for Kristen and for her performance.)

Today’s leaders know they only get accountability from their employees by being accountable to them and their success. They understand that with today’s worker, accountability is a two-way street.

Here’s to building a brighter tomorrow with today’s worker!