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Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development by Dan McCarthy
Updated: 2 hours 25 min ago

5 Traits Every Leader Should Have to Achieve Hero Leadership

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Jeffrey Hayzlett:
What’s leadership? What makes for an effective leader? The answers to both these questions are relative to every organization -- big or small. There is no one set of rules that makes for an effective leader, but leadership encompasses a slew of characteristics and different people embody different sets of traits. The fact of the matter is, some people become good leaders and others don’t.  
For me, a good leader isn’t someone who just tells others what to do. It’s not someone who wields power just because they are the boss. A good leader is someone who guides and mentors a team, who offers counsel, looks to foster a good working environment and creates a culture that’s sustainable.
Natural born leaders have the ability to motivate and communicate better than other members of the team. I believe these two traits are the two most critical because if you can’t motivate your team or can’t communicate your ideas, there won’t be anyone following you. Therefore, who exactly are you leading?
My latest book, “The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures” examines key pillars on how to become a better leader by creating a winning culture, achieving operational excellence – all without dismissing the power of profit. It was Henry Ford who said, “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” Making money and creating a winning culture is something every leader should strive for. Why not have the best of both worlds?
Here are 5 traits every successful leader should have:
1. Personality.You have to show your employees that you have a personality – whether it’s humor or being charismatic, employees need to relate to you at some level. Above all, you must be genuine. That’s something that you shouldn’t have to fake – ever. I believe in being yourself, always! My attitude is about owning who I am and everything I do: Sell me, sell the company; sell the company, sell me. My style of leadership is fearless, bold and relentless. To me, that says, “I own who I am!” Don’t be afraid to own everything about your leadership – the good, the bad and the ugly.
2. Be persuasive.Being persuasive doesn’t entirely mean getting people to do what you want. It means that as a leader, you are constantly aware of the differences that exist at every rung of the ladder – from your fellow executives, to other types of company leaders, to the admin team. The message you’re trying to convey must reach everyone without any room for misinterpretation. At every turn, you need to think about who your audience is. That’s what a good leader does. They communicate succinctly and effectively, leaving little to no wiggle room for miscommunication or misinterpretation. An effective communicator gets everyone to row in the same direction and therefore is the catalyst that moves the needle forward.
3. Honesty and trustworthy. Honesty and trustworthiness are the pillars of any good leader (and human being). If your employees and colleagues can’t (or don’t) trust you, you have a huge problem. Not to mention, no one wants to do business with you. People will follow those who they trust, and they’ll appreciate your candor and openness. They may not like it, but they’ll appreciate it. A good leader also gives credit to their team. Let them know they are appreciated, trusted, and that you have their backs generates a greater level of trust and loyalty; more so than any so-called leader who is constantly bragging about “their” accomplishments.
4. Good listener.A great leader is constantly engaged with their peers can rally a group of followers much faster than one who hides in the corner office. If you fail that simple, yet somewhat overlooked, task you’re putting your business in danger. It’s as simple as that.
Listen to your employees as they’re typically most aware of the issues taking place within your company and also your first line of defense. Listen to your consumers as they may have sound advice on how to improve your product or service. Creating that level of trust and keeping the lines of communications open are what’s needed to achieve a winning culture, which leads to operational excellence.
5. Risk-taker.Taking risks is part of being in business. And for most of us, no one will die if we take a risk and make a mistake.
Everyone in my company has heard me say “no one will die” in numerous occasions. Most of us aren’t leading a team of surgeons and no one is going to die from taking a risk in business. Lose some money? Maybe. One thing’s for sure, you won’t get anywhere without taking a risk or two.
Taking risks isn’t about being irresponsible, reckless or careless. It’s about constantly taking the temperature of your business to make sure it still has a pulse. It’s about taking risks that align with the changing times and your company’s values. You will make mistakes, that’s part of life. However, if as a leader you’re not willing to take any risks, you can’t expect your employees to take them for you. If you take risks, they’ll try to emulate that and help move the company forward. You set the tone.
Good leaders, lead. They think big, they come up with great ideas, they fail, they counsel, mentor, and are part of the team. If you think being a leader is finally making it into the c-suite or the corner office, you have the wrong perception of what being a leader is all about. Sure, the corner office and the c-suite look good on a resume and might impress a few of your friends, but the fact remains that you spend more time at the office with your team, than you do with your own family. It might be best to have your team on your corner, rather than fighting you at every turn.

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a primetime television host of C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett and Executive Perspectives on C-Suite TV, and business podcast host of All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett on C-Suite Radio. He is a global business celebrity, speaker, best-selling author, and Chairman and CEO of C-Suite Network, home of the world’s most trusted network of C-Suite leaders. Hayzlett is a well-traveled public speaker, former Fortune 100 CMO, and author of four best-selling business books: Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless, Running the Gauntlet, The Mirror Test and The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organizations and Create Winning Cultures. Hayzlett is one of the most compelling figures in business today and an inductee into the National Speakers Association’s Speaker Hall of Fame.
Categories: Blogs

Leadership Development Goals for 2019

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 06:00

One of my most read series of posts is my somewhat yearly list of New Year’s development goals for leaders. I don’t go back and check previous years, so there may be duplicates, as there should be. Things like “striving to be a better listener” come up each year as I work with leaders from around the world.
In my coaching practice, I usually start with a 360-degree assessment and use that as to help leaders identify and choose their development goals. That’s the ideal way, especially for behavioral goals, where leaders usually are not aware of how they are coming across to those around them (“blind spots”) and are feedback starved.
However, there do seem to be leadership gaps that come up more frequently than others, and that’s what I base my yearly lists on.
If you can get feedback from others, good for you (see #2)! Even without doing a more formal diagnosis, it’s a safe bet that a few of the development goals listed below will help you become a better leader.  
Note that some may sound like just common sense and easy, but they are anything but. Changing habits is hard work, so I’d suggest starting with even one, and then working at it for at least 3 months, then move on to another.
I’ve included links to a few of my favorite articles, books and videos. For full disclosure, I do get a small cut of any of the books you purchase on Amazon (thank-you!), but they are all books that I’d highly recommend.
1. Define my personal leadership vision:- Google “what is leadership”, “leadership”, “qualities of a leader”, etc. and read at least 6 articles.- Read at least one good leadership book.- Develop my own list of the characteristics that define the leader I want to become. - Refine the list into a single paragraph, share it with others, and refine further.- Start working on becoming that leader!
2.  Get more feedback:·         -Take a formal 360 leadership assessment.·         - Find other ways to get informal feedback on a regular basis.·         - When I get feedback, I’ll keep my mouth shut and say “thank-you”.
3. Ask more questions and listen more (OK, I cheated, this is two related goals…):·         - Read “Leading with Questions”, by James Marquardt and put the practices to use.·       -   Read Why Managers Don’t Listen (Poor Listener Syndrome): and the Cures!
4. Commit to “letting go” (and be less of a micromanager):·         - Take the 20 question micromanager test·        -  Watch Dan Pink’s Ted Talk “The Puzzle of Motivation”·         - Meet with each of my direct reports and ask (questions from Marshall Goldsmith):1.    “Are there areas of your work where I am too involved?”2.    “Are there areas of your work where I am not involved enough?”
5. Work more collaboratively with my peers:·         - Read Would Your Peers Vote for You?·        -  Meet with each peer to learn more about their goals, share my goals, and ask how we can work together to help each other achieve our goals.
6. Interview three leadership “role models”:·         - Pick one aspect of leadership I want to get better at.·        -  Identify three people I know who I think are good at it.·         - Meet with all three to learn what they do and how they do it.·         - Send thank-you notes. (-:
7. Become a better coach to my employees:·        -  Learn about manager coaching (book, course, etc.).·         - See #3 “asking more questions and listening”.·         - Begin helping my employees solve their own problems (instead of me providing the answer).·        -  Work with each employee to create an individual development plan.
8. Be more proactive and willing to tackle conflict:·         - Read “Crucial Conversations”, by Patterson, et.·       -   Select at least one tough conversation that I’ve been avoiding and apply the skills from the book.
9. Become more strategic:- Improve my ability to see the big picture and take a longer range, broader business perspective.- Learn to step back from the day-to-day tactical details of my business and focus on the “why”, not just the “what” and “how.”- Learn to speak the “language” of strategy and apply these concepts to leading my organization. - Read HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategyand apply a strategic framework to my work.

Want some help with any of these? For you or for your organization’s leaders? Contact me (dan@greatleadershipbydan.com) to discuss doing a 360 degree leadership assessment, leadership coaching, consulting or training.
Categories: Blogs

Elon Musk, Joking Around is Serious Business!

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 06:00

Guest post by Jamie Anderson and Gabor George:
Truly creative leaders tap ideas from all ranks, and are typically skillful at fostering innovation. They are open to diverse perspectives, and willing to take risks. These leadership characteristics can be further enhanced by humor. In the words of IDEO founder and CEO Dave Kelly, “If you go into a culture and there's a bunch of stiffs going around, I can guarantee they're not likely to invent anything.”

There’s an entire branch of social science that studies the psychological and physiological effects of humor and laughter on the brain and the immune system— it’s called gelotology. Discoveries in this field have demonstrated that humor, laughter and fun release physical and cognitive tension, which leads to mental flexibility—a key component of creativity, ideation, and problem solving. Gelotology can also explain why many frontline business leaders are not just leveraging humor, but are also investing in creating playful and fun work environments.

Up until recently Elon Musk’s eccentricity and wacky sense of humor have been seen by most as a reflection of his genius, being a maverick innovator and business leader. His sense of humour has often been on display. For example, when asked how to warm Mars up to make it hospitable for humans he answered: “The fast way is to drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles.” And on how he'd rather die: “I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.” When asked if he was a Martian alien, “The rumour that I'm building a spaceship to get back to my home planet Mars is totally untrue.”

Musk had even considered taking merriment at his car plants to new heights (no pun intended), declaring in one interview “I’m actually wondering about putting in a roller coaster — like a functional roller coaster at the factory in Fremont. You’d get in, and it would take you around [the] factory but also up and down. Who else has a roller coaster? … It would probably be really expensive, but I like the idea of it.”

In February 2018, Musk launched the now-famous red Tesla Roadster sports car into space, atop the first SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Complete with a manikin wearing a spacesuit in the driver’s seat, the car had a GPS Navigation system that displayed the message “Don’t Panic.” After launching the Tesla Roadster into space Musk declared: “It’s just going to be out there in space for maybe millions or billions of years. Maybe discovered by some future alien race thinking what the heck, what were these guys doing? Did they worship this car? Why do they have a little car in the car? And that’ll really confuse them.”

But while certain eccentricities of a leader are idiosyncratic part of their personality, we view humor as a leadership skill that can be studied, cultivated, and leveraged to drive organizational excellence. To provide guidance for this process, we created the Stand-Up Strategist 4C/S Framework (see table below), which specifies four major organizational conditions or outcomes enabled by humor, and four styles of humor at the disposal of leaders.
Unfortunately for Mr. Musk, his seemingly intrinsic style is that of strong humor, which has the most limited application and needs the most mastery to navigate. Strong humor most often entails sarcasm or cynicism and is used by a leader as put-down, as a signal of dominance or to encourage conformity to group behavioral norms. It is the comic style mostly associated with generating negative emotions, and therefore the one with the most limited application in organizations.

An illustration of Musk using strong humor was a comment reportedly made in Tesla’s early days, in response to an employee complaining about working too hard: “I would tell those people they will get to see their families a lot when we go bankrupt.” Although Musk’s misuse of humor did not become a major point of friction in the past, things became different when the performance of his company started to be questioned. Tesla shares crashed 6% and two of its senior executives quit in early September this year, just hours after Musk sparked concern by cracking sarcastic jokes and smoking marijuana on a live web show. Musk’s antics occurred at a time when Tesla’s investors were becoming increasingly concerned over its finances and ability to build cars at scale.

Leaders need to be especially tactful when using humor as a tool to address stress, anxiety and organizational crises. And while other styles of humor may be effective, strong humor must be avoided altogether for this purpose. During a difficult period for the company, the then CEO of Yahoo! Marissa Mayer was widely condemned for joking at an employee gathering: “I’m not here to announce lay-offs (pause)…this week.”

Similarly, Musk’s sardonic tweets, musings about sleeping on the floor at Tesla and wise cracks about becoming chronically sleep deprived have not exactly delighted his shareholders, and prompted several Wall Street analysts to call for the company to appoint a no-nonsense deputy to prop-up Tesla’s operations and standing with investors.

The lesson from Mr. Musk’s ordeal is not to avoid humor. Rather, it is to understand its proper application, and to use it appropriately and effectively, like any other important leadership skill. We see more and more leaders harnessing the power of humor to unleash the creative potential of their staff, connect emotionally with customers, and lay the seed for new, future-shaping, strategic directions.

After all, joking around is serious business.

The Stand-Up Strategist 4 C/S Framework:For more about the Stand-Up Strategist Platform, please see: https://www.standupstrategist.com.
Jamie Anderson is Professor of Strategic Management at Antwerp Management School, and Visiting Professor at INSEAD. He has been named a “management guru” in the Financial Times, and included on Business Strategy Review’s list of the world’s “top 25 management thinkers”. www.jamieandersononline.com. Gabor George Burt is creator of the Slingshot Platform, enabling organizations to overstep perceived limitations, re-imagine market boundaries, and achieve sustained relevance. www.gaborgeorgeburt.com.
Categories: Blogs

8 Steps to Jumpstarting a Truth-telling Workplace Culture

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 06:00

Guest post from Jim Haudan and Rich Behrens:
What do a water cooler, bathroom, and hallway all have in common?
These are three places in the workplace where people feel “safe” to tell the truth.
Many leaders believe that their people feel safe in telling them what they think and feel. But this is a misconception—or a blind spot, as we call it in our book, What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back
Consider these stats: the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer shows that people’s trust of their CEO, and CEOs in general, is at an all-time low. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said CEOs are somewhat, or not at all, credible. That is 12 points lower than the previous year’s results. Clearly, the trend of not being candid with higher-ups is becoming worse, rather than better.
Why? People don’t feel safe telling the truth because they don’t think it is smart or safe to do so. Many leaders believe that to be effective and successful, they need to be smarter than the next guy, fight for their area of the business, and not show vulnerability. This mentality creates a lack of trust, collaboration, and common ownership for a greater goal—and ultimately greatly slows down execution speed.
We can’t overstate the impact that truth telling can have on the engagement, optimism, and hope people feel about their organization and their team. Truth telling makes all the difference if you want your teams to successfully work together.
So, how can leaders tell if their people feel safe telling the truth? Try this quick 45-minute activity. We call it “Walls of Greatness and Reality,” and the activity begins with a discussion of what we are good at, and then moves to what we are not so good at.
Follow the steps below to complete the activity:
1    1. Give each team member three or four large sticky notes. Ask each of the members to write down one item per note that is great about the team, and how it has worked together and executed in the past 12 months.
2.    Have the team members place each of these on an open wall space and start to “affinity-group” them. Line up the various notes that fit under the same theme. You should end up with numerous vertical rows of key themes.
3.    Have team members alternate reading all the notes aloud, providing any commentary they see fit. At the end, ask the group for the story that describes what the team is great at. Capture the “Wall of Greatness” story on a flipchart.
4.    Repeat the activity by giving everyone another three or four large sticky notes and ask each person to write down where “we are creatively dissatisfied with the current state of our business”, related to marketplace, strategy, operating model, culture, or behaviors.
5.    Place these notes on a different space on the wall. Repeat the activity of affinity-grouping the notes and reading the vertical columns aloud, with the team standing in front of the wall.
6.    Ask the team members to put a check mark by the three issues they each believe are most relevant and represent the greatest opportunity for the team.
7.    Identify the two or three key themes that emerge from the group.
8.    Ask the following questions:a.    Why do you think these realities exist? b.    How have we helped create these realities? c.    How have we personally benefited from these realities? d.    What can we do to make sure our Wall of Reality looks different six months from now?
This activity can give leaders quick insight into how comfortable their teams are in talking about difficult issues, while jumpstarting the truth-telling culture.
Establishing a culture of truth telling is hard. It requires leaders to be vulnerable and to be open to hearing things they may not want to hear. But truth is a critical blind spot that can create an environment of poor decision making mixed with a significant lack of trust and disengagement in your organization.
If leaders don’t make the effort to allow truth to guide teams, the true problems of an organization and the best ideas of employees will remain buried in the hearts and minds of their people.
So, leaders: let your employees speak candidly and you will have an organization that soars.
Jim Haudan is Co-Founder and Chairman of Root Inc., the organizational change expert on helping companies create leadership alignment, execute strategies and change successfully, build employee engagement, and transform businesses. Rich Berens is CEO and Chief Client Fanatic of Root Inc., and has helped align leaders at Global 2000 organizations to drive strategic and cultural change at scale. Jim and Rich are authors of What Are Your Blind Spots? Conquering the 5 Misconceptions that Hold Leaders Back, published by Berrett-Koehler and released in October 2018.
Categories: Blogs

3 Moving-Target Issues Every Leader Must Be Following

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 06:00
Guest post from Alexandra Levit:


As a futurist, it’s my job to track the evolution of the 21st century organization, and as of late
we’ve come upon new challenges in reputation management, intellectual property, and digital transformation and disruption. Your challenge as a leader? Strive to fit these pieces together as the realities of our future workforce become ever more salient.
Reputation Management
As we approach 2030, the importance of online reputation will only increase. Now, reputation management exercises are largely undertaken in response to a crisis, once damaging information has gone viral. In the next decade, though, most organizations will become more proactive. Artificial intelligence and tracking software will help companies crack down on fake reviews and employment experiences, counteract negative commentaries with positive ones, and spot and address problematic situations more quickly.
By the same token, analytics advances will amplify consumer power, as reviews will be quantified to produce a master rating that can change by the second. Applying for a new job? Your phone might flash a warning that a company has dropped below the average in terms of employee desirability. You might decide to eschew your choice of restaurant when you suddenly receive an alert about health department citations. In other words, we will live in a Rateocracy.
To operate effectively in this climate, planning and investment is essential. Leaders must hire staff with specific oversight and responsibility for online reputation management. They must establish protocols for generating positive reviews and responding to negative ones. Using the most sophisticated tools available, reputation teams will track social media channels and other relevant forums to understand current sentiment about their organization, their competitors and their industry.
Intellectual Property
According to futurist Thomas Frey, author of Epiphany Z: Eight radical visions for transforming your future, future intellectual property (IP) issues will be focused on ownership, privacy and freedoms as new technologies will fit poorly into the existing legal frameworks.
Potential (and thorny) IP issues include: Will companies have the right to automatically control and use data that comes in from employees while they are at work? How can organizations prevent sensor networks from being hacked, monitored or stolen by outside forces? When the seamless interface of Internet of Things devices allows companies to search and learn all kinds of details about their customers and employees, who owns this information?
Besides answering these complex questions, which can’t happen overnight or in a vacuum, there are steps you can take to protect current and future IP that’s specific to your organization: Emphasize data security and protection, educating your employees and stakeholders about how proprietary data should be stored and shared. Use a single technology platform for all your IP so it’s easier to manage and update, and so you can eliminate redundancies. And finally, seek to grow your IP by developing employee skills and soliciting feedback from customers.

Digital Transformation and Disruption
Technology’s impact on the workplace has been discussed ad nauseum. However, most overlook how a company gets from here to there. That path is known as digital transformation, or the process of converting all or most of an organization’s operations to online or otherwise computerized mediums.
In most companies, total digital transformation is a long and at least somewhat disruptive process. Some colleagues will inevitably fight against change in favor of the status quo, and future-minded leaders require strategies to bring them into the fold.
Before you attempt to persuade colleagues to jump right into a specific initiative, provide a safe space to discuss disruption in general. Ask questions like: What technology-based disruptions are you seeing in your business? What concerns you about implementing new technologies for existing processes?
Go out of your way to attend forward-thinking industry events. The sessions and conversations you and your colleagues will have at conferences centered on digital transformation and disruption will take your thinking to another level. Encourage your colleagues and employees to see for themselves what digital transformation and disruption mean and what they can do for growth and profit.
Sometimes an internal leader can repeat the same message dozens of times, but no one really hears it until it comes from the mouth of an external consultant who is perceived as an expert. When it comes to embracing disruption, you might make greater headway by bringing on a single or team of advisers who can offer an objective picture of your organization’s digital transformation status compared to the larger market and can provide direction and next steps.
Alexandra Levit is the author of the new book Humanity Works: Merging Technologies and People for the Workforce of the Future (Kogan Page). A partner at People Results, she helps Fortune 500 and government organizations and their leaders prepare for the future of work through proprietary research, consulting, and program development. For more information, please visit  www.koganpage.com/humanityworks
Categories: Blogs

6 Reasons You’re Not Thinking Clearly

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Karen Martin:
Ambiguity has become the status quo in most of our organizations. And, it’s the enemy to efficiency, productivity, and a healthy bottom line.
Achieving clarity is the only way to defeat this enemy. But getting clear on everything, from why your organization exists and what its priorities are, to how people must operate based on their clearly defined role, requires time and effort.
Considering that it can take two people half a day to get clear on a question as trivial as what to eat for dinner, it’s no wonder that many feel that the complexity of the organizational environment makes clarity seem impossible. In addition to our current cluttered environment, habits and our psychological makeup can stand in the way of clear thinking.
Here are six traps to watch out for:
You’re in the dark. The first step in changing any habit is recognizing that you have it. This is harder than it seems with clarity since it lies in that middle of what’s being communicated and what’s being received. I might think an idea is perfectly clear but fail to get it across to you. You, in turn, may think you understand something but don’t. Communication and repeating back your understanding is key.
You lack curiosity. “Why?” is the most frequent question children ask and reflects our innate desire to know. But as we grow up, our curiosity is drummed out. This is a shame. Curiosity pushes us to try things people say we can’t accomplish or to differentiate between two options. Fortunately, organizations are filled with people with dormant curiosity waiting to be sparked. With a bit of coaxing and the cultivation of a welcoming culture, they can reinvigorate this curiosity where questions are both encouraged and rewarded.
You think you know it all. Many leaders think they know, but they don’t, and they aren’t going to ask. Their hubris gets in the way and keeps them from seeing the full picture. Fortunately, mindsets are malleable. People can overcome their hubris and adopt a growth mindset with reflection, coaching, and some work on the self. They can choose to let go of their belief that they know everything and start asking more curiosity-driven questions of more people.
You’re biased. Biases serve as filters for the brain. They sift through the thousands of pieces of information and let through only the ones they deem important. Biased decisions sometimes work out okay but leaders should beware of relying on their “instincts.” That’s because biases are unreliable by definition. My biases may be different from yours, and yours different from someone else. We are not all steering in the same direction if bias is driving us.
You pack the plate too full. Organizations give people at all levels far more to do on a given day than they can reasonably achieve. People often feel like they don’t have the time to stop, assess, and consider whether the actions they take by rote are the right ones. Few of us are in control of our time but those who are, or who can influence how time is spent by others, should invest in giving people a percentage of their time for assessments and problem solving.
You’re afraid. All of the psychological and behavioral obstacles to clarity share a common cause: fear. Fear comes in many forms and has many roots. Yet in most cases the fear people feel about seeking clarity in the workplace is based on incomplete thinking. The problem you are avoiding exists whether you seek clarity on it or not. Realize that the longer you wait, the worse the consequences of that problem can become—and the harder to fix.  Achieving clarity is hard work—but it can be liberating, productive, efficient—and lucrative.

Karen Martin, president of the global consulting firm TKMG, Inc., is a leading authority on business performance and Lean management. Her latest book, Clarity First, is her most provocative to date and diagnoses the ubiquitous business management and leadership problem―the lack of clarity―and outlines specific actions to dramatically improve organizational performance. 
Categories: Blogs

How to Build Trust with Your Employees

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 12:24

Guest post by Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss:

“I didn’t tell the complete truth, and our relationship hasn’t been the same since.”

This may sound like the confession of a person with marital issues, or the breakdown in a long-term friendship. But it’s a quote from a CEO client of ours. Someone who learned the hard way about the importance of maintaining trust between the C-suite and front-line employees.

It’s a critical lesson we can all absorb through his experience: Communication is key to any good relationship. And just as you can erode trust with a miscommunication, you can rebuild it with honest, clear communication. Here are three ways to do it.

Create a steady drumbeat of communication.

Timing is everything, as they say. Create, publish and stick to a monthly or quarterly schedule of communication, so employees know what to expect, and when to expect it. Organizations that communicate on an ad-hoc basis are creating a vacuum of information – and employees will fill those gaps with misinformation and rumors.

Major announcements and breaking news can’t wait for the next meeting or newsletter, of course. So, it’s OK to go off-schedule when you must. Just make sure employees always hear about important company news from the company itself – before getting a Google alert or seeing it on Eyewitness News.
Discuss, discuss, discuss. 
You naturally build trust with employees when they have opportunities to ask questions, state their opinions and drive for more clarity in the information they receive. Online discussion – for example, allowing employees to comment on your company’s intranet news stories – is a good first step. But nothing will demonstrate your commitment to authentic, honest discussion than a live town hall or an “Ask Me Anything” session for employees.

Let’s be honest: It’s a risk to put an open mic in the hand of an unscreened and potentially upset employee. But company leaders who demonstrate a high degree of trust in their employees will find that trust returned more often than leaders who favor heavily filtered and overly controlled communication.

Make time for informal communication.

Unscheduled and informal chats help break down walls between leaders and employees. It may sound like the simplest of tactics, but it’s often the most difficult for executives to do well.

Some leaders tout an “open-door policy,” not realizing that few entry-level employees would feel comfortable walking into an executive’s office. Instead, challenge yourself to get out of your office and out of meetings at least once a day. Walk the halls. Eat lunch in the cafeteria. Get coffee in the breakroom. This is your chance to not only have informal conversations with employees, but to literally be seen as an approachable, accessible leader.

If you have a distributed workforce across many locations or time zones, consider online options. Employees connect on a different level with leaders who jump into internal social media discussions to comment and answer questions. You also may want to hold regular “virtual town halls” where employees and leaders can chat online about the company. And don’t discourage personal questions (not too personal, of course). Learning about a leader’s previous jobs or her favorite movie goes a long way to creating a relationship between leaders and employees, and establishing trust in the workplace. 
Jennifer Rock and Michael Voss own a communications agency, ROCKdotVOSS.com, specializing in executive and employee communication. Their workplace novels – B.S., Incorporated and Operation Clusterpuck – are funny, heartfelt stories that show corporate leaders what NOT to do.
Categories: Blogs

Leadership and Work Teams

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 09:47

Guest post from Simon Mac Rory:
If you work in an organization today as a leader you will lead a team. 90% of what we do in an organization happens through collaborative effort, making the team the most important production unit.
For two years (2016 and 2017) Deloitte’s Global Human Capital trends survey has positioned organizational redesign as the number one concern for businesses. In 2016 they termed this the ‘Rise of Teams’ and 2017 ‘The Organization of the Future – Arriving Now’. Bottom line, organizations are seeking to reconstitute themselves as a network of teams, ditching the traditional hierarchy. This makes teamwork even more crucial to overall success or failure for the organization.
The rhetoric surrounding this critical aspect of work tends to indicate that organizations and senior leaders are champions of teamwork and that they have the team ‘nut’ cracked - the reality however, points to a very different scenario. 
It is estimated that only 10% of teams can truly be deemed high performing, 40% are dysfunctional and detrimental to team members experience. The balance of 50% can at best be described as performing marginally and never producing more than incremental results. For me, the success and effectiveness of any team starts and ends with the leader. In my experience of working with and coaching work teams, the best, most effective teams always seem to have the best and most effective leaders.  If this premise and the figures above are accepted it would suggest that only 10% of team leaders are high performing, enabling their teams, whilst 40% of leaders are failing in their leadership tasks, whilst the remaining 50% are barely holding in there!
Most of the trouble for the struggling team leader starts with the belief that teams are there to support their leader.  
Nothing could be further from the truth and the converse is the needed reality – leaders are there to support their teams. This is what is referred to as the inverted hierarchy. Leaders are at the bottom of the pyramid supporting those in the team above them and not the other way around. This is a ‘get over it already’ moment. As a team leader the only means you have to success is in the success of your team. The more successful they are, the more success for you. Your job is to get all the barriers to team performance out of the way. You ensure that the team has what it needs, and you go to bat for the team always. Your job is to deliver strategy and structure for the team and it is the team that delivers output, quality and customer satisfaction. The alternative is that you as leader do everything, believe that you have all the answers and the rest of the team become your audience whilst you perform.
Jack Welsh famously said “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others”.  Great team leaders intuitively recognize this. This means being prepared to delegate, to empower and then to coach and support as necessary. It also means that as a leader you must recognize that the team is comprised of individuals and that each has separate, unique needs and operate at differing levels of ability and confidence. Therefore, there is a need for a leader to have flexibility in leadership style to develop the most appropriate overall style for the team, adjusting it to meet the needs of individual team members. Great team leadership is about creating the confidence in your team members to follow you by anticipating their needs and ensuring that all that can be done to enable each member of the team is done - so they can deliver.
An effective team leader will understand this requirement for flexibility, evaluating their performance, examining not only their leadership style but the appropriateness of that style. They must have the confidence to continually ask themselves and the team, “Is there anything I can do to improve my leadership of this team?”
Sounds complicated? Not really. Adopt the inverted hierarchy and see yourself at the bottom of the pyramid supporting the team members and their performance and not the other way around.
Traditional versus inverted hierarchy


With such a disposition, the management of coaching, performance, goals, communications, up- skilling, planning and evaluation becomes the natural task of the leader. This in turn will lead to a natural adoption of the appropriate style of leadership for the team and its individual team members, driving overall performance. Finding that balance for the team overall and meeting the individual needs of members is a key task of team leadership. Remember it is not the team leader’s job to do all the team tasks, rather it is to enable and support the team members to deliver.
Are you leading your team with the appropriate style? If your team has any characteristics of the left-hand column you may need to change your leadership style.
Teams without appropriate leadership   Teams with appropriate leadership Lack or have misplaced confidence
Display confidence
Constantly seek direction
Are self-managing
Avoid decision making
Have a clear focus
Are fearful of mistakes
Have an appropriate sense of ownership
Have tenuous loyalty at best
Have loyalty to the team leader
Avoid extra effort
Go the extra mile when required
Keep quiet about bad news
Enjoy high levels of trust and openness
Find it difficult to be motivated
Tend to be more motivated
Have a sense of “flight or fight” and the accompanying stress levels
Experience high morale – will want to belong to the team
Feel frustrated
Feel valued as individuals and as a team
Are constantly threatened by attrition
Have high retention
Tend to have the few carry the many
Have an equitable division of labour
Allow poor performers to ‘get away with it’ leading to a sense of unfairness
Do not carry poor performers
Are less effective and struggle to deliver success
Are more effective and more successful


Simon Mac Roryis a team development specialist. He works with senior leaders to help them discover that edge to become truly high performing. He founded The ODD Company www.theoddcompany.iein 2011 to deliver TDP (a cloud-based team development tool and methodology) to the international markets. Simon operates from London with a Dublin-based support office. He received his doctoral degree for his work on the application of generic frameworks in organization development and is a visiting research fellow at NBS. His new book is “Wake up and smell the coffee – the imperative of teams” http://wakeupandsmellthecoffeebookproject.com/.
Categories: Blogs

New Leadership for a Changing Workforce

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Warren Wright:
If you’re hiring and leading a team of freshly-minted college graduates, you may be noticing some differences in their behavior and preferences compared to previous graduates. That’s because they’re from a new generation—we are calling them Second-Wave Millennials(Second-Wavers). The fact is, they still share many of the same traits as their older counterparts (First-Wave Millennials)—raised to feel special, high achieving, tech-savvy, but Second-Wavers (born 1995 – 2004) have some distinct differences that are making managers sit up and take notice.
Who Are Second-Wavers and How Did They Get That Way
Second-Wavers are mostly children of GenXers, as opposed to First-Wavers who were mostly children of Boomers. Both generations were raised with strong parental guidance and involvement in their lives. But while the Boomer parents were perfecting hovering like a helicopter, GenX parents were more likely to be the lawnmower parents who mowed down every obstacle that lay in their child’s path so a clear and clean path toward their future could be followed.
Furthermore, the introduction of the iPhone in 2007 assured that over 70% of Second-Wavers were streaming and chatting from mobile devices before they reached puberty. This brought them the tools to express themselves as individuals and they were exposed to brands that marketed to them as individuals.
This combination of attachment parenting, digital sophistication toward the individual, and placing more value on the importance of social and emotional learning as well as a broad cultural shift toward making a difference in people’s lives has dramatically shifted these Second-Wavers’ priorities.
The Three P’s of Second-Wave Leadership
So, how do leaders practically manage this new batch of workers in the workplace, and what do these Second-Wavers need from an employer? As a GenXer myself, I like to keep things simple and make my recommendations memorable. So, for these Second-Wavers, I’d recommend focusing on the three P’s: Personal Attention, Professional Development, and Purpose.
Personal Attention
From Facebook pages to Twitter handles to Instagram posts, Second-Wavers have always had the tools to create and curate their own brand. Yes, like a snowflake, they are their own person—unique and special. Ironically, they are extremely collaborative, but they still require hands-on individualized attention when it comes to their career path and goals. Consulting form PwC has a unique approach to this issue. They assign every new hire with a team of three different mentor types: An on-boarding ambassador—who gets you up to speed on how things work at the firm, a Relationship Leader—who provides direction in your career, and finally, a Career Coach, who is there to manage you in the moment—they call it managing real-time, or play-by-play. Companies would be well served by following PwC’s lead.
Professional Development
This is a big one. From a very early age, Second-Wavers were conditioned to plan for their future and gaining skills has always been a priority. After all, in video games, they get badges, gold stars, and rewards for getting to the next level! They are hungry for professional development, and in fact, according to Deloitte, the #1 reason they would leave a company is because of lack of professional development.  In my experience, the development they need most is in soft skills, not hard skills. Soft skills like critical thinking, communication, and social interaction—things we older generations take for granted, are simply not taught in college or acculturated at home. 8+ hours of screen time a day has an effect on in-person interaction, and believe it or not, this is area of growth for these Second-Wavers.
Purpose
After observing focus groups of Second-Wavers, one thing really stands out: They want to know not just what to do and how to do it, but why. I like to say that ‘why’ is the new ‘what’ for Second-Wavers. This is an extremely purpose-driven generation—one that we have not seen since the GI or Greatest Generation who worked on mission-driven projects like saving the world from a fascist scourge. Research consistently shows that this generation is more mindful of the products they buy and services they use gives back to the community. Money is important to them for sure (especially with their high debt load), but mission is still #1.
And not only do they want their work to make a difference to the world, they want to know how their work fits into the bigger workflow picture. For example, if they are updating a database, they want to know—where does their update go? Who uses it next? How does this contribute overall to the company’s mission?
Finally, They’re Worth The Investment
My last point about Second-Wavers is that they bring skills to the workplaces that have been lost by older generations. From an early age, they’ve been immersed in social and emotional learning techniques that, when used properly, can really bring people together into a more effective team dynamic. But you have to give them a chance. They’re smart (best educated generation is US history), they’re techno-gurus who have solutions you have not even thought of, and they are committed and loyal… as long as you are committed and loyal to them. Part of being a great leader is adapting to change. Second-Wavers represent a new shift in behaviors and priorities, so this is a good time to press the reset button on how you lead. 

Warren Wright is author of Second-Wave Millennials: Tapping the Potential of America’s Youth. He is Founder and CEO of Second Wave Learning, a talent development company that helps companies attract and retain newly-hired Millennials in the workplace.
Categories: Blogs

6 Reassuring Truths About Public Speaking

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 12:25

Guest post by Allison Shapira:
Even if you’re not afraid of public speaking, I’m betting you still get butterflies in your stomach before you speak. As a public speaking coach for over 15 years, I’ve seen it up-close: most people get nervous before a speech, presentation, or important meeting.                                                 Yet the fact remains: whether you have a formal leadership role such as CEO or you are a young professional looking to move into leadership, public speaking skills are critical. No matter what you do, or what stage you are at in your career: you have something powerful to say, you have a right to say it, and you want to be able to say it with clarity and authority.
The good news is, you can. Simply recalling these 6 reassuring truths about public speaking will help you speak with confidence and authenticity, no matter your title. I discuss these in more depth in my new book, Speak With Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others:
Public speaking is a skill, not a talent. You don’t have to be born with it; I truly believe that each one of us can be a powerful public speaker with practice and feedback. The more you use this skill and the more you focus on making progress, the better you become. Read books on the subject, join a Toastmasters club to build those skills, or recommend your organization bring in a public speaking expert to design a communication training program.
Public speaking is something we do every single day. From phone calls to webinars, presentations to meetings to town halls, we have daily opportunities to speak in public. It can happen anywhere in the world, at every stage in our career, no matter our background. Each day, look at your calendar and determine where you want to have an impact in your communication. Prepare a few points in advance of each meeting to help you speak concisely and thoughtfully. Practice out loud a few times to make sure your words are genuine and conversational.
We all get nervous. If you feel nervous before a presentation, remember that you are not alone. The fear of public speaking is universal, and most people will sympathize with you. Most of the time, everyone in the audience wants you to do well. Take the time to breathe deeply before your presentation and remind yourself why you truly care about your subject. Remind yourself of the impact of your words on others; that will center you and fill you with purpose.
It’s about being authentic, not perfect. Nobody wants to hear a perfect speech or presentation; they want to feel that the speaker is authentic and genuinely cares about their subject. Forget the need to be perfect and you’ll reduce a lot of your stress. This is not an excuse to just wing it – you still need to prepare and practice – but don’t get caught up in endless revisions of a speech. If you know your subject and care about your audience, you will inspire your audience.
It’s about connecting with your audience and building trust. Giving a speech or presentation is an opportunity to build a relationship of trust with your audience, whether it’s one person or a thousand people. By making eye contact with your audience and taking the time to engage with them instead of just talking atthem, your message will connect with them on a personal level and you will create more buy-in around your ideas.
It’s about exercising leadership with your voice. Every time you speak, your words have an impact on others. Recognize the incredible power of the spoken word to change the way people think, feel, or act, and be intentional about how you plan to responsiblyuse that power. It’s not just about giving the speech and going home; it’s about using your words to mobilize others to take action, whether it’s forming a new employee network in your organization or recommending a new strategic course for your company. Take action based on your words.
Next time you’re preparing to speak -- at a board meeting, a community function, even in a small group of a few peers -- think back to these truths. They’ll remind you of the little things that can get lost in a flurry of public speaking anxiety. They’ll help you become a better communicator and have a powerful and positive impact on the world around you.
Allison Shapira is author ofSpeak With Impact: How to Command the Room and Influence Others. CEO and founder Global Public Speaking, LLC, Allison was trained as an opera singer and teaches public speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Categories: Blogs

How Pragmatic Leaders Can Transform Stuck Organizations

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 09:40

Guest post by Samuel B. Bacharach:
A stuck organization is one that might meet conventional measures of success but it is not necessarily thriving. It cannot quite reach that next level of innovation. It just misses the big breakthrough or is too focused on old business models that it cannot make the leap forward.

There are two primary reasons why organizations get stuck. They sink into inertia because of their clunky tendencies—often with multiple business models, competing goals, and conflicting priorities. There is so much going on that these organizations have a difficult time setting a path and moving forward in a coherent, organized fashion. Or they become stuck because of their narrow vision, limited scope, and a belief that yesterday’s business models are well suited to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

The leadership challenge for pragmatic leaders is to transform organizations with clunky or myopic tendencies into truly thriving organizations that meet their potential. Pragmatic leaders have the capacity to engage in robust discovery and focused delivery.

Robust discovery is to uncover the great ideas that are percolating in the organization and beyond. Pragmatic leaders have to be explorers. They have to be aware of their environment and look for signals. They have to have to confidence to seek out partners—both internal and external to the organization—to engage in deeper exploration. Pragmatic leaders have to be innovators. They have to lead the ideation process and support the decision to follow one idea to prototype.

Focused delivery is to campaign for support for the idea and to sustain momentum. Once an idea has been fleshed out, it is time to share it with others in the organizations. Often, the default reaction is resistance. Pragmatic leaders anticipate the reactions that others may have, and try to develop arguments and justifications for their idea. Pragmatic leaders understand that they cannot drop the ball. Once an idea is off the ground, it cannot be forgotten or passed off to other parties. Pragmatic leaders have a vested interest in the development of their ideas, and are determined to see them to fruition.

In the final analysis, pragmatic leadership is about execution. Pragmatic leaders understand that the difference between failed or failing organizations and thriving organizations is the ability of leaders to move ideas, overcome resistance, and create lasting change. To do this, they need to develop the micro-skills of discovery and delivery not only to move agendas and create change—but also to make sure that their organization doesn’t get stuck.

Samuel B. Bacharach is the McKelvey-Grant Professor at Cornell University’s ILR School and the co-founder of the Bacharach Leadership Group. He is the author of Transforming the Clunky Organization: Pragmatic Leadership Skills to Break Inertia (2018) and The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough (2016), both published by Cornell University Press. Bacharach trains high-potential leaders in the skills of political competence and agenda moving. More information about his writing is available at: samuelbacharach.com.

Categories: Blogs

The Future Is Where Brands Must Focus

Tue, 11/27/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Sean Pillot de Chenecey:
Brands are built on trust, but in a post-truth world, they have a serious problem when so much of modern life is now defined by mistrust.
A weakening of the vital trust connection between brands and consumers is causing enormous problems for businesses.
The ramifications for brands in sectors of all description are deeply serious, when ‘reputation capital’ is of such immense importance, where the difference between Brand A and Brand B (and indeed Brand C, D, and E) so often comes down to our belief in those core questions of ‘are they honest, competent and reliable?’ Because if a brand isn’t trustworthy, it’ll be rejected in favour of one that is.
And the actions that these brands take to demonstrate their credibility must clearly illustrate a blend of corporate ethics and brand authenticity.
But a problem that’s becoming ever more visible is that some organisations have made authenticity their marketing strategy, rather than a business one. As a result, they come across as manufactured i.e. the very opposite of authentic. 
Because just running an advertising campaign stating that a brand is trustworthy isn’t good enough. This isn’t a marketing issue, this is a business-wide issue, involving every facet of the organisation. Companies have to be consistent in their behaviour, from top to bottom, and right along the supply chain, from the ‘first hand of production to the final hand of the consumer’.
And this genuinely has to go all the way. Therefore, it includes issues such as the ethical sourcing of ingredients, to environmentally sound production methodologies, to paying a decent living wage to production line workers, to adhering to animal-welfare, to pricing in a transparent manner, to communicating totally honest claims, etc.
Make no mistake, organisations and brands that want to earn and keep our trust have to ‘live it like they say it’. Because business has to be about more than just profit. People, Planet, and to quote a much-derided word ‘Purpose’ have to be in there too.
This approach very much links to social innovation and indeed conspicuous altruism. ‘Social Purpose’ is a phrase used obsessively by modern, forward-thinking leaders, and links directly to joint value creation where both shareholders and society benefit from business.
And the ‘actual’ difference between ethical brands with a moral code and those exposed as being without one, is increasingly a key factor in consumer brand adoption or rejection.
Yet many still attempt to portray, or indeed dismiss, the demographic most associated with this ideal as being one where, as The Guardian newspaper put it recently “the idea that market activity should have a purpose other than purely profit is roughly where it always was on the spectrum, somewhere between Marx and Jesus – one for the rioters, the subversives, the people with beards, unsuited to mainstream discourse.”
To illustrate that this thinking goes right to the top of hard-headed business thinking, in their ‘Reflections from Davos’ report regarding the 2018 meeting of the World Economic Forum, the managing partner of McKinsey was quoted as saying “the next innovation imperative will be social innovation – business’s role will be critical here.” The report went on to note “society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose”. 
This is set against research from those such as Deloitte who show how millennials are fast losing faith in business; and against a backdrop where people are scrambling to find solid ground in an era when we’re told that the very notion of truth is subjective, and indeed much of public discourse has become increasingly anti-fact and anti-expert.
Fortunately there are numerous shining examples of organisations that are showing us all ‘how to do it better’ ranging across the business spectrum, in sectors ranging from beauty to finance, and from fashion to beverages.
With good leadership at the core of these businesses, every member of the organisation are enabled to understand and demonstrate ‘why they do it, what they do and how they do it’.
The end result, from a customer point of view, is that these brands are then seen by the consumer as being on their side, standing with them and matching their own values in an inspirational manner. Because in a post-truth era, we want, and need, to believe in something. And increasingly, brands that really do ‘live it like they say it’ are some of the few things on which we can actually believe and rely. 
However, I firmly believe that whilst ‘reputation capital’ is an absolutely vital foundation of successful and enduring brands, this purely tells us about their past actions. The future is where brands must focus.
And this means leaders of companies taking deliberate and definitive action to ensure that their businesses demonstrate ‘corporate social leadership’.
Along with making reputable products, providing employment and returning dividends to shareholders; corporations can and should endeavour to make the world a better place, contributing to and engaging with society.
This will also enable the truism that ‘good business is good business’.
To act as a reference guide for the leaders of ‘good businesses’ in my book I’ve collated the key learnings into a ‘Post-Truth Brand Manifesto’.
Here is a very brief summary of it…
The Post-Truth Brand Manifesto
Be authenticAuthenticity has been one of the core tenets of successful businesses since the idea of branding first began. But truly authentic companies that want to earn and keep our trust have to ‘live it like they say it’. Thus the organisation dovetails their brand intentions with the consumer and employee reality.
Be transparentFor brands to thrive, business leaders need to find a way to regain and retain the confidence of employees. This starts with transparency. This is a business-wide issue, involving every facet of the organisation.
Respect privacyIt’s hard to overstate the seriousness of this subject, and the levels of antipathy engendered towards businesses that are seen to be profiting from ‘surveillance capitalism’.
Demonstrate empathy More and more people want to find ‘meaning and purpose’ in their working lives, and who are attracted to culturally aware, ‘good neighbour’ companies that reflect their viewpoints as ‘social citizens’.
Be trustworthyIt’s no coincidence when companies which are trusted most tend to be legacy brands which have clearly demonstrated their ‘good business’ and/or ‘reliable product’ credentials, or indeed are those with transparency built-in to the core of their business model.
Sean Pillot de Chenecey, author of The Post-Truth Business: How to Rebuild Brand Authenticity in a Distrusting World, has over 20 years’ experience as a brand expert, combining marketing consultancy with ethnographic activity and trend research around the world. His clients have included Unilever, Swatch, Heineken, Diageo, General Motors, Beiersdorf, AXA, Costa, Vodafone, Kerrygold and Starwood. He's collaborated with numerous international advertising, branding, design, media and PR agencies. He is a lecturer at the University of the Arts London, and has written for Dazed, Admap, Brand Strategy, Marketing and Contagious. A public speaker, he's given speeches for over a decade in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America. For more information, please visit www.koganpage.com/post-truth-business.

Categories: Blogs

Leaders Need To Believe In Their People

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Jose R. Costa:
Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right,” which goes right to the heart of how crucial belief is to achieving success in any context. Though this quote refers to people’s belief in themselves, from the leader’s perspective, the same could be said of your view of the people you lead: Whether you think they can or can’t, you are probably right.
No leader will make it very far without a belief in people and no leader will make it very far without the help and contributions of others. In fact, a leader without followers can’t really be called a leader at all. Anytime you set out to do something on a large scale – whether it’s in a corporation, the military, a university, or any setting where there is a group of people – the question will always arise of how you get people to work together in a committed way toward the same ends.
Leaders need to invest their trust and belief in the people they need to succeed. These are essential components of doing great things together and getting leading-edge results. I’m not talking about blind trust here – trust needs to be built with open and discerning eyes.
It’s common sense. Anything you accomplish together as a team starts with the belief that the job can be done. By believing in their employee’s abilities, intentions, and trusting them to deliver, leaders can do a lot to inspire a can-do attitude in their people. On the contrary, they can do a lot to undermine that spirit if they aren’t careful. Believing in people and building a trusting relationship takes effort, but leaders with an edge understand that it’s well worth the effort.
Why It’s So Important to Trust and Believe in People My father, who started a business from scratch with my grandfather in Venezuela, taught me a lot about the importance of trusting in your people. Over the course of his career as an entrepreneur, he has directly witnessed many of the benefits that I listed above. In the early 1970s, he started his business in his native Venezuela with a handful of employees and grew it to four hundred employees across seven companies generating $100 million in sales.
Unfortunately, the political and economic problems in Venezuela have more recently taken their toll on his ventures, and he is back to having only fifteen employees. But the remarkable thing is that the fifteen people who remain are the same fifteen employees who started alongside him. Throughout both the ups and downs, they have stuck around for upward of forty years. These people have invested practically their entire lives in my dad and his business. My father always keeps that thought top of mind. He feels a tremendous sense of loyalty to these people, and they have shown him the same in return. In fact, it’s the most remarkable example of a shared sense of loyalty that I have ever heard. You don’t get that kind of committed, longstanding relationship without trust and belief in one another.
When you have a shared reciprocal trust with employees or colleagues, it makes you feel more invested in one another and in your mutual success. It also promotes open and honest communication. People are better able to accept feedback, even critical feedback, and are more likely to be honest with you in return when you are getting off track or about to make a mistake. Honest communication creates a pleasant environment to be around one another, and you will feel more willing to help each other out. It doesn’t matter what the context is, when you have the support of trusted people it makes your job that much easier to do.
Beyond all that, there is a personal benefit to the leader: It’s simply a more fulfilling way to live and to lead. When you don’t believe in people, you cut yourself off from them in significant ways that can make you feel isolated and alone. Your stress level tends to increase when you don’t have people around you can count on. I think most of us know that being cynical, wary, and distrustful of others is not the best way to lead a happy, well-adjusted life. Too many people don’t realize that it’s not the best way to be successful either.

Jose R. Costa, author of Leading With Edge: Activate Your Competitive Advantage Through Personal Insight currently serves as CEO of For Eyes, which is part of GrandVision, a global leader in optical retail with more than 7,000 stores worldwide. Costa has a postgraduate degree from Universidad Metropolitana, a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. For more information, please visit http://joserenecosta.com/book.

Categories: Blogs

Values in Dynamic Tension

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
Have you prioritized your values so you know which ones are more important than the others? Or are all of your personal values “tied for first?”
Here’s a way to test this idea. Note down your top four personal values, the desired principles that guide your day-to-day plans, decisions, and actions.
If you’ve formalized your personal values, this exercise took mere seconds. If you’ve not formalized them, it probably took longer.
You can’t consistently act on your values unless you’ve specifically defined them. Formalizing desired values requires you to identify 3-4 values that you covet. Then, add your definition for each value. Finally, include three or four behaviors for each value that specify exactly how you live or demonstrate that value day to day.
Here are my life values:
○     Integrity – Definition: Do what I say I will do. Behaviors: Formalize my commitments with clear agreements. Keep my commitments. Live my values and behaviors.○     Joy – Definition: Celebrate the pleasure derived from doing things I’m good at and which serve others well. Behaviors: Be happy; if I’m not happy, change it up so happiness is present. Surround myself with happy people who see the good in others. Engage in the grace I feel when serving others well.○     Learning – Definition: Actively seek out information that builds new knowledge and skills. Behaviors: Scan the environment for current research and discoveries that enlighten me. Refine my skills often; toss antiquated approaches for improved approaches. Proactively share my learning so others benefit.○     Perfection – Definition: Deliver excellence. Behaviors: Deliver what I promise, on time and under budget. Exceed standards or expectations where possible. Consistently WOW my partners and customers.
There is a school of thought that says prioritizing values is the best way to act on them, especially under pressure. For example, if you had “safety” as your top value and “service” as your number two value, safety would take precedence over service. A safety issue would demand action even if it meant service would be negatively impacted that day (or hour).
Another school of thought says that all of your values are of equal, top priority. If you’ve outlined your values, why would you make one more important than another?
Reality, time constraints, emergencies, etc. will require you to act on only one or two values at a time; I believe the best approach lies somewhere in between the above two. Start with the belief that your values are all tied for first, and understand that your values are in “dynamic tension.” Acting on certain values while setting other values aside, even for a moment, will require you to circle back and apply any valued behaviors that were “passed over” in that instance.
So, if you acted on your “safety” value and inhibited “service” for a time, you would follow up with the player (or players) that you missed the service value on to explain what happened and make amends as soon as possible.
How do you manage competing values? What suggestions would you add to address values in “dynamic tension”? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at http://drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here
Categories: Blogs

Creating a Winning Corporate Culture Through People Power

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:10


Guest post from Eric Tetuan:
Creating a winning company culture starts with an investment in people. Not just investing in staff, but in relationships with clients as well as the people you serve. It requires having a deep understanding of human connections, of bonds, and of ways to break down barriers. Adopting a policy focused on people can make the difference in achieving successful outcomes. Employees who feel understood and appreciated are often more productive and willing go that extra mile on behalf of a client. It is one of the reasons why we receive repeat business and why our clients trust us with their biggest moments. It is also the reason for our high employee retention rate, and the lasting friendships amongst our staff members.While every company is different, adopting values that speak to your core beliefs will not only help you attract quality candidates it will help build a sense of unity in the workplace. Develop initiatives that not only support your company’s mission but will improve the lives of your employees and the world around them. Inspire transformational thinking and experimentation amongst your staff, challenge them to think outside the box. Through collaboration, great minds can come together to tackle your toughest challenges advancing what’s possible. Design programs that not only do good in the community but improve motivation and communication within the office. Ask staff members to champion a cause that is near and dear to them, from donating their time at a soup kitchen, to ensuring that their coworkers are content. It is this culture of caring, of working for a greater good, that unites a staff and compels them to be the best they can be both personally and professionally. It will foster a spirit of collaboration, one where individuals share their knowledge to help their colleagues, and where professional development pays off. By creating a smarter workforce, you are creating a team able to produce amazing results on behalf of your clients, your partners as well as your consumers.

5 Tips to a Winning Work Culture:
The Power of People Make your people feel that they are the heart and soul of your culture. It will ensure that your team feels connected to your mission, supported as individuals and that they feel appreciated for the work that they do. Recognizing that your employees spend more than one-third of their time in the workplace, create programs that are geared toward increasing employee satisfaction and promoting health and well-being. Offer in office exercise classes, healthy cooking classes, celebrate together with happy hours.  Boost office morale with staff appreciation days where you can pamper them with a catered lunch, spa treatments or present them with a small gift. By showing your team that you care about their well-being, it will result in increased job satisfaction and productivity. An investment in happier employees ultimately manifests in happier clients and consumers.
Honoring the EnvironmentAsk your employees to contribute to a better world. Find ways to protect the environment both in and out of the office. Create policies that promote energy efficiency, reduce waste and water conservation. Recycle plastics, aluminum, e-waste, and consider composting leftover lunches. Find ways to divert and donate old office furniture, add dimmable occupancy sensors in conference rooms, and use programmable controls for lights and thermostats. Simply asking your employees to turn off all of the lights before leaving can make a huge difference in energy conservation and how they feel about the environment.
Giving BackCreate a culture of giving. Support causes and organizations that can make a difference in your community by donating your time, money, or left-over materials. Share knowledge and resources that can help someone achieve their goal.  Empower your team to get involved with relief efforts and educational programs, create a mentorship program, or donate labor. Create a culture where PTO is available for employees to make a difference and effect change. By inspiring your team to get involved, they will become more engaged not only with the company, but with their peers in pursuit of improving the lives of those around them.
Innovation + CollaborationFinding a pathway to improvement starts with an in-depth understanding of your challenges. Circulate surveys and collect honest feedback, use your deficiencies as a tool to find new solutions. Experiment with a variety of options, assign a team to explore and test theories, give them the freedom and space to become invested in the outcome. Empower your team by listening and acknowledging. A team that communicates well becomes a powerful tool to implement change.  
Knowledge is PowerInvest in your people. Provide employees with unique opportunities to advance their careers through education, training and certification. Host training workshops to assist teams in finding solutions to their toughest challenges. Support an employee’s quest for knowledge by letting them attend relevant seminars, webinars, help them stay at the top of their field with select conferences. Host lunch + Learns with deep insights into relevant topics and needed skills, create a library filled with resources to help your staff elevate their game.
Ultimately, by investing in people you are investing in a culture that supports personal growth and fuels productivity. A team that is able to come together to innovate and collaborate in exciting new ways that can impact on your bottom line. You are investing in a company culture that is better able to support your corporate mission, in an empowered team who is ready to assist clients and consumers with a transformational energy that can greatly improve your bottom line.

Co-founder and chief innovative officer at productionglue, Eric Tetuan has built his impressive technical portfolio over 25 years in New York City production. His skills reflect many different technical roles, including “in the trenches” experience.As the company evolved, Eric’s focus turned to supporting growth, maintaining project performance, and overseeing office culture. Productionglue has seen a double-digit revenue increase for over a decade. Eric oversees the management of all of the processes to ensure that productionglue can deliver the best possible results. He established an internal review process (the “g-brief") to learn from projects and improve the way we work, in real time.
Categories: Blogs

Great Leadership: The Power of I’s

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Bob Nelson:
In my new book, 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees (Career Press) I examine the top ten factors that most impact employee engagement in order of their priority, according to a regression analysis of 3 million employee surveys, and then provide specific real-life examples of what each factor looks like in practice in successful companies today.
Not surprising, I found that one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement is One’s Immediate Manager and all aspects that make up that relationship between a manager and his or her employees, that is, the bond that is created by effective leaders with those they lead. 
The best leaders demonstrate their long-term commitment to their employees through the specific behaviors they display on a daily basis.  Better yet, the most important behaviors leaders can do to develop and maintain motivated, engaged employees tend to have little or no cost, but rather are a function of the daily interactions that managers have with employees pertaining to work in the context of each employees’ jobs.
I remember some of the most important themes great leaders provide from the first letter of the word, which I call “The Power of the I’s”:
Interesting and Important Work—Everyone should have at least part of their job be of high interest to them. As the management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, “If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” Yes, some jobs may be inherently boring, but you can give anyone in such a job at least one task or project that’s stimulating to that person. Name him or her to a suggestion committee that meets once a week, or to some other special group. The time away from the regular job is likely to be more than made up with increased productivity.
Information, Communication and Feedback on Performance—With presumed employment for life largely a thing of the past, employees want more than ever to know how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is doing in its business. Start telling them how the company makes money and how it spends money. Make sure there are ample channels of communication to encourage employees to be informed, ask questions and share information. At least some of the communication channels should directly involve management in non-intimidating circumstances. Soon you’ll have them turning out the lights when they’re last to leave a room.
Involvement in Decisions and a Sense of Ownership—Involving employees—especially in decisions that affect them—is both respectful to them and practical. People that are closest to the problem or the customer typically have the best insight as to how a situation can be improved. They know what works and what doesn’t, but often are never asked for their opinion. As you involve others, you increase their commitment and ease in implementing any new idea or change.
Independence, Autonomy and Flexibility—Most employees—especially experienced, top-performing employees—value being given room to do their job as they best see fit. All employees also appreciate having flexibility in their jobs. When you provide these factors to employees based on desired performance, it increases the likelihood that they will perform as desired—and bring additional initiative, ideas and energy to the job as well.
Increased Opportunity for Learning, Growth and Responsibility—Everyone appreciates a manager who gives credit where it is due. The chances to share the successes of employees with others throughout the organization are almost limitless. In addition, most employee development is on-the-job development that comes from new learning opportunities and the chance to gain new skills and experience. Giving employees new opportunities to perform, learn and grow as a form of recognition and thanks is very motivating to most employees.
Behind all of these themes is a basic premise of trust and respect and having the best interests of your employees at heart. You will never get the best effort from employees today by building a fire under them; rather, you need to find a way to build a fire within them to obtain extraordinary results from your people.

Bob Nelson, Ph.D. is the leading authority on employee recognition, rewards and engagement in the world and has been named a Top Thought Leader by the Best Practice Institute. He has sold 5 million books on those topics, the latest of which is 1,001 WAYS TO ENGAGE EMPLOYEES: Help People Do Better What They Do Best (Career Press).
Categories: Blogs

The Quality All Great Leaders Have in Common – and How to Cultivate It Within Yourself

Thu, 10/25/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Christy Whitman
Above all other qualities, vision is the most essential to extraordinary leadership.   Throughout every era of time, and in in every imaginable industry, the most influential leaders have been those who innately understand that what has been in the past, as well as the circumstances that exist in the present, do not have the power to limit the potential of what can be created in the future.  Great leaders hold tenaciously to the reality they envision in their hearts — even in the shadow of previous failures, and even in the absence of tangible evidence that what they want is possible to achieve.  In other words, a great leader is someone who gives more credence to the vision that calls to them than they do to any voice of disbelief or doubt.  Most of the world is not living in a mindset of true leadership, but has instead fallen into the habit of simply reacting to whatever is going on around them.   And while it is very compelling to give our attention, our focus, and therefore our powerful, magnetic creative energy to those things that are not right now as we would like them to be, directing the precious gift of our attention in this manner nails our creative feet to the floor and keeps us from cooperating with our own desires.  Leadership requires us to launch ourselves out of the very human tendency to allow other people, external circumstances, and our own self-doubts to dictate what we believe we can accomplish, and therefore what we allow ourselves to envision.  Posing as the truth, these considerations are often camouflaged as legitimate concerns that go something like this: I don’t have the money. It’s not the right time. What will others think? If I go for my dream, I might fail. I should just be happy with the life I have.  Considerations like these may appear as formidable conditions over which we are powerless, but this is both an illusion and a critical error in thinking. The obstacle that stands in our way is not a money problem, a time problem or a people problem; it’s a vision problem. When we are focused only upon the current conditions of our lives, we deprive ourselves of our innate ability to create anything different.  We simply cannot give our attention to things that are other than we’d like them to be and create what we want at the same time.    In every moment, we are either doing one or the other. 
So for example, if you, as the leader of an organization, are focused upon the weakness or ineffectiveness of your team, you must understand that you are using your powerful creative energy to contradict rather than support your own desire to lead them to success.  But when on the other hand you go out of your way to notice and then deliberately appreciate each person and aspect of your business that is working well, your focus is aligned with your vision, and you are nurturing its growth and ultimate fruition through the power of your attention.   Some people believe that being a great leader requires discipline – and it most certainly does – but it’s not the “nose to the grindstone” effort and struggle that we’ve been taught is necessary for success.   The most important discipline that we as leaders can ever practice is that which takes place not in the realm of action, but in the quiet of our own minds.  It takes great discipline to identify a particular outcome and summon the intention to make it happen.  It takes discipline to focus on a desire with enough clarity that it begins to coalesce into a vision.  And it takes discipline to bring the energy of our most frequent and consistent thoughts, feelings, moods and expectations into alignment with the vision of what we do want, rather than chronically noticing the absence of it.  Once we have aligned ourselves with our own vision so completely that we are not simply willing to entertain any other possibility, we unlock the secret to magnetism, to charisma, and to seamlessly attracting those who want nothing more than to play their role in the play that we are orchestrating.
Right now in your own life, you are surrounded by conditions and considerations that may have you convinced that you are powerless to become the leader you desire to be, whether in your business or in your personal life.  You may believe that you’re too old, that the odds are stacked against you, or that everything you desire to accomplish has already been done before.  But however these thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions show up for you, it’s imperative that you begin to recognize them for what they really are.  They may be evidence of what has been, but they don’t need to limit your vision of what can become.  Once you understand that what you direct your energy toward is what you will ultimately begin to attract, you will reclaim the power to create your life on purpose rather than by default, and, by example, you will teach others how to do the same. 
Christy Whitman is a transformational leader and the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Having It All and co-author of Taming Your Alpha Bitch. Here new book is called Quantum Success: 7 Essential Laws for a Thriving, Joyful, and Prosperous Relationship with Work and Money.  She has appeared on Today and The Morning Show, and her work has been featured in People, SeventeenWoman’s DayHollywood Life, and Teen Vogue, among others. As the CEO and founder of the Quantum Success Coaching Academy, Christy has helped thousands of people worldwide to achieve their goals through her empowerment seminars, speeches, coaching sessions, and products. She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and their two boys.
Categories: Blogs

Enduring Uncertainty

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 06:30

Guest post from Chris Lewis:
Go on admit it. You’re busy, right? Busier than last year. Busier probably than five years ago. In fact, you’re busier than you can ever remember being. You’re now so busy most people couldn’t even begin to understand how busy you are. And you don’t have time to tell them anyway. 
There was a time when life was slower. It all used to be so certain. You could plan. You could predict. You could be safe. Well, how’s that working out for ya after 9/11, the banking crisis, Brexit, and Trump? It’s a constant crisis.
The characteristic of all leadership in the 21st century is now the speed at which it needs to respond to crises as well as doing their day job. Burnt-out leaders end up with never-ending ‘to-do’ lists, and that’s not really their job. Of course, they need to do something; everyone knows that. Leaders though are more than that. They have to ‘be’ something. They need to represent values because that’s what permits a collective identity. If you don’t have that, you can’t have leaders.
Try this test. Ask someone to describe their parents. Usually, they respond that their parent is loving or caring or patient or dynamic or ambitious. Now ask them to describe themselves.
Usually, they say they go to work or take their kids to school or help them with their homework or put them to bed. What’s the difference? The latter description focuses on what the person does – primarily how they manage things. The former though is quite distinctive.  It focuses on who people are. That’s the essence of leadership – who you are. The values matter.
Three things always hamper any talk of leadership.
First, it’s unusual to sit and discuss leadership because everyone is now so busy. Conversation, especially among busy strangers, is particularly difficult. It usually happens online and conforms to Godwin’s Law which asserts that people will be likened to Nazis in direct proportion to the length of the conversation.
This brings up another point that just because we have more communication, it doesn’t follow that there is more conversation. And no conversation means no ability to negotiate or resolve emotions.
Secondly, it starts from an ego-centric idea that any discussion of leadership focuses on the leader and never the -ship. This is the model of the infallible, visionary, confident, male which has been passed down through centuries from Moses to Elon Musk. You’ve seen that movie before. 
Of course, it’s a complete myth. Sure, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, but did he get there without a team?
This is where the ‘infallible male’ idea is revealed as a myth. There is a great deal of research out there that says this model is becoming outdated.
Let’s take the principle of collaboration and teamwork. On almost any measure, female leaders are more effective at collaboration, empathy, and teamwork than men. Often, this takes the form of female leaders sacrificing personal goals to meet those of others. 
Male leaders are most usually the other way around. They achieve individual goals at the expense of the broader group. The argument for gender equality in leadership is not just a matter of social justice. It’s imperative for efficiency.
Finally, male egocentric leadership is the provenance of all certainty. This is pickled in logic, analysis, and data. It permits men to predict. It does not allow teams to prepare. This is where we need more than a Western Reductionist philosophy. 
Analysis has been essential and continues to be, but parenthesis matters, too. Think of it like this. Drill-down, yes. But look-across, also.
Female leadership allows the uncertainty of imagination and emotion into leadership. Thus, the provenance of all certainty is not fact, but mediocrity. Leaders must embrace uncertainty because that’s all that exists now and in the future.
Chris Lewis is co-author, with Pippa Malmgrem, of The Leadership Lab: Understanding Leadership In The 21st Century. Lewis, a former journalist, is founder of one of the largest creative agencies in the world, LEWIS. Founded in 1995, his practice now encompasses more than 25 offices and 500 staff. He is British, but splits his time between Britain and America. For more information, please visit: www.koganpage.com/theleadershiplab
Categories: Blogs

Letting Go of the Big Chief Motif

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 14:39

Guest post from Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III:
Discipline, focus and drive got you where you are today. You lost count of the sacrifices long ago – free weekends, discretionary purchases, a good night’s sleep – all to achieve your vision. You did it. Now get over it.
We all want to be effective leaders so that we can guide others to contribute to our vision, but we tend to overlook the importance of humility in leadership. By humility, I don’t mean modesty about what you have achieved; I mean being humble enough to abandon the “Big Chief” mentality and embrace the input of others. Forget the CEO or Executive or Senior Whatever title you have and get down in the trenches. Better yet, lift up those around you and empower them to work alongside you. In doing so, you not only effectively lead others, but also guide them to follow suit.
The need for personal recognition can be a powerful, yet blinding, force. I experienced this myself several years ago. I was sitting in a meeting during which we were trying to find a way to overcome the challenge of getting other churches and pastors to come together. The issue, one of my colleagues suggested, was that no one could figure out who should be in charge. The role of the leader had become more important than the work being done. People get used to operating in this “Big Chief” motif because their egos crave it. But, it’s bad for business. In addition to limiting innovation, it creates smaller chiefs who want to maintain power they assume they have. So, the employee who craves your approval cares little about advancing your vision, and more about advancing his or her own career. This leads to jealousy, insecurity and grandstanding.
After experiencing this among my own team, I made some changes. I abandoned the hierarchical, top down flow chart and shifted to a relational model. I drew a circle and put myself in the middle. All of my managers were placed around the circle. Now, when I share a vision, I share it with all of them and ask for input. In turn, I respect input from anyone in that circle. In fact, I even welcome input from team members outside of the circle. The possibility of a groundbreaking idea is more valuable to me than maintaining this idea of seniority.
Working with others rather than above them does not mean you are minimizing what you have accomplished or demeaning your capabilities. Rather, you are expanding your potential. We have incredible limitations on our time; if all ideas stop with us, very little will ever get done. And, as intelligent as we may be, it takes the ideas of many to spark true brilliance. Collaboration fosters innovation. You cannot be cutting edge if your circle always depends on you to do the thinking. Proverbs 27:17 declares, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
When we let go of the focus on titles, positions and accolades, we set the tone for successful ideation and instill this characteristic in others, cultivating the next wave of leadership. This is humility at its best – productive and positive. It helps everyone in your orbit feel empowered to contribute to a collective vision, driving it forward rather than simply being passengers along for the ride. This is the how to dispense with Chiefs, big and small, and focus instead on building a better team.  


About the author:

Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III is the pastor of the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee and Presiding Bishop of Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship International. In 1992 at the age of 24, Bishop Walker began his pastorate at Mt. Zion with 175 members, which has grown to over 30,000, and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. He’s the author of the book called No Opportunity Wasted: The Art of Execution. You can connect with Bishop Walker at: https://www.josephwalker3.org/.
Categories: Blogs

Why Managers Don’t Listen (Poor Listener Syndrome): and the Cures!

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 06:30

One of the most important skills for any manager is listening. Listening demonstrates respect, concern, an openness to new ideas, empathy, compassion, curiosity, trust, loyalty, and receptivity to feedback – all considered to be qualities of an effective leader.
Listening isn’t rocket science. We are born with the ability to listen, yet somehow managers, at some point in their careers, seem to forget how to use this natural born gift. Listening is one of the most consistently lowest rated behaviors in 360 degree feedback assessments for managers. It’s a management disease – Poor Listener Syndrome (PLS)!
Actually, it’s not just managers that don’t listen – it’s also employees, husbands, wives, kids, students, teachers, and just about human being with two ears. However, this is a management and leadership resource, so we’ll stick with listening in the context of a management skill.
So if listening is such an important management skill and it’s an ability we were born with, why do so many managers get feedback that say they are poor listeners?That’s an issue I’ve explored with several managers when I review their 360 assessment results. Here are the seven most frequent reasons, and a prescription for each cause:
1. They don’t know they are poor listeners – it’s a blind spot. A behavioral blind spot is the gap between our intentions and our behaviors. We see ourselves as a good listener, but others don’t. Given that candid feedbackis such a rare commodity, we are clueless about our flaws until they are pointed out by others. And even when they are, we sometimes still deny they exist (fight or flight).
The cure: Get some feedback. Feedback is a gift, and awareness is the key to self-development.
2. They don’t understand the value of listening. I’ll often have to spend time explaining the impact of poor listening to managers, either in a coaching session or in a training class. Sometimes I’ll demonstrate it. At some point, the light goes on, and for the first time in their lives they get it. These are the same managers who are often having issues in their personal lives, with their friends and family, and poor listening is often the culprit.
The cure: Read the research, discuss the importance of listening with others, and experience the positive effects when you focus on improving your listening skills!
3. They don’t know how to listen. Managers often get low scores in listening but insist they understand the importance of listening and that they DO listen. While this may be true (good intentions), others see behaviors that convey a lack of listening.
The cure: Listening skills are relatively easy behaviors to learn, with a little awareness and practice. They include:·         Making eye contact·         Head nodding·         An open posture·         Leaning forward·         Arms uncrossed·         Using encouraging phrases such as “go on”, “tell me more”, “uh uh”, or anything to show that you are paying attention·         Paraphrasing (repeating back in your own words to check for understandingTake a short course, read a book, observe others, practice, and get feedback. Like any new skill, it will feel unnatural at first, but with deliberate practice, the skill soon becomes a habit.
4. They are impatient, smart, or easily distracted. OK, these are actually three separate, but sometimes related causes. Highly successful, intelligent,  type A managersoften find it difficult to slow down and take the extra time to listen. They jump ahead and want to finish someone’s sentence, use hand gestures to speed someone along, or their minds start racing on to other issues and thoughts. Smartphone checking is a symptom of this impatience and habitual multi-tasking.
The cures: Shut the door, turn off the smartphone, focus, and give the person in front of you 100% of your attention. Think of it as a gift, and observe the difference in how others respond.
5. They listen selectively. This reason is one of the most common, and becomes apparent with 360 degree assessment results. The manager shows high in listening for the boss and superiors, but low with peers or direct reports.
The cure: The skills are there- you just have to apply them consistently!
6. They don’t value people at all. Managers won’t admit this, but when they try to justify their low listening scores, it becomes apparent that they just don’t see value in paying attention to what others have to say. They just may not be interested in people. In the worst cases, it’s extreme arrogance.
The cure: Fake it until you make it. If you can convince a manager that it is in their own selfish self-interest to at least pretend that they are listening, they might be willing to mimic listening behaviors. Yes, it’s not authentic, and some people will see through it, but sometimes if you practice a behavior long enough, you get good at it, and you start to become the behavior.
7. They have poor hearing. I know this from personal experience, when a caring manager told me that others were complaining that I didn’t listen to them. That, and my wife complaining that the TV was too loud.
The cause: get your hearing checked, and if you are told you need hearing aids (and can afford them), get it done. Your family and employees will appreciate it, and you’ll find out what you’ve been missing.
Need an executive coach that can work with you or your leaders to improve their listening skills? Or a half day training program? Please contact me to discuss!
Categories: Blogs

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