Best Of 2013: Let’s Grow Leaders

I’m humbled and energized by our growing Let’s Grow Leaders community. Thank you so much for your thought leadership and enthusiasm. We are growing this together. As we close 2013, I offer a recap of the “Best of 2013” as measured by engagement. Thank you for being part of our collaborative adventure. If you missed one of these, it’s not too late to join the conversation. If you’re new here, please subscribe to join our 2014 fun… there’s much in store.

Richest Conversation

Can We Teach Leaders Humility?

Can Men and Women Be Friends at Work?

12 Components of Trusted Strategic Partnerships

Impatience as a Leadership Virtue

and one of my Smartblog Posts… Why Volunteering Makes You a Better Leader.

Wonderful Comments

Thanks to all who commented in 2013. You make the community. I appreciate every one who enhances the conversation, once, twice, or many times. I highly encourage all of you who are reluctant to give it a try. I’d like to particularly thank my top commenters of 2013, every one of whom I’ve met through this social media adventure.

Top 10 Commenters

Ali Anani (always poetic perspective from Jordan, and the first to respond to others in the community).

Matt McWilliams (love his writing, inspiring and challenging)

Steve Borek (one of the first to join and a consistent blessing, sharing his coaching expertise)

Dave Bratcher (fellow leadership blogger with wonderful insights)

Dallas Tye (my biggest cheerleader on turning writing into a book, love the conversations from Australia)

LaRae Quy (beautiful energy, writes about strength and mental toughness)

Lolly Daskal (a wonderful friend, stay-tuned for some early 2014 collaboration)

David Tumbarello (his comments are often worthy of a post in themselves)

Alli Polin (always amazed at our parallel experiences; more insights from Australia)

Terri Klass (great ideas and practical advice)

Thanks to all who support the Let’s Grow Leaders community through subscribing, commenting and sharing. I appreciate your encouraging others to subscribe. The more minds on this journey, the more we all grow. I am taking of the rest of the year to spend time with my family. I’ll be back to the normal schedule on Friday, January 3rd.

Have a happy new year.

Namaste,

Karin

Best Of 2013: Let's Grow Leaders

I’m humbled and energized by our growing Let’s Grow Leaders community. Thank you so much for your thought leadership and enthusiasm. We are growing this together. As we close 2013, I offer a recap of the “Best of 2013” as measured by engagement. Thank you for being part of our collaborative adventure. If you missed one of these, it’s not too late to join the conversation. If you’re new here, please subscribe to join our 2014 fun… there’s much in store.

Richest Conversation

Can We Teach Leaders Humility?

Can Men and Women Be Friends at Work?

12 Components of Trusted Strategic Partnerships

Impatience as a Leadership Virtue

and one of my Smartblog Posts… Why Volunteering Makes You a Better Leader.

Wonderful Comments

Thanks to all who commented in 2013. You make the community. I appreciate every one who enhances the conversation, once, twice, or many times. I highly encourage all of you who are reluctant to give it a try. I’d like to particularly thank my top commenters of 2013, every one of whom I’ve met through this social media adventure.

Top 10 Commenters

Ali Anani (always poetic perspective from Jordan, and the first to respond to others in the community).

Matt McWilliams (love his writing, inspiring and challenging)

Steve Borek (one of the first to join and a consistent blessing, sharing his coaching expertise)

Dave Bratcher (fellow leadership blogger with wonderful insights)

Dallas Tye (my biggest cheerleader on turning writing into a book, love the conversations from Australia)

LaRae Quy (beautiful energy, writes about strength and mental toughness)

Lolly Daskal (a wonderful friend, stay-tuned for some early 2014 collaboration)

David Tumbarello (his comments are often worthy of a post in themselves)

Alli Polin (always amazed at our parallel experiences; more insights from Australia)

Terri Klass (great ideas and practical advice)

Thanks to all who support the Let’s Grow Leaders community through subscribing, commenting and sharing. I appreciate your encouraging others to subscribe. The more minds on this journey, the more we all grow. I am taking of the rest of the year to spend time with my family. I’ll be back to the normal schedule on Friday, January 3rd.

Have a happy new year.

Namaste,

Karin

Hashtags Or Hashbrowns For Christmas?

Twas the night before Christmas
The topic was stress
Two bloggers were writing
Their posts still a mess…

Hashtags for Christmas (an email exchange)

To: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
From: Regina@CreativelyConscious
Re: Christmas

Hey Karin. Merry Christmas! Can I stop by and bring you some breakfast?

To: Regina@CreativelyConscious
From: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
Re: Christmas

Thanks, but I’m on a deadline. #toobusy #nostresseating

To: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
From: Regina@CreativelyConscious
Re: Christmas

I am too actually. But I can’t seem to get my post just right so I thought I’d take a few minutes and clear my head. What are you doing?

To: Regina@CreativelyConscious
From: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
Re: Christmas

Ughhh….The question is what am I NOT doing? #Travelinglikecrazyforwork. #Christmasisatmyhousethisyear. Ordered presents #online (#stillnothere), #pageants, #snowmancupcakes – #Pinterest #BTWsocute. AND! I don’t have a #blogpost written for today. #gottapost

To: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
From: Regina@CreativelyConscious
Re: Christmas

Seriously, you need to slow down a bit. BTW – What’s with all the hashtags? #hashtags #?

To: Regina@CreativelyConscious
From: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
Re: Christmas

I’ve been #reading up on #TrendingTopics and #SEO

To: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
From: Regina@CreativelyConscious
Re: Christmas

Well, it’s #ChristmasEve. I’m not sure anyone is going to be reading #Let’sGrowLeaders or #CreativelyConscious for that matter.

To: Regina@CreativelyConscious
From: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
Re: Christmas

#Consistencyiskey. Do you think people would be interested in #Thegift of #feedback for a topic? Or how about #mybossisagrinch?

To: Karin@Let’sGrowLeaders
From: Regina@CreativelyConscious
Re: Christmas

Hmm, maybe not so much. I think we’ve got to get #creative. I’ve got an idea:

Click here for your sing-a-long Christmas card.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Karin and Regina from Let’s Grow Leaders and Creatively Conscious!

Thanks to Lee Gelwicks and Dave Hegmann for lending their voices. And my nephew, Jared Herr, for video production.

8 Ways To Nurture Leadership In Young Children

“Mommy, I’m not a leader.”

Why do you say that?

“Because John is the one that tells us what to do on the playground and we follow him. So that makes me a follower.”

Ugh. Tricky. I’m not impressed by John’s “leadership.” I want my son (and all young children) to see kindness, listening, understanding, and caring about other people as important leadership qualities.

We must stop trying to over-simplify leadership for our kids. Being picked to be “line leader” at school, Mother May I, Simon says… all involve telling. Children learn to do what mommy, daddy, and teachers say. Sure, we want kids who listen and follow directions. But even young children can learn servant leadership.

8 Ways to Nurture Leadership in Children Under 8

Start with lots of love and building self-esteem. Too many grown-ups with power mess things up because they’re still dealing with childhood muck. Be a role model, and know they’re always watching. Beyond that, here are a few deliberate approaches for building leadership in young children.

  1. Teach them to give – Involve them in volunteer activities and talk about the “why” as much as the “what.” Help them look for needs in everyday situations, and to consider how they can improve the scene. Help young children find joy in giving and call it leadership.
  2. Talk to them like grown-ups – Young children are smarter than they look. Talk about current events. An 8-year-old may not need to know all the political issues involved with healthcare. But in our house we’ve had some pretty good conversations about what’s going on and why. Get them started, and kids can ask some pretty good “whys.”
  3. Give them a say in some family decisions – Pick some decisions where you don’t need control. Invite your young children to brainstorm creative options. Encourage each family member to listen to one another’s viewpoints before deciding as a family.
  4. Nurture a love of reading – Read together and talk about the characters and relationships in the stories. For a list of great books to read with your young children click here.
  5. Bring them along and give them a role – Kid’s love to see mommy and daddy in action. My older son’s now 19, I’ve brought him along to all kinds of places. I’ve explained what I’m doing and why. I’ve given him “important roles.” I’ve enjoyed watching him apply the skills he’s learned in the arenas he’s now leading. See A Great Way to Teach Your Kids About Leadership.
  6. Admit when you screw up – Talk about your leadership mess-ups. Kid’s need to know that leaders aren’t perfect, and that mistakes are all part of their learning.
  7. Hang out with other leaders – So they can see leaders are regular people too. Dinner guests can be fun for the whole family.
  8. Teach them to craft and deliver a great prayer (or toast) at family gatherings – When he was younger, I would help my son prepare group gathering prayers. “Let’s talk about why we’re gathered and what people may want God to hear.” Now I just give my 8-year-old the whisper that he’s going to be “on” and I’m amazed at what he comes up with. If your family is not into prayers, it works for meaningful toasts too.

If you enjoyed this post, or are a parent with young children, you can download my FREE ebook:  A Parent’s Guide to Leadership.

Expert Advice On Gifts And Giving: A Frontline Festival

Welcome to the Holiday Edition of the Frontline Festival: Expert Advice on Gifts and Giving. In addition to sharing their posts, I invited each thought leader to share their “leadership gift” in one or two words.

Engaging a Giving Spirit

Jon Mertz, Thin Difference shares The Unboxed Life: Giving To lead more fully, we need to unbox our life and engage our giving spirit. When we do this, we become more connected to our true self, our true mission, and our community. John’s Gift:  “Listening well.” Follow Jon @thindifference

Wally Bock, Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog brings us Remembering the Legendary Christmas Truces  In 1914 and 1915, all along the Western Front, soldiers simply stopped fighting and celebrated Christmas. It is a true tale about gifts to remember to ponder. Wally’s Gift: “To me: the importance of integrity; From me: the nobility of work”  Follow Wally @WallyBock

New to the Festival, Bernie Nagle, ZunZhong  brings us BlessingState – Sharing Our Gifts  We transition from spirit to physical existence, purposely endowed with an abundance of gifts. Our mission as physical beings is to share our gifts to depletion. Benie’s gift:  “Empathy.”  Follow Bernie @altrupreneur.

Regina Verow, Creatively Conscious, reminds us give ourselves the gift of rest this holiday in her post True Gifts.  Stay tuned for the Creatively Concscious meets Let’s Grow Leaders collaborative Xmas music video on Dec. 23rd along a similar vein. Worth checking back here for a holiday giggle. Regina’s gift: “Creativity” Follow Regina @ReginaVerow.

Gift Ideas

Joy and Tom Guthrie, Vizwerx Group,  share Leadership Gifts (pic right) Follow Joy and Tom @VizwerxGroup Joy’s gift, “Vision.”  Follow Joy @Joy_Guthrie.

New to the Festival, Barbara Kimmel, Trust Across America offers her gift, Twelve Months of Trust for 2014 With the right plan, any leader can build trust! Trust Across America – Trust Around the World offers this 2014 gift to all leaders – twelve months of trust-building activities. Barbara’s gift: “Building Organizational Trust.” Follow Barbara @BarbaraKimmel.

This month Jennifer Miller, People Equation, shares her Smartblog post, 7 Leadership Gift-Giving Ideas for the Workplace. She calls leaders to widen their thinking about the “gifts” they can offer their employees and colleagues. Jennifer’s gift:  “Determination.” Follow Jennifer @JenniferVMiller

David Dye, Trailblaze, shares 45 Fantastic Leadership Gifts to Give and Receive David provides an encouraging list of gifts effective leaders give their teams as well as motivating gifts leaders receive, David’s gift: “People who always believed in me.”  Follow David @davidmdye.

Matt McWilliamsLife. Leadership. Love. Learned the Hard Way offers  How Do People Really Want to be Treated? The upside of “preferential treatment,” including gifts. Matt’s gift:  “Motivating others and celebrating success.” Follow Matt @MattMcWilliams2.

Julie Winkle Giulioni, JulieWinkleGiulioni.Com offers  Top 3 Gifts Employees Want Most this Holiday Season (and All Year Long). Why not give employees something they really want this year – a gift that will keep giving long after the egg nog is gone? Consider something from this Holiday Gift Guide… for leaders who want to delight employees and deliver results. Julie’s Gift: “Empathy and the ability to stand in other’s shoes.” Follow Julie @julie_wg.

Julie Pierce, Empowered By Pierce, brings us 3 Empowering Gifts for Those You Lead Seriously considering gifting your team with Duck Dynasty bobbleheads this Christmas? Leadership Coach Julie Pierce comes to the rescue with 3 thoughtful and empowering gifts for those you lead. Julie’s gift:  “Powerful questions.” Follow @julie_pierce

Tanveer Naseer,Tanveer Naseer Leadership, brings us Making Feedback A Gift For Your Employees Giving feedback doesn’t have to be difficult. Discover 5 steps leaders can use to transform the act of giving feedback into a gift for their employees Follow Tanveer @TanveerNaseer.

New to the Festival Sean Glaze, Lead Your Team Blog shares How to Give the Gift of Advice  Learn how to give the gift of advice so it can be received. Sean’s Gift: “Appreciation.” Follow Sean @leadyourteam.

Receiving Gifts

Jesse Lyn Stoner, Jesse Lyn Stoner Blog, shares  It’s Easier to Give Than to Receive, But Not Necessarily Better It is easier to give than to receive, but not necessarily better. Allowing others to help you is a sign of strength, not weakness. Here are 9 reasons why it’s better to receive. Jesse’s gift: “Listening”  Follow Jesse @JesseLynStoner.

Lolly Daskal Lead From Within, offers The GIft of Receiving She inspires us to be more than great givers, but to also accept the gift of receiving? Lolly’s Gift:  “Lead with heart; lead with love; lead from within” Follow Lolly @LollyDaskal.

Joan Kofodimos, Anyone Can Lead, shares How Hardship Creates Leaders In my experience, some of the greatest gifts don’t initially look like gifts at all. This post considers how hardships are a gift to us as leaders, if we can open to the lessons they offer. Joan’s gift: “The ability to honor one’s true purpose.” Follow Joan @JoanKofodimos.

Encouraging Gifts and Talents

Renee Ruchotze, Growing VItal Leaders, shares The Gift of Being Called How does it feel to be seen as a leader by someone you admire and respect? Renne’s gift:  “A balance of heart and head.” Follow Renee @Vitalleaders.

Kate NasserSmart SenseAbilities(TM) offers, 25 Incredibly Valuable Gifts Your Employees Give To become a great leader, learn to spot, mentor, and appreciate the gifts of those you lead. This is how you inspire and engage employees to full commitment. Appreciation! Kate’s gift:  “Emotional Intelligence” Follow Kate @KateNasser.

Mike Henry Sr., Lead Change Group, shares the The Zen of Employee Motivation One of our best posts this year on the importance of understanding everyone is a volunteer. As a result, their energy, skills and effort are gifts, given to you, the leader of the effort. David M. Dye challenges us to remember to treat everyone as a volunteer and to appreciate the gift they give us when they join! Mike’s gift: “Years of experience leaning how to influence without position.” Follow Mike @mikehenrysr.

 Bill Benoist, Leadership Heart Coaching, offers The Gift of Leadership Looking for that special gift this holiday season? Something meaningful. Something that will make an impact. Something that will be remembered. I know of a special gift, but it’s not one I can give you. Bill’s gift: “Trust.” Follow Bill @leadershipheart.

New to the Festival, Tracy Shroyer, TracyShroyerPhD.com, brings us No Longer a Passenger  An event that initially felt like punch in the gut eventually changed me for the better. Has something happened in your life that may have upset you at first, but then you realized it was a real blessing because it helped you to change for the better? Tracy’s gift is “Being genuine.” Follow Tracy @tshroyer2.

Lisa Kohn, Thoughtful Leaders, shares The Value in Giving There are many gifts that we receive, for which we can be grateful. But the greatest gift is the ability to give. This month is a wonderful time to give – to give actual gifts and to give of ourselves: our time, our attention, our friendship, our love, and our support. May you practice giving and have a month full of gifts! Lisa’s gift: “The ability to give.” Follow Lisa @ThoughtfulLdrs.

Skip Prichard, Leadership Insights, brings us What’s Your Yes What’s Your Yes  Life is about discovering your gifts (your yes) not your limitations (your no). Learn how to be defined by your “yes”, your unique gifts that have you performing in your strength zone. Skip’s gift: “Expressing.” Follow Skip @SkipPrichard.

John Hunter, Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog, brings us, Giving More Than Money to Charity. Volunteering your time and expertise is often more rewarding to those you help and yourself. Follow John @curiouscat_com.

Embracing Your Inner Grinch

Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak shares How to Rise Above Gift Exchanges at Work. Office gift giving is an awkward obligation. How to avoid, or make the best of, gift exchanges at work. Dan’s gift:  “Developing Others.” Follow Dan @Leadershipfreak.

Coming Soon

January’s Frontline Festival will be curated by David Dye of Trailblaze. The topic is “Leading Up and Sideways.” Please click here to submit your link.

7 Reasons You Won’t Hear The Truth

Your team decides what you can handle. Like parents protecting young children, they safeguard you and themselves. They anticipate tantrums, and work around them. They’ll even throw in a few things “they’re worried about,” to make you feel better.

Don’t blame them. You’ve taught them well. Your well-intended intensity sends them to the nearest diaper genie to package their story. To get the real deal, avoid these common traps.

How To Ensure You Won’t Hear The Truth

  1. Rush To Fix It – They’ve got this. Your “fix” may aggravate the situation. Escalating may damage peer relationships they’ve been working hard to develop. Instead ask how you can best help.
  2. Model It – Your team watches how you manage your boss. Watch what filtering you model. They’re picking up these skills from you. Show them how you give your boss bad news.
  3. Freak Out – Breathe. Nothing will shut them down more than high-emotions.
  4. Use It Against Them – They don’t want their mistakes to haunt them. If you don’t know, you can’t “ding” them. Encourage them to come to you with problems and solutions. Commend them for their honesty.
  5. Assign More Work – They’re already overwhelmed working the issue. Roll-up your sleeves to brainstorm solutions, but don’t just start assigning to-dos.
  6. Bring In The experts – Sure suggest folks who can help, but resist the urge to bring in a superhero to take over.
  7. Require More Updates – Now you’re nervous. It’s natural to want more frequent updates. If you need more info, make it easy. The team doesn’t have time to build more Powerpoints to update you. They’ve got work to do.

How To Encourage The Truth

  1. T – Time: Be sensitive to scar tissue from previous bosses. Raise the issue one person at a time. Ask how you’re doing and what it will take to nurture their trust.
  2. R – Receive well: Really listen to what they’re saying. Gently probe for more information. Ask follow-up questions, including how you can best help.
  3. U – Understand: Reiterate what you’ve heard. Use empathy statements, “Wow, that must be really frustrating”.
  4. T – Take it offline: Casually talk to team members one-on-one. Ask what worries them most, and how you can help. Ask what they think you should be worried about.
  5. H – Honest: Calmly articulate any concerns. Being real with them, will encourage them to be real with you.

7 Reasons You Won't Hear The Truth

Your team decides what you can handle. Like parents protecting young children, they safeguard you and themselves. They anticipate tantrums, and work around them. They’ll even throw in a few things “they’re worried about,” to make you feel better.

Don’t blame them. You’ve taught them well. Your well-intended intensity sends them to the nearest diaper genie to package their story. To get the real deal, avoid these common traps.

How To Ensure You Won’t Hear The Truth

  1. Rush To Fix It – They’ve got this. Your “fix” may aggravate the situation. Escalating may damage peer relationships they’ve been working hard to develop. Instead ask how you can best help.
  2. Model It – Your team watches how you manage your boss. Watch what filtering you model. They’re picking up these skills from you. Show them how you give your boss bad news.
  3. Freak Out – Breathe. Nothing will shut them down more than high-emotions.
  4. Use It Against Them – They don’t want their mistakes to haunt them. If you don’t know, you can’t “ding” them. Encourage them to come to you with problems and solutions. Commend them for their honesty.
  5. Assign More Work – They’re already overwhelmed working the issue. Roll-up your sleeves to brainstorm solutions, but don’t just start assigning to-dos.
  6. Bring In The experts – Sure suggest folks who can help, but resist the urge to bring in a superhero to take over.
  7. Require More Updates – Now you’re nervous. It’s natural to want more frequent updates. If you need more info, make it easy. The team doesn’t have time to build more Powerpoints to update you. They’ve got work to do.

How To Encourage The Truth

  1. T – Time: Be sensitive to scar tissue from previous bosses. Raise the issue one person at a time. Ask how you’re doing and what it will take to nurture their trust.
  2. R – Receive well: Really listen to what they’re saying. Gently probe for more information. Ask follow-up questions, including how you can best help.
  3. U – Understand: Reiterate what you’ve heard. Use empathy statements, “Wow, that must be really frustrating”.
  4. T – Take it offline: Casually talk to team members one-on-one. Ask what worries them most, and how you can help. Ask what they think you should be worried about.
  5. H – Honest: Calmly articulate any concerns. Being real with them, will encourage them to be real with you.

Winning When The Troops Are Tired

“I’m so sorry,: I whispered before he could even say hello. It was Sunday afternoon, and it was the third time I had to call.

He graciously spoke what we both knew was technically true, “Karin, no worries, this is my job.” But it had been a long couple of weeks, and I knew he was tired.

I hated to keep pushing, but the business needs were real.

7 Ways to Counter Attack Tired

Be a leader that strengthens the mission and the team. It’s wrong to live in a state of constant urgency, if that’s the scene, something’s wrong. Leaders must lead in seasons. But when the going gets tough, it’s important to plan your triage.

  1. Strategize Failure – The business needs this AND that. But some battles will win the war. Help your team understand what matters most. Be frank about what can be lost without sacrificing your mission. Candor strengthens resolve. Empowering “less than perfect” energizes the frontlines.
  2. Visualize the Win – Help them build a team vision aligned with the strategy. Brainstorm creative tactics and alternative approaches. Encourage talents outside normal job descriptions that support the cause.
  3. Speak to Behaviors, Not Metrics – Too many metrics exhaust. Trend and study results, but coach to behaviors. Identify the 2-3 most important behaviors that will impact results.
  4. Provide a Little Leave – The normal response to overwhelmed is longer hours and fewer breaks. Review their calendars and help them find white space. Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Stepping back will leave room for creativity and more efficient approaches.
  5. Communicate Through the Ranks – Your highest performers won’t complain. They’ll take on more, and work longer hours to get it done. You may not even know they’re tired. Initiate the conversation. Establish regular check-ins. Make it okay to politely question your asks.
  6. Manage Your Own Stress – Stress rolls down hill. Get a grip.
  7. Encourage Collaboration & Sharing Best Practices – Fast paced pressure creates silos. Catalyze best practice sharing. Eliminate redundant work. Benchmark how other departments are approaching similar issues. Ask for help from unusual suspects. You’ll get support and it will enhance their development.

Lunch Taboos You Should Break

You’re REALLY busy. No time for lunch. Better to grab some almonds and a diet coke and work through. The time you save at lunch gets you home sooner to your family. I’m with you. 

In fact when I was pregnant, my assistant announced she had blocked 30 minutes for me every day to walk to the cafeteria for lunch. I was allowed to move the appointment, but not delete it, for the sake of the baby.

Oh sure, I do business lunches, with an agenda and a purpose. And my sales team used to share that whenever I had something serious to talk about I invited them for a pumpkin latte. When sales started to dip, I would get a pre-emptive call: “I’ve already started scouting out the nearest Starbucks. I know you’ll want to talk.”

So I was surprised when a former colleague invited me to lunch. In all the years we worked together (in the same building) we hadn’t gone to lunch. Now he was at another company. I thought, he must need help. I’d better make the time.

What I Learned At Lunch

We met for lunch and I waited for the agenda to emerge. There was none. We got caught up on our careers and families. We talked about leadership and engagement, culture, common business challenges, hopes, disappointments.
And then he shared:

“You know the biggest difference between the 2 cultures? At my new company going to lunch is encouraged. Our entire culture is built on relationships. We have an open invitation to invite anyone from any other department to lunch, just to get to know them. No agenda required. And we can expense it.”

I laughed. My finance guy would never have allowed that (he was my finance guy). “Yup,” he admitted. As he picked up the check, I vowed to treat the next time. I got back to my office and looked and my calendar. Who could use a nice salad?

Do They Hear What You Hear?

He wants to be promoted, but something’s missing. You feel it, your boss feels it, but it’s hard to put your finger on it. He’s completed all the action plans, and has done everything you’ve asked. Look more deeply, does he hear what you hear?

“Happy is the hearing man; unhappy the speaking man.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The leap to the next level requires a keen sense of hearing. It’s an acquired skill, hard to explain in your development program. HR knows it too, but it’s unlikely they’d let you include it in the job description.

What They Must Hear

The Look in Their Eyes – Strong leaders commit to the moment. They can’t be searching for words or remembering the talk track. And they REALLY can’t get stuck on the script. Teach your growing leaders to watch the room and the look in their eyes. If the crew’s not tracking, it’s time to regroup. Teach them to search deeper. Help them change their approach ( not their values). Look for alternative doors to open similar possibilities.

Political Undertones – Great hearing starts long before the talking begins. Assign hearing homework. Help them assess the landscape and positions, BEFORE they plan their presentation.

Bigger Context – It’s hard to speak like an executive when you don’t have a clue. Give them enough insights to present an integrated view.

Meaning in Data – Teach interpretation not regurgitation. Leaders must pull meaning and implications for results. If there’s a gap, or a trend be sure they can explain it. Not tap dancing… thoughtful analysis and understanding. Help them show up as the expert.

The Unsaid – Every now and then your growing leader will step into an unexpected landmine. If the entire room reacts like they’re in a Harry Potter movie, where someone just named “the one who can’t be named.” Teach them to stop, take it off-line, and understand more before continuing.

5 Reasons Your Peers Are Getting Snarky

He’s driven, ambitious and successful. His boss loves him and he’s on the fast track. His peers are getting snarky, but he doesn’t have time to worry about that crap. They’re just jealous.

  • “They’re not as serious about performance as I am.”
  • “I’ve got a job to do, I don’t have time to make friends.”
  • “I don’t care if they like me, this is business.”
  • “My boss thinks I’m doing a great job, that’s what counts.”
  • “Just look at the scoreboard.”

Plus, snarky is childish. One more reason to assume it’s not his problem. Snarky peers are a leading indicator of short-sighted leadership.

5 Behaviors that Tick Off Your Peers

Peers impact your performance more than your boss. Your boss is one person. Your peers are an army of potential support, with diverse skills and talent. They’ve got resources and best practices that can save vital time. They’re facing similar challenges. Some of them are working together with beautiful synergy.

Good intentions sabotage relationships. The highest performers I know unknowingly fall into these traps. I learned this list the hard way.

If you’re in a vacuum, you’re the one at a disadvantage. I’ll start with 5, please add to the list.

  1. Never Ask For Help – You’re not cocky, just busy. You know they’re busy too. But your lack of reaching out is easily viewed as arrogance. You’re sending signs you’re “too busy”, so your peers don’t bother. Ask for advice now and then. Be sure to really listen to the response. When you do get help, publicly express your gratitude. If you doubt they have much to offer, I can’t help you. Prepare for an extra dose of snarky.
  2. Challenge them in front of the boss – Your peer feels belittled and bruised as he climbs from under the bus you didn’t even know you were driving. You didn’t mean to be a jerk. It’s just you weren’t paying attention until now. The first time you expressed your concerns was in front of the boss (or worse yet, the boss and others). The boss agrees and once again praises your quick thinking. Peer feedback is best given off-line. Give your input early, and then you can nod in full support of the enhanced plan.
  3. Withhold Best Practices – You’re trying some wild and crazy ideas, and you don’t want to share before you know they’ll work. Or you got busy and forgot to share. I know you’d never purposely withhold your great ideas, but your peers may not have the same interpretation. Let folks know what you’re up to. If it’s half-baked, describe the batter and promise updates. Peers trust peers who share what they’re doing.
  4. Take the Credit – When the praise is coming your way, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion. At your level you did not do this alone. Pause, consider, and deflect the praise. Your peers will appreciate the gesture, and all will respect your confident, humility.
  5. React Poorly to Feedback – The surest way to lose friends and alienate people is to reject their feedback. If you stop hearing, they’ll stop talking (well, at least to your face). Be gracious and open to what they have to say. Pause to consider. If it’s stupid, shake it off. But always take the high-road and thank them for their input.

Wisdom For Your Future Self

We Monday morning quarterback our lives. We look back with wistful wisdom, “if I only knew then what I know now.” No question, experience is a wise teacher.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
~ Confucius

And so, we seek out mentors and the wisdom of those who’ve gone before to accelerate our journey and hopefully side stepping a few boulders rolling our way. Necessary, but not sufficient.

At the end of the day, the journey is ours.

What if we could talk to our future selves with similar, compassionate wisdom? What do we know deep within, that we must tell ourselves today and tomorrow. Consider what the you of tomorrow will wish you had known (or done) today.

“What wisdom would you give the you of 10 years from now?”.

This provocative question, was posed by Alex Barker in our Leadership Dojo interview.

As I replayed the show and listed to my own “advice,” I was struck by the tension between what I would tell my past and future selves, which of course is the cocktail of advice I need most today. Weird in stereo.

You can listen to the podcast here: Play | Download

But that’s my story. Much more interested in yours. Let’s have some Friday fun in the Let’s Grow Leaders Community. Comment on any or all of the following provocative questions.

  • What advice would you give your younger self?
  • What wisdom would you tell the you of 10 years from now?
  • What wisdom is your heart telling you today?