What Is Gratitude?

True gratitude begins wtih deep humility.

True gratitude changes us.

True gratitude transforms our relationships.

True gratitude changes the game.

Courtesies Aren’t Gratitude

And yet, as leaders, we spend much time on “Thanks for passing the gravy” kind of thanks.

  • …thanks for this report
  • …thanks for the update
  • …thanks for coming to work on time
  • …thanks for returning my call
  • …thanks for dinner

Those courtesies are important and necessary. But they are not gratitude.

Recognition Isn’t Gratitude

Most organizations also do a pretty good job with formal recognition— taking time to determine who deserves the plaque and celebration. These ceremonies can surely come from a place of deep gratitude, but not necessarily. Often, they are based on numbers and rankings. Gratitude doesn’t come from spreadsheets.

Gratitude involves a deeper pause of true thanksgiving. I see this missing at many levels in organizations.

Gratitude is missing when…

an executive hears a presentation and immediately responds with questions, concerns, critiques and challenges, without a pause to consider the depth and breadth of work entailed, the long hours, and the creative thinking.

a middle manager is frustrated in his current role, but overlooks his long career of exciting challenges and developmental experiences.

a team leader acknowledges the team’s steady progress, but fails to understand the deep personal sacrifices of her team.

a team member resents the promotion of a coworker, and overlooks all the ways he has grown himself in the past year.

an employee didn’t receive the same tee-shirt as the guy in the next cube, and overlooks all the ways her family is benefiting from her job.

a volunteer feels slighted by a decision, and misses the magic of being part of something important in the community.

Thanks and recognition are about the receiver. As leaders, it is our job to say “thank you” and recognize good work.

Gratitude is also about the giver. True gratitude will transform our leadership.

Really Important Interviewing Advice

Juan and I were sure this was the candidate of our dreams. His track record was solid. The awards plentiful. In fact, we’d already began to wonder if we needed to continue the search. Surely this interview was a formality and would support our intuition.

Thank God. This was our guy. Ahh… that was easy.

But as the interview continued, Juan’s face revealed the angst in my heart. Crap. How were we going to justify that this guy’s not qualified? We hadn’t listed humility in the “required” or even “desired” competencies in the job posting.

We both felt this candidate was a nightmare in the making. He wasn’t listening or open. He had a plan and was ready to execute, but had very little desire to hear what we had to say. He told us five times he was the most qualified candidate, and why we shouldn’t waste a second more on our job search.

But we couldn’t get past the cocky decorum.

Perhaps he really was as good as he said, and all the “me, me, me” stuff was just nervous energy. I’ll never know. Juan and I hired the next “best” candidate on paper. She turned out to be a rock star.

I have a mentor who tells anyone interviewing for a job, “This is not the time to be humble.” To some extent that’s true.

Interviewing is  certainly not a time for self-deprecating remarks or uncertainty. Be bold in your ideas, vision and in sharing what you bring to the table.

But–the leaders you really want to work for will also be looking for a humble streak. They want to see that you’re willing to learn, can lead from behind, and are open to new ideas. If you’re that kind of leader, don’t hide those rare and precious qualities.

The best candidates interview with confident humility.

How to Approach an Interview With Confident Humility

Confidence Says...I’m smart and extremely qualified.
Humility Reveals...I’m eager to understand your culture.

Confidence Says... My skills are highly transferable.
Humility Reveals...I’m open to new approaches.

Confidence Says...I have a long track record of success.
Humility Reveals…I like to surround myself with strong talent.

Confidence Says...I’m a quick study.
Humility Reveals...I’m eager to learn.

Confidence Says…I’m a visionary.
Humility Reveals...Vision is nothing without solid execution. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Confidence Says…I know I can make a difference for your organization.
Humility Asks…If I were in this role, what could I do to make your job easier?

Leaders Share about Worklife Balance Integration – A Frontline Festival

 

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our November Festival is all about Worklife Balance Integration.  Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

What is Worklife Balance?

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton

Michelle Cubas of Positive Potentials shares that Work-Life Balance is a Gender Based Myth. Follow Michelle.

Balancing will not suffice in today’s fast paced world. According to Jon Mertz of Thin Difference, we instead we need to find a work-life tempo and change it whenever the need arises. Follow Jon.

Are you striving to find work-life balance? Forget it, says Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights. Successful people understand that being OFF balance is what matters. Learn from an acrobat and see how to use these concepts to power your goals. Follow Skip.

Work-life balance is about setting the right priorities for work and lifestyle. Get it wrong and your health may suffer. Follow the advice of Tristan Wember of Leadership Thoughts and restore balance in a day. Follow Tristan.

The Badge of Busy-ness

“Beware the barreness of a busy life.” – Socrates

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership observes that we keep trying to cram more and more into the day. What are the consequences?  Follow Wally. 

The world is primarily results-driven. According to Tom Eakin of  Boomlife to create the perfect blend between life and work we need to challenge the status quo and become values-driven thinkers. Follow Tom.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents “Are you a workaholic?” where she shares that a bit of Thoughtful Leadership and intentional living can be a great first step towards awareness of workaholic tendencies and willingness to call them out and do something about them. Follow Lisa.

Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.com shares that this workload-as-status-symbol syndrome is usually not about working hard, chasing a dream, or being integral to an organization’s success. We’re overworked because of our desire to feel important. Follow Matt.

Tracy Shroyer of Beyond the Stone Wall asks, “Are you sick and tired of hearing people drone on about how busy they are? I call it the ‘busy syndrome’ and believe it can be prevented. It has to do with the choices we make.” Follow Tracy.

Strategy

“Balance, peace and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.” – Thomas Kinkade

To achieve life balance, you have to learn how to say “No.” Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited gives us some tips on using that word graciously. Follow Beth.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog  shares that vacation time in the USA is much less than most other rich countries, which he think is a mistake.  John opted out and is trying the digital nomad lifestyle. Follow John.

Jeff Miller of Essenhaus, Inc. explores the idea of treating our home life similar to our work life, with goals, mission statements and more.  Follow Jeff.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com shares that you can only manage what you can measure, whether it is at work or home. Follow Michelle.

For leaders and small business owners, holidays rarely mean a full disconnect. Alli Polin of Break the Frame suggests that the answer to: “Do I work or turn off completely?” is a personal one and it’s often hard to make. Follow Alli.

Have you ever felt like you needed a little help in the work life balance juggling act? Leadership Coach Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce offers four practical helps to keep the balls in the air. Follow Julie.

Just because technology makes it possible to be always available, doesn’t mean you should be, advises Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership. The reality is that it’s not healthy, and over the long run you will be less productive. These 7 habits can help you turn off technology and tune into life. Follow Jesse.

Julie Winkle Giulioni of Juliewinklegiulioni.com suggests that focus–a top strategy for achieving purpose, goals and success–may be the most misconstrued human capacity. Is it possible that how we’ve come to think about and approach focus might actually impede the very progress and results we’re hoping it will drive? Follow Julie. 

frontlinefestival-300x300-300x300Call for Submissions. December’s Frontline Festival is about Dreams and Callings. Please send your submissions no later than December 12th. New participants welcome.  Click here to join in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helping People Find Their Voice

Even the most confident among us sometimes lose our voice. Everyone needs encouragement every now and then.

A Story of Voice Losing and Finding

Our church is exceptionally progressive when it comes to women in leadership. In fact, the ministers and all church staff are women. And yet, we have this big deal tradition– a fundraiser auction– which has been historically led by male auctioneers. Something just didn’t seem right about that.

After hearing enough behind-the-scenes chatter on the phenomenon, I mentioned my/our concern to Bob, the auctioneer lead.

“Why are there no women on the stage? Why are they all behind the scenes?” He looked surprised, “Not sure. I guess no one’s expressed an interest. There used to be a woman who did it.” That wasn’t quite enough for me, ‘”Who have you asked recently?” It was friendly banter, and he said he’d work to change it up next year.

We picked up the conversation 10 months later, when my phone rang. “Karin I’m doing the line-up for the auction. I’d love for you to be an auctioneer.”

Oh boy. I’d wanted SOME woman to do this. But didn’t really see myself in the role. Sure, I’m a speaker, but “go bidder bidder” wasn’t exactly my style. But what could I say?

“I’d be honored.” I smiled and thanked him for his follow-through.

So that year, I donned an evening gown–in some feeble attempt to have the congregation notice there was a woman at the mic. I did the best I could (or so I persuaded myself). But honestly, I had a hard time finding my auctioneer’s voice. I’d give myself a C at best. I was a little sorry I’d brought the whole thing up.

Generously, I was asked back again this year.

Time for an upgrade. As I looked at my auction item list, I realized that the first few items really leant themselves to song. If you haven’t heard this before, I was voted “most likely to burst into song” in high-school, so this is not really a stretch thought, but the wacky place to which my brain orients naturally.

But stay with me… There was a grown-up women slumber party, just calling for a round of “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee.” Or the poker night, “Luck be a Lady Tonight,” from Guys and Dolls. You see?

And so I went for it, belting out the attention-getting openers. The crowd smiled.

A few items in, it was time for our dinner break. I checked in with my veteran auctioneers. “Oh yeah that works,”  they were all with me using the non-traditional approach. When I confessed I had no idea how I would sing about sushi, we brainstormed ideas (we landed on “Fish Glorious Fish (Oliver style).” Richard on sound gave me a thumbs up and adjusted the mics for the new sing-to-sell approach.

We sold a plenty of sushi.

When taking on an uncomfortable role, it may feel safer to play the role as it’s been played before. But that’s not always what will bring the best results. Digging deeper to find your most natural voice (and encouraging others to do the same), may be the best way to inspire confidence and improve results.

The Importance of Applauding Yourself

Confident, humble leaders take a moment to privately applaud themselves. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a mini-timeout to tell yourself “Wow! Great job,” particularly for the incremental baby steps that change the game. Privately applauding yourself is vital if others aren’t looking at or caring about your greater mission.

One of the great joys of my new journey is that I get to meet so many kindred spirits from all over the world. I’m honing my “confident-humility” radar-detection system. I’m pleased to introduce Roberto Martinez from Bogota, Columbia to you through his guest post and short video interview.

I met Roberto after a speech I gave at the National Speaker Association’s Business Accelerator Lab.  He’s a doctor, a musician, a teacher, a speaker, a husband and father doing important work. You have to pull all of that out of him, though, because mostly he’s a humble man working to inspire good where it needs to happen most.

I was inspired by his thinking on taking time to “applaud yourself.” (Watch the video to hear more.)

See my interview with Roberto here. 

Roberto Martinez’s Thinking on Applauding Yourself

Some time ago a friend of mine asked me how to stay true to your journey toward fulfilling your dreams.  After all, it’s hard. There are competing pressures. Here’s my best thinking for the LGL community.

  1. Link to Passion:  Be sure that what you’re doing is connected to your passion and to your greatest purpose in life. It is not about “the what”… it is about the “why” and “the what for.”
  2. Don’t Think Small: The key is to verify that you are not doing what you want for a small reason. As I told my friend, make sure you are walking up that road not only to pay the rent, or to be able to go to the movies after you paid the bills of the month, but to create something really great. Something that counts for many and helps many people around you,while you are in the process. Your true passion is that thing that will get you out of your bed every morning full of energy and with a big smile in your face!
  3. Bring Optimism:  You have to mix that passion and intention with optimism, so you can ignite persistence. Remember that real optimism is not about being always happy, or never finding a bump in the road. It is about having confidence that sooner or later you will reach all your goals, even if you don’t necessarily know at present how you will accomplish them. If you persist in the intention and do the homework, you will find the way and you will meet the right people to overcome the barriers.
  4. Applaud Yourself: Celebrate the small victories that you have along the way. Usually people throw big parties, receptions and celebrations when they accomplish great steps, but you know what? You do not have to celebrate these great victories! Other people will celebrate them for you.  The ones that you have to celebrate are precisely the small ones. Those that nobody know about but you. Those victories that in the bottom of your heart you truly know they were very hard to gain, but you did it. Those victories will give you the confidence and the strength to continue when everything seems uphill.
  5. Be Aware of Your Legacy:  Make sure you are going accompanied in the road. Whose life is easier down the road as a result of your efforts? This is certainly one of the steps that creates the greatest commitment to your vision because is no longer just about you– it is about them.
  6. Enjoy the Journey: At the end of the day, it is not so much about the goal itself… it is about the type of person that you will become as you pursue the goal.

The synergy of these six steps will inspire you, and others, to support your vision.

I would love to hear your insights and thoughts. Feel free to reach out. Roberto@rmleadinglife.com

Visit Roberto’s site rmleadinglife.com or find him on Facebook, or Twitter @rm_leadinglife

5 Ways to Rebuild Confidence

It didn’t go well for Jennifer the last the time, and now her confidence was shaken. She was doing everything she could to avoid the situation, which only increased her anxiety and frustrated the rest of us. We had to rebuild her confidence and encourage her to try again. When the last time goes south, it can be hard to pick up the pieces.

Perhaps you’ve heard similar concerns.

“The last time I gave someone feedback they cried.”

“The last time I was honest with my boss, I got a negative review.”

“The last time I presented to senior management, I got so nervous I forgot what I was going to say.”

“The last time I stayed up late working on a report, they didn’t even look at it.”

“The last time I interviewed, it turned out the job had already been promised to someone else.”

The memory of last time can destroy this time before you even start.

5 Ways To Get Your Team Past a Bad “Last Time”

1. Acknowledge What’s Real

If last time really was a complete disaster, acknowledge the issue. Trying to say something “just wasn’t that bad” — if it was–will only make you lose credibility. If they’re blowing it out of proportion, offer evidence to help them see the past from a different perspective.

2. Break It Down

Ask questions to help them understand the root cause of what went wrong the last time. Chances are not everything went wrong. It’s much easier to improve when you know what you’re fixing.

3. Outline What’s Different About the Scene

They may think they’ve seen this movie before, but the truth is, last time was different in many ways. Take the time to explore how today is different from yesterday, or this guy’s different from that guy.

4. Celebrate the Learning

Help them consider all they’ve learned from the last time.

5. Help them Prepare an Approach

The best way to create a winning this time, is to fully prepare. Help them create a strong strategy and approach.

How To Respect People You Disdain

You care deeply about breakthrough results. This guy’s a jerk. No no, not just annoying, a poster-child good blocker. You’ve got stories.

Be careful. Two disrespects don’t build respect.

In full disclosure,  I don’t have this mastered. The worst moments of my career have come from the times I let the one or two really nasty, disrespectful (I’m tempted to say “evil”) human beings get underneath my skin and bring out the worst in me.

I’m learning to respect myself enough to seek to find something to respect in even the most ridiculous human beings. The process is important. When I look hard enough it’s often amazing what good or reason is lurking beneath the surface.

5 Ways to Respect People You Disdain

“If we lose love and respect for one another, this is how we finally die.” -Maya Angelou

1. Hang Around Them

“Really Karin, are you crazy? What about the wisdom of being the sum of the people you spend your time with?” Okay, okay, don’t EXCLUSIVELY hang around them, and don’t let their nasty ways rub off. But there’s something to be said for propinquity. Investing time in the relationship may surface an additional understanding.

2. Take the Balcony View

I love the wisdom of William Ury shares in The Power of a Positive No to extract yourself from the emotions of the situation and consider a more objective view.

The balcony is a detached state of mind you can access anytime you chose. Imagine yourself for a moment as an actor on a stage about to speak your line– your no. Now picture yourself up on a balcony overlooking the stage, a place where you can see the scene clearly from afar. The balcony is a place of perspective, calm and clarity.

The balcony is a great place to look for reasons to respect.

3. Stop Dissing them Behind Their Back

It’s impossible to feel genuine respect, or even treat people with respect, if you’re talking poorly about them to yourself or others.

4. Engage Real Conversation

Encourage them to share their opinions and really listen to what they have to say. Try having a conversation with the sole intension of really hearing them (rather than responding with your views). Look them in the eye. It’s amazing how often that will encourage them to respond in kind.

5. Seek Out Positive Views

Look for people who do respect this individual and find out why. There may just be more to him or her than you’ve seen so far.

Respect brings out desirable qualities in ourselves and others.

Respects begets respect.

Let’s keep trying.

The Simplest Way to Set Clear Expectations

Great leaders have great expectations. They expect excellence and hold people accountable. Great expectations are vital, but slippery. Unarticulated expectations frustrate… you…your boss, your team, your children, your lover. “But I assumed you would.” “Why should I have to spell that out?” Unarticulated expectations are a sign of ineffective leadership.

My MBA students make it perfectly clear. They want a “rubric” on how they’ll be graded. It’s an intensive practice to clearly define my expectations up front, and check for understanding. Sure the real world is “messier,” but there’s something to be said for clearly defined expectations on both sides of the relationship equation.

Clear understanding improves performance.

The Simplest Way to Set Clear Expectations

1. Get Clear on Your Own Expectations

If you’re not clear on what you want, I guarantee you won’t be able to communicate it.  I had one VP who could never articulate just what he wanted in the presentations we were creating. He just knew it when he saw “it.” The lack of clear expectations always resulted in rounds and rounds of frustrating iterations wasting everyone’s time and weakening respect along the way.

2. Engage in Conversation

Be clear about what you want, but also listen carefully to concerns. Better to identify expectation disconnects as early in the game as possible.

3. Write them Down

In some circumstances it’s useful to write down agreed-to expectations. This works one-on-one and with teams. The process of writing down expectations often leads to further clarity and serves as an objective reminder as expectation violations arise (P.S. if you want some musical inspiration see, Write It All Down— my cousin’s awesome folk band singing Write It All Down.)

4. Check in 

From time to time it’s useful to check in. You can easily draw a 4-quadrant box to guide the conversation (see graphic above). You can do this as a one-on-one or a team exercise.

Step 1

Each person completes the matrix, jotting down areas where their expectations are being met and where they are not.

Step 2

Discuss areas of agreement and areas of concern

  • What do you expect that you receive, or don’t expect and don’t receive? Start with appreciating that.
  • What do you receive that you don’t expect, or expect that you don’t receive? Recognize the good or the issue here and discuss.

Step 3

Identify specific actions that would enable you to work more effectively together.

You can download a PDF of the worksheet here. EXPECTATIONS EXERCISE

Does it Matter if They Like You?

Conventional managerial wisdom says, “It doesn’t matter if they like you, as long as they respect you.” I can also hear the echo of countless bosses and mentors over the years, “You’re not here to be liked.” “If you worry about whether they like you, they won’t respect you.” I get the sentiment and, as with anything else, it’s a matter of degree. But, I’ve never seen these as opposing characteristics. Why can’t a leader be respected AND liked? Demanding and likeable?

Frankly, I’m all for being likable, and I’ve finally found the research to back it up.

In their Harvard Business Review article, Competent Jerks, Loveable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks. Casciaro and Lobo shared their extensive research across a wide array of industries which found that although managers SAY they prefer to work with competent over likeable people, in reality, they actually seek out and work with people they like, even when they’re less competent.

We found that if someone is strongly disliked, it’s almost irrelevant whether or not she is competent; people won’t want to work with her anyway. By contrast if someone is liked, his colleagues will seek out every little bit of competency he has to offer.

Of course the best player is the “loveable star” who is both competent and likeable.

A recent Wall Street Journal article cites another study which found that being likeable matters.

Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others and have mistakes forgiven. A study of 133 managers last year by researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that if an auditor is likable and gives a well-organized argument, managers tend to comply with his suggestions, even if they disagree and the auditor lacks supporting evidence.

How to Foster Professional Likeability

1. Don’t be a jerk, even if you’re competent.

2. Make a point to get to know the human beings you work with.  It’s easier to like someone you know.

3. Listen more, talk less.

4. Create opportunities for your team to connect and learn more about one another.

5. Capitalize on your likeable team members. Have them help bridge and build relationships for those competent players with a more jerky edge.

6. Lower your jerky tolerance threshold. Resist the urge to let your competent players get away with bad behaviors.

7 Ways Overconfidence is Sabotoging Your Career

Frank is bright, confident, with an MBA from a top 25 and a long-track record of success. He moved up quickly and has a wall full of awards. He’s checked all the boxes: special assignments, line and staff jobs, late nights; but the last three promotions have gone to someone else. When he asks why, he’s told to “Be patient,” and that “Your time will come.” Hardly actionable feedback. He wants to DO something, so he goes on a self-promotion campaign, sharing his laundry list of reasons why he’s qualified. He reminds anyone that matters of his MBA, his contributions and his sacrifices. Frank wants to be sure it’s crystal clear that he deserves the next promotion.

The next promotional opportunity comes and goes.

This time he’s told why. “You’re driving everyone crazy.” “It’s all about you, not the work.” “You’ve got a sense of entitlement.” “You’re over-confident. Instead of asking how you can improve, you’re telling everyone why you don’t need to.”

Confidence without humility will sabotage your career.

7 Ways Overconfidence Will Sabotage Your Career

1. You Come Across as Entitled

Entitled, whiny, “What about me?” makes even the most competent and confident person look weak. Let your work and actions speak for themselves.

2. You Over-Rely on Past Strategy

It worked last time so you do it the same way. You move quickly, not stopping to consider that this situation or team is different. Lather, rinse, repeat is not a leadership strategy.

3. You Stop Learning

Lots of reasons for this. See these 60 reasons

4. You Stop Asking For Feedback

You think you know what to do and how to lead, so you stop asking for feedback. Leadership is never handled. Never stop asking.

5. You Under-Prepare

You’ve got this, it’s easy, so you back off the effort. You just didn’t anticipate what happened next.

6. You’ve Got No Plan B

You’re so confident you’re on the fast track, you stop networking or creating contingency plans. Never take your career path for granted.

7. You Ignore Data

When you think you know what to do, it’s easy to ignore data that doesn’t fit your plan. Great leaders have extraordinary peripheral vision.

Never underestimate the importance of confident humility.

An Easy Way to Discuss Dysfunctional Behavior at Work

Whether your team is just starting up, or has the battle scars of a team fighting for results, they need to find a way to talk about the behaviors getting in their way. Great leaders look for ways to make this conversation easier.

Dysfunctional behavior can be hard to talk about because it feels so personal.  Many times people wait to have important difficult conversations until the issue has escalated. It’s harder then.

A Functional Conversation on Dysfunction

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.” Plato

I like to use this exercise early in a team’s formation to get folks talking about common experiences and appropriate remedies as early in the game as possible. This conversation also provides a safer feeling infrastructure to surface important dynamics a mature team needs to share without direct confrontation.

Step 1:

Give every team member 6-7 Post-it notes. Ask them to identify the behaviors that (in their experience) most get in the way of results or team progress. It’s important to tee-up that this is based on a lifetime of experience, not just this team. Then ask them to write one behavior on each Post-it.

Step 2:

As team members are ready, have them bring their Post-it notes to a wall or white board and begin to self-organize them into clusters. Enjoy the banter as the clusters form.

Step 3:

Circle the biggest dysfunctions.

My experience shows they will read something like this (I’d love for you to share your findings):

  1. Arrogance (by a landslide)
  2. Unmotivated (and/or lazy)
  3. Self-serving motives and actions
  4. Lack of communication
  5. Disrespect
  6. Stubborness
  7. Drama
  8. Anger-bullying
  9. Passive-Aggressive

Step 4:

Take the top few categories and invite the team to share what they would do when encountered with such scenarios. Encourage them to share stories of best practices they’ve used in the past.

Step 5:

Develop a set of standards or team norms for how such issues would be addressed if they were to occur on this team. Encourage the sharing of stories from best experiences and overcoming dysfunctional behavior.

It’s very important for teams to talk about their own dysfunction. But early in the game, it may be easier to talk about standards and stories to establish a framework for the future.