17 Leadership Role Models Who Get Results That Last

ho is your favorite leadership role model? This month, as Frontline Festival authors were submitting their posts, I asked them to consider the 7 Results That Last roles, and identify one role model who exemplified the values and behaviors inherent in that role. I loved the responses, and enjoyed the over-lap across some of the roles.

And now I invite you to play along. Who is your favorite role model and which of the 7 roles do you think they exhibit particularly well?

Thought Leaders Share Their Favorite Leadership Role Models

“We need role models who are going to break the mold.” -Carly Simon

translatorTranslators

David Dye of Trailblaze suggests Nelson Mandela.  He didn’t just work for peace, he articulated why forgiveness was vital and how specific activities, like supporting the national rugby team, made a difference. Follow David.

 

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” –Nelson Mandela

 

connector (1)Connectors

Paula Kiger of Perspicacity suggests the post-presidency Jimmy Carter. He has worked with so many different nationalities and causes, connecting all along the way. Follow Paula. 

“Unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent.” -Jimmy Carter

John Manning of Map Consulting suggests Franklin D. Roosevelt. Follow John.  

 

builderBuilders

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership suggests A. G Lafley, CEO of Proctor and Gamble. His career is marked by consistently helping individuals and teams and his company do better.  Follow Wally.

Lisa Hamaker of How Good Can You Stand It? suggests Albert Einstein. He is mostly known as a genius in mathematics and physics, however he also knew that spirituality entered greatly into his work, “I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details.” Einstein also understood that the value of intrinsic motivation far outweighs the extrinsic, ““Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” Follow Lisa.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  suggests the late W. Edwards Deming, engineer and management consultant.  “He clearly articulated the importance of building a management system that was effective and continually improving.  This is the theme of my book, Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability. – Follow John.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute suggests Charles Hamilton Houston. Social engineering was developed in response to racial inequities in the justice system. Civil rights pioneer, the late Charles Hamilton Houston, developed this theory due to his lifelong commitment to burying the remnants of racism. Houston characterized a social engineer as the mouthpiece of the weak and a sentinel guarding against wrong. Follow Artika.

 

galvanizerGalvanizers

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting suggests Mike Krzyzewski – “As much as I can’t stand Duke (my dad went to Wake Forest), I respect Coach K because he always, always, always instills BELIEF in his team. He helps them taste the win long before they’ve experienced it.” Follow Matt.

“Imagination has a great deal to do with winning.” -Mike Kryzewski

Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting suggests Warren Buffet. Follow Bill.

 

#resultsthatlastBackers

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog suggests Nelson Mandela, the first black democratically elected President of South Africa and the leader and face of the Anti-Apartheid movement.  He fought against racial discrimination and for his actions, he served a twenty-seven year prison sentence. Showing his determination, focus, and will power after he got out of prison, he worked again for what was right. Follow Lisa.

 

ambassadorAmbassadors

Chantal Bechervaise of Take It Personel-ly  shares, “A well-known leader that comes to mind is also one of my favorite authors too, Mark Miller. I feel that he exemplifies servant leadership and after reading the 7 roles, I think he is a great match for all of them.”  Follow Chantal.

“When you expect the best from people, you will often see more in them than they see in themselves. The good news is that people generally rise to the level of expectations placed on them.” -Mark Miller

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited suggests the Biblical leader, Nehemiah, is a great example of all the roles, but fits well as an ambassador. He had to travel back to his home country to spearhead the re-building effort while guiding the team to protect the borders from enemies as they rebuilt. Follow Beth.

 

acceleratorAccelerators

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC . suggests three leaders that have dared to stand on the edge of conventional behavior and thinking. Daniel Pink is a current trend disrupter and contrarian who fits this description. Jim Collins has a place in this segment, too. Terrie St. Marie (Starbucker) who has written a post describing the difference between a boss and a leader. Follow Michelle.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader  suggests Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Even though personal computing was in it’s infancy, they still kicked out the traditional modes of doing business that “have always been done this way.” Follow Paul.

“If I’d had some set idea of a finish line, don’t you think I would have crossed it years ago?” Bill Gates

Blogger David Oddis  has the privilege of knowing a few accelerators. Names that come to mind are Brandon Jackson, Sean Poris and Mark Portofe. These gentlemen do what great leaders do. They will with out a second thought put themselves in front of the bus if needed. They will jump in and work side by side with staff to meet goals, encouraging and lifting spirits. They are not status takers or neck breakers, they are leaders and these are the type of people I want on my projects. They get it! Follow David.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding suggests President Ronald Reagan who said, The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Follow Chery.

William Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts suggests Jack Welch of GE, famous for his WORK OUT team methodology which brought people from all levels in a business together to take a fresh look at all business processes and reinvigorate the whole approach.  Follow William.

BONUS TRACKS

top learning trendsFun to be interviewed on the future of training on the Top Learning Trends in Training and Development in 2016 and Beyond by HR Dive.

If you haven’t downloaded my FREE e-book Mentroing in the Age of the Millennial, or want to participate in my EASY 5 Day Leadership challenge, click here.

 

7 Strategic Questions Your Team Should Be Able to Answer

I’ve never met an executive who said, “My team’s just too strategic. I just wish they would focus on the day-to-day work.” Nope. In fact it’s quite the opposite concern. “How do I get my team to think more strategically?” “Karin, I just don’t think anyone on this team is ready to take on my role…. and I can’t get promoted until I find a successor.” And the phone call of the week is, “These millennials just don’t seem to get it. There’s no long-term commitment. I don’t think they care. (PS: if this one sounds familiar, click here and scroll down to download my FREE e-book Mentoring in the Age of the Millennial.) I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, if your team is not thinking strategically don’t write them off, until you take a good look at what you’ve been sharing. It’s impossible to connect the dots if you only see a third of them. If you wait until everything’s fully baked to share it with the team, they’ll never learn to be bakers. Not sure where to start without going out-of-bounds? Start here with these 7 strategic questions, that won’t get you fired.

7 Strategic Questions Your Team Should Be Able to Answer

translator1. Why do we do what we do? Note: “to make money” is not the only answer. Dig deeper. I ask this question every time I go into a focus group. You would be surprised how few can articulate a compelling answer. Start here. Talk amongst yourselves. Challenge one another. I promise this is worth every minute of time spent not “doing work.”

2. How does our team’s work contribute to the company’s mission? This one’s more tricky. At the levels closest to the customer, it’s easy to feel like a bot, and that’s precisely where it’s most dangerous.

3. What do our customers really want? Your team knows. Write it down, and then be sure your policies and procedures align.

4. Who are our major competitors and what differentiates us in the market? My guess is that some of your team will be all over this and others won’t have a clue. Having the dialogue will offer great opportunities to explore perceptions and promote learning.

5. How does the way we do our work impact other departments? Some time spent here,  looking candidly from both directions, will save days (maybe weeks) of unproductive time.

6. How can we better articulate what we need to the departments we rely on? Make a short list and use it.

7. What’s the most important thing we’re working on and why? This one seems tricky, but it will open up a hornet’s nest… so why do we?  Resist the urge to blame others for stupidity. If something really feels stupid, have the managerial courage to lift up the concern. The best way to help your team to become more strategic is to teach them to talk strategy. Imagine the possibilities if you were “that guy.”

A Powerful and Cost Effective Way to Become a Stronger Manager

There’s no question. The best way to get better at leading is by leading. Learn some skills, get out of your comfort zone,  try them out, get feedback, take it seriously, adjust, repeat.

It’s the premise behind high-end executive development programs that include action learning projects and 360 feedback assessments.

The trouble is, such programs are often reserved for high-potential talent at a certain level of the organization. They take a significant investment and require a lot of time off the job, while the”real work” piles up.

I want you and the other managers in your organization to have access to high-quality leadership development that’s INTEGRATED with your day jobs. Learn a skill, apply it with your team while you work on real work, get feedback, take it seriously, repeat.

That’s why I’m bringing you this new mixed media course, which includes results-enhancing work you do with your team and a 360. Watch the video and head over the Results That Last course landing page to learn more. While you’re there you can sign up for a FREE 5 day leadership challenge and download my new e-book Mentoring in the Age of the Millennial.  I also want to make it easy for you to convince your boss of the amazing value of this investment, so you’ll even find a customizable email you can prepare to help persuade your boss, as to why you should begin immediately.

 

There’s real value in having teams of managers going through this together, which is why I’ve made it easier to purchase multiple licenses with tiered pricing. I’m finding most of the companies I’ve talked with are starting with a 10-person pilot to try it out.

If you would like you learn more about how this would work for your company or non-profit, send me an email at karin.hurt@letsgrowleaders.com and I can schedule a demo.

Please help me spread the word about this course, and make it easier for others to get results that last, the right way.

6 Simple Techniques to Help Your Employees See the Big Picture

If you’re like most managers, you know the importance of helping your team see the bigger picture. You would do more, if you only had the time. The occasional all-hands meetings help, but without interim reinforcement, those motivational meetings can feel like a fire hose of plans and numbers. If you want your team to truly “get it,” sprinkle little bits of big picture reinforcement into their week.

6 Ways to Get Your Employees to See the Big Picture

“The big picture doesn’t just come from distance; it also comes from time.”  -Simon Sinek

1.”Postcards”

It’s easy to forget that the main reason many employees don’t think more strategically is a lack of information. It’s hard to connect the dots when a third of them are invisible.  It’s also tough to translate all you heard three days later. What I’ve found works quite well is just to send soundbites out via text message throughout some of the more strategic meetings I attend.

I make them fun and relevant to their roles. It creates interest and sets the table for the more robust conversations that follow.  These have worked for years, long before 140 characters was the way of the world. “Oh boy, Competitor X just launched new plans that will change the way customers think about our pricing. Let’s talk more on Monday.”

2. Gamification

It’s easier than ever to turn learning into a game. In most of my keynotes I use kiwilive as a simple platform to poll or ask questions, poll everywhere is free for up to 25 responses (no, neither of these companies are paying me).  Participants can “compete” on who knows your big picture fun facts from the convenience of their phone.

3. Bring-a-Friend Staff Meetings

Sometimes the best way to understand how sausage is made, is to help make it. Giving people exposure to the conversation and thought process, not just the outcomes of strategic decisions, goes a long way in helping people connect the dots. Every time I’ve held a “bring-a-friend staff meeting” where my direct reports each bring one of their direct reports, you can almost see the light bulbs going on.

4. Field Trips

There’s a reason every elementary school takes a trip to the zoo. You can read about giraffes all you want, but until you have one bend down and lick your face, it’s hard to really understand what they’re all about. There’s real power in taking a “field trip” to another department and seeing how they really think and operate.

5. Mentoring Circles

I’ve shared this idea with you before. I’m repeating my self because mentoring circles work. Click here for more information.   If you want more information on mentoring you can download my FREE eBook, Mentoring in the Age of the Millennial from my new ecourse landing page.

6. Teaching Operations Reviews

Another one of my key go-tos. For step-by-step instructions click here.

Effective managers are translators. Help your team see the bigger picture. Before you motivate, translate.

BONUS TRACKS: FREE Webinars, Radio Interviews and HBR

Karin Hurt Promo

reorganizationIf you’re free on Wednesday October 28, I’ll be out in the online-world making a bit of a ruckus.

At 1pm, I’m joining Twan van de Kerkhof on a panel: Is the Future of Leadership More Personal (I bet you can guess my POV).

At 2pm EST I’Il be on Faces of Success Radio talking about David Dye’s and my upcoming book, Winning Well (click on the image to enlarge).

Also, I was recently interviewed in this article for HBR on about What To Do and Say After a Tough Reorganization. Such circumstances can hurt or help your career. If you’re faced with a reorganization, I hope this helps.

Defining Your Unique Value Proposition: A LGL Virtual Meet and Greet

What is your unique value proposition? What unique set of experience, skills, and style do you bring to the your work? If you’ve never tried this before I challenge you to give it a shot and share it with our community. That’s not bragging, that’s confidence.

Why I’m Writing About Unique Value Propositions Today

When I recently published a post on the Lead Change Group Website, How to Promote Yourself Without Being Annoying, my first tip was “be confident in your product.”

“Be Confident In Your Product – If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, your customer won’t either. Make a list of your features and benefits. What truly differentiates you? What’s your unique value proposition? If this step feels too hard, ask some trusted advisers to help.”

John’s Query

I was deeply touched by one of the responses: here’s an excerpt:

I do have a question about one thing: This “Unique Value Proposition.” Maybe I am just being too literal here, but I have always found this difficult to do. When I see the word “unique” or the phase “sets you apart from everyone else”, I freeze up, because I cannot imagine any value, attribute, behavior, or trait that is truly “unique.”

I do believe that my blend of experience, education, and attitude makes me very competitive and a stronger candidate than many others, but “unique” is a word I just cannot use in reference to myself.

You mentioned asking trusted advisors for their input and I will do that … but I cannot imagine them identifying something completely unique to me.

My Response

KARIN HURT | 13 OCT 2015

John,
I think if you really consider this carefully, you will realize that there is something about the cocktail of John that is truly unique.

For example, when I am positioning myself for change management work in the call center space, I do believe I have a cocktail that is unique. There’s a blend of a significant academic background in leadership, a decade in HR strategy and field work, coupled with having led several internal large call centers at Verizon, and then completely transformed the entire customer service outsourcing function at Verizon to parity with internal centers by building strategic partnerships and great cultures….and I’m about to publish a book for AMACOM based on that experience.

I don’t have to say all that out loud, but it pops on LinkedIn.

I’m uniquely positioned to help a call center turn their results around.

Find me a guy that looks like that, and I’ll buy you lunch… she said with #confidenthumility.

Namaste,
Karin

Of course, I can mix the cocktail in different forms drawing on my varied experience depending on the needs of a prospective client and the industry they serve. My “How I Can Set Your Sales Team on Fire” cocktail has a different flavor, but a common base.

So can John.

So can you.

I challenge you to mix up one cocktail of you and share it with our LGL community.

Showing up confident in your own unique mix of talents, experience, and the scar tissue that makes you stronger lets the world know how you can best serve.

Do You Hear Them Now? 11 Signs You Have a Listening Culture

I once sat in an executive meeting where the SVP explained that Bob, a junior level executive who reported to her had “gotten away” with challenging her boss, the COO’s, ideas. She shared, “When Bob started to challenge him, I was really afraid for his career, but Joe (the COO) actually seemed okay with it.” She laughed as she said how lucky he was that he wasn’t fired, and how other people hadn’t faired so well in the past. Everyone else laughed along uncomfortably. Bob didn’t smile.

I’m still wondering exactly why she shared that story. I think it was an attempt to portray her boss as more reasonable than his reputation allowed. But quite frankly, this one-off story reinforced that an executive really listening to someone a few levels below was not the norm.

We all had a feeling that Bob had been sitting in the “ready now” box of the performance potential succession planning forever. He was a confident and humble rock star and we all knew it. His tenacity was highly valued with his immediate boss and amongst his peers, but something was holding him back.

Maybe his willingness to speak up was part of the issue. I’m pretty sure everyone in the room left being just a little more cautious of what they said.

If you’re keeping score, that’s not a sign of a listening culture.

11 Signs You Have a Listening Culture

My regular readers may have noticed I’m on a bit of a listening culture theme. In addition to how imporant listening is, there’s a pragmatic reason for the deep dive.

After a meeting planner read my post, What Happens When We Really Listen, she invited me to come work with 15 CEOs/CFOs of large manufacturing companies to talk about how to create a listening culture. I’m calling it, Do You Hear Them Now: How to Build a Listening Culture.  I’m headed out to conference this week, so I’m inviting you to continue to steep in, and weigh in on, what a listening culture looks and feels like. Ideas:

Sign #1: Imagination abounds: People at all levels are thinking about the business and sharing ideas.

Sign #2: Ideas trump titles: A great idea is a great idea, regardless of who thought of it.

Sign #3: Customer feedback is encouraged, not gamed: Employees at all levels are really listening to what customers are saying, not encouraging them to say what they to hear to improve their scorecard.

Sign #4: Feedback creates change: Feedback is taken seriously, and often acted upon.

Sign #5: Everyone is asking good questions: And getting real answers.

Sign #6: No one freaks out when an exec shows up unexpectedly: MBWA is just that (management by walking around), not OCHTC (oh crap here they come).

Sign #7: Meetings are conversations, not readouts: Meetings are used to make decisions and build relationships.

Sign #8: No one is shocked by the employee engagement survey results: Because they’ve been listening, they know what’s working and are already working on the trouble spots.

Sign #9: Hourly workers have regularly planned time to meet and share ideas about improving the business: Time “off-line” improves the business.

Sign #10: Employees feel an obligation to speak up when something feels stupid: Because they know they’ll be heard, they feel and obligation to share.

Sign #11: Personal issues are treated with compassion: Real listening happens when people open their hearts, set aside their biases, and care.

On a related note: 5 Secrets to Great Skip Level Meetings continues to be on of my most read posts. If you missed that one, and are working on creating a listening culture, you might find it useful.

SPECIAL EDITION-Frontline Festival – Thought Leaders Share about 7 Roles That Lead to Lasting Results

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. I’m delighted to have so many thought leaders weighing in on the seven roles I see as most critical to building results that last.

This Festival is also a celebration of my new multi-media e-course that is launching October 27th. You can learn more about it by clicking here.

On that page, you can also download my FREE ebook: Mentoring in the Age of the Millennial and sign up for my FREE 5 Day Leadership Challenge.

Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Thought Leaders Share About 7 Roles That Lead to Lasting Results

translator

Translator:  Don’t Motivate Until You Translate

Key Question:  What’s most IMPORTANT?

Key Behaviors: Stays on top of industry and competitive trends; helps his or her team understand how their work fits into the bigger picture; works to ensure other departments know what we do and why it’s important.

Thought Leaders Share:

According to David Dye of Trailblaze, many team leaders consign their people to meaningless drudgery and are surprised when people don’t care about the work. David shares how to avoid this leadership mistake and keep your people energized with one simple practice.  Follow David.

Charles Saliba of HR Works tells us that leaders are messengers. They play the most important role in mobilizing their teams, helping them see the whole picture, and stimulating their motivation. Hence, if Leaders are unable to translate the Business Vision to their employees, they will not be able to motivate them. Follow Charles.

builder

Builder: To See More, Be More

Key Question: How do we IMPROVE?

Key Behaviors: Challenges each team member to continuously improve their skills; addresses performance issues head on; provides consistent, candid feedback.

Thought Leaders Share:

Chantal Bechervaise of Take It Personel-ly  reminds us that Leadership is a skill. And like any other skill, it can be something you’re naturally talented at, something you practice, and something you learn. This post examines some of the “good” skills that leaders have or should have. Follow Chantal.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership points out that human beings are naturally creative. Your challenge is to get them to share ideas at work. It’s not that hard. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement suggests you favor efforts that will help you build organizational capacity to do more of what you want going forward. Partially this is about building expertise in the organization. It is also about building your circle of influence so you can expand to more ambitious improvement efforts once the organization is prepared to succeed with such efforts.  Follow John.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute  suggests that Nelson Mandela’s leadership legacy provides us with a daily challenge to make an impact through service in the global community. We are reminded that it is #Time2Serve and the time to serve is always now. Follow Artika.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents Building with Thrown Bricks where she shares that successful times are those when we take the bricks that others throw at us and choose not to be defeated, not to give up, and not to live our life dodging thrown bricks, but instead to build an even stronger foundation for the project we’re leading, the goal we’re after, the life of our dreams, and the person we want to be.  Follow Lisa.

connector (1)

Connector: Trust Them to Trust You

Key Question:  How can we best work TOGETHER?

Key Behaviors:  Communicates frequently through multiple channels; provides opportunities for cross training; helps the team surface and discuss their conflicts productively.

Thought Leaders Share:

Paula Kiger of Perspicacity shares about Bob Hentzen, who led an organization which crossed boundaries of 22 countries and many socio economic and other boundaries. He left the poorest people feeling capable and the richest people feeling connected to the poor.  Follow Paula. 

John Manning of Map Consulting reminds us that if you trust your team you’ll not only foster employee morale, growth, and productivity but also attract the best and brightest talent throughout the course of your leadership. Here are three surefire ways to show your people you trust them.  Follow John.  

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation says leaders must give trust to get it in return from their teams. But trusting behavior doesn’t just “happen.” She offers seven questions for leaders to ponder to determine their trust-building Point of View. Follow Jennifer.

galvanizerGalvanizer

Key Question:  How do WE make a difference?

Key Behaviors: Rallies his or her team toward a compelling vision of the future; asks great questions that inspire employees to do more; people on his/her team are excited about what they are up to.

Thought Leaders Share:

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting shares that every great leader must learn to instill belief in his team. When you say “I believe in you” to someone, you are empowering them to stretch beyond their limits and achieve new levels of success. Follow Matt.

Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting suggest that one challenge most leaders face is how to inspire more workplace creativity. Inspiring creativity and imagination often requires disrupting people’s mental routine and catching them off guardFollow Bill.

#resultsthatlast

Backer: Help Them Taste the Win

 

Key Question:  How do we accomplish MORE?

Key Behaviors: Proactively removes roadblocks for his or her team; helps team members recover from setbacks or disappointments; will “take a bullet” for the team.

Thought Leaders Share:

According to Lisa Hamaker of How Good Can You Stand It? leaders know that empowering each person on their team reaps benefits, but may focus on hard skills. Here are Three Ways that the super soft skill of Creating Joyful Work benefits the team’s work. Follow Lisa.

 

Accelerator: Burn the Script

Key Question: How can I HELP?

Key Behaviors: Finds ways to eliminate wasteful and redundant work; runs efficient and effective meetings; includes the right people in decisions so projects move along efficiently.

Thought Leaders Share:

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC tells us leaders must be in better touch with their communication and emotional intelligence styles to be significant transformers in today’s frenetic human spheres. It will serve them to generate enthusiasm and momentum for the visions that put before their people. Follow Michelle.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding  shares that when objectives increase, the volume of customers increase, the demands on your time increase and the effectiveness of your tools decrease… How do you do more with less?  Follow Chery.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reveals that routine can slow down an organization; excuses even more so. By burning the script of “we’ve always done it this way”, organizations can start to move forward towards faster innovation and growth. Follow Paul.

Blogger David Oddis was inspired by the Accelerator role and shares an analogy he has used with his team for many years, with success. Follow David.

William Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts gives a simple and practical step by step guide to reducing 5% of what’s on everyone’s plate by identifying what you can stop doing.  Follow William.

ambassador

Ambassador

Key Question:  How do we SHARE our success?

Key Behaviors:  Provides the team with opportunities to communicate their results to key stakeholders; advocates for team members and their careers; helps employees build a strong network of position relations with other departments.

Thought Leaders Share:

One of the tasks of an Ambassador is to set healthy boundaries with and for the team. This involves being able to say “no” graciously. Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited gives us some tips on how to do just thatFollow Beth.

Call For Submissions: Next Month’s Festival is all about Gratitude. New submissions always welcome. Click here to submit a post.

 

7 Roles of an Exceptional Leader

 

5 Ways Listening Like an Anthropologist Will Make You a Better Leader

When I was in grad school, there were clearly two camps (and they didn’t respect each other all that much): The scientests out to prove their hypotheses through experimentation, control groups, and statistical analysis, and the qualitative researchers who showed up, listened, and let the theories emerge.

Being in business, and studying at night, I was initially drawn to the power of proof. But as I grew into executive roles, it became clear that the most important research skills I learned during that time were the ethnography skills of the anthropologists. See also The Power of a Road Trip.

As you move up the ranks, there will be others to crunch the numbers, and yes, you must be able to interpret them and make decisions. But most execs never fully master the art of showing up subtly, without pre-conceived conclusions and letting the data inform their hypotheses.

The good news is it’s not that hard (close your ears, ethnographers, I’m on your side.)

Karin Hurt’s Big Rules of Showing Up Like an Anthropologist

I label this as such to prevent losing my status as an adjunct professor in a prestigious MBA program, or to make anyone roll over in their graves. This is not based on a scientific review of the literature in the field as applied to business. Just my gut. Here it goes.

1. Truly believe you don’t already know

Quite frankly if you can’t pull this off, you’re better off staying in your office. Great Translators know they must listen first. If you’re out and about to “teach them a thing or two” know that you’re missing the most important point…and so will they. See when MBWA becomes OCHTC, you’re won’t learn beans. Like a good anthropologist observe what’s happening to you as you live in community with your employees.

2. Dress the part

Don’t show up in your power suit. Meet them where they are.

3. Shut up

Yes, you may think you have all the answers. In fact, it’s quite possible you really do. Save it for later. Sure it’s more efficient to turn the tables right there and then. What these folks need most right now is to be heard. Yes, yes, let it inform your communication plan. Yes, yes, explain your perspective. Yes, respond back in a personal message to them. But remember for this moment, don’t express your shock at the buried bodies. You are a listener. Concentrate on doing that well.

4. Collect unbiased themes

Honestly, I’ve attended skip level meetings with execs where they missed 90% of what they needed to hear, only to take away the stuff that proved everything was working just fine. And worse: that’s what showed up in their report! That works for a minute, but it’s no way to win well or achieve long-term success.

5. Engage

This is where I’m going to get into trouble with the scholars. But if you’re an exec, your intervention is, well, an intervention. Don’t argue or retort, but do show up with huge appreciation and an appetite for more. Explain why their perspective helps to improve the business. If there are immediate actions you’re taking away for goodness sakes say that.

Imagine the possibilities if you showed up like an anthropologist every now and then.

7 Ways to Create a Listening Culture

If you could wave a magic wand and suddenly make every employee in your organization proficient in one behavior what would that be? Critical thinking? Customer-orientation? Sales?

No matter which behavior I consider, I’m hard pressed to come up with one that would be more impactful with just a bit more listening.

Listening transforms relationships.

Listening makes customers feel valued.

Listening gets to root cause.

Listening attracts business.

Yet, in most organizations I work with, people talk a heck more than they listen. Most of us can’t claim that we consistently listen well.

So how do you set out to build a culture of effective listening? Start with these 7 steps.

1. Tell the Truth

Nothing will make people tune out faster than smelling BS. If you want people to truly listen, be sure they can believe what you say. A culture of real listening can only happen when people can count on one another for candor. Encourage transparency and truth telling, starting at the very top.

2. Be Interesting

Sounds basic, right? If you want people to listen, speak in an interesting way. Tell meaningful stories  Ditch the 35 page PowerPoint deck and explain why your project really matters.

3. Show Up Like an Anthropologist

Anthropologists don’t go to a scene with something to prove, they show up subtly and listen carefully. They ask great questions and make meaning from the responses. Imagine the possibilities if more executives approached their field visits with the attitude of an anthropologist. Or if more sales reps worked to truly listen to what customers were saying about their lifestyles and values.

4. Be Interested

To encourage deeper listening, be a great listener. Approach conversations with empathy and compassion. Let your words, body language and actions show that you’re very interested in who they are and what they’re saying.

5. Reward Transparency

If you freak out every time you get bad news, all you’ll get is Diaper Genie feedback, where the poop is disguised in so much packaging you can’t even smell it. Thank people for bringing you the truth. Surround yourself with those who will challenge your ideas. Promote those willing to speak up.

6. Encourage Field Trips

One of the best ways to build a listening culture is to have encourage cross-departmental visits. Give your teams permission to visit their counterparts upstream or downstream in the process. Let them share their challenges, pressures and successes.

7. Get Social

Social media provides amazing opportunities to listen to customers. A good social care strategy listen’s beyond the # and the @. Social platforms can be great for internal listening as well. One of my clients recently implemented Yammer and is delighted by the informal conversations forming and how they can trend what’s most important on people’s minds.

Leaders Stand in the Gap of Uncertainty to Help Others Across

Far too many of us can also relate to working for managers who wielded their title and position authority as their only levers for leading. These managers caused me to question the likelihood of my contributing anything of value to the corporate mission. To hear their names, even years later, leaves me feeling drained and conjures emotions of lacking. My concerns were reinforced every time they tried to make me do something, because…well…they were in charge and the conversation was supposed to end there.

When it was my turn to lead, I had questions of my own: What type of leader would I be? Would I have the “it that seemed to sift the effective from the not so effective leaders of my past? Could I learn to lead? Or, is it true that leaders are not made but born and shipped in from a distant planet?

Many people aspire to leadership positions because of the big bonuses, nice clothes and public accolades. I was no different. But a lot of work and responsibility precede the shiny watches and flattering headlines. By evaluating my personal journey and working closely with hundreds of executives, I have seen successful leaders embrace three primary responsibilities. Many receive no fanfare; providing confidence often without having full certainty themselves.

  1. Effective leaders paint a clear pictures of success. Every organization regardless of size or mission needs a vision of what winning looks like. Without clarity, followers meander aimlessly executing well-intentioned tasks not knowing whether they are truly helping the organization be successful. Effective leaders create a tangible vision that coveys how everyone contributes to achieving the mission.
  1. Productive leaders remove barriers. Barriers can be physical (a person, situation or thing blocking success), financial (insufficient funding of key projects or a misallocation of scarce resources) or informational (antiquated training, outdated ideas or flawed analysis inhibiting success). Productive leaders spend their time minimizing or totally removing barriers.
  1. True leaders inspire action. Let’s face it, nothing happens until something happens. While there are examples of short-term results coming from dictates and demands, enduring results come from sustained employee or follower engagement. The more effective leaders tap into organizational beliefs and desires for success. True leaders inspire others to want to take action.

I am convinced that every success and failure begins and ends with leadership. Harry Truman was onto something when he proclaimed, The Buck Stops Here! Widespread uncertainty marks a failure of leadership. It is always tempting for leaders to busy themselves with management activities (measure this, track that; evaluate performance versus budgets). Management activities are quite useful, but should never be confused for leadership – and they often are.

Leaders are more effective when they dedicate themselves to the three responsibilities that only they can fulfill. Their organizations will thrive and appreciate their willingness to stand in the gap of uncertainty to help others across.

Galen’s new book Leadership Residue: A Leadership Fable and Leadership Residue: Writings on the Wall focus on creating inspiration that will remain even after the leader is gone is available on Amazon.

How to Become the Best ___________

One of my millennial friends, Vince, recently posted this on Facebook.

“I may not be the best organist, and yes, I play it like a piano. But I am determined to learn the Tocatta part of Tocatta and Fugue in D minor down for Saturday for a tour group I am playing for.”

The rush of comments seemed to entirely miss the point. “You worry too much.” “You are a great pianist.” For a little extra inspiration while you read on click here: Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor.

No one becomes the “best organist” without hours and hours…and hours…spent obsessing over and replaying the difficult runs. His comment showed that he was well on his way to becoming the best he could be. If you’re looking to become the best _______ (insert your audacious goal here,) follow Vince’s example.

4 Vital Factors to Becoming the Best __________

1. Take an Honest Assessment of Where You Are

Notice that Vince’s words had nothing to do with talent (which would imply finite potential). I’ve heard Vince play. In fact I’ve sung with him on more than one occasion. He’s solid. And, clearly someone he respects has told him he plays the organ like the piano… for now. And he’s listening. The best way to become the best is to have a clear view of where you stand and what you need to improve.

2. Accept Challenges that Feel Slightly Out of Reach

The only way to become better each day, is to take on the hard challenges that make your brain hurt and require you to stretch yourself to achieve them. The people at the top of their fields don’t say, “Oh, I’m not ready for that.” Instead they take a deep breath and say, “Game on.”

3. Work Your Butt Off

More than talent, truly successful people schlog many long hours perfecting their craft. They’re up early and work late.  They don’t watch much TV. If it takes 37 times to get one measure right, they play it 38 times just in case. The fastest runners have logged the miles. The best writers write every day. Whenever I start wishing that I could write like Seth Godin, I remind myself that he’s written 10x more blog posts than I have, and keep writing.

4. Don’t Wait Until You’re Perfect to Perform

One of my best friends is a brilliant writer, but as Seth would say, she seldom “ships her art.” She talks herself out of the blog posts or book chapters mid-way through. No one expects perfection, they want to hear your voice.

If you want to be the best ______ get out there and do it, surround yourself with supportive hearts, pay attention to what works, and enjoy the ride.

How to Succeed With Limited Resources

You don’t have enough time, enough resources, or budget– or maybe you lack all three. You may be surprised to know that’s exactly what stacks the odds of success in your favor.

According to research psychologist Adam Grant, increasing resources increases your likelihood of a project’s  success… but only for a while. There’s a critical point when too much money, time, or support actually hurts your mission. When we have fewer resources, we have to embrace the restraints and make careful decisions. When we’ve got everything we think we need, it’s easy to spend time and money on wasted efforts.

In her new book, Disrupt Yourself, Whitney Johnson shares an important observation of the 500 fastest growing companies (as ranked by Entrepeneur magazine.)

“I was intrigued by the various ways these companies had funded their growth, rather than taking on outside cash. Only 28% had access to bank loans/lines of credit, 18% were funded by private investors, and 3.5% received funding from VCs: as many as 72% of these successful businesses were pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. I believe these companies were successful not in spite of, but because of their constraints.”

I’ve seen this first hand, when I look back at the most creative times in my career and in how I’m approaching my business now, the best solutions came when we felt the most stretched.

I also watched the evolution at Verizon Wireless in this regard. When the going was easy, and so many customers were getting their first cell phone, it was no big deal to try something, and if it failed, no big deal. When constraints became tighter and competition stiffer, it became critical to make smarter choices at every stage of the game. It was critical to get feedback on what worked (and didn’t) more quickly. Whitney explains:

“Including constraints allows you to make a faster, more accurate prediction of the consequences of your actions, letting you determine which course of action will likely give you the best results.”

Embracing Constraints When You’re Not in Charge

So when I interviewed Whitney, I explained that most folks in our LGL tribe are quite influential–but for the most part, are not running the show. I asked her for her thoughts on embracing constraints, when you’re not in charge. She offered this advice.

  1. Do your best to stakeholder initial buy-in for your idea.
  2. Identify the minimum viable product–a prototype to test. This is the best way to prove-in your idea with minimum investment (P.S. any one who’s ever worked with me knows that I’m a HUGE advocate of pilot programs. Low risk, high value in convincing others to your point of view. It’s hard to argue with success.)
  3. Figure out how to speak the language of the folks you’re trying to convince. The finance crowd speaks and entirely different language than sales or IT.
  4. Then ask this question: If this prototype works, what does that mean for what’s next?
  5. Get the right people involved. Whitney astutely pointed out, “The people who have the hardest time with this are middle managers. They have the most to lose from a big mistake.” I agree. Having been in several middle manager roles, I also know that when you’re in the middle, feeling constraints from all angles, you’re also  in the best position to know what will make the biggest impact.