How to Launch a Successful Project

Have you ever been handed an “impossible” project, only to realize that the next step is to convince your team it’s completely doable?

In this video, I share two manager’s responses to the identical task. The project was identical, their team’s response and level of engagement is worlds apart.

I imagine both scenarios will feel scarily familiar. What can you do to encourage more from scene number two in the New Year?

Thanks so much for your support of Let’s Grow Leaders in 2015. I love the feedback I’m receiving on the 2016 planning survey. If you have asked for something specific, and not included your contact information, please send me a note to let me know how I can reach out to you.

Also for anyone near the DC area, I’m excited to be supporting the Project Management Day of Service, where hundreds of project managers will volunteer their time to help non-profits organize and plan their projects. There are lots of ways to get involved, from volunteering to signing up your non-profit to benefit from the free services, or becoming a sponsor. It’s an amazing endeavor. Last year they had over 400 project managers donating their time and helped over 100 organizations. I encourage you to check it out.

I’m not going to be writing between Christmas and New Years, spending time with extended family and headed out on a scuba trip (Sebastian’s first, now that he has aged in at 10.)

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Namaste,

Karin

grow in peace

7 Fundamentals For Building Real Trust With Your Team

Trust is tricky. It sure looks easy on paper (or a blog post.) But get out in real life, and what seems obvious and easy, suddenly becomes more difficult than securing funding for a corporate hover-craft. The sooner we talk about trust, why it works, and how it breaks down the better. That’s why I always start any emerging leader program by talking about trust.

I’m preparing now for a new emerging leader program for one of my clients. Our first session is called: Trust Matters: Behaviors and Techniques that Foster Trust and Connection. 

As part of the workshop, we’ll focus on these 7 fundamentals and have dialogue about why it’s so hard to pull off, and what to do to increase your chances of success.

7 Fundamentals For Building Real Trust with Your Team

  1. Trust Yourself
    “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” -Golda Meir   Your team looks to you for clues about whether to trust you. Genuine confidence goes a long way in building trust.
  2. Have a Solid Plan
    “Those who trust by chance must abide by the results of chance.” -Calvin Coolidge
    Everyone feels safer when they know where they’re headed and what to expect. You can’t control everything, but the more solid your plan, the more apt your team will be to trust that you know what you’re doing.
  3. Ask Great Questions
    “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he asks the right questions.” -Claude Levi Strauss
    The best way to convince your team you know what you’re doing and are paying attention is to ask great questions. Be genuinely interested in what they are doing and why.
  4. Always Tell the Truth
    “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted in important matters.” -Albert Einstein
    It’s so tempting to spin what’s going on to make it more palatable. But at some point, your team will taste the truth and your credibility will suffer. Of course, you can’t share everything. Sometimes the truth is that plans are still under development and it would be pre-mature to share. Your team will respect that far more than a half-baked, fabricated story.
  5. Give Them Some Space
    “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him–and to let him know that you trust him.” –Booker T. Washington
    No one likes to be micro-managed, but then again too much space can lead to unclear expectations. Invest in an ongoing dialogue about what level of over-sight and support will achieve the best results.
  6. Admit When You’re Wrong
    “Better to trust the man who is frequently in error than the one who is never in doubt.”- Eric Sevareid
    Chances are when you screw up, your team already knows. Admitting your mistakes goes a long way in building trust and enhancing your credibility.
  7. Be Consistent
    “Trust is built with consistency.” –Lincoln Chafee
    In a turbulent world, people long for as much consistency as possible. Knowing that “If I do x, I get y,” goes a long way in building trust. Sure, circumstances vary. When you’re purposefully inconsistent be sure to explain why.

Building trust takes time and real effort. None of us nail all these all of the time. It’s worth an honest assessment of where you stand and to make a deliberate investment in improving the trust with your team.

Working on your 2016 leadership development strategy? I’d love to help! Please contact me for a free consultation 443-750-1249.

Also, if you have not yet completed my 2016 planning survey, I would really like your input on how I can add more value to you and your organization in 2016. Please click here. 

May the Force Be With You: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month is co-hosted with my Winning Well co-author, David Dye.

In honor of the new Star Wars movie, we begin with Star Wars-themed posts and then wrap up the year with our “Best Of 2015” posts from our contributors  Thanks. to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! For fun, in the comments, please add your favorite Star Wars leadership quotes.

Next month, we turn our thoughts to vision and strategy to kick of the new year. Please submit your links here.  Submissions due January 15th.

Also, if you have not yet completed my 2016 planning survey, I would really like your input on how I can add more value to you and your organization in 2016. Please click here. 

Star Wars

“Do or do not, there is no try.” -Yoda

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC shares that the Star Wars saga continues in a galaxy far, far away! It is our contemporary fairy tale filled with didactic teachings that never expire, especially about leadership. We continue to enjoy the characters that represent elements of our personalities and personas. Follow Michelle.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog In the post, There is no Try, only Do. There is no Do, only Be. Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares Yoda’s wisdom (from Star Wars) that it is essential for leaders to not only just “try” but to also “do”and “be.” More importantly she shares a few pointers on how to do this, especially in this busy world and busy season. Follow Lisa.

Greg Marcus of American Mussar brings us Five Mussar Lessons from Star Wars.  Follow Greg.

David Dye and I bring you a leadership interview with Chewbacca.

 

Best of Leadership Posts for 2015

“Never tell me the odds.” -Hans Solo

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited: Beth shares several things she’s learned after 10 years in business. 10 Things I Learned in 10 Years of Business, Part 1  Part 2 Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership: You can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself. Here is a baker’s dozen of things to master to be the best leader you can be. Follow Wally.

Sean Glaze of Great Results Team Building: I was surprised by how dirty and brown I was at the finish line, by how cold the wet clothes I was wearing felt, and by how much my legs and chest burned from the over two hours it took us all to finish. But I was also surprised by how proud our family smiles were when they took our photo. Follow Sean.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement: Successfully shepherding change within an organization is often a challenge. Often change management strategies are mainly about how to cope with a toxic culture but exclude the option of fixing the toxic culture. Why not address the root causes instead of trying band-aids?  Follow John.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader recognizes those intangible and not-so-tangible traits that help measure a leaders ability to succeed. Follow Paul.

Scott Mabry of Soul to WorkLearning to lead lightly is a series of practices that can help us manage our energy and act in alignment with our best intentions. Follow Scott.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny.” -Yoda

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership:  What are the most important three words for any relationship between a manager and employee? Hint: it’s not “I love you.” Follow Dan.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference: Big issues face us. We latch onto shallow statements and thoughts. Logic lacks. Depth disappears. Civility dissipates. How can we begin to think more deeply?  Follow Jon.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com: Put energy into transparent communications and #LeadON!  Follow Michelle.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center!:  As our world becomes more and more complex, mental toughness will become an essential mindset. Building mental toughness is a life long task, but here is the good news: Mental toughness is not something we were born with, it is something we can learn. Follow LaRae.

“All mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It’s the only way we grow.” Padme

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute gives us Three leadership lessons from the legacy of the late B.B. King.  Follow Artika.

 

7 Reasons Managers Move to the Dark Side

Darth Vader wasn’t always a mysterious meanie, the Grinch’s heart didn’t start out two sizes too small, and as legend has it, Mr. Scrooge was once a charming and likable fellow.

Chances are that jerk in your office didn’t start out as a horse’s behind either. So why do so many managers move to the dark side–putting their Winning Well common sense aside and becoming a destructive force for their teams?

7 Reasons Managers Move to the Dark Side

It doesn’t happen all at once. The gradual unravelling happens for a variety of reasons. You can help prevent this tragic demise by recognizing these signs.

  1. Fear: The move to the dark side often begins with a fear of speaking up for what’s right. Managers figure it’s safer to lay low and let it go. Failure to stop the wrong behaviors, condones them and feeds the dark force.
  2. Insecurity: “If I act tough, no one will see how scared I am.” It’s impossible to manage well if you’re wrestling with your own self-doubt.
  3. Incompetence: “Fake it till you make it,” is a terrible approach to management. Far better to play to your strengths and get the support you need in other arenas.
  4. Greed: If it’s all about you, your team will see right through.
  5. Scarcity Mindset: “There’s not enough _______ (resources, bonus money, promotions) to go around.” The behaviors that mindset drives are self-fulfilling. When you don’t invest…in training, tools, relationships…you stifle the growth you could have achieved with a more generous spirit.
  6. Drunk on Power: Relying on position to get things done may be efficient, but drains the life-force out of otherwise effective employees.
  7. Misunderstood Role Models: A lot of times leaders get to their positions DESPITE a bad habit or two. Don’t emulate poor behavior because you think it will help you get ahead.

To gain a better understanding of these dark side behaviors, I’m was delighted to grab a few minutes with this Sith Lord, when he was in town promoting his latest flick.

The Worst Reason Women Don't Get Promoted

The room was filled with successful, competent, middle-aged women. We’d just finished a powerful workshop where each of them had identified ways they could make a bigger impact in the their organizations, in the world and in the women leaders coming up behind them. Then over lunch, Laura turned to me and confessed, “Karin, I’m still having trouble with your confident humility model. I think most women have way too much humility and that actually gets in the way of their success.”

Of course, the whole point of my model is that it’s the balance of confidence with humility, but my point was not the point. I needed to hear her story.

They just filled a really critical role in our organization, and everyone was shocked. “We thought it would be you!”  I know I’m way more qualified than the guy who got it, and I could have added a lot of value. But the truth is, I didn’t apply. No one asked me to. I guess, I figured if they wanted me they would have asked.

She continued,

I don’t think we should be teaching women about the power of humility. I think we need to get them to learn to believe in themselves and tell others why they should believe in them too.

And then several other women chimed in with similar experiences. One C-level exec shared her observations.

I think the problem is that many women look at the long list of requirements on a job description and think “Shoot, I’m missing one, better not apply.” Whereas a guy is more likely to say, “Ha, look at this, I’ve got all but one nailed, I’m a shoe-in.”

As I listened, I thought about the many roles I have taken on in my career that were really a stretch. On paper, I was completely under-qualified for these cross-functional assignments. What was the difference? Why did I exude that “masculine” audacious confidence that made me believe I could be successful without the experience?

And then it hit me. Much of that confidence came from the fact that one time, one senior leader convinced me I should move out of HR and take on a field role for which I had no experience. He told me he had “no doubts” that I would be successful. So I put my hat in the ring and was hired. He was right.

The next time, I didn’t need any external convincing.

Humility has nothing to do with selling yourself short. Humility is about knowing the mission is bigger than you. For goodness sake, if you’re the best person for the job, don’t stand back and let someone else take the helm.

And we all need to be on the lookout for women and men, who might need a little extra convincing.

Winning Well books at the bookstore

The Inside Story

As we prepare for our Winning Well speaking tour, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to talk with the media about our mission to help leaders Win Well–without losing their soul.

Today, I’m sharing My Interview with Dr. Gayle Carson.

We discuss:

  • Why I left Verizon to pursue this dream
  • The most difficult part of transitioning from executive to entrepreneur
  • How I’m looking to make a difference in the world
  • What makes my multi-media course unique and who can most benefit
  • Advice for others beginning their entrepreneurial journey
  • What inspired me to write Winning Well
  • The art of collaboration
  • My 5 year vision for Let’s Grow Leaders

Winning Well-3DWinning Well is now available for pre-order (lowest price guarantee, and eligible for Prime shipping), click here. If you’re an LGL fan, please know that pre-orders significantly enhance market positioning…and will help us spread the Winning Well mission more quickly.

AMAZON is offering 25% off any book through Dec. 14th. See offer here. 

We are booking dates now for our Winning Well speaking tour. If you’re interested learning more, please call me at 443-750-1249.

California LGL Community

The Winning Well Tour is taking me to CA for 2 weeks in May. And since CA is a long way from MD, I’d love to add more sites to the itinerary. I’ll be in Long Beach the week of 5/10 and Santa Monica the week of 5/26. This would be a great opportunity to add speaking/training/consulting  without having to fund the travel. Please reach out if you would like to talk more.

 

Great 360 Degree Feedback Tools

8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Low on Your 360 Feedback Assessment

Without a doubt, the peer rating is by far the most consistent shocker for folks taking a 360 degree feedback assessment. Managers usually have a good grip on what their boss thinks, and at least an inkling of the pain points for their direct reports, but for some reason peer feedback tends to feel like stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night– yikes, where did THAT come from?

As I work with managers to dig underneath such painful perceptions, here are 8 key issues that continue to surface.

8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Poorly

  1. You fight for your team at all costs.
    Of course this is generally a good characteristic, but anything taken to extremes can become toxic. Sometimes the best person for the special assignment is not the guy on your team, it’s Bobby on Mark’s team. Sometimes your team screws up. Sometimes the bigger bonus needs to go to the guy on the other team who knocked it out of the park, even though your teams been working hard too. Yes, advocate for your team. But also take a step back to be able to stay objective.
  2. You hoard talent.
    You’ve nurtured gaggle of A players, but now you’re afraid to let them go. You’re sure to put the best talent on your projects and give the leftovers to support other objectives.
  3. You’re lazy.
    They’re tired of picking up the slack.
  4. They don’t know you.
    You show up, do you work, and go home. You don’t let anyone know who you are a person. It’s hard to trust a bot.
  5. You don’t know them.
    You work side-by-side but never take a personal interest in anything they’re doing. They’re far more likely to trust the guy in the next cube who remembers their mother is ill and that they like to eat pizza on Tuesdays.
  6. You withhold best practices.
    You’ve figured out a way to do the work faster, cheaper, or with higher quality–and you enjoy being at the top of the stack rank, so you’re slow to share the secret to your success.
  7. You don’t follow-through.
    They can’t count on you to do what you say you will.
  8. You under-communicate.
    You’re doing great work, but it’s in a silo. No one knows quite what is going on.

If you don’t know where you stand with your peers, it’s worth asking. Effective peer relationships are one of the consistent predictors of career advancement. 

Now Available

At last, my next book, Winning Well (being published by AMACOM) is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Winning Well-3DIt can feel like a rigged game. Executives set impossible goals, so managers drive their teams to burnout trying to deliver. Employees demand connection and support, so managers focus on relationships and fail to make the numbers. The fallout is stress, frustration, and disengagement, and not just among team members―two-thirds of managers report being disengaged.

To succeed, managers need balance: they must push people to achieve while creating an environment that makes them truly want to. Winning Well offers a quick, practical action plan―complete with examples, stories, online assessments, and more―for getting the results you need. Managers learn how to:

• Stamp out the corrosive win-at-all-costs mentality
• Focus on the game, not just the score
• Reinforce behaviors that produce results
• Set clear expectations―delegating outcomes rather than focusing on process
• Celebrate even small successes
• Correct poor performance using the INSPIRE accountability method
• Demonstrate confidence and humility
• Energize teams to sustain excellent performance
• And more!

Today’s hypercompetitive economy has created tense, overextended workplaces. Keep it productive, rewarding, and even fun with this one-stop success kit.

I know this book will add value for your teams. Pre-orders significantly help the positioning of the book in the marketplace. I truly appreciate the support of the LGL community in spreading the word, and buying some advance copies for your team.  

I’m also booking keynotes and workshops for the Winning Well book tour this Spring. Please call me at 443 750-1249 to discuss further.

6 Reasons to Give Your Team More Upward Exposure

“If I bring my SME along to the meeting, my boss will think I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“She’s a little rough around the edges. She’s not ready for that kind of exposure.”

“Not all exposure is good exposure. What if he says something stupid?”

These are just a few of the reasons managers give for keeping their employees in the background doing the heavy lifting, while they present the results and negotiate the political landscape. Of course, from one perspective that makes a lot of sense. It’s more efficient to have the workers doing the work, and let the managers explain it. But there’s also much lost in such division of labor.

When a manager serves as an Ambassador, they know that true advocacy also involves teaching their team how to position the work that they do.

6 Reasons to Give Your Team More Upward Exposure

    1. The Spotlight Will Show Up When You Least Expect It
      Perhaps the most pragmatic reason to get your team comfortable speaking at the next level is that someday, you won’t be around and they’ll need to. Some exec will start asking questions as they poke about, and if your employee’s not prepared, he’ll likely stick his foot in his mouth.
    2. It’s the Best Way to Understand the Bigger Picture
      No matter how many times you explain “why” you are asking your team to do something, somehow when your boss says it, the lightbulbs go off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my managers say, “You know I said that exact thing, but when you said it, they listened.” Sure it’s frustrating. But the point isn’t who gets credit for getting through–the point is getting through.
    3. They’ll Learn By Watching You
      Bringing your employees along gives them a great chance to watch you in a more senior environment. They’ll learn more from watching than anything you could tell them.
    4. They’ll Learn By Watching Your Boss
      I’ll never forget the first time I walked onto the C-level floor. The atmosphere was completely different than the scurry below. There was a calm intensity and standard protocol. Not easy to explain. The only way I learned to swim in those waters was to watch the bigger fish.
    5. The Preparation Is Great Development
      The conversation you have while preparing for, and debriefing, the session is full of opportunities for growth and connection.
    6. It Takes Time to Build a Brand
      Don’t wait until Jane is perfectly ready to be promoted until you start talking up her accomplishments and skills. A slow and steady trickle of positive exposure will lay a strong foundation when it’s time to throw her hat in the ring.

It’s natural to want to protect your team until their completely ready for higher level exposure. Don’t throw them into the spotlight under-prepared, but regular exposure to higher level people and strategy will go a long way in accelerating their development.

Is Your Team Prepared for a Safety Emergency?

I was about to start my presentation, and was told that we couldn’t begin until we had “the safety briefing.” I was intrigued. The team went into a well-orchestrated checklist delegating contingency emergency assignments and ensuring that everyone knew where the nearest exits and fire extinguishers were.

  • “Okay, if anyone has a medical condition that could need attention, please write that down and put it into your right pocket.”
  • “Raise your hand if you are CPR certified. Okay John you are on CPR.”
  • “Who will be our runner?” Meaning doing whatever it took to deliver information.
  • “Who will call 911?”

Now I had taught in that room for three semesters before this executive retreat. Not once had I given a thought to the location of the fire extinguisher. I looked to the right of the podium–they had brought their own defibrillator.

Now this may seem extreme, but this company’s number one mission is safety. And if I told you who they were, you would be darn glad that was their priority. Their safety impacts ours.

Making a Safety Plan

A month later I was visiting their corporate headquarters for some follow-up consulting. I entered the conference room and noticed the safety cards you see pictured above in the center of the table. I asked, “Are these part of the visual aids for your action learning project presentation?” Nope. Every single conference room has them. Whenever two or more people are gathered in a conference room, they are required to make their safety plan before they begin their work.

Wow.

No one expects to come to work and face a 911 emergency.  But turn on the news, and the need for a contingency plan feels a bit more pressing.

We prepare for what-ifs in our strategic planning, and if you work in a big company you likely have a formalized disaster recover plan, with an annual drill. When I worked at Verizon, I was listed as mission critical in the safety execution plan, but the truth is if a bomb went off, I’m not sure I would have had the wits to remember to grab that binder. Yes, yes, plan for the big stuff. I would encourage you to also consider having more regular discussions to keep safety top-of-mind and making a plan to keep your team safe in case of emergencies.

You're Busy, But Are You Productive?

I see them in every organization I work with–the super-busy, really stressed manager who gets in early, stays late, eats lunch at their desk, and still can’t get it all done. Sadly they’re also often resentful that their performance doesn’t warrant an “exceptional” rating or a promotion. They lament: “Can’t they see how hard I’m working? I’m sacrificing everything for this job.” The problem is not lack of effort, it’s effectiveness. Often this stems from letting other people set your agenda and spending too much time on tasks that add little value.

This week, I was interviewed for the terrific post by Kelsey Manning in the Levo League:  11 Differences Between Busy People and Productive People. It’s so timely for our LGL Accelerator week, that I’ve shared an exerpt here. I loved all 11 tips.

The Difference Between Busy and Productive

1. Productive people view productivity differently.

Get rid of that checklist mentality, stat. “Busy people concentrate on the task completion aspect of duties and responsibilities—maintaining a ‘checklist’ focus—while others embrace a broader perspective of contributions that measurably contribute to the higher strategic objectives of the organization, says Donn LeVie, Jr., a career strategist and former Fortune 500 hiring manager. “Workaholics ask: ‘What’s next on the list?’ while high performers ask: ‘What’s going to provide the biggest bang for the buck for the organization?’”

2. Productive people understand which tasks actually matter.

The tasks that feel urgent are not always the most important. Productive people understand that the point of any job is to deliver value. “It’s vital to understand which behaviors and actions are getting results and which are not,” says Karin Hurt, CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. “And then, you need to have the courage to stop wasting time on the behaviors that get no ROI [return on investment]. The biggest time-suckers are conference calls and unproductive meetings. Truly productive people don’t sit on conference calls that don’t add value. If you find you can multi-task through an entire call, that’s not an indicator that you’re productive, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t be on that call. Speak up and change the approach.”

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