How To Be a More Powerful Listener

Want to be a more powerful listener? If you’re like me, sometimes the distractions are personal. We’re afraid to hear ourselves. Great listening starts by setting aside the physical and emotional distractions that get in the way of what we most need to hear. But when we can, the impact is palpable.

I encourage you to pick one person this week and really listen to what she has to say. Even if that person is you.

The Great Leadership Cop Out: Why "That's Just Who I Am" Is Derailing Your Results

Sam knew something was wrong. It just wasn’t fun anymore. The creativity and enthusiasm had drained from the company. Decisions took forever. Managers were finding it harder than ever to recruit and retain talent. Sam had hired me to help him crack the code.

As I pulled up to Sam’s office, I knew he’d be unhappy with my recommendation–which involved a serious look in the mirror at his own leadership behaviors. His reaction was disappointing, but highly predictable– based on what I’d heard from his team.

“Karin I’m 48 years old. That’s just who I am. Let’s talk about the real issues here. I can’t change. Give me something else.”

“Sam, I’ve got a whole list of something elses–actions that I know will improve the bottom line. But none of those are the MIT (Winning Well for the Most Important Thing).

“What matters most is how you’re showing up as the leader. If we can focus on just a few vital behavior shifts, your team will know you’re serious about making an impact. If you can do that, everything else we do will be easier.”

Why “It’s Just Who I Am” is a Cop Out

Have you ever uttered those words, when hearing tough feedback? “It’s just who I am. I can’t change.”

I hear it all the time, at every level of the business and across industries. It’s most dangerous with the CEOs and start-up founders I work with.

“It’s just who I am… I’m direct. I say what I mean.” Excellent. But imagine how much more easily your message would be received if we added in a little tact?

“It’s just who I am… I’m a visionary. I don’t want to get bogged down in the details.”  Your vision is amazing and got the company this far. AND from what I can tell you’re about to go bankrupt. You need to listen to what your team is trying to tell you.

“It’s  just who I am. I’m not a people person. I have people for that shit.” I hear you. But when you roll through the office like a hurricane tearing everything and everybody apart, you can’t hire enough people to clean up the path of destruction. Your culture and productivity are suffering.

Quite frankly, “That’s just who I am” is BS. It’s not “you” who’s driving people crazy. It’s your behaviors. And it’s usually just one or two that can make all the difference.

What to Do Instead

Have you been told you’re overly direct? Pause 10 seconds before you open your mouth and ask three genuinely interested open-ended questions (and really listen) before offering your opinion.

Is your team trying to tell you something you don’t want to hear? Try again. Promise to really listen. And then shut up. Stay curious before responding. Ask probing questions and listen some more.

Does your team think you’re an SOB? Pick one day and only look for what’s going right, point it out and thank people for their contribution. Notice the impact.

God (or the Universe) didn’t create anyone to be mean and nasty, clueless, or obtuse. Your parents didn’t mean to raise you that way. For better or worse, we pick up our behaviors along the way. And they ARE changeable.

Behaviors are not WHO you are, they are WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

And if you’re a leader, when you won’t change, you give everyone on your team permission to dig their heels in and use the “that’s just who I am” cop out too, and the whole team begins to accept toxic behaviors.

Imagine the possibilities of starting with admitting to yourself that WHO YOU ARE is a fallible human being with great intentions.

And then picking just one thing to change, and prove to yourself it’s possible.

 

The Great Millennial Hoax- Why Most Millennial Experts are Wrong and What to Do Instead (Recorded Webinar)

Whether you’re a veteran leader or a millennial recently promoted into a leadership role, leading your younger team members can feel like an endless struggle.

Why don’t they understand?

Why aren’t they motivated?

Why won’t they put in the time?

To make it worse, instead of making life easier, much of the advice you get from generational “experts” can actually make the situation worse.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Your younger team members can be an incredible source of talent, energy, and productivity. I joined up with internationally recognized leadership experts, David Dye and Michael Teoh to share perspectives and insights on getting the most from your millennial team members.

We discussed:

  • What you really need to know to develop your millennial talent
  • How ordinary people have transformed their lives to achieve success
  • Keys to cultivate motivated, energized teams that get more done, solve problems on their own, and make everyone around them better.

The Great Millennial Hoax is the first of a series of collaborative events with Michael.

So please let us know your questions and ideas for future topics!

Michael Teoh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) is the Founder of Thriving Talents, a ‘Millennials-focused’ Talent Development company which delivers training and consultancy for Fortune 500 companies across 39 countries, in the areas of Attracting, Managing, Retaining & Motivating Millennials. He has shared the stage with other notable business icons like Sir Richard Branson, Sir Bob Geldof and even presented a workshop in the presence of President Barack Obama. His new book is The Potential Matrix.

Karin Hurt (Baltimore, MD) is a top leadership consultant, keynote speaker, and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers.

David Dye (Denver, CO) is a leadership keynote speaker, former nonprofit executive, elected official, award-winning author, and president of Trailblaze, Inc., a leadership training and consulting firm. Karin and David co-authored Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul.

The Winning Well Southeast Asia Tour

If you’re a manager in Southeast Asia and are interested in bringing Winning Well to your organization this spring or attending our summit in Malaysia please let us know.

We’re booking dates now.

 

Southeast Asia Tour

"I'm Not Listening!: The Best Way to Get Your Team to Hear Your Feedback

“John” and I had spent the better part of the hour talking about what his direct report, “Janis,” needed to be a more effective manager. Bless her heart, Janis had a hard time accepting feedback. If she didn’t improve, her job was on the line, but we didn’t want to put it that way. At least not yet.

We isolated the behaviors and built a solid developmental path forward.

As we transitioned to the “How you can help as her boss” conversation, I asked John what I thought was the next obvious question.

“What are you doing to develop yourself as a leader?”

“Oh me? I haven’t thought about that. I’ve been here so long. I’m not really working on anything specific.”

Trying to prevent the disbelief from showing too frantically on my face, I continued.

“Oh, well, what feedback have you received about your management style?  What’s working best? What drives your team crazy? What does your boss say?”

Crickets.

Note: the best thing to do with crickets in such a conversation is to let them chirp. 

We sat in silence for a few minutes.

“Well actually…. I do struggle with_____ and ______ and ________.”

“Excellent.  Let’s talk about you for a while and what you can do to leverage your strengths and become more effective in these other areas.”

John’s eyes sparkled with renewed energy as we made a plan.

“So here’s the most important part, John. Janis needs to hear how you are working on you.”

John didn’t love it. “I’m trying to fix her. How will it look if I admit I’ve got issues too?”

“John. When a leader has issues…trust me, the team already knows. The best thing you can do for Janis and the rest of your team in terms of leadership development is to admit you’re not perfect and that you’re working on getting better too. Janis will be so much more open to feedback and doing the work we need her to do, if she sees you modeling the way.”

The best way to get your team to hear your feedback is to show you’re working too. Leadership is never handled. When you start there, you open an important space to talk about and work on getting better.

August Frontline Festival: Leaders Share Tips about Productive Work Spaces

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival gives tips about setting up a productive work space. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Next month’s Frontline Festival is all about communication tips.  There are two ways to participate…either submit a blog post on the topic, or your 1-2 sentence answer to the question. Click here to participate! Now on to our topic for August:

Chip Bell of the Chip Bell Group says that everything he needs is within arms length of the desk (printer, work table, copier, scanner, large computer monitor, supplies (like scissors, stabler, rubber stamps, paper clips), speakers for music, etc. His office looks out over a gorgeous lake and his floor to ceiling book cases sit six feet from the desk. Follow Chip.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited has the following elements in her home office, the main “headquarters” for her VA and business soft skill business: stand up desk with monitor exactly mirroring the one at the sit down desk, screen behind her chair at sit down desk for a backdrop for video calls and recordings, chair for relaxed reading, and a number of items with the word HOPE on them as decor. She also has a small fountain, candle, succulents and other items throughout to create a pleasant atmosphere in the office. Follow Beth.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC  shares that productivity is the result of an open mind and energy working together. Where we work has enormous influence over our attitude toward what we’re doing. Consider how you can change your energy by being inspired in your surroundings by taking a look at this post.  Follow Michelle.

Eric Dingler of EricDingler.com  keeps his physical and virtual space free of all clutter.  He has an inbox that everything goes in.  Once a day, he clears it following the GTD system.  He also uses the free version of Nozbe to keep himself on track and clutter free.  When he leaves his office, he has zero emails in his inbox and nothing in his physical inbox, so he leaves work free and walks in prepared and ahead. Follow Eric.

David Dye of Trailblaze finds natural light to be a key to productivity. He will turn off florescents and use desk lamps if sunlight isn’t available. Being surrounded by an aquarium, plants and living things also humanizes and relaxes him, helping him maintain perspective. Follow David.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture finds that having a clear surface area (no matter where he’s working—his office desk or at a desk on the road somewhere) is most helpful in keeping him focused on the task at hand. Papers on his desk for needed tasks “talk to him.” Those stacks yell “Do me first!” Remove those piles and he can work his plan without distractions. Follow Chris.

Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.

~ Steven Spielberg

Mike Henry of MikeHenrySr.com says that his work space must be distraction free. When he is doing work he enjoys, distractions are less of a problem. But when he is doing something that isn’t very interesting, he needs to focus and can be easily distracted.  Follow Mike.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  really enjoys living as a digital nomad and having workspaces like the one here. He admits that the setup isn’t one that optimizes productivity though it can be energizing, inspiring and motivating, and that the “digital nomad” lifestyle isn’t for everyone.  His setup is just a Macbook Pro  (he also had an iPad mini to tether if he needed to use a cell phone signal to access the Internet) all of which allows him to work from just about anywhere. Follow John.

Paula Kiger of Perspicacity  finds that despite having a lot of technology in her work space, it’s her paper notebook with information like passwords written in it that often saves the day! Follow Paula.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog  has found that one of the most important factors to consider when setting up her work space is what inspires her and makes her smile. She is most productive when surrounded by beauty and most creative when in a spot that pulls her out of her usual space and therefore out of her usual mindset.  For example, when she writes, she never sits at her desk. A coffee shop or her couch at home works better. When not on the phone, she works outdoors as much as possible, such as on a side porch at home.  Follow Lisa.

Melissa Lamson of Lamson Consulting suggests making your workspace your own. Decorate it. Create a safe, comfortable, calm space. Follow Melissa

I’m quite an untidy person in a lot of ways. But order makes me happy. I have to have a clear desk and a tidy desktop, with as few visual distractions as possible. I don’t mind sound distractions, but visual ones freak me out.
~ Joanne Harris

According to Don Maruska of DonMaruska.com, it’s important to create opportunities for a worker to have only their most important task in front of them while working on it. Multi-tasking is inefficient and stressful. Follow Don.

Eileen McDargh of The Energizer shares her philosophy:  A place for everything and everything in its place. With light bright surroundingss, flowers, pictures of friends, and equipment hidden from view, I feel productive and free. Follow Eileen

Andy Oziemblo of Cubicle Concepts suggests that  some of the biggest gains in productivity and individual motivation can be achieved through the use of modern office designs. The use of ergonomically optimum seating, height adjustable tables, and movement inducing treadmill workstations can help one attain many health benefits along with increased oxygen in your blood. Increased oxygen in your blood allows for better focus and mental production output. To spur motivation, choose work space artwork and colors that give inspiration as well as drive you towards set goals. Follow Andy.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates shares tips for minimizing workspace and personal distractions in her post, Stop Draining Your AttentionFollow Shelley

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute advises to create a vision board which visually reflects your goals and desired business outcomes. Post your vision board in your office as a daily reminder of your goals and progress in reaching your dreams. Follow Artika.

On my desk I have three screens, synchronized to form a single desktop. I can drag items from one screen to the next. Once you have that large display area, you’ll never go back, because it has a direct impact on productivity.
~ Bill Gates

Quote source: Brainyquote.com

6 Reasons Your Training Program Isn't Working

It was late.  Joanne, the HR Director, Juan dusting the doors, and I were the only ones left in the building. The only sounds were the swishing of the sprinklers hitting against the high glass windows. Joanne looked up at me from behind her desk with that exhausted, weary grin that comes from realizing that the work ahead is more complicated than you thought.

“There’s a reason you told me that story last week about that CEO you’re working with, isn’t there?”

I nodded.

JoAnne continued, “Just like that scene, this is bigger than a training issue isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I smiled, a little embarrassed to be called out for my seed planting. “I had a feeling it would be, but there was no way to know until we talked with the team. Thank you for staying so late with me tonight to dig deeper. Now we can clear the decks of a few things and ensure the support structure is in place so the training will work.”

Most of the time, when a “We need training, right now!” call comes in, it’s not about the training. Sure, training can help, but not in a vacuum. Often, there are bigger issues at play.

6 Reasons Your Training Program Isn’t Working

If your training need feels urgent, your training program isn’t working, or, if your team is reluctant to attend, dig deeper. Here are six issues that so often get in the way00that with a little up front work, can change the trajectory of results.

  1. Poor Leadership Behaviors at the Top
    Yes, in Winning Well we teach and encourage the skills and behaviors to create a cultural oasis.  In fact I receive calls every week from managers reading Winning Well who are doing just that. AND, if you’re the guy hiring us to train Winning Well,  please know we’re going to be very interested in your willingness to read the book and model the behaviors you’re hiring us to reinforce.
  2. Unclear Expectations
    If people are unsure of what to do or why they are doing it, training to do “it” better just won’t work.
  3. Lack of Support Systems
    For example: If you want people giving great behavior-based feedback, please be sure your performance systems focus on behaviors. So many more…let’s talk.
  4. Dipping
    We sat in front of an HR exec the other day who was crystal clear, “All the field wants is a one day training they can attend. No pre-work. No follow-up. No-reinforcement. No action plans.” That’s dipping not training, and won’t create sustainable change. Save your money.
  5. The Fix Me Factor
    As I was about to train a team the other night, one of the team members pulled me aside. “Everyone is making fun of us because you’re here. Why do we need the ‘expert?’ Everyone’s assuming that we’re broken and they are not.”  Never make training feel like a punishment.  They hadn’t… and yet the rumors prevailed. I addressed this up front and diffused — but now we need to keep listening.
  6. SASRNT syndrome  (So and So Really Needs This)
    It’s not me, it’s them. If you are in love with a training concept and want everyone you know to go through it, please pause first and consider how you can best leverage this concept in your own leadership.

If you’re looking to start a leadership development program, or to improve the one you have, I encourage you to pause first and consider the context.

If you want a sounding board, please call me at 443-750-1249 for a free Winning Well consultation.

Winning Well Bootcamp

 

Three Critical Steps to Developing Your Millennial Leadership Talent

A guest post from Elisha Yeoh, Thriving Talents, Malaysia.

You’ve seen them, you’ve heard of them, and some of you may even be working with them. These them I’m referring to is the Gen-Ys. Regardless of what you may currently think of them, the presence of these young individuals have definitely changed the realities of workplace dynamics, especially now that Gen-Ys are slowly being reviewed to fill in managerial positions.

More and more organizations are beginning to tear down walls (both metaphorically and literally) to keep up to date with the current trends of building up great young leaders who will one day assume more responsibilities. However are these young people in your organization ready to make the hard decisions and lead a team?

Step 1: Understanding The Way They Work

For years experts have been trying to understand millennials, to find out what makes them tick, and what drives them to want to do great work. And after all that research and with all the different clashing views, the general consensus to this finding is that this generation of young people is unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Team Dynamics

In the work setting, Gen-Ys are vastly different from the generation before them. Although they seem to be confident and want to stand out from the crowd, they actually value the opinions of their peers especially when it comes to making decisions. They aren’t shy about getting opinions be it about work or other personal related matters from their peers and are more likely to take their peers advice more seriously than those higher up in authority.

Roles in Leadership

The Gen-Ys today do not place a very high importance on leadership as they believe that they do not need to be placed in roles of authority to lead. They prefer to work in a group in a democratic setting where the decisions made are derivative of the values added by each person member of the group.

 Step 2: Providing A Clear Purpose

Unlike the other generations, the Gen-Ys are no longer only motivated by monetary incentives or added perks and benefits that an organization provides them, rather they need to be intrinsically motivated to want to perform at their very best.

Organizations need to give the Millennials a reason to want to be involved, to want to commit their time effort and energy. One of the best ways to sustain their dedication is to provide them a greater purpose to the tasks they are currently doing. Make them part of something so much bigger than themselves and keep them inspired as well as motivated by telling them of the impact that their work creates for the people outside your organization.

Step 3: Provide Them With Avenues To Grow

The Gen-Ys are painfully aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, they may seem like they are unaffected by their shortcomings, but growing up in an environment where they are so used to having their actions and ideas being validated can cause distress whenever they are faced with a problem they aren’t able to get over.

Organizations need to build an environment in which these Gen-Ys are given the chance to work on their strengths and learn to cope with their weaknesses. Provide them with a support structure in which they are allowed to continuously work on themselves as they become more invested in your organization.

Empower them with the necessary skills and training that will lead them to make better decisions. Allow them to test their limits, set them up for defeat in a safe environment through team building exercises and simulations for them to really know themselves and identify their leadership styles.

Join Us: August 19th for a FREE Webinar The Great Millennial Hoax Why Most Millennial Experts are Wrong and What to Do Instead

Malaysia Webinar blackDavid Dye and I are partnering with Michael Teoh, Author of The Potential Matrix and Founder of Thriving Talents on a series of events in Malaysia and the United States, beginning with this FREE webinar– register here. 

Whether you’re a veteran leader or a millennial recently promoted into a leadership role, leading your younger team members can feel like an endless struggle. Why don’t they understand? Why aren’t they motivated? Why won’t they put in the time?

To make it worse, instead of making life easier, much of the advice you get from generational “experts” can actually make the situation worse. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Your younger team members can be an incredible source of talent, energy, and productivity.

Join three internationally recognized leadership experts for a conversation that will answer your questions about getting the most from your millennial team members. You’ll walk away with:

  • What you really need to know to develop your millennial talent
  • How ordinary people have transformed their lives to achieve success
  • Keys to cultivate motivated, energized teams that get more done, solve problems on their own, and make everyone around them better.
  • And specific answers to your questions!

We are so excited about the opportunity to combines experience, wisdom, and perspectives from across generations – and across the world!

Register today and be sure to submit your question and get the answers you need!

5 Questions to Ask When You Can't Let It Go

“John,” the CEO of a fast-growing start-up, was visibly frustrated when I asked him what he needed me to work on with his team. “I love my team. And they care so much! They’re full of great ideas….”

I waited for the BUT.

“BUT,” Sometimes they get stuck on an idea and can’t move on. We’re moving fast and sometimes that means failing fast and letting go of ideas that didn’t work. Can you put some of that into your Winning Well bootcamp for them?”

I love it when curriculum design becomes blog post fodder.

Now the truth is, there was more to this story as I unraveled the layers… a solid dance of knowing when to hold-em, fold-em, walk away and run.  We worked on both letting go AND how to P.E.R.S.U.A.D.E. your boss.

5 Questions to Ask When You Can’t Let It Go

If you’re in a position where others are encouraging you to “let it go” when your heart says “hold on,” here are few questions to help you decide.

  1. Why am I so passionate about my idea or way of doing things?
    Are you coming from a place of true confident humility, or is fear or ego getting in the way?
  2. In one or two sentences, why am I so committed to my position?
    We must do _______ because __________ and if we don’t _________, the consequences will be __________.
  3. Who is encouraging me to let it go and why?
    It’s highly likely they have additional perspective. Be sure you understand it.
  4. What are the potential consequences to the big picture if I don’t let it go?
    Take time to really understand the pros and cons.
  5. If you were to let it go, where else could you focus your time?
    Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the war. Fighting and holding on takes time and energy. What else can you accomplish?

The truth is, sometimes the answer is to let it go–holding on too tightly to your position, can slow down results and damage your career. AND sometimes the answer is to fight for what you know is right for the business and the people within it.

Winning Well Bootcamp

P.S. Speaking of managing up, this week I was honored to do a guest post for my friend, Dan Rockwell, on his Leadership Freak blog, entitled What to Do if Your Boss is a Wuss. 

Why I Don't Always Win Well: My Struggle With Being a Pleaser

David Dye and I are on a mission to rid the world of soul-crushing leadership behaviors. I’m confident in our vision and our approach. I know it’s what I’ve been put on this planet to do, and that I’ve partnered with the right person to make it happen.

And yet, despite my passionate desire to make an impact, I sometimes let my own fears get in the way of asking for what I need.

When someone tells me our approach has turned their results around, or how our book was the first time they saw lightbulbs going off in someone they are mentoring, or when someone shares the impact our keynote speech or workshop made on their association or company, I get suddenly shy.  “Err… thank you.”

When what I should be saying is “Thank you! Can you please help us spread the word so we can make bigger impact? Who else needs this message? Would you help with an introduction? Would you mind saying that in an Amazon review? We’re taking Winning Well to Asia this Spring, do you know companies over there that could benefit from Winning Well?”

In this short video I share my reflections on my own Pleaser tendencies during a hike on Camelback mountain.

Are You a Pleaser Manager?

So far of the many people taking our Winning Well assessment, the most frequent profile is the “Pleaser” type by a landslide. Click here to complete this FREE self-assessment and receive your free profile and recommendations.

If you really want to breakthrough, to change the game, to make a difference, you’re going to need as much help as you can get. If you don’t ask for what you need, results suffer. There’s nothing humble about putting your needs last.  The real irony is, when your own fear or desire to please trumps your ability to ask for support, you put the mission in jeopardy– nothing confident or humble about that.