Executive Leadership: One Temptation Most Successful Executives Resist

If you’re an executive (or aspiring to be one) this time I’m writing for you. Not my usual M.O., I usually write for your teams (and how to help them deal with you ūüėČ But today, I write to you. Why? Because when senior leaders practice winning well behaviors, the culture shifts that much faster– and results not only go up, they stay up– and teams feel excited about what they’re up to.

The Temptation

In a recent conversation, “Mary” a senior leader at a Fortune 15 company shared the moment she “Got it.” That moment when she realized the easy temptation that was holding her back from being the best she could be in her role.

“I had five key functional areas I was responsible for, four of which I understood inside and out because I’d grown up in the business. I was confident in those arenas and showed up strong. But in a National Operations role, I also had responsibility for ‘fleet’–yup, the trucks.”

I thought, “Well, I don’t have to pay too much attention there. ¬†I’ve got people for that. I’ll just concentrate on the aspects of the job where I can truly add value and trust my team to do what needs to be done with the fleet.”

And then one day, my boss, Carl, asked me to come with him to visit one of our garages. He opened the hood and said, “Mary is this oil supposed to be black?” I had no idea. “Mary, do you know why it matters?” Nope. “Mary, what’s the number one priority for the fleet department?” That I knew, thank God, “Safety, ” I shared confidently.

Carl continued, “I need you to go find out and understand the impact black oil has on safety. And, Mary, you can’t avoid learning about parts of this role just because you don’t like them. You’ve got to know enough to be able to inspect what’s going on.”

5 Things You Must Know About Every Functional Area You Oversee

As an executive, your job is all about strategy and execution across a large scope and scale. And like Mary, you likely have five or so functional areas you oversee. And if you’re like most execs we work with, there’s one area you particularly dislike. Yes, it starts with what Jim Collins calls “Getting the right people on the bus.” But to really rock your role as an executive, you also need to know every aspect of your role enough at least well enough to discern the following:

  1. What the data is really saying.
    When you’re not close to the business it’s easy to look at a good metric and say “Hmmm, looks great.” Take the time to dig past the averages and look at the outliers to know what’s really going on.
  2. What’s possible.
    The folks on your team who’ve been doing this forever may overlook new approaches because of they’re comfortable with the way things have always been done. ¬†More about my experience with that here in my executive sales role at Verizon.
  3. Who’s crushing it.
    A key part of your role is ensuring the right people are recognized and rewarded for their contributions. See also: 5 Reasons Your Recognition is Backfiring
  4. The right questions.
    Asking the right questions will serve you well for two reasons: they encourage your team to think more strategically and come up with more creative solutions; AND, the better questions you ask, the more you’ll learn.
  5. Where the business is most vulnerable.
    If you’re not well-versed in an area, it’s easy to miss the “black oil.” Be sure you’re having the “own the ugly” conversations in every aspect of your business.

Are you (or do you work for) a Winning Well executive?

We would love to interview you as part of our Winning Well research. Please let me know if you (or an executive you know) would be willing to chat. 443 750 1249.

Managing Your Boss: Get the Support You Need in 10 Minutes a Week (Includes Free Tool)

When’s the last time you had a really great one-on-one with your boss? If your answer is anything but “in the last 2 weeks,” you’re not alone. A great cadence of good one-on-one meetings is unusual. Why? Well first, ¬†everybody’s busy. It’s easier to cancel a meeting with a direct report than with your boss. Or perhaps, your one-on-ones drag on, lack preparation, or generally feel like a waste of time.

Whether you’re the manager, the one being managed, or both, one the easiest ways to take your performance to the next level is through great one-on-one meetings.

How to Hold a 10 Minute (MIT- Most Important Thing) Huddle

Of course, you need more than 10 minutes a week to build a great relationship with your manager. You need time to get to know one another as human beings and to focus on long-term goals and career development. What I’m about to share here is not a substitute for those vital sessions. This tool is for the in-between times: to help you stay focused each week to clarify expectations, to ensure the MIT stays the MIT, and to get the support you need.

It works like this. You schedule 10 minutes a week with your boss and come prepared to discuss the following:

  • What’s the Most Important Thing you accomplished last week? (This gives you an opportunity to ensure you boss is aware of the good work you are doing)
  • What’s the Most Important Thing you’re working on this week? (This helps clarify expectations and ensure alignment)
  • What support do you need? This gives you a structured time to ask for help AND also makes it easier on your boss if you keep a running list of anything that’s not urgent and can wait.

Our Winning Well clients who are using this approach tell us it’s done wonders to streamline their communications, clarify expectations, and eliminate wasteful work.

You can download the free MIT Huddle Planner here

employee engagement

What the Best Managers Know About Disengaged Employees

According to Gallup’s recent 2017 study, 70% of employees are not engaged at work. And countless studies have shown that the number one predictor of employee engagement and satisfaction is the relationship they have with their supervisor. So what do the best managers know about disengaged employees? Today I share a story from one of the most disengaged times in my life, and how my leader helped me get through.

The Secret to Overcoming Disengagement

I have a confession.

I was arguably the most disengaged freshman sorority pledge at Wake Forest University.

I’ve always been more of the madrigal singing, academic type, not much into the party scene–which I had assumed was what being in a sorority was all about. I’d ONLY joined because the Insiders Guide to Colleges had warned that it was my only chance of having a social life, and I was 18 and wanted a boyfriend.

Two months into pledging, I realized I was in real danger of failing my advanced biology class. And since I was there on an academic scholarship that required me to keep a B+ average, I was screwed.

I began to freak out in the kind of downward spiral you may be familiar if you’ve ever been (or been around) a teenage girl.

“OMG I can’t fail biology! I’m going to lose this scholarship! My Dad is going to kill me. Crap, I don’t even think I can stay here without that money. If I fail Bio, I’m going to have to live at home WITH MY PARENTS!–and then what? Work at the Renaissance Festival as a madrigal singer? Nope– that won’t even work, that Festival’s only open August through October.”

I began skipping “mandatory” sorority events. I ignored requirements like interviewing every sister about her major, ¬†favorite foods and secret fantasies.

One day I ran into Brig, the sorority President, while walking to class on the quad. Brig had short, dark curly hair, sparkling eyes, an a personality so big everyone was shocked when they found out she was a math major.

“Karin, Do you have a minute?”

“Ahh,” I thought, “I’m not going to have to quit, I’m going to get kicked out. That’s a relief.”

I wasn’t expecting what Brig said next. “You seem athletic. Do you roller skate?”

“Actually, I do,” I confessed.

“Great, we need someone to do the roller skate¬†leg of the relay around the quad for the Greek games.”

“Oh, I’d love to, but I didn’t bring my skates to school.”

“Oh, I’ll find you some skates.”

“Well, I’d have to try them out and I’m so busy studying for this biology exam,” (even I knew how ridiculous that sounded as the words spewed out. Clearly I was still trying to get voted off the island.)

Brig persisted, “What time are you done studying tonight?”

“Midnight.” (Yeah, I really was being that big of a jerk.)

“Great, meet me on the quad at midnight. I’ll bring the skates.”

That night, as I walked up to the steps of the moonlit quad there was Brig standing there with two sets of roller skates.

As we strapped on our skates and began rolling around the quad she asked,

“What made you decide to join Tau Phi Delta?”

“I wanted a social life.”

“How’s that working out for you?”

I began to cry and let it all out.

Brig listened intently. Then she stopped skating. She looked me straight in the eyes and said softly:

“It strikes me that what you have here is not so much a sorority problem as a biology problem. If you had done those interviews we had asked you¬†to do, you would know that five of our sisters are pre-med majors. They will help you study if you just ask.

How about this?  We postpone all your pledge requirements until next semester and we spend the next three weeks helping get you through biology. You can graduate with your pledge class and make up the rest next semester.

Because one of two things is going to happen here. You’re either going to quit right here on this quad tonight, or you’re going to stick with it and become President of the Sorority some day.

My vote is for President.”

When she returned for homecoming a few years later I asked her if she remembered that night. “Of course I do,” she smiled. And I’ve heard you’ve done a great job as President.”

Brig knew a secret many managers don’t. When dealing with a disengaged employee, sometimes the best approach is to strap on your skates.

Frontline Festival: Leaders Share Team Building Ideas

Welcome back to the Let‚Äôs Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month‚Äôs festival is all about team time. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group¬†for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival follows up on this month’s with a theme all about growth and change. The question for the month is: ¬†What is an area of growth you are focusing on, either professionally or personally?¬†Submit your growth and change related blog posts and answers to that question¬†here!

This month’s question was: What tips do you have for working well with a team?

A sense of teamwork is crucial for a productive small business staff. Try steps for leaders to take for building teamwork in the workplace from Amanda Cameron of Patriot Software, LLC Follow Amanda.

If you find yourself on a dysfunctional team, or just want to get a new team off to a great start, ask yourself the following three questions from Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership.¬†You may discover that your team is nothing more than a committee in disguise. If so, now you’ll know exactly how to correct course.Follow Susan.

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights gives us 10 strategies to help make a team work well together. They are derived by Dennis Perkins who studied the incredible survivor story of the Midnight Rambler and the storm that almost destroyed everything. Follow Skip.

Part of developing a team that works well together is developing the individual skills of people. A bigger part of it is developing an understanding of the system within which those people must operate and adjusting that system to the people on the team.  Too much time is devoted to changing people to fit into the constraints of the existing system and too little to changing the existing system to take advantage of individuals on the team now. Thanks, John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement Follow John.

Building product is not about having a large team to manage. It is about having a small team with the right people on it. ~ Fred Wilson

Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership¬†asks, “How many teams have you been on that came to an official end?” If you’re like most people, it’s not too many. That’s because teams seem to take on a life of their own, even after their initial purpose has been fulfilled or no longer makes sense. Here’s how to tell when it’s time to close down a team.¬†Follow Jesse.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership   helps us learn about three tactics successful leaders use to build thriving teams that can adapt to the changing needs of their organization.  Follow Tanveer.

Robyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog notes that at times, the way a team is set up and work gets done, can cause a team to be more at odds than pulling together. But with four simple tips Рas simple as reducing conflicting goals Рyou can help your team work as one rather than against each other.   Follow Robyn.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership reminds us that most of us do most of our work in teams. Here are four important things you should know that make a core work team effective. Follow Wally.

Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people. ~ Steve Jobs

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture¬†shares an important exercise you can do with your team to help them write their unique story in ‚ÄúNurture Your Team‚Äôs Narrative.‚Ä̬†Follow Chris.

Julie Winkle Giulioni of DesignArounds shares the 10 Top Trust Terminators that will break down teamwork. Follow Julie

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding tells the story of an under-performing team that was feeling victimized but changed their focus, learned how to play together, built trust, began exceeding their goals and instigated organizational development projects throughout the company.  (When we create workplaces that encourage people to use their imaginations and to laugh, we will increase energy, teamwork and results!) Follow Chery.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame ¬†shares that the best leaders know that teamwork is a dance between individual strength and team capacity. Skills matter, but team members must have each other’s back, consistently give their personal best and learn how to play well with others too.¬†Follow Alli.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates shares some ways to increase participation in your team. Follow Shelley

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited acknowledges that sometimes, team building starts by looking at ourselves. Follow Beth.

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team. ~ John Wooden

 

 

The Worst Mistake You Can Make With a Bad Hire

“When did you know he was a bad hire?”

“Pretty much from day 1.”

“And when did you first have a frank conversation about your concerns?”

“Err… yesterday.”

“And now you want to terminate them?”

“Yeah, I mean it’s been a problem for a really long time. He’s got to go!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this seen this scene play out–both in my HR exec days, and now in the frustrations of my clients looking to add more rigor to their performance management processes.

The worst mistake you can make with a low-performing
new hire is being overly patient.

Why are we overly patient? Well first off, we hired them, and it’s just freaking awkward that they’re this bad. So we convince ourselves they’ll be okay, and hold our breath and wait. Or, we know how hard it can be in a new job…so we just give them time and space to get better, and assume it will all work out.

Of course, most people don’t hit the ground running overnight. But if you’re REALLY worried after the first few customer interactions, or they just don’t seem to pick up anything you’re putting down, don’t wait too long. Better to lose the diaper drama as early in the game as possible– and tell them the truth (see more in our video interview).

5 Reasons to Be Real With Your Low Performing New Hire

They’re As Frustrated As You Are

No one starts a new job with the intention of really screwing it up. If it’s not working out, it’s likely they’re more frustrated than you are. It’s a good idea to be having “How’s it going?” conversations with all your new hires–and particularly those who are struggling.

A few conversation starters:

  • Why did you choose to work here? What most attracted you to this company/job?
  • Is the job what you expected it to be? Why or why not?
  • What do you find most satisfying with this role? What is most frustrating?
  • Where do you need some extra support?

You’ve Got a Limited Window to Clarify Expectations

Don’t assume you’ve been perfectly clear with your expectations. If you wait too long to articulate and reinforce your standards, your ¬†new hire is likely to assume you just aren’t that serious, or that what he or she is doing is acceptable.

It’s fine to give some time to ramp up to be at full performance–but you always want to be reinforcing the end-goal and what success looks like. I can’t you how many times I’ve had crying employees in my HR office saying, “But my supervisor never told me…” And the truth is, often there was some truth to that. Be sure expectations are clear.

Bad Habits Are Hard To Break

Enough said. Be clear about the most important behaviors for achieving success, and reinforce those until they become a habit.

Your “A Players” Are Taking Notes

If the new guy comes in and gets away with less than productive behaviors, you will instantly lose credibility with your strong performers.

HR Can Help

Your HR manager can help you get extra resources to support your new hire’s success. AND, they can also help you deliver (and document) the conversations you are having. I’ve never met an HR professional who complained about being notified too early about a problem.

The best way to give your new hire and your team the best chance of success is to ditch the diaper drama as early in the game as possible, and have real conversations with your new hire.

One Reason Your Employees are Rolling Their Eyes

Have you ever had a supervisor who congratulated you for doing something that you knew wasn’t praiseworthy, or worse, something you knew actually made things worse in the long run? Or have you seen a peer recognized for their “great work” only to find yourself secretly muttering “If they only knew?”

I see this happen all the time. Managers encourage the wrong behavior, for the wrong reasons…setting off a ripple effect of¬†well-meaning frustration. “Seriously!? He got the award, after we saved his butt for that dumb mistake?” “If you loved what I did, do you realize I had to break three stupid polices to get there? The next time I do this when your boss doesn’t have a customer breathing down their neck, I’m likely to get written up for non-compliance.”

If you want people to pick up the love you’re putting down, be sure you’re rewarding the MIT (Most Important Thing).

3 Characteristics of Encouraging Encouragement

Truly encouraging encouragement is:

Relevant

The first key to real encouragement is have a real understanding of which behaviors are driving your long-term results. For example, what behaviors lead to long-term customer retention? What leadership behaviors build employee loyalty and engagement? ¬†Sure it’s simpler to focus only on short-term outcomes. But recognizing and rewarding short-term results will encourage win-at-all costs tactics that create long-term havoc. Your encouragement sends an important message to the employee you’re encouraging and everyone around them. Be sure you’re celebrating what matters most.

Specific

You’ve taken the time to identify your team’s relevant behaviors– your Winning Well MIT (Most Important Thing). ¬†Be sure you’re linking your recognition back to behaviors not just outcomes. Describe what actually happened and why it is important.

Ineffective: “Hey, Bob, Great work.”

Effective: “Hey, Bob, I really appreciate the extra hours you put in on that project last week to take a deep dive into the customer’s account and uncover the root cause of the issue. The customer was delighted and renewed with us for another three years.”

If you can’t describe the actual behaviors, you’re not ready to offer encouragement because you don’t know what people did and they won’t know how to do it again. When you take the time to get specific, people know you understand their work, and you reinforce positive contributions.

Meaningful

Effective leaders know that people are different. They want encouragement in different areas, and they receive encouragement in different ways. Some people hate the spotlight, and would rather not be recognized at all than to be called on the stage and be given a plaque. Others will be annoyed if you didn’t take time to understand WHY their breakthrough formula worked on that spreadsheet. Be sure you’re providing encouragement in a way that will be most impactful to your employees. Recognition can backfire when people don’t feel “got.” ¬†To make recognition more meaningful: customize it, personalize it, make it timely, encourage strengths, align it, and involve the team (for more detail and specific ideas see Winning Well chapter 20).

How Do I Get My Team to Trust Me? (Story and Video)

Our 8th Winning Well Principle: Trust the Trenches has so many nuances, all of which I learned the hard way. For me, it wasn’t the delegating, or asking for input, that was the hardest… it was trusting my team enough to be vulnerable. To trust them enough to admit¬†that I’m far from perfect, and having the confidence to know that was okay. I still had vision. And a plan. And we could still win well.

“Because when people see leaders who are real and have real life challenges,
they look at those leaders and say,
“Wow, she’s not perfect.
And I’m not perfect.
And we can still win well together.”

The Hardest Way to Trust the Trenches

I had just been promoted to my first executive job in human resources at Verizon. All the players were new. I had a new boss and an entire new C-level suite to impress. And because sometimes life throws you curve balls, I was also going through a divorce and was trying to navigate an unexpected life as a single mom.

I hadn’t told a soul. My best friends at work didn’t know. And my boss certainly had no idea.

So here’s what I imagined would be said about me.¬†

Well, we know we can’t talk about this, but…

“This is probably not the right time for her. Yes she’s high-potential, but with all this personal stuff on her plate…”

“I’m not sure she’ll be able to manage the travel of this high-profile role as a single mom.”

“She’s young. Let’s skip this round with her, and wait to see how she handles her new life circumstances.”

So I did what I thought was best and ignored the unspeakable.

Which might not have been a terrible approach. Except…

My First Project in the New Role

My first assignment in my new role was to build a diversity strategy. I was to gather a “max mix” of managers (think race, age, sexual orientation) from across disciplines and cultures to talk about the very real challenges that were limiting our ability to have an inclusive culture.

And it was working.

We had an amazing team. And great dialogue. Scott, the gay man, came out to us for the first time at work–and that informed our strategy.

Sherika shared a few horrible examples of being overlooked as a woman of color–and that informed our strategy.

John, who weighed 400 lbs., opened our eyes to discrimination we hadn’t even considered–and that informed our strategy.

We were on the cusp of presenting our recommendations to senior leadership, when Sherika burst into my office, and shared her truth from the trenches.

“Karin you are a fraud.”

“All this time we’ve been talking about diversity, and what really matters. Scott came out to you and you applauded. I shared my story, and you raised an enthusiastic, ‘Game on… let’s address that.” And John was close to tears in sharing his deal, and you wrote the travel policy into the plan. And there you sat, TOTALLY QUIET, as we discussed the challenges for single moms.

Our single mother strategy is incomplete. And you know it.

Yeah, we talked about schedules and daycare. But what about the fact that executives like you have to hide who they are for fear of being discounted?”

Sherika was right.

Imagine the Difference

Sherika shared, “Karin, trust goes both ways.”

“Can you imagine what would have happened if you had told us the truth?”

“Hey guys, this discussion of single moms is only half the battle. Yeah, we need daycare, and flexible schedules. But we also need to make it safe for people to show up how they really are at work. Without judgement. ¬†I’m a single mom too. I don’t meet the profile we’ve been discussing. AND I’m scared as hell that the minute people find out that I don’t have a husband, all bets are off.”

THAT would inform our diversity strategy.

Trusting the trenches starts with–trusting the trenches to be who you are.

Sherika’s message changed my approach to leadership forever.

To win the trust of your team, you have to trust them to trust you.

Trust the trenches to accept (and even embrace) that you are human being too.

And lead from there.

 

3 Consequences of Promoting the Smart, Successful Jerk (with video)

Oh he’s good. Very good. He gets sh__ done. It’s hard to argue with the results. So what if he’s ruffling a few feathers… with his team, with his peers, with HR, with IT? ¬†The better he does, the better you look. And so you choose to look the other way, shrug your shoulders and chalk it up to the cost of genius.

And that may work. For a while. If you’re lucky you can get him promoted and cross your fingers that someday he will be in a position to return the favor. Which of course is a roll of the dice with a guy like that. But then again, you certainly don’t want to be on his bad side.

Another shoulder shrug, and there you are defending his obnoxious moves, helping him to move on and get out of your hair.

3 Consequences of Promoting the Smart, Successful Jerk

  1. Everyone’s Taking Notes
    I’ve been in enough focus groups across enough companies to tell you–when you promote the jerk, people assume it’s the jerk behavior that sealed the deal. No one assumes they got promoted in spite of their obvious lack of couth. You’ve just sanctioned destructive behavior that people now justify to themselves as the “only way” to make it.
  2. You Instantly Tank Your Credibility
    Even if you spend most of your time leading as a Winning Well manager, you’ll lose the hearts and minds of those looking up to you believing it’s possible to get results–without losing your soul. Promoting a jerk who gets (short-term) results without looking at the impact on the relationships they need to sustain them, is a credibility busting move with the true A players you need for lasting success. The minute you’ve made the announcement, they’re looking around for a smarter boss to work for, who gets the bigger picture.
  3. You Fuel the “Why Bother?” Factor
    When the “witch” gets promoted, there’s going to be a certain segment of your box 9 ¬†high potential employees who are going to shout “No way. If that’s what it takes, I’m not interested.” They won’t say much, and they’ll keep up appearances–but the extra effort will likely go elsewhere. True A players are always working hard… it’s just a matter of where they’re investing their energy.

Don’t underestimate the consequences of supporting and promoting a high-potential jerk. Sure, it’s the path of least resistance. But can you imagine the impact of investing strategically in their development to help them grow past it? Recovering jerky A players rank among some of the best leaders I know.

Take the time to go there.

 

team

Frontline Festival: Leaders Give Pointers on Creating Connection

Welcome back to the Let‚Äôs Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month‚Äôs festival is all about creating connection. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group¬†for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Frontline Festival follows up on this month’s with a theme all about¬†team time. The question for the month is: ¬†What practical tips do you have for working well with a team and building a sense of teamwork??¬†Submit your teamwork related blog posts and answers to that question¬†here!

Amanda Cameron of Patriot Software, LLC explains the importance of promoting teamwork in an organization and the positive results that can be achieved through creating connection. Learn the benefits of a team that works together, tips for encouraging teamwork, and how Patriot Software uses unique methods to connect team members. Follow Amanda.

According to David Grossman of The Grossman Group¬†great leaders don’t just manage employees; they make sure employees are motivated, engaged and inspired when coming to work. There are a number of ways this can be done, from asking open-ended questions to create dialogue and being a role model, to recognizing employees for doing their job. More on these, and 7 other ways to engage and connect with employees here.¬†¬†Follow David.

David Chaudron of Organized Change  recalls that Traditional Management theory had managers dictating work and assigning tasks to workers. Today we know that an engaged employee is more productive and has more to offer than completing assigned tasked. 360 Feedback systems connect the loop for communication and engagement Follow David.

According to William Steiner of Executive Coaching Concepts, your ability to connect with others is directly related to your ability to demonstrate empathy for them. ¬†This post talks about key elements for you to make an empathetic connection and some key “Don’ts” that could hijack your efforts.Follow William.

Communication, the human connection, is the key to personal and career success. ~ Paul J. Meyer

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares the most important single thing you can do to create connections and start conversations. Follow Wally.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership¬†reminds us that identifying team values are a great way to create team connection. But if it’s not done right, it can actually create discord, as this short story shows. This post also includes 6 questions to ensure your team values unite your team. Follow Jesse Lyn.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement believes it is important to focus on creating a shared connection to working together. ¬†He advises that we seek to provide people an opportunity to take pride in their work. ¬†With intrinsic motivation for being proud of the work that naturally encourages people to work together. ¬†Artificial “bonding” outside of the context of work mostly doesn’t translate to the work environment and therefore is not where we should focus.Follow John.

David Dye of Trailblaze tells us that one of the most powerful opportunities you have to connect with your team Рis when things go wrong. David shares how you can Own the Ugly and show them they can trust you. Follow David.

Loneliness is proof that your innate search for connection is intact. ~ Martha Beck

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates knows that connection and motivation can go hand in hand. Using brain science, she provides five ways to motivate your team. Follow Shelley

Alli Polin of Break the Frame   observes that teams are increasingly decentralized and leaders are challenged to create connection when face to face interaction is infrequent at best. She provides a guide to help leaders facilitate success in the age of virtual teams. Follow Alli.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog¬†shares a¬†challenge that teams sometimes face. It’s the amount of work that needs to get done, and the tendency to “dump” work from one person to another. When team members find ways to work together to solve a joint problem or issue, the dumping often lessens or stops, but sometimes getting together isn’t that easy to do. She gives a few suggestions on how to do it. Follow Lisa.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited recognizes that in order to foster strong team relationships, sometimes you need to apologize. She gives some pointers on how to apologize well. Follow Beth.

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection. ~ Robin S. Sharma

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference reflects that creating a connection between members of any team requires trust. To recover from our current trust depression, we need to reexamine some of our decades-old thought patterns and rethink our assumptions. With new information and updated analysis, we can craft plans to help employees and partners while building trust in the process. Follow Jon.

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture¬† ¬†reminds us that creating ¬†authentic care–a genuine connection ¬†where team members like and trust each other-takes time, energy, and consistency. A bowling event or a trust fall exercise won‚Äôt have long term benefits unless the experience can be quickly tied to daily challenges the team faces. In his post, ‚ÄúMost Teambuilding Isn‚Äôt,‚ÄĚ he proposes a proven path to helping create trust and respect across a team.¬†Follow Chris.

Show Me the Love: Recognition that Makes a Difference (with video)

Yesterday a high-potential, high-performing VP called:

Karin, the thing is, I know I’ve been accomplishing a lot. And I shouldn’t need this. But, I just wish one of the big guys would just say “thank you.” HR and my peers have told me “Oh, if you haven’t heard anything, you can be sure you’re doing just fine. if you’re screwing up, that will be perfectly clear. No news is good news. But. The truth is, I’m so hungry for a simple “thank you,” or a nod that I’m on the right track. Is that bad?

Of course not, I replied. “It means you’re human.”

Yes, even the guys getting paid “the big bucks” need to hear that they matter and are making a difference.

If they are, and you’re in a position to tell them– please do. And if they’re not, please tell them why. Silence¬†does nothing to advance the game.

And for everyone else. If an exec being given increased responsibility and a healthy paycheck feels this way, imagine what the lack of meaningful feedback and recognition feels like at the front line.

When it comes to showing appreciation, it’s hard to over do recognition– ¬†if it’s done well and is¬†spoken from the heart.

And so this Valentine’s Day we bring you…

Try This Surprisingly Simple Way to Raise the Bar

She looked right at me and yelled across the gym floor with conviction, “You are a dancer!”

Now there are a lot of labels I’m ready to buy: ¬†“You are a leader!” I hope so.

“You are a Mom!” Well, that one could go both ways, couldn’t it? Anything from “Good job, Mom” to “Is this your kid? What was he thinking?”

“You are a keynoter!”¬†I’m working hard every day on my craft, so yes, I’ll take that.

But “You are a dancer?” Seriously? Not me.

But there I was in Barre class at my gym, trying to tone away the Christmas cookies, and the instructor, who clearly IS a dancer, once again looks at me.

“Dancers look at the audience not the floor.” I straightened up. I quickly glanced around the studio, everyone else was standing taller too. Hmmm… maybe she wasn’t just speaking to me.

“Dancers present their legs with a little more attitude in this move. And “YOU¬†are a dancer. A little more attitude please.”

I watched as this entire room of stressed out moms of toddlers, athletes, executives, and folks clearly in it for their January resolution all brought a little more positive “attitude” to the dance.

A Simple Way to Raise the Bar

Want to raise the bar? Help your team get beyond the just.

“I’m just a keynoter looking to tone and be more graceful on the stage.” True. But how much faster will I get there, if I also embrace my lurking dancer?

“Oh, I’m just a tech guy without an eye for design. Just tell me exactly what you want on your website and I’ll do it, but don’t ask me think to about the way it looks.” Or, “You are a website genius. What do you think is most compelling?”

“Oh I’m just a ticket agent, I don’t make the rules.” ¬†Or, “You are creative travel steward.”

“I’m just _____, ” is a self-limiting cop-out which squashes potential and lowers the bar for all of us. Just because you’re this, doesn’t mean you can’t serve the world more effectively by also being a little of that.

How will you raise the bar for yourself and your team in 2017?

5 Signs Diaper Drama Is Destroying Your Culture

Diaper Genies are a FABULOUS inventionРfor parents and nurseries. They hide the stink of a poopie diaper and exponentially increase the interval necessary to empty the trash. The stink stays conveniently wrapped tightly in plastic so no one can smell it. The stink is unavoidable and the Diaper Genie provides a welcome reprieve.

But sadly, in so many companies around the world, I see a similar effect. Employees take the stinky issues, and disguise them so cleverly with spin, sandwiched feedback and carefully crafted Power Points, that no one can smell the real problem.

The Diaper Drama Includes…

  • Spinning the truth
  • Watering down feedback
  • Omitting information that may trigger alarm
  • Manipulating data

Signs You May Have a Diaper Drama Culture (and what to do about it)

The minute I pull out the Diaper Genie in one of my keynotes, the heads start to nod. Ahh, yes. We do that here. So if this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Here are few signs, you may have a diaper genie culture.

  1. Meetings are readouts, not discussions.
    If¬†meetings are more of a one-way information dump, it’s likely you’re not having the tough conversations that would up your game. Ask questions. “What else do I need to know?” “What are you most worried about? What’s making you nervous?” “What could possibly go wrong…. and how can I help?” See also our thinking on how to “own the ugly.”
  2. You spend more time crafting the communication than having the conversation.
    I once worked for a boss where we would have at least 27 rehearsals before any executive presentation. We were all coached on exactly which topics to avoid at all costs– lest we draw attention to our challenge areas. If you’re more worried about font size than fixing problems, you’re likely in a diaper genie culture. Even if you’re working in¬†such a culture, stop that crap on your own team. Encourage your team to focus on substance over form at least in their readouts to you.
  3. Bad news is a powder keg.
    If you’ve got bosses running around that react poorly to bad news, check closely for diaper genies. They’re probably filled to the brim. It doesn’t take long to train your people to lay low and avoid the tough conversations. If you want a diaper-genie free culture, encourage bad news and respond with supportive solutions, not anxiety-laced freak outs.
  4. It’s “Groundhog Day” all over again.
    Like in the movie Groundhog Day,¬†if you’re constantly “fixing” issues only to have them pop up again, you may be in a diaper genie culture. Be sure you’re asking the strategic questions to get to the heart of the problem. Are there performance/job fit issues that need to be addressed? Are there processes that need to be changed? Rip through the plastic and smell what stinks so you can address it.
  5. Don’t ask, don’t tell, is the norm.
    I’ve worked with companies where the employees tell me the unspoken rule… “Never ever bring up the the truth in a focus group.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about employees being coached (and in some cases even “bribed” with extra treats to paint a rosy picture on an employee survey or in a focus group.) Nothing crushes morale faster than feeling you don’t have a voice. This is one of the worst examples of gaming the score.

More About The Diaper Genie Syndrome (an excerpt from one of our Winning Well workshops)

If you’re living in a diaper drama culture, you may not be able to fix the scene over night, but you can focus on your team and cutting through facade and exposing the stink at least in your sphere of influence. When the results start to soar, spread the word. One secret to success: eliminating the diaper genie effect.