3 Ways to Help Your Team Get 10% Smarter

Your team is smarter than they look. I promise. If they’re not learning as fast as they you would like, stop and consider. What if it’s not them– but you? Here are three ways to make your team 10% smarter.

1. Stop Interrupting

I didn’t get this right away in my growth as an executive. I figured these were seasoned leaders. If they were busy when I called, they’d tell me. But I soon learned that despite my best intentions, I was considered “the boss.” Yeah, you’ve got it– The “imperfect” kind. When I called, they answered–dropping everything to get me what I needed.

Of course every now and then that’s EXACTLY what you need. The sky is falling, the customer’s really ticked off, or your bosses’ hair is on fire. Got it.

Just remember, creative work and breakthroughs require concentration. No one does their best thinking in a constant barrage of interruption.

If it can wait, give back some mental energy by making ongoing lists for each person and setting a time to run through what you need. They’ll be in a better space to think and respond, and in the meantime they got on with their other priorites. Resist the urge to just pick up the phone and disrupt their flow.

2. Give Permission to Do

I recently met with the founder and CEO of a medium size company who had brought me in to do some leadership development work with the frontline team.  I shared the laundry list of amazing business improvement ideas that had surfaced as we talked leadership– literally side effects of deeper conversation. These were solid ways to improve revenue and customer service. His response, “Karin, what CEO in their right mind would be upset with them just doing these things? If they’re good ideas, why didn’t they just do them?”

His entrepreneurial spirit couldn’t imagine a mindset of waiting for permission, but he’d not said that out loud. Be sure if your team is busting with ideas they feel encouraged to share and try them.

3. Expose Them to More

In almost every company I’m working with one of the big asks is to help the team think more strategically. As I dig in the number one issue is almost always lack of exposure to the bigger context of the vision, the financial strategy, or how their work connects with other departments. It’s impossible to connect the dots if you only see half of them. The more your team knows, the deeper their thinking will become. If you want to grow big picture thinkers, give them something to think about beyond their current role.

The Rest of the Story

This is part four in a seven part series of how to outsmart the competition. If you’re just tuning in, here’s the rest of the story.

1. Get there early

2. Be an explainer

3. Pay attention to your own game.

 Looking for someone to help your team get a bit smarter? Please call me at 443- 750-1249 for a free consultation.

Are You Letting Your Team Outgrow Their Past?

Most leaders mature (and yes, that’s me on the right). And yet, often when someone has been with the company for a long time, it’s their old image that sticks. Be sure you’re helping your team outgrow their past.

I’ve seen too many companies go “in search of” the ideal candidate, hire them, and then find they had the right guy all along (after the first one didn’t work out). In fact, I’ve been that guy.

This post was inspired by a recent post by Dan Rockwell encouraging his readers to overcome their past. Brilliant insights. As I was reading it, my heart felt heavy for all the leaders I know who are desperately trying to escape their past and can’t grow beyond their early reputations.

“The past is a weight that grows heavier with the passage of time. Little mistakes grow larger. Offenses get heavier. Failures persecute.” -Dan Rockwell

Most leaders mature. And yet, often when someone has been with the company for a long time it’s their old image that sticks.

Be brave enough to see who’s really showing up.

Anticipate maturity and watch it florish.

Don’t miss out on the most fun part of being a leader– watching others grow.

Be an advocate.

Don’t overlook the game changers who were once young, naive and a little overly _________(brash, politically inept, unconfident, overconfident).

You were too.

Who do you need to give a second chance to?

What are you going to do this year to take your leadership development program to the next level? Call me at 443-750-1249 for a free consultation.

Another Way to Outsmart the Competition

The hard-sell is so old school. Anyone with a passing interest in what you’re saying has 17 ways to get 17 different perspectives on what you’re saying in 17 seconds.  Your customers and employees have become conditioned to respond to any hard sell with a Google search for the truth.

The minute the Google-search has begun, you’ve inadvertently outsourced your explaining authority to the vortex.

And yet, the world continues to be filled with executives over-selling their vision, recruiters over-selling unrealistic lifestyles, and salespeople overselling features and benefits. More than ever, telling the whole truth has become a competitive advantage.

Outsmart the competition by being an explainer.

3 Ways to Outsmart the Competition by Being an Explainer

This is part 2 of 7 ways to outsmart the competition. If you missed #1 “Getting There Early.” Click here.

Great leaders are amazing explainers. They go slow to go fast. They take time to explain their ideas, perspective and values. They welcome the tough questions and the slippery slopes. They go there.

1. In Marketing: Teach Before Selling

So many people ask me why I give away so much content. I’ve been told “I don’t understand your model” more than once. But the companies who work with me get it.

My mission to grow leaders is vital. If you really can’t pay, you still need this, and I will share for free. I also know that the best work I do is face-to-face, helping you and your team go deeper. The deeper magic happens when we explore your world together.

I encourage you to adopt a similar approach. No matter what your mission, be a teacher. Help people understand the industry, their environment and what they don’t know. Give boldly. Important work will follow. If it doesn’t, improve your message.

2. In Recruiting: Give a Realistic Perspective

I was shocked to hear one of my MBA students come back disillusioned from a recent sales pitch of one of the big consulting firms. It was the exact same pitch I rejected 20 years ago. The story was “work-life balance.” The label I heard back then was “more nights home than away” (which I soon found out counted weekends, vacation, and holiday… essentially 4 nights of every workweek away.) Today, all it took was a few quick searches to hear the real message “We make it easy for you to hire people to raise your children, clean your house, say your prayers and do your gardening. You won’t have time.”

3. In Engaging Commitment: Tell The Truth

For God’s sake (and everyone else’s), don’t BS. If you are in a conference room trying to spin an uncomfortable message and your heart is sagging, listen to the voice. Your team will see right through any spin you are weaving. Do your best to tell the truth with the best words you can muster. If there’s still stuff you can’t share, whatever you do don’t lie about the future. You will win hearts, minds, and engaged arms and legs by telling the truth at every juncture. I’ve made a career of telling bad news well. Nothing opens the door for true engagement better than that.

What To Do When Results are in the Toilet

I’d much rather take over a team with results in the toilet than one executing on all cylinders. Sure they’ll be some long days and sleepless nights, but there’s nothing better than the electric feeling your team experiences when they accomplished what no one (particularly them) thought could be done. Inspire results like that, and your “A” players will follow you anywhere, and you get to do it all again.

Approach 1: Redefine the Problem

At Verizon, my biggest turnaround successes came in jobs where I had the least expertise. Ironically, we didn’t succeed IN SPITE of my lack of technical knowledge, but BECAUSE of it.

Perhaps you’ve been there (or are here). You’re so entrenched in solving a big hairy problem, all your energy goes to solving that issue. The brainstorming and action planning leads to only incremental improvement.

On the other hand, when you have no freaking clue what to do to fix the problem, you begin looking for problems you DO know how to solve. When the results really suck, and everything’s been tried, solving the problem from a different angle is often just what will change the game.

Approach 2: Redefine Markets

When I took over responsibility for 100 or so Verizon Wireless stores our biggest problem was a saturated market. Everyone had a cell phone. It was all about “switchers” from other carriers.

I encouraged my team to redefine the problem. We didn’t need more retail customers, we needed to convert the small business customers that were already coming into our stores to manage their personal accounts. Look for muddy boots (contractors), ask every customer where they work (“Oh, I’m self-employed”) and we often found they had their business accounts elsewhere. Now we were switching not one line, but five or ten at a time. We quickly led the nation in small business sales which went from 1% to 20% of our revenue mix. Other regions came scrambling to understand our approach.

Approach 3: Redefine Assumptions

I’m embarrassed to admit that when I was tapped to transform our customer outsourcing channel, I didn’t even know that we outsourced calls. I was told the problem was, “How do we hold our outsourcers accountable?” But as I dug further, I was sure that the current approach was the cause of many contentious and frustrating relationships with mediocre results.

When we redefined the problem as “How do we get our strategic partners (we stopped calling them “outsourcers”) to care as much about our customers as we do?” the entire strategy changed. We worked on culture, training and understanding. We treated human beings as human beings, not outsourced gadgets. We reached parity with internal centers.

When you’re really stuck and your results really suck, back away, and try redefining the problem. Ask some naive people to take a look. Perhaps you’re solving the wrong problem.

Tune in on Wednesday for more suggestions on improving bad performance.

Leaders Share about Confidence: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our January Festival is all about Confidence. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about Humility. New contributors welcome.

 

Confidence: Explaining It

“When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.” – Joe Namath

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares how a shooting lesson with Olympian and Top Shot star Gabby Franco revealed three important elements of excellence and confidence. Follow Beth.

Steve Broe of My Career Impact says there are a lot of reasons to be busy in your work. Show your team and your senior management why it is important, and your confidence in the significance of project management. Follow Steve.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement  shares that without confidence people often take disagreements about the merits of an idea, proposal or action as an attack on them. With confidence people are much more able to separate their feeling of self worth from a discussion about what options are best. Follow John. 

According to Barbara Kimmel of Trust Across America, when a business that’s comfortable not having 100% market share confidently and happily recommends a competitor, they’re sending a signal about trust and confidence and most of all, about feeding the community first. Follow Barbara.

Michelle Pallas of Michelle Pallas, Inc. states that we act confidant when we deliver on our promises. It’s the only thing that gives us the right to hold others accountable. Follow Michelle.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights says confidence is more important to your success than competence and provides three steps to building it. Follow Skip.

Confidence: Gaining It

“Confidence comes from discipline and training.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Paul LaRue of the UPwards Leader gives us steps for new leaders to overcome their fears and gain credibility in their new role. Follow Paul.

From Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.com: You had great expectations, but you fell short. Now what? Here are five steps for letting go of expectations and getting your confidence backFollow Matt.

Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce asks, “Do you ever find your confidence waning when you’re cornered?” Here are 3 Confident Comebacks for When You’re Pressured, Pushed, or Put on the Spot. Follow Julie. 

Jim Ryan of Soft Skills for Hard Jobs shares that limiting beliefs are those restricting convictions we hold about our abilities. These kind of beliefs stop us from trying something hard or force us to give up too early. Follow Jim.

Confidence: Maintaining It

“To succeed in life, you need two things. Ignorance and confidence.” – Mark Twain

David Dye of Trailblaze Engage! shares several tools to overcome imposter syndrome and regain the confidence you need to lead well. Follow David.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center tells us five things confident women never do, and that confidence should never be confused with arrogance. Follow LaRae.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “How do you maintain your confidence when you are pushed outside of your comfort zone or faced with historical pain?” Follow Chery.

Dan Rockwell of Leadership Freak says “Insecure people won’t try. Successful leaders help others find confidence, assuming they want to find it.” Follow Dan.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership provides  5 measures leaders can take to build and strengthen their confidence. Follow Tanveer.

Call for Submissions. February’s Frontline Festival is about humility. Please send your submissions no later than February 13th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

If you haven’t seem my confident humility infographic, click here. to view and share.

Confidence (A Frontline Festival)Thanks to Larry Coppenrath for a wonderful map of our Festival’s Ideas.

How To Bring Out the Best In People

The story he shared in a recent workshop I led stopped my heart. We were talking about leadership and “bringing out the best in people,” when John (obviously not his real name) confided, “I’ve never seen anyone do what you’re talking about better than my wife.”

We smiled. “No. You don’t understand,” he continued.  (His eyes got bigger and his posture took on a sincerity that made everyone in the room lean in.) No one expected what came next.

“I was an absolute asshole. If you were to look up bad husbands in Wikipedia my picture would be there.”

I stayed totally still. There was absolutely nothing I could say next that would trump his story.

“I had been such a jerk for so many months. I knew it. She knew it. I was deeply depressed, and not myself. She didn’t complain. She never seemed to take it personally. Although, I can’t imagine how she wouldn’t. We had no money, which made the whole situation even more grim.

Then one day after a lot of long ones, she asked:  “Would you be willing to fully trust me and get up at 3am with me tomorrow and follow me?”

I felt so guilty, I said “Sure.” Even though I found the mere thought exhausting.

She woke me up, blind-folded me and took me sky diving–my top bucket-list adventure. We both knew we couldn’t afford it. But I leaped in. She took pictures and videos. As she played them back, she reminded me, “This is the man I love. This is who you really are. You can be this. You will get there again. I love you.”

Amen.

I’m going to admit right now, I’m not that big of a wife. This would NEVER have occurred to me. I’m in awe of this woman I’ve never met, inspiring a man with enormous potential to be bigger. As he shared his story, his eyes sparkled as they had for the previous two days. He was a ball of vibrant energy and potential. I’d feel lucky to have him on any team I was leading.

Perhaps someone you’re leading right now could use such a generous, humble and confident approach. A second chance to be seen for what’s possible.

P.S. I would love to schedule a free consultation about how I can help your team achieve breakthrough results in 2015.  Click here to download a one-page highlight sheet. karinhurt_One_Sheet

On Confidence, Conviction and Finding Success

A guest post from LGL tribe member, Tom Eakin, about confidence, resilience, and the courage to keep going.

As a U.S. Army Ranger-qualified Combat Engineer Officer, I learned how to find the confidence and conviction to do what it took to accomplish the mission even when it was really hard…especially when it was really hard.

Later, I applied what I’d learned in the corporate environment. I developed a values-based approach that helped my team increase performance by over 300% and was awarded at the highest level by my company.

Two years later, I was fired.

Even though I had proven my values-driven approach increased employee engagement, I was doing something others just weren’t ready to try to understand. Something was missing in the translation.

Why Confidence Can Be Good

Decision-making is the most critical aspect of achieving success: A decision precedes every act. Everything we do leads to what we have, and will, become.

Confidence comes from past successes and learning. Our experience teaches us we can be successful. We need confidence to make decisions in uncertain situations.

The Problem with Confidence

But… we can become lazy in our confidence. Relying more on what experience has taught us and ignoring relevant facts can trick us into thinking that just because something worked in one situation, it will work in another.

My own confidence proved to be deceptive as I tried to expand my values-driven approach beyond my span of authority.

Confidence can leave us without a solid foundation in times of failure.

If I ONLY had confidence to rely on as I introduced my new concept to the world, I would have quit long ago.

Where Conviction Fits In

Conviction comes from what you believe and compels you to inspired action.

While it was difficult for me to reconcile the organizational success I’d created with the personal result I’d reaped by getting fired, I believed in my new approach. I forged ahead. I developed “GPS Theory” and launched BoomLife.

Conviction has driven me past the frustrating failures and entrepreneurial loneliness that come with creating something that is not yet commonly understood.

The Challenge with Conviction

It’s very easy to inappropriately apply conviction to the means instead of the end.

When I launched the “GPS Theory” application on my website, people didn’t interact with it as I had expected. If all of my conviction was focused on this tool I would have given up. Instead, I realized I needed to find different ways to present the concepts behind “GPS Theory” in order for others to recognize its real value.

Find the Perfect Blend

Confidence and conviction are not mutually exclusive. You need confidence in what you’re doing, so you can repeat what works. You need conviction to compel you to keep moving forward even when things don’t go your way so you can find what works. You need to find the perfect blend to find values-driven success.

For more thought-provoking discussion on finding values-driven success, inspiring stories of people who’ve achieved it and strategies you can apply, read my new book, Finding Success: Get what you really want.

P.S. I receive dozens of inquires each day about guest posts. I welcome guest posts from those who have been active members of the LGL community (through comments and interaction with other LGL members) or who I have come to know personally and can ensure their message will resonate. If you have an important message to share, please start by getting engaged and involved.  This is a working community. We would love to hear your story.

Role Models of Confident Humility: Profile #1 Jesus Christ

When I think of role models of confident humility, it’s hard to imagine a better example than Jesus. Born in a manger, washing feet, hanging out with the poor; yet let’s face it, he had some pretty big asks. From time to time in 2015, I’ll be showcasing examples of leaders across a variety of contexts lead from a place of humble confidence.

This Christmas it seemed only appropriate to start with Jesus. Let’s have some fun with this one in a big virtual Christmas party. Even if you’re not Christian, there’s a lot we can learn from Jesus as a human leader as well. I’ll start with a few ideas, gathered from some of my Lead Change Group friends to get us started.  Grab some cocoa and add your thoughts.

“Confident humility says I can love you and serve you, even if your actions don’t deserve it.” -Chery Gegelman

Confidence

lead from who you are | stand up for what matters | speak the truth

  • Calming the raging storm
  • Walking on water
  • Taking on the establishment

“He knew who he was. The attitude of everything he said was confident based on who he was and what he was going to do.” – Mike Henry Sr.

Humility

know your vulnerabilities | admit mistakes | invite challengers

  • Washing the disciples feet
  • “Into your hands I commend my spirit:” Submitting to crucifixion
  • Note:  I’m curious– can anyone think of a time where Jesus admits he made a mistake?

Connection

listen carefully | understand perspectives | collaborate endlessly

  • As a young boy, confident enough to discuss God with the priests, yet humble enough to submit when Mary and Joseph came back for him.
  • Hanging out with outcasts and children
  • Telling stories

Vision

imagine more | invite bold possibility | do what matters

  • Energized a strong, diverse team to drop everything and follow-him
  • Strong ideas that challenged the status quo
  • Drew a compelling picture of life after death

Thanks so much to Johann Gauthier, Randy Conley, Jane Anderson, John Smith, Paul Larue, Chery Gegelman, Bill Treasurer, Mike Henry, Sr, and Paula Kiger for their insights on this topic that served as a basis for this post.

In Search Of Confident, Humble Leaders

Do you know (or know of) a leader who is a role model of confident humility? Well known or not? Please drop me a note for consideration for a 2015 profile in confident humility.

Merry Christmas.

Thanks so much for being such an amazing part of my year.

In Peace and Joy,

Karin

Confident Humility: FREE Downloadable Holiday Gifts

How to Lead with the Right Kind of Confidence

Great leaders have a unique combination of confidence and humility coupled with the power to create real vision and connection. These forces work together to inspire a magnetic magic that leads to breakthrough results. I’m on a mission to inspire and develop these characteristics in leaders around the world. This philosophy is at the core of my message in my speaking, writing and consulting. I’m confident it’s a message worth sharing.

Today I’m sharing some free gifts to help get the word out. I encourage you to download and use with your teams.

I’d also love to talk with you about the possiblity of working with you and your team on a fast start to 2015 or speaking at your next event.  Please contact me for a free consultation on how we can build something just right.

P.S. If you need an endorsement to get you inspired, here’s Santa’s.

Another Holiday Gift

As a holiday gift to you, I’m sharing some easy exercises you can use with your team in the new year (see sidebar). If you’re already a subscriber, check your email for a download link. If you’re new here, we’d love to have you join our inspiring tribe.

talkingteams-02-3D

More End of Year Fun

Our LGL tribe had some nice recognition, being honored as a Top 10 Leadership Sites of 2014 based on COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. You did that! I am so grateful for your amazing interaction. Your comments are my favorite part of writing.

I’m also really honored to be included on Inc’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers For Your Next Conference (of course, they used Sir Richard Branson’s pic, not mine, but I’m cheaper 😉