The Power of Community: Introducing the International Winning Well Leadership Symposium

Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest growing regions, yet nearly two-thirds of its executives say their organizations can’t develop leaders fast enough to capitalize on growth. To help bridge the gap, David Dye and I are taking our Winning Well message on tour to Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, and Thailand from late April through late May (more details here).

Highlights include our partnership with Thriving Talents for a L.E.A.D. Mastery Winning Well Masterclass; working with  C-level leaders and keynoting and presenting a C-level forum at the HR Summit & Expo Asia 2017; presenting at the  Asia Professional Speakers Convention 2017 in Singapore, the continent’s premier convention for professional trainers and facilitators; and philanthropic work and visits to our Winning Wells with Together We Can Change the World.

The Winning Well International Symposium

While we’re there, we’ve invited thought leaders from around the world to share their unique Winning Well insights in our Winning Well International Symposium hosted on Let’s Grow Leaders Blog.

What Is The Symposium?

Every weekday for five weeks, well-established thought leaders, award winning authors and speakers will be sharing their perspectives on the fundamental Winning Well principles of Confidence, Humility, Results and Relationships–in the form of blog posts, tools, and videos. We’ll also be including video interviews with Winning Well leaders we meet in Asia, as well as Brian Tracy who will also be keynoting at the HR Asia Summit.

We’re delighted to include thought leaders who’ve become dear colleagues and friends throughout our Winning Well journey. We open each post by sharing a bit about how we know each thought leader, and conclude with additional reflections on how their work aligns with our Winning Well approach to blending the bottom line with the human spirit.

How Do I Sign Up?

The symposium is FREE. If you’re already an LGL subscriber you will receive your normal Tuesday newsletter with links to all the Symposium posts for that week. However, if you would like to receive the insights “hot off the press” each day as they appear, sign up on the sidebar and you will a daily post every weekday for five weeks.   And if you have written a blog post that relates with one of those four themes, our May Frontline Festival is your chance to contribute!

The symposium offers a great exercise to do with your team.  Why not ask them to read each day’s/week’s post and when you next meet, share their favorite points and how they might be applied in your dynamic? Take a photo of your discussion group, send it to Beth@letsgrowleaders.com, and you may see it on our social media feeds!

We encourage conversation and dialogue as we continue to spread our mission of blending the bottom line with the human spirit around the world!

Four Questions to Keep Your Team Focused and Working on What Matters Most

When I look back on my career at Verizon at the times my teams truly knocked it out the park–the times we increased results exponentially and led the Nation in results or had a major turnaround pulling a team out of the abyss, there is one common characteristic. We had the team laser-focused on the one or two critical behaviors that mattered most at the frontline– and they were doing them consistently.

Seems so basic and easy? Right? And yet it’s so easy to get distracted–focusing on the 27 other “critical” metrics on your scorecard, or the merger, or some special project, or…

4 Questions to Keep Your Team Focused on What Matters Most #MindTheMIT

If you’re looking to get your team FOCUSED on what matters most… it starts by IDENTIFYING what matters most. And then, consistently reinforcing those behaviors (as my teams would descirbe “Like a maniac”) through every means possible.

What Matters most?

  • What do our customers really need from us–consistently? (Not 37 things. Pick one or two.)
  • What values have we committed to?
  • When we walk away from our work, what will we be proud to have accomplished?
  • Win or lose, how will we know we’ve done our very best?

Which actions have the most Impact?

  • What are the critical behaviors that drive your results?
  • If we could only do one thing, which behavior would have the greatest impact?
  • What invisible behaviors might we forget? (eg: sleep, time with others, fun)

Where Do I / we need to say No?

  • What are we choosing to do instead of our MIT?
  • How can we make a different choice?
  • What are silly, creative, impossible ways to do things differently?
  • Where do we need to have tough conversations?

How Will I/we stay Disciplined?

  • What are my/our biggest distractions?
  • How can we ensure they don’t derail us?
  • How will we keep the MIT in front of us all the time?
  • How will we hold ourselves accountable for maintaining focus on the MIT?

To make it easier for you to use this tool, you can download it for free here. 

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.

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.

 

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 invention– for 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.

A Fresh, Fast, and Fun Way to Focus Your Team

If you’re like most managers, you’re neck deep in performance agreements, stretch goals, and the dance between managing your boss’s expectations and warning your team not to sandbag. How you spend January can make the difference between a breakthrough and mediocre 2017.

Too many managers take the goals handed to them, wring their hands for a day or so, and then pull the team together to figure out how the heck they’re going to accomplish all THAT and still “Do their day job.” That approach will get the job done, but it’s unlikely to unleash breakthrough innovation or a head-turning year.

A Fresh, Fast, and Fun Way to Focus Your Team (or Yourself)

One of the most important questions you can ask your team (or yourself) is “What will it take to make 2017 the very best year of your career?” In my exec role at Verizon, this was always one of my favorite questions. It’s amazing how few people start their year thinking that way.

We now build that question into the strategic planning work we do with teams. Here’s one easy DIY exercise you can do to help focus your team (or yourself).

The End of Year Letter

Ask each member of your team to write you a letter, as if it were January 2018.  This can be done in email, or the old fashioned way. Just be sure you save it, so you can review at midyear and again this time next year.

It’s helpful to give them a few prompts. Here are some to get you started.

Dear __________ (insert your name here, if they report to you; if you are doing this for yourself use your bosses’ name).

2017 was the very best year of my career.

From there, pick some sentence starters as prompts for them to complete.

We totally changed the game by ____________.

The most important thing we accomplished was ___________.

Everyone is looking to us to understand how we ___________

I (we) got so much better at ______________.

Our customers are delighted because_______________.

I really improved my working relationships with __________ by___________.

Feel free to make up your own. You don’t need to pick many. The point is to ask your team members to reflect individually about what an extraordinary year would look like and then to identify specific behaviors and actions to help them get there.

I encourage you to proactively write a similar letter to your boss, and to ask them to pull it out mid year. It’s amazing how motivating this can be.

Let Us Help You Jump Start Your Team in 2017

In our strategic Winning Well workshops and off-sites we always include exercises to get past the “Ugh, how can we get all this done?” mindset to identifying what matters most, isolating key priorities and behaviors.

Stop This Terrible Habit You Don't Even Know You Have

How do I know you have it? Because I have it too. Most high-performers do.

It’s a sneaky little bugger, because on the surface it really feels like you’re doing the right thing. And on most levels you are. It’s a Winning Well core competency taken to extremes.

But if you go too far, the stress will crush your spirit and undermine your confidence. It’s one more way great managers lose their soul.

In an effort to know your vulnerabilities, to admit mistakes, to always look for ways to improve… it’s so easy to beat yourself up.

  • “What a stupid decision! I can’t believe I didn’t think through all the potential consequences.”
  • “Oh, I didn’t see that coming. I should have been better prepared.”
  • “If I’d only thought about the contingencies early on I could have saved my team a lot of angst and re-work.”
  • “I should have counted to 10 before I sent that email.”

If you’re thinking any of the above or something equally frustrating, I get it. You’re probably right. You made a mistake. You learned something. And you’ll do better next time.

Yes. Own the ugly. Apologize. Get creative and make it right. And then, move on.

Don’t hold a grudge.

Treat yourself with the same level of compassion
you would offer your team, your boss, or the people you love.

I’m writing this as much for me as for you.

When people ask me what’s the hardest part of running my own company, my answer is always the same. “I’m the hardest boss I’ve ever worked for.” And that’s saying something because I worked for some doozies.

Be the leader you want your boss to be… for yourself as well as everyone else. That includes a good dose of compassion every now and then.