17 Questions to Help Grow Confidence in Children

19 Questions to Grow Confidence in Children

Questions are a remarkable way to grow confidence in children. Great questions work because they cause children to stop and think. To reflect. To pause and consider what’s going on in their lives and in the world around them. Kids are natural questioners. So why not tap into that curiosity as you work to help build their confidence and leadership skills?

Today we answer the very important question, how can we grow confidence in children, with more questions. Questions you can ask to help your children continue to grow toward becoming remarkable leaders and human beings.

19 Powerful Questions to Grow Confidence in Children

Framed well—powerful, open-ended questions can help children gain a better understanding of their skills and abilities as well as to consider the contribution they’re already making in the world. Here are a few of the favorites we’ve used over the years in raising our own children and in work with other youth.

Asking any one of these questions can be the start of a great conversation. And of course, it gives you a remarkable opportunity to listen well. Nothing builds confidence faster than truly being heard.

Questions to Help Children Tap into Their Strengths

1. Would you please draw a picture of something you do very well?

2. What are some of the nicest things your friends say about you?

Okay, this one’s old school Mister Rogers, but it’s a keeper.

3.  What makes you special?

4. Let’s make a list of 10 things you are really good at. Which of these make you most proud and why?

Questions to Help Cultivate Awareness and Compassion

5. How did you help someone today?

6. I’m so happy about how you help our family. What do you think are some of the biggest ways you help?

7. What do you think that person is feeling right now?

8. When they’re aware they’ve hurt someone: How can you apologize?

Questions to Help Children Overcome Setbacks

Almost any kind of “how can you?” question works well here.

9. How can you be most helpful in this situation?

10. What else could you try?

Nothing builds confidence faster than tapping into past success.

11. Have you ever had something like this happen before? What did you do then to fix the problem?

12. When they make a mistake and spill or break something, rather than freak out, ask: And now what do you do?

Questions to Encourage Children to Try Something New

13. What worries you most about _________?

14. Remember when you were so scared to try _________? And now it’s ________ (one of your favorite things to do, places to go…)

15. Remember when mommy/daddy did ______? I was super scared too. What do you think were some of the ways I helped myself to become braver?

16. When facing an overwhelming problem: What is the smallest thing you can do to solve this? (eg: Pick up a single sock. Take out a sheet of paper. Once that is done, ask again: Now what is the smallest thing can do?)

Questions to Help Children Take a Stand

17. What is one problem in your community that more than ten people you know want to solve? What could you do in the next week to help make that better?

18. Why does that make you so angry? What do you think you could say to help your friends understand how you feel?

Super Secret Bonus Question

When asking these questions your kid might respond with an “I don’t know.” That’s when the super secret bonus question comes in.

19. Let’s pretend you did know. What would you do then?

Sometimes kids (and grown-ups too) get stuck when asked for solutions. They’re afraid to sound stupid or that it might not be the “right” answer. By moving the conversation into the imagination, it helps them tap into their natural creativity and makes it safe to explore options, rather than having to be “right.”

Your Turn

What is one of your favorite questions to help grow confidence and leadership in children?

Other Topics Related to Growing Confidence in Children

Have you seen our new Children’s Leadership Book? Click here to learn more.

Ten Tips on How to Build Confidence in Kids (Working Mother)

9 Secrets of Confident Kids (Parents)

How Being a Parent Improves your Leadership Competency

Children’s Books on Leadership: Questions to Inspire Young Thinking

Be the Leader 52 Tips

52 Tips to Be the Leader You Want Your Boss to Be

Be the Leader You Want Your Boss to Be

You’ve got this. You care, you want results, and as a leader you’re committed to Winning Well. But life gets busy and complicated. Sometimes you just need a quick reminder to get you back on track. Here they are: 52 tips to be the leader you want your boss to be.

1 Remember why you choose to lead: prioritize people and purpose above power, prestige, or pennies.

2 When stuck or overwhelmed: Ask “How can I…?”

3 Solve problems before they occur with clear expectations. Mind the MIT (Most Important Thing)

4 Know your addictions: Are you prone to do it all yourself, people-pleasing, using fear and using people to get things done, or playing games to keep yourself safe?

5 Land in the “And” – It’s not an either/or choice. In every circumstance choose to show up with confidence and humility. Choose to focus on results and relationships.

6 Remember that everyone you lead is a volunteer – even when they’re paid they have a choice about how they show up. You get to influence the choice they make.

7 What matters to them should matter to you.

8 End every meeting by asking: “Who will do what, by when, and how will we know it is done?”

9 Apologize when you screw up, break your word, or hurt someone.

10 When leading peers, be clear whether you’re speaking as their leader or as their colleague.

11 When delegating, create a mutual face-to-face appointment on both calendars where you will receive the project. This ensures delegated tasks don’t fall through the cracks.

12 Hold everyone accountable. It tells your high-performers that you value them. When you let performance or behavior slide, you’re telling everyone you don’t care.

13 Terminating someone for cause is compassion for them and an investment in your team. Be the leader that cares enough to let them go.

14 Connect every “what” to a meaningful “why”.

15 Value people’s time – treat it with respect and expect results from everyone.

16 You can’t lead if you’re always exhausted. Take care of yourself.

17 You’re the drummer of the band. Be the leader who keeps the beat for your team with consistent expectations.

18 You won’t have all the answers and shouldn’t solve problems on your own. Share them with your team. Ask “How can we…?” and let the team take it.

19 Cultivate confidence by asking “What would a confident leader do here?” Then do it.

20 Ask for, and expect the truth. Don’t shoot the messenger.

21 Promote wisely. The most important decision you make is whom you will trust with power and authority.

22 When you don’t agree with a decision, own it anyway. Empower your team by asking “How can we?”

23 Be clear about who owns the decision before you ask for ideas.

24 You can’t ‘do your best’ at everything. Know your MIT (Most Important Thing.)

25 Check for understanding. Don’t ask “Any questions?” and assume they get it.

26 Choose to be effective rather than ‘right.’

27 Things will go wrong – sometimes badly. Don’t blame. Ask, “How can we fix this?”

28 Ask your team “How can I help?” and listen to what they need that only you can provide.

29 When asked for answers, don’t rush to help. First, ask questions that promote critical thinking and problem-solving.

30 Every meeting should achieve results and build relationships.

31 Meetings: invite the least number of people to make the best decision.

32 Meetings: choose only one discussion at a time: Where will we go? or How will we get there?

33 Meetings: begin by clarifying how the decision will be made. Will you make it? Will the team vote? Or by consensus?

34 Learn and leverage your team member’s strengths. Don’t waste time or energy on weaknesses unless it’s limiting the use of their strength.

35 Find superstars by hiring for the strengths displayed by your top performers.

36 When interviewing, avoid hypothetical questions. Ask: “Tell me about a time when…” they demonstrated a key competency.

37 People are different. Value, embrace, and incorporate the strengths in those differences.

38 Ask “How can I help?” when you know things are going well.

39 Release energy with specific, meaningful, and relevant encouragement.

40 Know where your team needs to go. Focus on the steps to get there, not on the obstacles.

41 Put people before projects. The project will end, but the people will still be there. Invest and collaborate.

42 To influence your supervisor, know what keeps their leader up at night.

43 People need to hear you say “You can do this.”

44 Want innovation? Make it safe for people to have ideas that don’t work.

45 Address performance issues by observing the behavior, ask about it, confirm the desired behavior. (See the INSPIRE model for more.)

46 Foster collaboration and end needless bickering by establishing clear expectations, priorities, and how everyone interacts to achieve these results.

47 Play the game, don’t game the score. What are the key behaviors that drive results. Your customer doesn’t care what you get on your internal scorecard.

48 A blunt axe can’t cut down a tree. Invest in your skills and health.

49 It’s not about you – people’s behavior is about them. Help things make sense to them.

50 Remote and virtual teams are still people. Treat them as such.

51 Use performance reviews to develop strengths and limit liabilities. Everything else is a waste of time.

52 Grow your leadership and impact by connecting to your team, to a community outside your job, and to mentors.

Your Turn

We’d love to hear from you. What would one vital leadership tip you add to help others be the leader they want their boss to be?

collaboration - can we trust you

Collaboration – Can We Really Trust You?

It’s easy to talk about collaboration. It’s much harder to do it.

After visiting one of our clients in Guatemala City, Karin, Sebastian, and I traveled to Antigua, Guatemala where my daughter owns a clothing design business. She took us to Hobbitengango, a Tolkein-inspired Hobbit-like village set in the mountains overlooking a beautiful Guatemalan valley whose motto is “Disconnect to reconnect.”collaboration - building trust

There, we met Dan, one of the visionaries and architects behind the solar and wind-powered village (where you can stay overnight in a Hobbit house and enjoy fantastic food.) Dan is passionate about Guatemala’s natural resources. He works to fight deforestation, regrow Guatemala’s forests, and clean up trash in the countryside.

He shared some of the challenges he encountered creating what has become a popular tourist destination.

When he started out, Dan encountered a man who was illegally harvesting lumber. He called the authorities. They caught the man and asked if Dan wanted to press charges.

Instead, Dan offered the man a job: planting trees.

“He needed to make a living and support his family. He can’t do that from jail,” Dan said. “Now he’s able to provide and he’s repairing some of the damage he did to the forest.”

Dan shared another incident where a car drove off the road and into a neighboring farmer’s field where it did a lot of damage. As soon as he heard about the damage, Dan went to see what had happened.

When he arrived at the field, a woman “rushed out of her house, waving a machete, and yelling, saying I destroyed her fields and don’t care about anyone.”

Dan explained that another motorist had caused the damage. He had also already called his soil construction expert to repair her field. In addition, he would build a fence for her property at his expense to prevent future problems.

“She seemed surprised that I didn’t fight back, that I didn’t want to argue.”

Dan smiled, then said, “Why make enemies when you can make friends?”

Why make enemies when you can make friends?

Land in the And

We meet many leaders who talk about the value of collaboration, who want their people working together, and who get frustrated when their colleagues won’t cooperate (which often means “why won’t you see things my way?”)

It caught our attention is that, as a leader, Dan wasn’t just “being nice” in building the relationships with his neighbor and the illegal logger. He was focused on achieving his business results: reversing damage to the forest and building a viable visitor attraction. He does it by building collaborative, results-focused relationships.

This is the heart of Winning Well: your ability to “land in the and” – to focus on both results and relationships, to show up with confidence and humility.

Collaboration – Can We Trust You?

Real collaboration isn’t easy because it requires you to put people before projects and truly invest in the other person’s success. How can you help your colleague achieve their results while they help you with yours?

If you’re in a cutthroat work environment and true collaboration is rare, this might feel incredibly vulnerable and perhaps even naïve.

In these situations, don’t sacrifice your project for the sake of building collaboration. Find small ways to invest in other people, to build trust, and create mutual wins. If someone is toxic and destructive, focus your energy with others.

It will take time.

Dan gained a great team member when he offered the illegal logger a job. His relationship with the farmer, however, didn’t turn into a collaborative success. He greets her and she nods. “But,” says Dan, “She’s not an enemy.”

Your Turn

Collaboration requires trust and investment in other’s success. Leave us a comment and share: How do you build collaborative results-focused relationships at work?

5 Top Leadership Articles Week of 12-11-2017

5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of December 11, 2017

Each week I read leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. Click on the title of the article to read the full text. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

When Leadership Demotivates Employees by Mary Kelly, PhD. US Navy Ret.

I was part of an organization that loved conducting employee surveys. As an economist and leadership author, I love data that yields results. However, surveys need to be properly conducted, or the intention can backfire.

The leaders dutifully distributed survey after survey about work conditions, corporate culture, and ways to improve the workplace.

The problem was that the senior leadership didn’t share the information collected, nor what they planned to do with it. It was simply busy work for the sake of appearing to do something that looked like leadership, but clearly was not.

As employees realized that they were spending time on surveys that didn’t matter, their attitudes shifted. Employees felt that their time, their inputs, and their jobs didn’t matter. Worse, it was rumored that the survey was actually intended to pinpoint unhappy employees to get rid of them.

My Comment: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen scenarios like this play out with employee morale taking a nose dive, leaders frustrated, and at a huge waste of time, money, and energy.

If you’re going to gather information of any kind, whether through a survey or just asking for feedback, it is critical that you plan and commit to responding before you get the information. Don’t ask questions you’re not prepared to address. Asking a question and then ignoring the answers makes you look craven or manipulative. In contrast, when you Channel Challengers and productively respond to feedback, your credibility soars.

How Leaders and Their Teams Can Stop Executive Hubris by Jonathan Mackey and Sharon Toye

If an organization has just one or two people whose power has gone to their head, it can demoralize subordinates, cause valuable talent to flee, disempower teams, and lead to foolhardy strategies. Whether you are a board member, a CEO, a senior executive, a high-potential employee on the rise, or an HR leader concerned about culture, you need to understand how such hubris works so you can head off its destructive effects on careers and on your company.

My Comment: This is an excellent article to help you address excessive confidence in both executives and to prevent it from happening to you. As the authors point out, this hubris is often acquired over time as leaders encounter fewer peers and people who will tell them the truth. You can counter these influences with intentional strategies to leverage doubt in decision-making, Own the UGLY, and Channel Challengers.

10 Questions to Ask Your Employees Every Quarter by Michael McKinney

Most leaders (the less than great ones) can become afraid of learning their employees’ true feelings towards the company and its overall structure. In turn, they shy away from even initiating such conversations and asking the important questions.

Strong leaders, on the other hand, happily ask these questions with an eye on making things better for their team. When everyone is heard and acknowledged, only then can a leader make the right decisions and give each employee what he or she needs. If you don’t ask, who will?

My Comment: WOW – there is definitely a theme this week – three articles in a row focused on getting feedback from your employees. McKinney’s questions will help you assess your team’s health and how the individual employee is doing. In order to make questions like these to work, you’ll need to have built relationships with your people (so it feels like a conversation, not an interrogation). In addition, be sure not to react or punish people for the feedback they share.

Are You a Micromanager or a Macromanager? By Julie Giulioni

Micromanager. It’s one of the least flattering labels one can be tagged with in business today. It connotes an unproductive level of involvement in the work and work products, excessive need for control, nit-pickiness, attention to unnecessary details and a generally unpleasant overall workplace experience. Nobody wants to be a called a micromanager.

Question: But, what’s the alternative?

Answer: Become a macromanager!

My Comment: There are some great suggestions in this one to help you get out of the weeds, stop micromanaging, and focus on what matters most. One of the things I appreciate here is Julie’s acknowledgement that many managers micromanage because it’s all that they know. They know how to do the work. They know the individual contributor role very well. It’s uncomfortable to learn a new set of skills and to view the world differently – from the view of a macromanager. One additional way to avoid micromanaging is to focus on how you delegate. Focus on the outcome. Don’t delegate the “how”; delegate the “what”, be clear about the finish line, and schedule a mutual appointment to receive the project back from your team member.

The 8 Best Interview Questions You Could Ever Ask by Jim Haudan

I’ve interviewed a lot of people in my career for all kinds of positions and from many backgrounds. Most people have favorite interview questions to ask and some believe certain questions can quickly reveal what they need to know about a candidate’s cultural and positional fit.

The leaders with the greatest success in hiring the right talent often like to point to the exact questions that made it clear that a candidate would or wouldn’t work. I’ve made it a hobby to consider the questions that really made me think and to experiment with the ones that make it hard for interviewees to prep for, as those are the ones that reveal the most.

I often ask people from different walks of life about their “go to” interview questions and why are they so important. Here’s what I’ve collected.

My Comment: I’m a fan of behavior-based interviewing. If you only have 20 minutes with a candidate, start there. This is an interesting list of interview questions for the times when you want to go deeper. Most of them provoke thinking and may give you insights into a candidate. They may be most useful when you’re looking at a deeper partnership with someone. Some of these questions, however, I’d have to see in practice before I would recommend them. In particular, #3 is absolutely not mutually exclusive and I’m curious what is behind this one.

Your Turn

What thoughts do these articles bring to mind? Do you see something differently than the author? Did you have a favorite leadership article this week? Leave us a comment and let’s hear from you.

5 Top Leadership Articles for the week of November 6, 2017

5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of November 6, 2017

Each week I read leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. Click on the title of the article to read the full text. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.

How to Handle Tough Performance Conversations by Wally Bock

For a couple of decades, I began every supervisory skills class by asking the participants what they wanted to learn most. “How to talk to team members about behavior and performance” was always at the top of the list. Here’s what you need to know if you want to do that part of your job well.

My Comment: This issue continues to be both one of the most sought-after leadership development skills as well as the hallmark of effective teams and organizations that succeed in their work. Bock does a great job laying out important aspects including the vital need to build a relationship with your team members long before you’ve got to have a tough performance conversation. I’d also call attention to what he calls “the really hard part:” being quiet. As we’ve shared the Winning Well INSPIRE model for holding coaching and accountability conversations, many organizations are reporting back that when they ask what’s going on and invite the other party to come up with solutions – and then be quiet – they are seeing tremendous results. The people involved come up with better solutions that they own and then implement.

The Secret to Employee Engagement Isn’t About Your Employees by Ryan Westwood

Creating a healthy company culture is my passion. It began with the development of my first technology company, PC Care Support, and it has continued throughout my work with Simplus. As I study the online performance reviews of competing businesses, I have noticed something interesting: while companies offer incredible benefits like personal budgets for employee development training, free doughnuts, and gym passes, the reviews for some of these companies are poor.

Studies show that companies spend about $270 million per year on employee engagement strategies. “But approximately 63 percent of U.S. employees aren’t fully engaged in their work,” says Forbes writer William Craig. Here’s what I’ve found: If you want a great culture and true employee engagement, provide benefits that positively impact not just your employees but, more importantly, those whom they love.

My Comment: No work perk will ever overcome poor leadership or a bad culture. If you really want good employee engagement, build a clear strategy that helps them to win, generate ongoing wins, and cultivate awesome leadership at every level. Westwood’s suggestions are strong ways to focus your benefits – his suggestions communicate to your employees that you see them as a human being, that you are aware they have a life beyond the workplace, and that you care about those things. That said, even those types of perks will only be valued when they’re offered from a foundation of good leadership and a positive workplace culture. Otherwise, great benefits can’t help engage people with their work.

Speaking of Leadership: Speak Your Words by Scott Mabry

That moment you realize that the words coming out of your mouth belong to someone else.

I remember one of those moments. I sat across a table from the new CEO. Just the two of us. His question felt like a fist to my stomach.

“What do you think about the new team?”

To be honest I don’t even remember all the details of the conversation. I just remember I didn’t speak the truth. Oh, I tried to toss out a few subtle hints but in the end, I bailed and told him what I thought he wanted to hear. I spoke his words, not mine.

This was mostly because I didn’t trust him. Many of new the team members were people he had handpicked and that worked with him at his prior companies. To say anything critical seemed dangerous.

My Comment: I think we’ve all been there. Perhaps because you were scared. Or you didn’t yet know what you thought. Or perhaps you were trying to manipulate the situation. Regardless, you can’t lead without owning your voice and having the confidence and skill to speak your truth. Speak the truth compassionately. It doesn’t always mean you’ll get your way, but your confidence and influence will grow, as will others’ respect for you.

The #1 Killer of Change by John Thurlbeck at Lead Change Group.

I recently had a great catch up with my younger brother and youngest sister over a meal in their favorite local restaurant. Our conversation was free-ranging, covering a multiplicity of subjects.

However, a part of that conversation with my brother struck the deepest chords and prompted my thoughts in this post.

He works for a large national, not-for-profit organization in the UK, and it is mired in yet another major restructuring process, driven, as ever, by dwindling funding. The current process has been on-going for months.

My brother has worked for this organization for many years, and it appears to me that ‘change’ for this organization is an ever-present, as it strives to find the ‘best’ solution to delivering on its agenda. However, the current change process must be at least the fifth or sixth such process in about the past eight or so years.

Why so much change with so little apparent effect?

My Comment: Early in my career I would watch, amazed, as people I knew to be decent human beings, who were fairly self-aware and understood on-the-ground realities, would get into leadership roles and seem to change into unaware user managers. As I share in Winning Well, I’ve also had employees come and point out to me that I had undergone the same transformation and was not acting in line with my own values. What happens that causes these changes?

There are several reasons, but among them is the issue Thurlbeck brings up: groupthink. It’s a failure of all members to think critically and independently analyze an issue. It’s human nature to think that ‘enough of us can’t be wrong,’ but it happens all the time. We invite you to Channel Challengers – to find your truth-tellers and intentionally introduce different opinions. To consciously ask yourselves to “Own the UGLY” and explore the silent places that may be eroding your effectiveness or the opportunities that are right in front of you, but invisible until you seek them out.

Practical Tips to Practice Empathy by Shubha Apte

I recently read the book Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella.

What stuck with me is the episode he narrates about a question that he was asked while interviewing with Microsoft.

Here is what the story says…

Satya Nadella was asked this question when he wanted to be part of Microsoft.

“Imagine you see a baby laying in the street, and the baby is crying. What do you do?” he asked.

“You call 911,” I replied without much forethought.

Richard walked me out of his office, put his arm around me, and said, “You need some empathy, man. If a baby is laying on a street crying, pick up the baby.”

It is interesting how a CEO of a large company like Microsoft talks about empathy and its importance.

Empathy is considered the most important skill to have in the corporate world. People at all levels in the corporate hierarchy need to have this skill. With so much technological disruptions taking place in the digital global world, the human quality, Empathy becomes crucial.

My Comment: There is all-too-human tendency to reduce people from full human beings deserving of dignity and respect to their function. They go from being “Susan”, who has two kids, an ailing mom, and loves Italian food, and “Chase”, who is engaged, flies drones on the weekends, and wants to make a difference in the world to being “the reps.”

When we reduce people from their humanity to their role, we lose the connection we need to be effective leaders. The antidote to this reduction is empathy. Connect, pay attention, reflect what you hear. It only takes a few moments to cultivate that connection and restore someone’s humanity.

Your Turn

What thoughts do these articles bring to mind? Do you see something differently than the author? Did you have a favorite leadership article this week? Leave us a comment and let’s hear from you.

how do I foster better communication on my team

Better Communication: How to Ensure Your Team Gets It

As a leader, how do you foster better communication on your team? How do you ensure they’re picking up what you’re putting down? How do you help them get it?

One Way to Foster Better Communication

It had been a long night…and morning…and afternoon at the airport.

The kind where cancellations and delays compound into a complex verb of frustration that includes four letters. The kind where you start to notice the characters around you and make up their stories.

I had pegged the guy next to me for a Baptist preacher. Among other signs, it was HOW he earnestly offered to watch my stuff as I went to the bathroom, “Ma’am I’ve been watching ladies purses for decades. I watch my wife’s purse. I watch my girl’s purses. I watch my wife’s friend’s friends purses. So whatever you need. I’m your purse watching man.”

And I trusted him.

He was on the phone when I came back from the bathroom. He silently nodded and grinned toward my big red purse which also serves as a computer bag, dongle carrier, journal holder, with nooks and crannies for light snacks and kombucha.

Nope, definitely not Baptist preacher–bankruptcy lawyer. Now I’m intrigued and can’t help but overhear his conversation occurring in such a beautiful Southern drawl it would have been fun to hear, even if I couldn’t understand the words.

Now my wife says I hear okay, but I doooon’t listen tooooo gooood. Let me repeat back what I’m hearing you say you want to do.”  

Silence as the caller responds. Then…

“You see sir, my wife is right. That is just NOT one of the options. Let me be clear. You CAAAAN’T do THAAAT. How about this? Let me share with you your three options again.”

Gives three options. Then…

“You sleep on it.  Call your Momma or talk to your wife…and then we’ll talk again tomorrow.”

I’m beside myself. This is the most remarkable Winning Well check for understanding I’ve ever heard. Full-on confident humility.

“Sir, Thank so much for watching my bag, and indeed you are a remarkable purse watcher. AND I couldn’t help but to overhear…What you did there was brilliant.

You see I wrote this book… and my co-author (now fiance, but that’s another story) and I had this remarkable disagreement about whether the ‘check for understanding’ should be included. I thought it was too simple. He swore it was a vital concept. As we’ve been doing workshops, guess what’s one of the top 10 take-aways?

The funny part is, the higher the managers  are in the organization, the more they love it.

It’s so easy.  

‘Do a simple check to understand…are they picking up what you’re putting down?’

Instead of  ‘Any questions?’ or ‘Are you with me?’ You ask… ‘Okay, so I just want to check to ensure we’re all on the same page…’ and then get them to repeat back. ‘What are we going to do first? And then? By when?’ “

He shared, “Karin, I’ve been doing this for years. When people are going through bankruptcy or periods of change and uncertainty  they hear what they want to–not necessarily what’s true. I give them a way to hear it again.”

Amen.

There’s real power in hearing what your team hears. That’s a great start for fostering better communication.

5 Surprising Reasons Your Ideas Aren't Being Heard

Have you ever felt this way? You’ve got great ideas. You care deeply. AND you’re frustrated. Why is no one picking up what you’re putting down? Don’t give up. Take a careful look at your idea in the context of your other behaviors and interaction with the team.

Five Surprising Reasons Your Ideas Aren’t Being Heard

1. You’re Under-Invested

If you want your idea to gain traction–start with talking about what you’re doing to help.

“Here’s what I’ve already done to get us started.”

“Here are five ways I can help.”

“Here are some additional resources I can contribute.”

2. You’ve got a Track Record of Great Ideas–For Everyone Else

You’re all ideas–no action. No one wants to listen to the guy creating a lot of extra work for THEM to implement. Build a strong reputation of contributing to other people’s ideas first.

3. You’re Apologizing For Your Idea

Sounds crazy, right? And yet it happens all the time. “This is probably a dumb idea…” “I’m sorry but…”

4. You’re Too Gung Ho

What? Did Karin Hurt the “gung ho” queen just say that? Why, yes I did. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being overly emotional or so passionate people wonder what you put in your oatmeal that morning.

5. You’ve Under-Invested in Peer Relationships

Boy did I have to learn this one the hard way. In my early career, I had a few ideas that I know were just brilliant die on the vine. How do I know they were good? A few years later when I’d built strong trusting relationships sideways, I tried something almost identical again, and people were lining up to help. If you want folks to come along, work hard to get along. Invest in prioritizing your peers and the next time you look around there will be more people by your side ready to listen.

Of course, the side benefit here is that if the whole gang’s all in, your boss will be much more eager to listen.

Your ideas matter–positioning them takes practice, but it’s worth it.

Chip Bell

Confident Leaders Display Their Passion (Chip Bell)

Winning Well Connection

We’ve enjoyed getting to know Chip over the years and are so inspired by his passionate approach to creating a great customer experience. He truly understands the importance of Winning Well not just with employees but with customers as well.

Click on the image for more information about Chip’s book.

 

Larry Smith lost it! And of all places, he lost it in the big-deal quarterly leadership meeting. He absolutely went over the edge in his impassioned plea for some issue around a key customer. No, he didn’t cry; although he did wipe his eyes before his cheeks got streaked. No, he didn’t pound the table; although he did demonstrate a few gestures that would be the envy of any aspiring thespian.

But, what Larry did do in his “out of control” passion clearly crossed all normal bounds of rationality and routine boardroom decorum. And yet, he engaged the hearts … and commitment … of every single person in the leadership meeting. People were truly moved. And, it did make a difference. Stuff happened!

The “Larry loses his cool” incident led me to reflect on the true meaning of leadership. I thought about how much the land of being “confidently in charge” contained artifacts of control, rationality, logic and “keeping your cool.” I thought about how little these sensible artifacts had anything to do with inspiring spirit in any context of life.

People do not brag about their rational marriage, their reasonable hobby, or their sensible vacation. There is rarely “in control” behavior when Junior is rounding third base or Julie “sticks” her dismount. Exhortations of ecstasy are never restrained on the fishing bank when the cork suddenly disappears and with surprising force. But, somehow all that Larry-like spirit is an unwelcome distraction after the time clock is passed. And, the closer one gets to mahogany row, the less tolerance there seems to be for “sounds of the heart.”

I thought about how freeing it was for everyone in that room when “Larry lost his cool.” Were we uncomfortable? Yes! Did we wonder “Where the hell is this going?” Yes! But, we all felt momentarily in kinship with real life. Julia Roberts echoed the Larry theme in Steel Magnolias when, as a courageous diabetic expectant mother facing the life-threatening potential of giving birth, said: “I’d rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”

Great leaders are not rational beings … they are spirit carriers. They passionately “give birth” in the face of threatening circumstances. The biography of almost every great leader who ever faced the potential of bodily harm accompanying his or her cause communicates a consistent theme:  “Why we were there played so loud in my ear I never really heard what might happen because we were there.” Passion played and leaders put issues like “in control” on some emotional back burner. We know Larry. And, Larry is not an irrational, illogical person. Yet, somehow, that day we trusted his passion more than his reason.

“Whoa!” you say. We can’t have the chaos of unbridled emotion. What would the stockholders say? After all, is it not the role of a leader to bring forth a sense of “grace under pressure,” or “order when all around you is losing their head?” Should leaders not strive to be more anchor than sail? More rudder than oar?

“No!” We have missed the boat on what it means to be a confident leader. The organization, the marketplace, and the situation offer far more “predictable” than is predictably required. The truth is rationality oozes from the seams of every business encounter. Leaders do not have to bring order, sanity, rationality or logic. Every dimension of business life reeks with those qualities. Sane leaders foster insane passion.

Great leaders call up in each of us a visit to the raggedy edge of brilliance and the out-of-the-way corner of genius. When we feel inspired … incensed … ennobled …we have visited the magical realm of passion. We typically return from that realm renewed, revitalized … and slightly revolted. And, when a leader has had a hand in that visit, there is a sense of security married to an otherwise solitary search.

Passion takes the plain vanilla out of encounters. Philosopher Goethe called it “boldness” and said: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin in boldness. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.”

Today’s followers need passionate connections from leaders who come soaring from the heart to awaken boldness. It builds a relationship platform that raises everyone to a higher level. Imposing mountains are climbed, culture-changing movements are started, and breakthrough miracles are sparked by leaders who take the governors off rationalism and prudence, letting their confident spirit ascend from within.

Winning Well Reflection

We hear all the time from leaders around the world who wish their teams would “put their heart into it.” If you’ve ever wistfully wondered where your team’s passion is, Chip offers you a fantastic look at where that igniting force comes from. In order for your people’s heart to be in what they’re doing – they’ve got to see yours. Be real, be authentic, and let us know why it matters.

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Mary Kelly

When Confidence Turns to Arrogance (Mary Kelly)

Winning Well Connection

Why Leaders Fail

Click on the image for more information about Mary’s book.

Mary has been an amazing supporter of David’s from early in his professional speaking career and an amazing friend. As she said on David and my engagement, “I feel like I’m gaining a sister.” 

There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. When leaders are confident, they have a deep belief in their ability to make a difference in the world. Confidence is an important competency in leadership, and it is critical to a leader’s success. Confidence is motivating and inspirational to others. Confidence empowers people to take risks, be innovative, and pushes the team and organization further ahead.

Arrogance crosses the line of confidence. Arrogant people believe they no longer have a need to learn, grow, or change. They wholeheartedly believe they are right and others are wrong.

Arrogance destroys the valuable, and absolutely essential relationships a leader has with other team members. Even more devastating is the feeling arrogant behavior creates in others. People have no desire or motivation to follow an arrogant leader. Sometimes the arrogance is so repugnant that people cheer when arrogant people fail, even if it means they suffer as well.

If other people agree with arrogant leaders, they are considered by those leaders to be smart and are often favored. If people question an arrogant leader’s decisions or recommendations, they are often labeled as unintelligent or punished. For an arrogant leader, disagreement equals ignorance and disloyalty. When this happens, subordinates and peers learn not to challenge the leader, even when he or she is clearly wrong. Not only do arrogant leaders belittle those who disagree with them, but they often do so in the most condescending and patronizing way possible.

It is difficult to work for an arrogant person, but it is also difficult having one work for you. When people believe they are the smartest, most competent person in the workplace, they frequently fail to follow directions, refuse guidance, and ignore feedback. This destroys both teamwork and productivity.

How can leaders be both confident and humble leaders? From our book, Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success, great leaders:

1. Admit and accept when they make mistakes, and they apologize to the team for letting them down.

2. Demonstrate accountability and take responsibility for the actions of their team. They know that “the buck” really does stop here. They give the team credit for the wins while they take responsibility for the failures.

3. Communicate and act in a respectful manner at all times. To everyone. Always. Great leaders are not rude, and they treat others with grace and dignity.

4. Be open-minded and willing to learn something new. Great leaders know they need other people’s wisdom and abilities, and they appreciate the knowledge around them.

5. Show gratitude. Great leaders give praise and recognition to the right people at the right time. Humble leaders habitually recognize great contributions that make a difference. At home, at work, and in their daily routines, great leaders find it easy to say “thank you” and recognize someone for how they make a difference.

6. Practice forgiveness. People make mistakes. If people are not making mistakes, they are not innovating. Great leaders know that they have to learn from mistakes and move on.

7. Ask for honest feedback, and act on it. Great leaders welcome 360 leadership assessments. They want to improve and they seek ways to become even better.

Leadership is not easy. Being a humble and confident leader takes heart as well as ability.

Mary Kelly and Peter Stark are the co-authors of Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success. They can be found at Mary@ProductiveLeaders.com and Peter@PeterStark.com.

Winning Well Reflection

Mary has provided such a fantastic list of ways to keep your confidence from bleeding over into arrogance. Most leaders who struggle with confidence worry that they’ll be perceived as arrogant. You won’t – more likely, you’ll be perceived as trustworthy. Thanks, Mary, for the great examples of how to combine confidence and humility to increase your influence and credibility.

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5 Ways to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Throughout our new book, Winning Well (available now!), David and I talk consistently about the importance of confidence AND humility, results AND relationships. So many of the managers we work with tell us that the hardest part to master is confidence.

Even those highly successful managers who appear to be Winning Well and making a difference will often take us aside and admit that they sometimes feel like a fake.

They feel as if their success rests on a knife’s edge. One false move, one tiny mistake, and everyone would know they were nothing but a well-spoken fraud.

This is what’s known as “impostor syndrome.”

Imposter sydrome describes that feeling of strong self-doubt that you’re a fake, that your success is due more to luck or your ability to fool people than it is due to your work, and it often comes with your fear of being found out.

If you let it, imposter syndrome will tie you in knots, ruin your confidence, and undermine your ability to lead your people and achieve your goals–not to mention screw up your life in many other ways.

We know. We’ve been there too.

At earlier times in our lives, David and I have felt as if we didn’t belonging that boardroom, didn’t feel that others would take us seriously, that we weren’t as smart, as proficient, as musical, or as experienced as we needed to be compared to that group we were working with.

The brutal truth is that you can’t be the manager you need to be when you’re tied up in knots like that. You’ll try to overcompensate, or you’ll stay silent when you should speak. Either one will kill your credibility and end your influence.

There are several tools you can use to overcome this self-sabotage. Here are just a few.

5 Ways to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

1, Honor Your Past and Your Present

One of David’s mentors said, “It’s a good thing to remember where you came from, but it’s a foolish thing to think you’re still there. ”

His point is that your experiences in childhood and earlier life can serve you, help you make good decisions, give you an appreciation for people from all walks of life, and keep you from being judgmental. It would be foolish to leave that treasure behind. But it would be equally foolhardy to not acknowledge today’s circumstances. That’s intellectually dishonest and dishonors the people who have put their trust in you today.

2. Remember that You’re Always “Too Something” For Someone

These wise words came from 1999 world champion of public speaking and motivational speaker, Craig Valentine. “You’re always too something for someone” gets at the absurdity of it all, because once you start looking for inadequacy, you’ll always find a reason you don’t belong.

3. Laugh at Your Doubts

When David writes and self-doubt begins to wrap him in its constricting coils, telling him he can’t write anything unless it’s absolutely perfect, he can almost hug that little voice, laugh at it and say “Aren’t you cute?It’s hard to be critical when you’re adorable.”

4. Examine it Before You Swallow It

Sometimes your doubts might have something to tell you. Maybe there is a new skill you need to learn or a true mistake you can avoid.  How can you tell the difference between legitimate self-doubt and useless insecurity?

Picture someone tossing you an apple. You don’t catch the apple with your teeth, immediately chew it, and swallow it. You catch it in your hand; then you might inspect the apple and decide if you want to eat it. Treat doubts and criticisms like the apple. Don’t automatically swallow them. Ask yourself if there is something of value for you here. Create space for curiosity. See what happens. You get to chose whether you take a bite from the apple and internalize the concern or toss it away.

5. Leverage Your People

One of the most effective tools for dealing with impostor syndrome is simply to focus on the team you serve. They don’t really care where you came from, how you got here, whether you have a big house, a small car, good hair, bad hair, or anything else. What they do care about is you you can help them succeed today.

It’s nearly impossible to trip over your own insecurities she you’re serving others. This is the reason volunteering is such a powerful experience and why you hear volunteers say they received so much more than they give.

Winning Well Available NOW 
winning wellIt’s official. Winning Well hit the bookstores this weekend (several weeks earlier than expected), and Amazon has starting shipping. if you haven’t ordered your copy, I hope you will soon and write a review.

Looking forward to spreading the Winning Well Word.

The Worst Reason Women Don't Get Promoted

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

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

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

She continued,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

how to ensure your voice is heard

The VOICE Approach: 5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard

In the Q&A after my keynote the other day, a woman (ironically after refusing to use the roving microphone) asked, “You know that part where you talk about Professor Lupin and facing your fears? What if your biggest fear is that your voice  won’t be heard… how do you make that feel ridiculous?”

We chatted for a moment about really considering what “the worst thing that could happen” was in this scenario. And what would happen if she didn’t speak up at all, which would ensure her fear had come true.  And then she said. “But what if they use the same idea when someone else says it?”

I then I understood that her question was less about fear and more of a “How do I?” question (see also David Dye’s “Leaders Are You Answering the Wrong Question?”).

Eager eyes awaited my response. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one facing that challenge.

5 Ways to Ensure Your Voice is Heard:  The VOICE approach

First, when someone offers you a mic, take it. If someone else has to repeat what you say, you’ve already lost some impact. Sometimes the mic is metaphorical (like pulling your chair up to the table if you’re sitting on the sidelines). Here are a few other additional tips.

VVisualize

Visualize what you are going to say and how you’re going to say it. Include it all–the eye contact, the sitting up tall with an open stance, strong projection and confident tone. Visualize their receptive response. It’s much easier to feel confident when you’ve practiced.

O- Organize 

Organize your thoughts in advance. Make an outline if needed. Consider the key points that will support your point of view. Know your opening sentence, so you won’t be tempted to start with a pre-apology (e.g. “This may be a bad idea, but…”)

I- Inquire

If possible do your homework in advance and be aware of other’s opinions on the topic. If you can, do some stakeholdering in advance, so you know there will be some nodding heads when you being to share your ideas. If you’re responding spontaneously, then ask for feedback. (e.g. “How do you think this idea could impact our project?”)

C- Consider

Listen carefully to the opinions and ideas of others. Thank them and respond appropriately, building on and integrating their ideas if possible. If you know the objections, it can be helpful if you’re the one who brings them up first. “Now you may be thinking ______ (insert objection here) and then address it.

E- Energize

Stay energetic in your delivery. It’s hard to ignore someone is genuinely passionate about their point of view.

Most important, be sure you believe what you have to say. If you’re unsure, your audience will be equally skeptical.