5 Top Leadership Articles 09-04-2017

5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of September 4, 2017

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

On Being a Bad Manager by Jason Fried at Signal v Noise

A fellow I admire just asked me why it’s so easy to be a bad manager. G**damn, that’s a fantastic question. I made some bonehead moves myself yesterday, so I’m in the perfect position to answer this one.

Because I didn’t want to overthink my answer, I told him I’d write something up this afternoon and send him a link.

Here goes, stream of consciousness, unedited, and quick…

My Comment: This question has haunted me for many years. My version goes something like this: “We’ve been working together and leading one another for thousands of years. Why is there still so much bad management?”

Fried answers this succinctly: “We’re bad at most things by default.”

In other words: you have to learn how to lead effectively. Winning Well doesn’t just happen. If you want to be a great manager and effective leader, you’ve got to master specific skills. And yet…half or more of managers are placed in those roles, but receive no training in how to lead. No wonder it’s easy to be bad.

Fried digs a little deeper as well, noting that it takes time and practice to get good at something, but most managers don’t even start practicing until they’re actually in the role. (Imagine a pro athlete starting to practice their game once they’ve been put on the playing field.) We fall prey to common assumptions about people that just aren’t true and we often focus on doing the wrong things because they’re known and comfortable.

Note: this is a raw stream-of-conscious article and includes profanity.

Irresistible Is Rarely Easy or Rational by Seth Godin

There’s often a line out the door.

It’s not surprising. The ice cream is really good, the portions are enormous, and a waffle cone costs less than three Canadian dollars. And it’s served with a smile, almost a grin.

It’s irresistible.

Of course, once you finish the cone, you’ll stroll around, hang out by the water and maybe start to make plans about where to spend a week on next year’s vacation.

The Opinicon, a lovely little resort near Ottawa, could charge a lot more for an ice cream cone. A team of MBAs doing a market analysis and a P&L would probably pin the value at about $8. That’s where the ROI would be at its peak.

But they’re not in the business of selling ice cream cones. The ice cream cones are a symbol, a beacon, a chance to engage…

My Comment: Recently we worked with a team of leaders who do sophisticated analysis and planning. They had an incredible amount of data in their spreadsheets – but they didn’t have all the data. They were missing some of the intangibles, the effect on people, and how the numbers would be received and translated. Most of all, they hadn’t taken into account the critical factor Godin gets at in this article: desire. Why will people want what you offer?

I love a good spreadsheet and to keep things organized, but as Godin says: “If you run everything through a spreadsheet, you might end up with a rational plan, but the rational plan isn’t what creates energy or magic or memories.”

How can you make your team’s work irresistible?

Think Positively of Others by John Baldoni at SmartBrief

What’s the secret to a long-term relationship?

“Overlooking the negative and focusing on the positive,” says Helen Fisher, a best-selling author on relationships and a fellow at the Kinsey Institute.

Speaking on “The Diane Rehm Show,” Fisher says that brain scans of couples averaging 20 years revealed the parts of the brain that were active were those linked to empathy, self-control, and an ability to overlook negative, that is, “positive illusions.”

Maintaining “positive illusions” is an outlook that leaders can employ…

My Comment: In our leadership workshops I often share the principles that “you always make sense to you” and that “you are not the center of anyone else’s universe but yours.” When you keep these concepts in mind as you work with your people, it helps you maintain perspective and not get as easily upset when people don’t behave the way you would have expected.

Baldoni’s invitation to focus on the positive intentions can be extended to the assets that each employee brings to your team. Unless it’s negatively impacting the work or the team, don’t worry about the areas where they’re not as strong. Focus on what makes them excellent and on their contribution to the work and team. You’ll find what you look for – and, quite often, your expectations, perceptions, and positive outlook become reality.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore destructive or irresponsible behaviors. When those threaten an individual or team’s performance, you absolutely need to ditch the diaper drama and have the conversation.

What are the Best Employee Perks? 4 Questions to Ask First by Annamarie Mann at Gallup

Earlier this year, online craft marketplace Etsy came under public scrutiny after new investors balked at the long list of lavish perks offered at its Brooklyn headquarters.

Along with a community loom and crafting classes, the company had also renovated its office for $40 million, which included adding irrigated walls to grow plants, according to Quartz. Though these perks reinforce the cultural values of the organization, investors questioned if they distracted workers from achieving overall business success and outcomes….

But as companies begin to consider how they try to win over employees, it’s critical that they avoid racing after trends that may initially attract workers, but will ultimately fail to retain them. After all, these perks may be alluring at first, but companies need to make sure they’re not overlooking the fundamental benefits and perks for which most job seekers are actually looking.

My Comment: I once worked at a company that put in a gym with much fanfare. It sat unused, however, because the president thought anyone who tried to workout, even during their breaks or lunch could have been more productive.

When it comes to employee perks, I use the metaphor of frosting a cake. If you haven’t baked a good cake, you can’t decorate it. If you try to slap some frosting (perks) on a half-baked cake (poor employee experience), you end up with a mess.

Too many leaders try to solve morale problems with perks. People are never upset because there isn’t a ping pong table or weight set at work. They’re upset because of core issues: perhaps a systemic injustice, they’re no appreciated, or irrational competing priorities make success impossible. When you have these issues causing problems, don’t introduce perks – they’re insulting. Fix the issues.

Once you have a healthy core, then use the questions in Mann’s article to help you identify which perks make the most sense for your organization.

The Wrong Side of Right by Shane Parrish at Farnam Street

One big mistake I see people make over and over is focusing on proving themselves right, instead of focusing on achieving the best outcome.

People who are working to prove themselves right will work hard finding evidence for why they’re right. They’ll go to the ends of the earth to disagree with someone who has another idea. Everything becomes about their being right.

These otherwise well-intentioned people are making the same costly mistake that I did…

My Comment: This is one of the most important life lessons that some people never learn. My way of asking it is: “Do you want to be effective or do you want to be ‘right’?” The insistence on your own rightness (whether you are objectively right or not) does little to help you influence other people, get buy-in, and move people to action.

For leaders insisting on credit for yourself, or being right at the expense of others being wrong, or what you did vs what happened are certain to keep you from being effective. Focus instead on the outcomes. What do you want to have happen? Do you want to prove you had an idea first or do you want the team to implement and exceed expectations because they owned the idea themselves?

There’s a saying I learned as a child that may serve you as it has served me: “Someone convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.”

In every situation, ask: “What does success look like?” Follow up by asking yourself what you can do to achieve that success. Rarely will the answer be “prove to everyone that I was right.”

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 to Become a More Effective Manager #WinningWell

As we’ve been traveling for our book tour and media interviews, David and I consistently get asked questions we imagine may be on your mind as well.

So as we begin our official launch of Winning Well, we share with you why we believe this message is so vital for you and your organization. If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can get it on Amazon, in hardback or audio version. If you’re looking to buy them for your team, CEO Reads offers some great quantity discounts, and we would be happy to customize with a personalized template.

What does it mean to Win Well?

Winning Well means that you sustain excellent performance over time because you refuse to succumb to harsh, stress-inducing shortcuts that temporarily scare people into “performing.”  You need energized, motivated people all working together. Your strategy is only as strong as your ability of your people to execute at the front line, and if they’re too scared or tired to think, they won’t. You can have all the great plans, Six Sigma quality programs, and brilliant competitive positioning in the universe, but if the human beings doing the real work lack the competence, confidence and creativity to pull it off, you’re finished. Managers who win well bring confidence and humility in equal measure and focus on both results and relationships.

What distinguishes a Winning Well manager from a “User,” “Pleaser,” or “Gamer” manager type you discuss in your Winning Well model?

 

WW Model with copyrightWhere the other three manager types tend to focus on short-term goals, managers who win well have a longer time horizon. They build teams that will produce results today as well as next year.

Managers who win well build healthy professional relationships with their employees. They maintain high expectations for results in a supportive environment where people can grow and take healthy risks.

They master the art of productive meetings, delegation, and problem solving. They run meetings that people consider a good use of time. These managers practice steady, calm accountability along with celebration.

As a result, their employees tend to stick around (often until they get promoted), and there is a steady line of people wanting to work for them.

What initial feedback are you hearing about the book?

We have been overwhelmed with the response we have received on three fronts:

First, we’ve heard resonance. One manager wrote to David and said, “This is my life! You just described what my normal day looks like. How did you know? Thank you!”

Next, we continue to be told that our tools are “disarmingly simple” and practical. Many readers have shared their appreciation that they are immediately able to take the tools and techniques we share and apply them with their team.

The third aspect of the book that resonates is what happens when you show up truly authentic. A reader wrote to Karin:

I just finished reading Winning Well (it’d been on my Amazon pre-order list for more than a month, and I devoured it as soon as it arrived) and wanted to reach out to thank you and David for a fantastic book. Your book made explicit a lot of things I’ve been doing intuitively, and highlighted some places I can step up and do even better. I’m super excited to put those things into practice and to continue to grow my leadership skills as a result.

I also wanted to share with you my story about the power of authenticity and vulnerability, because I truly believe it is the key to everything I have achieved in my career in the last few years.

The full (and powerful) story of this woman’s journey to authenticity and the impact on her career is here.

winning well in Barnes and NobleHow can I help spread the word?

Buy books for you and your team and write an Amazon review. Invite us to speak to your organization or conference. Join our ruckus on social media (shareable tweets, images, and sample chapters can be found on our website).

How did you manage to co-author a book and still stay friends?
ruckus1Ahh, we will be sharing secrets on this one at our breakout session at the National Speakers Association Convention in Phoenix in July, and in an upcoming blog post…stay tuned.

5 Ways to Ignite Your Summer Leadership Fitness

If you’re like me, you think more about getting fit when the days start to require less clothes. What if you also used summertime as a time to pay a bit more attention to your leadership fitness? Similar strategies apply. In fact, they work all year round (I put that in for my many Aussie subscribers in the midst of Winter).

5 Ways To Ignite Your Leadership Fitness

Go Anaerobic

The best way to learn is to get your heart rate going. Bigger challenges require extra effort. If your job’s starting to feel a bit like a Sunday stroll, it’s time to pick up the pace. Take on a special assignment. Dig deeper. Exhausting your mental leadership reserves is a great way to build new muscle.

Be Consistent

How many times have you seen someone go to a leadership training, come back all fired up, and then go right back to their old habits a few days later? Pick one or two leadership behaviors you want to improve, and practice them consistently every day. This could be something as simple as “I’m going to ask more strategic questions to get my team thinking.” Or, “I’m going to wait until others have had a chance to speak in meetings until I chime in.”

Endure the Heavy Lifting

I’ve never met anyone who loves push-ups. They’re low on the list of intrinsic satisfiers. But they’re damn effective. Becoming a better leader is hard work. Maybe for you that’s finally having that difficult conversation with that arrogant co-worker. Or perhaps, it’s sitting down and having that important conversation with the guy you your team that would be better served (and of service) in a different role.

Include Cross Training

The best way to expand your skills is to do something new. Consider a rotational assignment or go shadow a peer in a different department. Don’t forget to stretch.

Train in Intervals

You can’t be anaerobic all the time. Work hard on your leadership, and then give yourself opportunities to rest and reflect. When you take time to consider what’s working and what to improve, the next go will be a bit stronger.

Experts Share Their Thoughts on Spring Cleaning: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our April Festival is all about spring cleaning. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pics and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about energizing leadership. New contributors welcome.

Spring Cleaning Our Priorities, Attitudes and Skills

“We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself–your own house–which we never do.” -Marina Abramovic

David Dye of Trailblaze acknowledges that whether you’re a veteran leader or a first-timer team leader, there are fundamentals that are easy to forget but vital to remember. Spring is a great time to clear your head and focus on these 15 tips David shares to remind you what’s really important for you and your team. Follow David.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “Have you ever… been bored from a lack of a challenge, tempted to rest on past successes, or gone in search of greener pastures just to grow?” Continuous Improvement increases satisfaction, engagement and growth – right where you are!   Follow Chery.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks says “Spring is a great time to be proactive in renewing your leadership using these 5 strategies. Review your progress on annual goals, discover good books for leaders and how to give back to your network.”  Follow Bruce.

In the post, When is it time to do nothing? Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders  shares that spring cleaning is essential for strong leadership, and that it’s possible to get there by actually doing nothing. By stepping back to take a breather, you can recharge, refresh, and renew and then enjoy your new outlook and enthusiasm when you step back in.  Follow Lisa.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting asks if you’ve conducted your leadership spring tune-up?  Follow Terri. 

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that declaring your purpose has power to complete your past, provide a mirror to your present, and guide you into your future. Follow Susan.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that adding emotions as a component of mental toughness may seem at odds with the critical thinking that is required in the tough world of business today. But researchers are realizing that the key to lifelong success and happiness is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle—gratitude. Follow LaRae.

Spring reminds us how to make leadership bloom – our eyes are opened to the beauty of what is ahead. Soul Sparks are essential to tap into the beauty of leadership within ourselves and others.  Thanks, Jon Mertz of Thin Difference. Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of the Faithful Pacesetters admits we can all get burned out at times. Is it possible we are not following the goals we had once set?  Follow Jeff. 

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  asks “Are you wondering if it’s time to take the alternate route or hang in there with your current direction? Here are a few truths to tap into during your decision-making process.”  Follow Alli.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights posits that leaders have the power to choose seasons. As winter turns to spring, pause and throw out what is holding you back. Embrace the new season of hope because leadership requires spring cleaning of the mind even more than the home. Follow Skip.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context shares that actions such as eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations? Follow Linda.

David Tumbarello at Tumbarello Writing Solutions shares that it’s the time of year to define what is important, clean what is messy, and look for opportunities and challenges for growth and gives some simple suggestions that may help the new and experienced leader clear clutter and allow priorities to rise to the top.  Follow David.

 Spring Cleaning Our Environment


Spring cleaning“If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares a 7-minute method for de-cluttering your office (or your house.) Follow Beth.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reminds us that revitalizing a staff and standards mean setting the example ourselves. Follow Paul.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation reminds us that effective leadership requires clarity of mind. She explores the connection between physically cleaning the office and the resulting mental clarity that emerged. Follow Jennifer.

Spring Cleaning Our Company Culture and Teamwork

Spring cleaning 3“I’ve always valued and encouraged teamwork and that collaborative spirit of ‘we vs. I’ is core to Intuit’s success…” -Brad D. Smith

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us that human beings can’t go full speed all the time. Take breaks–it will make you and your team more productive. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement shares that creating a system where continual feeding is not needed is great. But if that isn’t the state of the organization yet, then continual feeding is required: or your improvement efforts will fall short of the potential gains, or die altogether. Follow John.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “Why do some teams seem to perpetually stay motivated while others fall flat?” This spring, make a commitment to keeping your team motivated with this one “secret” to great teams.”  Follow Matt.

Todd Ordal of Applied Strategy reminds us that Company culture is not something that just happens. Here is how a CEO can peer through the mist and build the one that they want.  Follow Todd.

Springtime reminds  Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center of fruit trees and the power of values-driven companies–or more accurately–the cost of NOT being one. It’s why her tree service company lost her business. Here are 6 tips to clean up your team values. Follow Jesse Lyn.

Thanks to Larry Coppenrath for the great maps of today’s Festival. Follow Larry (click images to enlarge).

Spring Cleaning 1Spring Cleaning 2Spring Cleaning 3Spring Cleaning 4

Call for Submissions. The May Frontline Festival is about Energizing Leadership. Please send your submissions no later than May 8th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

 

Experts Share Their Thoughts on “Spring Cleaning:” A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our April Festival is all about spring cleaning. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pics and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about energizing leadership. New contributors welcome.

Spring Cleaning Our Priorities, Attitudes and Skills

“We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself–your own house–which we never do.” -Marina Abramovic

David Dye of Trailblaze acknowledges that whether you’re a veteran leader or a first-timer team leader, there are fundamentals that are easy to forget but vital to remember. Spring is a great time to clear your head and focus on these 15 tips David shares to remind you what’s really important for you and your team. Follow David.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “Have you ever… been bored from a lack of a challenge, tempted to rest on past successes, or gone in search of greener pastures just to grow?” Continuous Improvement increases satisfaction, engagement and growth – right where you are!   Follow Chery.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks says “Spring is a great time to be proactive in renewing your leadership using these 5 strategies. Review your progress on annual goals, discover good books for leaders and how to give back to your network.”  Follow Bruce.

In the post, When is it time to do nothing? Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders  shares that spring cleaning is essential for strong leadership, and that it’s possible to get there by actually doing nothing. By stepping back to take a breather, you can recharge, refresh, and renew and then enjoy your new outlook and enthusiasm when you step back in.  Follow Lisa.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting asks if you’ve conducted your leadership spring tune-up?  Follow Terri. 

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that declaring your purpose has power to complete your past, provide a mirror to your present, and guide you into your future. Follow Susan.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that adding emotions as a component of mental toughness may seem at odds with the critical thinking that is required in the tough world of business today. But researchers are realizing that the key to lifelong success and happiness is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle—gratitude. Follow LaRae.

Spring reminds us how to make leadership bloom – our eyes are opened to the beauty of what is ahead. Soul Sparks are essential to tap into the beauty of leadership within ourselves and others.  Thanks, Jon Mertz of Thin Difference. Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of the Faithful Pacesetters admits we can all get burned out at times. Is it possible we are not following the goals we had once set?  Follow Jeff. 

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  asks “Are you wondering if it’s time to take the alternate route or hang in there with your current direction? Here are a few truths to tap into during your decision-making process.”  Follow Alli.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights posits that leaders have the power to choose seasons. As winter turns to spring, pause and throw out what is holding you back. Embrace the new season of hope because leadership requires spring cleaning of the mind even more than the home. Follow Skip.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context shares that actions such as eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations? Follow Linda.

David Tumbarello at Tumbarello Writing Solutions shares that it’s the time of year to define what is important, clean what is messy, and look for opportunities and challenges for growth and gives some simple suggestions that may help the new and experienced leader clear clutter and allow priorities to rise to the top.  Follow David.

 Spring Cleaning Our Environment


Spring cleaning“If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares a 7-minute method for de-cluttering your office (or your house.) Follow Beth.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reminds us that revitalizing a staff and standards mean setting the example ourselves. Follow Paul.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation reminds us that effective leadership requires clarity of mind. She explores the connection between physically cleaning the office and the resulting mental clarity that emerged. Follow Jennifer.

Spring Cleaning Our Company Culture and Teamwork

Spring cleaning 3“I’ve always valued and encouraged teamwork and that collaborative spirit of ‘we vs. I’ is core to Intuit’s success…” -Brad D. Smith

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us that human beings can’t go full speed all the time. Take breaks–it will make you and your team more productive. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement shares that creating a system where continual feeding is not needed is great. But if that isn’t the state of the organization yet, then continual feeding is required: or your improvement efforts will fall short of the potential gains, or die altogether. Follow John.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “Why do some teams seem to perpetually stay motivated while others fall flat?” This spring, make a commitment to keeping your team motivated with this one “secret” to great teams.”  Follow Matt.

Todd Ordal of Applied Strategy reminds us that Company culture is not something that just happens. Here is how a CEO can peer through the mist and build the one that they want.  Follow Todd.

Springtime reminds  Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center of fruit trees and the power of values-driven companies–or more accurately–the cost of NOT being one. It’s why her tree service company lost her business. Here are 6 tips to clean up your team values. Follow Jesse Lyn.

Thanks to Larry Coppenrath for the great maps of today’s Festival. Follow Larry (click images to enlarge).

Spring Cleaning 1Spring Cleaning 2Spring Cleaning 3Spring Cleaning 4

Call for Submissions. The May Frontline Festival is about Energizing Leadership. Please send your submissions no later than May 8th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

In other news:

energizing leadersI’m excited to share that April 20th marks the launch of the release of a collaborative book, Energize Your Leadership, written by 16 thought leaders (many of whom are active contributors to this Festival.) Read the story of our collaboration here AND View the trailer.

The 5 Biggest Succession Planning Mistakes

Succession planning, done well, creates brilliant competitive advantage. Poorly executed, at best it’s a waste of time, and often creates serious havoc on long term performance.

All words I’ve heard in the last 15 days: “Oh, we’re too small to need a formal process.” “Our business is moving so fast we don’t have time for that.” “We’re baby boomers and we don’t know how”(trust me, I would never have included this one until I heard it TWICE this week from different companies looking for help). And the scariest of all, “We’re a family owned-business so the decision is obvious.”

1. Talking People Before Priorities

Before you can decide WHO you need to be sure on WHAT. Think future vision and the competencies that will make that possible. Write them down. Then map your people against those possibilities. Choosing people for tomorrow based exclusively on today’s performance will slow you down.

2. Cloning

What often passes for “executive presence” is a desired mold. Be careful. Sure you want poise, effective communication, and a tidy together look, but the quirky challenger may just what you need to take your strategy to the next level. Too many like minds lead to uninspired strategy.

3. Letting Diversity Trump Common Sense

If you complete your 9 box succession planning grid and it’s all balding white guys with a dry sense of humor in box 9 you clearly have a problem. If it’s a perception problem. by all means challenge one another and make it right.

However, I often find this is less of an issue of discrimination at the succession table, than a problem with hiring and focused leadership development down the line. You can’t make anyone ready for the next level by talking yourselves into it or putting diversity multipliers on executive compensation.

The worse thing you can do is pad your “grid” by sliding diverse candidates into blocks where they don’t belong. Sure, identify opportunities for accelerated growth to make up for lost time. But NEVER promote an unqualified person for diversity reasons. You hurt them, your business, and weaken your diversity strategy.

4. False Consensus

You know you have a true box 9, high potential when every head at the table is chiming in with a resounding “Yes!”

A succession planning conversation without conflict is useless. The very best talent reviews involve robust discussion and lively debate which leads to important next steps (e.g. “You’ve got to know my guy better;” “She needs a stretch assignment.”) If I support your guy so you support mine, the business loses.

5. Ignoring the Plan

The worst succession planning sin of all is going through the motions, and then reverting to the old patterns “just this time” when it comes to promotion. Trust me, they next thing on everyone’s mind the next time you want to hold such a meeting is “Why bother?”

Don’t short change your talent strategy. The right people, at the right place, at the right time, will change the game. Be sure you’re prepared.

 

Karin Hurt, CEOIf you’re struggling with succession planning, I can help. I’ve facilitated hundreds of succession planning discussions over the years from the executive level, through merger integration, and at the frontline. Succession planning is worth doing well. Please give me a call for a free consultation, 443-750-1249.

How Leadership Development is Hurting Your Career

“What’s the best way for John to improve?” I asked, one of those coachy-interviewing questions people like me say to bosses and peers of folks we’re working to support.

“Honestly, I wish he would just stop trying so hard to improve, and just lead. We’ve all given him plenty of advice. He’s taken a gazillion courses. He’s hired a great coach. But around every corner he’s asking for constant feedback. It’s exhausting. Besides, he can’t possibly do everything we’re suggesting all at once, so he’s creating expectations he can’t live up to.”

My advice: listen, breathe, and do. Stop looking outside for feedback.

Even the best intentions taken to extreme cause harm.

Don’t over-think your leadership. People are watching. You need feedback, and most people ask too little. And as it turns out, some people ask too much.

Signs You’re Asking Too Little

  • You have no idea where you really stand.
  • You’re blind-sided in performance reviews.
  • You keep getting passed over for promotions and don’t know why.
  • You don’t really know what your peers think about you.
  • You have no idea where you stand with your bosses’ boss.
  • Your team never shares constructive feedback.

It might be time for a do-it-yourself 360.

Signs You’re Asking Too Much

  • You keep hearing the same advice over and over.
  • You haven’t had time to really improve.
  • You’re ignoring the advice and asking again, hoping the advice will change.
  • You’re addicted to the conversation.
  • You talk more about you than about your team.
  • You’re more focused on your own improvement than on improving business results.

It’s a tragedy when leaders stop learning. Equally devastating is when leaders become more focused on their own improvement than on leading well.

Experts Chime in on Bold and Innovative Leadership: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our September Festival is all about Bold and Innovative Leadership. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Self Leadership  

“Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost

No one has the words “Bold” or “Innovative” printed on their business cards; but Bill Benoist of Leadership Heart Coaching shares that when you look, these leaders are all around us. Follow Bill.

More often than not, “Leadership Failure” is simply a “Failure to Lead.” Bernie Nagle of Altrupreneur discusses how one must be bold enough to embrace vulnerability, in order to step into the role of Leader.  Follow Bernie.  

If your leadership is all about you, it ends when you come to an end. But if your leadership isn’t all about you, it will live beyond you. Ryan Jenkins of Next Generation Catalyst shares his take here. Follow Ryan.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders presents Do what Lewis Carroll did Before Breakfast to visualize a different opportunity or outcome. Follow Lisa.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership helps us Discover four reasons why leaders need to rely on the power of “and” to ensure their organization’s ability to succeed and thrive. Follow Tanveer.

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights shows that Leading YOURSELF, then Leading OTHERS, then Leading the GAME will make you a winning and bold leader. Take your game up a notch. Follow Skip.

Bob Whipple of The Trust Ambassador encourages us to try this very different method of erasing executive stress. It really works, but few executives can see the wisdom in it. Too bad – they are more stressed than they need to be. Follow Bob.

Bold leaders think outside the box…or a hand of cards. Beth Beutler of HOPE Unlimited shares what she learned from a badly played hand. Follow Beth.

Barbara Kimmell of Trust Across America shares The VIP Model of Trustworthy Leadership: VISION & VALUES+INTEGRITY+PROMISES KEPT. Follow Barbara.

Team Development  

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek

Michelle Cubas of Business Influences! says that Leadership can be contagious. That’s the secret sauce! Multi-Dimensional Leaders head smooth running, self-directed organizations. Follow Michelle.

Martin Webster of Leadership Thoughts gives three areas you need to focus on to improve team performance.    Follow Martin.

Dan Rockwell of Leadership Freak exhorts that calling for boldness without the foundation of hope is a frustrating waste of time. Learn four ways to build boldness and ten ways to build hope. Follow Dan Rockwell.     

Julie Winkle Giulioni shares that employees who are not developing are actively lagging behind. Leaders need to deliver a bold message: Grow or go home! Follow Julie.

You’ve heard it a zillion times before: the importance in taking the time and effort to develop your employees. So why aren’t you? asks Dan McCarthy of About.com Management & Leadership Follow Dan.

Matt McWilliams observes that leaders who are positive and encouraging have more productive (31% more productive!) teams in this post  . Follow Matt.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame acknowledges that there are always barriers to adoption when it comes to innovation. Leaders at all levels should assess progress in six key areas to ensure success. Follow Alli.

Jim Canterruci of the New Leadership Normal blog says that the new leadership normal uses a fundamental equation – 9/10 – 60/40. The Secret Leadership Key explains this equation that unlocks the barrier to sustainable growth and a championship culture. Follow Jim.

Change  

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

Leadership Coach Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce shares how taking a risk and trying something new makes us better, bolder leaders. Follow Julie.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference shares that in a world filled with complicated leadership theories and sophisticated philosophies, sometimes the most innovative thing a leader can do is keep it simple. Follow Jon.

Leadership power manifested in organizations is shifting. Be ready! There is a new definition of power to embrace! Thanks Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services. Follow Mary Jo. 

Many of us think things are getting worse…don’t we? In this blog post, Jeff Miller of The Faithful Pacesetters uses Paul from Bible as example of a leader who was able to prepare people for change. Follow Jeff Miller.

The assumption that organizational change has to start at the top is wrong. Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center relays how to initiate change no matter where you reside the official org. chart. Follow Jesse.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shares how Leadership is tested when results are bad. So many abandon leadership and resort to blame and latching onto any change just to show they are reacting. Follow John.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context observes that strategies that may have worked in ethics five years ago will not help us now. To succeed, we need to broaden our worldview and expand the scope of what we consider to be “ethical territory.” Follow Linda.

Chery Gegleman of Simply Understanding asks, “Are you getting the right information, in the right form, to the right person, at the right time? If not prepared to be inspired to keep communicating!” Follow Chery.

Michelle Pallas of Lead On challenges us to have an opinion, but don’t judge. Don’t be afraid to change your thinking. Changing your mind is not a show of weakness; it is a bold act of courage that shows others you’re listening. Follow Michelle.

Call for Submissions. October’s Frontline Festival is about Achieving Breakthrough Results. New participants welcome.  Click here to submit your link.

Who’s Influencing Your Leadership?

Pleased to welcome this guest post from Bruce Harpham.

In the world of music, composers and performers are influenced by each other every day. I was recently reminded of this tendency when I enjoyed a performance by pianist Richard Rubin. He showed how Andrew Lloyd Weber, the Broadway composer behind The Phantom of the Opera and other works, liberally borrowed from musical works. In some cases, it is clear who influenced Weber’s work.

Scientists are also heavily influenced by their peers. Ground-breaking scientist Isaac Newton observed, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” That is a powerful idea for all leaders to consider. However independent minded you are, others influence your leadership approach.

Choose your leadership influences carefully.

The Rule of Five: Understanding Your Influences

If you take pride in your independence, this section may be hard. As a leader, you are constantly influenced by those you lead, fellow executives and others. Influences are inescapable.

In our complex world, it is challenging to imagine all the influences that impact you. The country you live in, your education, your age, and your leisure pursuits are some of the influences that leave lasting traces.

The most important influence on your leadership is the people all around you. Answering the question “Which five people do I spend the most time with?” is the easiest way to understand your influences. Don’t worry if you don’t like the answer! That discontent gives you the fuel to make a change.

Tip: Start small by changing your focus. Use the final section of this article to find one new person to provide positive leadership influence.

Growth Is Not Automatic: Harness Helpful Influences To Grow

John C. Maxwell’s excellent book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth emphasizes the importance of growth. Maxwell points out that growth happens naturally in childhood. In adulthood, growth is not automatic (except around the waistline!)

You may grow occasionally when a new obstacle comes your way. Accidental growth is not reliable. Would you buy a car that only worked “on occasion?” Not if you valued your time. In order to grow your skills to reach new goals, you must grow intentionally.

With the right influences, greater growth will come fast and furious. Mentors, coaches, sponsors and others can bring new perspectives, questions and resources.

With the wrong influences, your leadership will never grow. Even worse, the constant doubts and negativity will undermine whatever leadership qualities you have.

Accessing New Influences

By this point, you’re convinced about the importance of influence. Even more, you understand that the right influence can push you toward your goals. Read on for ideas to cultivate positive influences.

Books (Hint: Go Beyond The Business Section!)

For years, I have accessed new influences, ideas and opportunities through books. I often find myself browsing through the business section at my bookstore. For growing leaders, that is only the beginning. I also strongly encourage you to read widely – consider Ryan Holiday’s recommendations for Moral Biographies for example.

Here are two book suggestions to bring new influences into your leadership thinking.

  • Tribes by Seth Godin

Godin is best known for his expertise in marketing and the Internet. Tribes is Godin’s contribution to leadership. He points out that today’s tool makes it easier to build a tribe of followers behind your ideas. The only barrier is you. Do you have the skills and commitment to lead?

  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson.

Known to many for his studies in electricity, Franklin has much to teach us. Franklin regularly changed his occupation: from entrepreneur publisher, to diplomat and American statesman. For those interested in personal development, I also encourage you to read Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography – Franklin’s desire to better himself through self-education, study and moral discipline is well worth studying.

Consulting and Coaching

Once upon a time, accessing consulting was out of reach for most people. That is starting to change. Today, you can hire coaches and consultants for reasonable rates. For less than $500 using a website like Clarity FM, you can obtain helpful, customized recommendations to help you reach your goals.
For the best results, prepare and send out a written agenda for your first meeting. Bring several written questions that you can reference. Now is not the time for an unfocused conversation. For the best results, I recommend bringing a paper notebook (I prefer Moleskine notebooks for their durability and easy-to-handle size) and pen rather than an electronic device.

Follow these seven steps to get the most out of your time working with a coach. I recommend having at least two coaching sessions, with an interval of one to four weeks in between.

  1. Decide on a single goal to pursue, preferably with a clear measure (e.g. “to sell 1,000 copies of my book” or “to land my first executive management role in the financial industry”).
  2. Study your coach’s materials before you contact them. (e.g. visit the person’s website and read multiple articles. If they strike you as promising, I suggest buying and reading one of their books next). Take notes as you study their material. If they cannot clearly communicate their abilities, I suggest you move on.  Tip: Search for coaches and consultants on Google by searching for “keyword coach” or “keyword consultant” (e.g. “project management consultant” or “productivity coach”)
  3. Based on steps 1 and 2, decide whether this coach can help you in your current quest. If yes, continue to the next step. Otherwise, return to step two to review another person.
  4. Prepare for your first meeting with the coach. Complete any forms or questionnaires. Make a list of your goals and questions in writing.
  5. Attend the first meeting with your coach. State your goals clearly and ask for specific homework – vague suggestions such as “work harder” need to be refined and made specific (e.g. improve your ability to give feedback to staff).
  6. Work on your homework from the first session. Make notes on what you achieve and what you want to discuss next time.
  7. Attend the second meeting with your coach. Review your first meeting, homework completed and discuss your next challenge.

Learm more about Bruce here.

Who's Influencing Your Leadership?

Pleased to welcome this guest post from Bruce Harpham.

In the world of music, composers and performers are influenced by each other every day. I was recently reminded of this tendency when I enjoyed a performance by pianist Richard Rubin. He showed how Andrew Lloyd Weber, the Broadway composer behind The Phantom of the Opera and other works, liberally borrowed from musical works. In some cases, it is clear who influenced Weber’s work.

Scientists are also heavily influenced by their peers. Ground-breaking scientist Isaac Newton observed, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” That is a powerful idea for all leaders to consider. However independent minded you are, others influence your leadership approach.

Choose your leadership influences carefully.

The Rule of Five: Understanding Your Influences

If you take pride in your independence, this section may be hard. As a leader, you are constantly influenced by those you lead, fellow executives and others. Influences are inescapable.

In our complex world, it is challenging to imagine all the influences that impact you. The country you live in, your education, your age, and your leisure pursuits are some of the influences that leave lasting traces.

The most important influence on your leadership is the people all around you. Answering the question “Which five people do I spend the most time with?” is the easiest way to understand your influences. Don’t worry if you don’t like the answer! That discontent gives you the fuel to make a change.

Tip: Start small by changing your focus. Use the final section of this article to find one new person to provide positive leadership influence.

Growth Is Not Automatic: Harness Helpful Influences To Grow

John C. Maxwell’s excellent book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth emphasizes the importance of growth. Maxwell points out that growth happens naturally in childhood. In adulthood, growth is not automatic (except around the waistline!)

You may grow occasionally when a new obstacle comes your way. Accidental growth is not reliable. Would you buy a car that only worked “on occasion?” Not if you valued your time. In order to grow your skills to reach new goals, you must grow intentionally.

With the right influences, greater growth will come fast and furious. Mentors, coaches, sponsors and others can bring new perspectives, questions and resources.

With the wrong influences, your leadership will never grow. Even worse, the constant doubts and negativity will undermine whatever leadership qualities you have.

Accessing New Influences

By this point, you’re convinced about the importance of influence. Even more, you understand that the right influence can push you toward your goals. Read on for ideas to cultivate positive influences.

Books (Hint: Go Beyond The Business Section!)

For years, I have accessed new influences, ideas and opportunities through books. I often find myself browsing through the business section at my bookstore. For growing leaders, that is only the beginning. I also strongly encourage you to read widely – consider Ryan Holiday’s recommendations for Moral Biographies for example.

Here are two book suggestions to bring new influences into your leadership thinking.

  • Tribes by Seth Godin

Godin is best known for his expertise in marketing and the Internet. Tribes is Godin’s contribution to leadership. He points out that today’s tool makes it easier to build a tribe of followers behind your ideas. The only barrier is you. Do you have the skills and commitment to lead?

  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson.

Known to many for his studies in electricity, Franklin has much to teach us. Franklin regularly changed his occupation: from entrepreneur publisher, to diplomat and American statesman. For those interested in personal development, I also encourage you to read Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography – Franklin’s desire to better himself through self-education, study and moral discipline is well worth studying.

Consulting and Coaching

Once upon a time, accessing consulting was out of reach for most people. That is starting to change. Today, you can hire coaches and consultants for reasonable rates. For less than $500 using a website like Clarity FM, you can obtain helpful, customized recommendations to help you reach your goals.
For the best results, prepare and send out a written agenda for your first meeting. Bring several written questions that you can reference. Now is not the time for an unfocused conversation. For the best results, I recommend bringing a paper notebook (I prefer Moleskine notebooks for their durability and easy-to-handle size) and pen rather than an electronic device.

Follow these seven steps to get the most out of your time working with a coach. I recommend having at least two coaching sessions, with an interval of one to four weeks in between.

  1. Decide on a single goal to pursue, preferably with a clear measure (e.g. “to sell 1,000 copies of my book” or “to land my first executive management role in the financial industry”).
  2. Study your coach’s materials before you contact them. (e.g. visit the person’s website and read multiple articles. If they strike you as promising, I suggest buying and reading one of their books next). Take notes as you study their material. If they cannot clearly communicate their abilities, I suggest you move on.  Tip: Search for coaches and consultants on Google by searching for “keyword coach” or “keyword consultant” (e.g. “project management consultant” or “productivity coach”)
  3. Based on steps 1 and 2, decide whether this coach can help you in your current quest. If yes, continue to the next step. Otherwise, return to step two to review another person.
  4. Prepare for your first meeting with the coach. Complete any forms or questionnaires. Make a list of your goals and questions in writing.
  5. Attend the first meeting with your coach. State your goals clearly and ask for specific homework – vague suggestions such as “work harder” need to be refined and made specific (e.g. improve your ability to give feedback to staff).
  6. Work on your homework from the first session. Make notes on what you achieve and what you want to discuss next time.
  7. Attend the second meeting with your coach. Review your first meeting, homework completed and discuss your next challenge.

Learm more about Bruce here.

7 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Employees

You see her talent and potential. She’s not convinced. She has great ideas, but seldom shares. She could be contributing so much more, you know it. But for reasons you don’t understand, she’s not ready. It’s crushing you to see her shying away from possibilities. But building confidence is complicated. You’re not a psychologist and this stuff can get messy.

Yes, building confidence takes time and energy. Trust me, it’s worth it. Turning around confidence will rank high on your personal lifetime leadership achievement awards. No one will call it out, but you’ll know, and so will they. You may find out years later. Building confidence creates long-term impact for the employee, for the team, and for your company.

Game on.

7 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Employee

1. Treat her with deep respect.

She can’t feel like a project. No Henry Higgins stuff here.  Have her at “hello” by treating her as the rock star you know she is capable of becoming.

2. Be specific about what’s right

“You’ve got potential” will fall on deaf ears to someone who doesn’t buy it. Be as clear as possible with examples when giving praise. “When you said X, did you see the conversation change? You are making a difference.”

3. Have her teach what she knows best

Find her gifts and have her share. Start one-on-one, then evolve to bigger gigs. Nothing instills confidence more than teaching.

4. Help her prepare

Nothing builds confidence more than being the “smartest” guy in the room. 9 times out of 10, the “smartest” guy in the room, is really the most prepared. Help her do her homework and role play the scenarios she’s most likely to face. The next time, it will be easier.

5. Celebrate incremental improvements

I’m a HUGE believer in Confidence Bursts. Try this and let me know how it goes.

6. Scaffold her achievements

Give her more than she thinks she can do, but don’t leave her hanging. Scaffold her well with mentors and advice, which will help her win, without interference.

7. Encourage through mistakes

If she lacks confidence, even the smallest mistake will affirm her feelings of inadequacy. Help her learn from mistakes, but also reassure her that mistakes are all part of learning. Try your best to not freak out.

Confidence leads to creativity, productivity, excellence, and engagement. Invest deeply. It matters.

How To Build a Leadership Credo

Too many leaders run through their days without taking time to consider how and why they lead as they do. Days become months and months become years. Pressures, grooming, and politics all create counter-pressures to authenticity. Articulating what you value, helps you to stay true to what you believe. Every year, I take time out to work on my leadership credo. For the first time this week, I formalized the process and shared it with a group of leaders representing over 10 countries and a cross-section of industries.Today, I share the easy-to-implement process along with video highlights (click here to see).

How to Build a Leadership Credo

1. Set up

This exercise pairs well with a discussion on leadership authenticity.

2. Creation

Encourage participants to use a combination of words, pictures, and any other creative sparks to articulate their credo (can be done as a “homework” assignment).  Encourage participants to be as creative as they possible and to limit their work to one page (the definition of a page may vary based on the medium). Each credo should include the following components:

  • Core leadership values (e.g. integrity, transparency)
  • Operating principles (e.g. develop strong peer relationships)
  • Desired outcomes (“As a result of my leadership this year_______”)

3. Gallery Walk

Provide each participant with 6 dot stickers for “voting” (3 yellow and 3 blue). Have each team member walk around the room and share their credos with one another. Give them enough time and space to really listen to one another’s point of view and to identify similarities and differences. When they are struck by the message or creativity of a particular credo, they can recognize their colleague with a yellow dot for depth of thinking or a blue dot for creativity. You can reward the most dots in several creative ways.

4. Discussion

Debrief the themes and process with the group. For highlights of the themes and for examples of the creative credos watch the video summary. Let’s have some Monday fun. Share the most important aspects of your leadership credo.