5 Top Leadership Articles Week of Sept 11, 2017

5 Top Leadership Articles for the Week of September 11, 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.

How to Be Tough When You Prefer Being Kind by Dan Rockwell

Stress increases when leaders can’t bring kind and tough together.

Kind without tough makes you a pushover.

Tough without kind makes you a jerk.

My Comment: Stress increases, yes – and both results and relationships suffer when you don’t combine kind and tough. Without a disciplined focus on results, people lose focus, infighting increases, and your top performers go somewhere where their performance is appreciated. Without healthy relationships, trust suffers, people burnout, they do the least they can to get by, and inefficiency prevails because people don’t come together to solve mutual problems.

Leaders who combine their focus on achieving breakthrough results with a focus on healthy professional relationships with the people they lead give themselves the best chance to achieve transformational results that last.

Employee Engagement: What Story Does the Data Tell Leadership? By Martie Moore

The first time I used the words “resilience” and “engagement” was with my leadership team at the time. I asked, “What can we do to advance engagement and help people to be more resilient?”

Suddenly, everyone around the table had important emails to read on their phone. In essence, this immediate phone reading signaled an uncomfortable discussion — and their avoidance level.

My Comment: While this article was written for leaders in the long-term care industry, the issues it identifies are typical of the reality faced by leaders across industries: constant connectivity, acute margin pressures, increased pace of change, and uncertain futures are challenges you can probably relate to. This article is the beginning of a series that will look at experience, science, and practical action can take for themselves and the people they serve. It looks promising.

Leading in large organizations is tough. It’s easy for people to lose their identity and humanity as decisions are made by spreadsheet. And yet, almost paradoxically, more humanity, more focus on relationships and results, improves that bottom line. It takes courage along with the specific management and leadership skills we share in Winning Well to meet this challenge and succeed.

A Leader’s Job Is Never Done by Jane Perdue

Given that our state was in the path of totality for the August 2017 solar eclipse, people in our neighborhood gathered to watch. The closer we were to the time of totality, the larger the crowd became.

Within five minutes of the awe-inspiring ninety seconds of darkness and coolness, the crowd had largely dispersed.

The lost interest and crowd thinning-out triggered thoughts in my mind of how we tend to think about many things, including leadership, mostly in terms of their headline-making moments.

My Comment: When I was young, a mentor would often share his perspective that you can’t be a hero in the big moments if you’re not a hero in the small ones. Perdue takes a look at many of the ways that leaders build their credibility, influence, and trust in some of the more mundane, less headline-worthy, common moments that you face throughout your day, week, and career. You’re constantly becoming who you will be tomorrow. With each of these moments, you choose who that will be.

How Can You Make Yourself Invincible at Work? by Wendy Marx

Quick question: How valuable are you at work? Hint: It has little to do with your place on an organizational chart.

The new truth is that grabbing a high rung in an organization’s hierarchy isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re indispensable.

What clinches your value at work is what’s known as informal power — the ability to influence people and overcome resistance where you lack authority. It means being able to get someone to do your bidding where you have no formal authority.

Today you can’t lead simply by virtue of your title.

My Comment: While I’m not a fan of the notion of “getting someone to do your bidding” (it smacks of manipulation and a USER approach to leadership) Marx is right on with regard the role of influence. I won’t promote someone to a formal leadership position until they’ve demonstrated that they can get things done without that formal power. Power gives you the ability to deliver an “or else,” but that only gets a person’s minimum effort. Effective leaders cultivate an environment that releases a person’s strengths, talents, and skills toward the mission and the work.

Marx provides a good exercise you can use to assess how much value you are adding to the people around you and how you can address it if it’s out of balance.

Optimized or Maximized? By Seth Godin

I once drove home from college at 100 miles an hour. It saved two hours. My old car barely made it, and I was hardly able to speak once I peeled myself out of the car.

That was maximum speed, but it wasn’t optimum.

Systems have an optimum level of performance. It’s the output that permits the elements (including the humans) to do their best work, to persist at it, to avoid disasters, bad decisions and burnout.

One definition of maximization is: A short-term output level of high stress, where parts degrade but short-term performance is high.

Capitalism sometimes seeks competitive maximization instead. Who cares if you burn out, I’ll just replace the part…

That’s not a good way to treat people we care about, or systems that we rely on.

My Comment: I loved this article. It gets at the heart of why so many managers can turn into jerks, even if they’re not naturally inclined that way. We call it “trickle down intimidation.” In the interest of short term “maximization,” leaders who lack any other tools turn to fear, power, and control to get things done. And it works, at least minimally. As I said in my comments on the second article this week: it takes courage and leadership skills to choose a different path. To, as Godin says, optimize your leadership, your team, and your company for the long run rather than fleeting and costly short-term gain. It takes courage and practice, but you can do it.

Your Turn

What thoughts do these articles bring to mind? Do you see something differently than the author? Did you have a favorite?

7 Ways to Lead Friends and Former Peers

Betrayed

Joe stomped into the meeting room, slammed the door shut, and yelled at me, “How could you let this happen?”

He had just been fired by the company president.

I snapped back, “Me?? I’m not the one who didn’t show up and let the team down over and over again!”

He was angry, but I was frustrated and felt betrayed too. I’d put my credibility on the line to help him, but in the end he’d gotten himself fired.

What made it worse: for the last year, we’d been friends.

That all changed when I was given responsibility to lead the team.

Problems When Leading Friends and Former Peers

When we ask a group of new leaders about their biggest problems, this is always one of the most common.

It’s one of the most difficult challenges for most emerging leaders. We’ve even watched experienced leaders stumble when asked to address or lead a team of their peers.

In fact, it’s a Shakespearian dilemma: Prince Hal faces this challenge when he ascends to the throne and becomes King Henry V. His old drinking pals feel ignored and betrayed.

There were several problems that kept me from being an effective leader for my friend. You will likely encounter the same problems as you lead friends and former peers:

1) You want to be liked and accepted

Positional leadership, even when you are an outstanding Winning Well leader, means taking responsibility for decisions that not every agrees with. It means holding people accountable and it means that the group who you naturally want to like and accept you won’t always feel that way.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting other people to think well of you and have a desire to belong – it’s a very normal, human, and healthy value so long as it doesn’t consume you.

However, when you choose to lead, it will come into conflict with other values.

2) Your loyalty to the team and the mission

This is one of those “ANDs” that is so important – your friends may feel you’ve abandoned them, but you haven’t. You’ve added an important loyalty: to the organization, your team, and the mission.

Learning to balance both takes some work, but to your friends who don’t understand this tension, it can feel like betrayal.

3) Inconsistent behavior

In Shakespeare’s Henry IV and V, Prince Hal partied with the best of them – he drank with the renown lush, Falstaff, and nothing about his behavior said “leader.” Then he took the throne and treated his friends as if they were beneath his notice. He ignored them, tried to act “noble,” insulted them.How to lead friends and former peers - prince Hal

The problem was inconsistent behavior. The Prince wasn’t a leader when he hung out with friends. Once he became King and tried to act kingly, his friends were understandably hurt.

4) Unclear expectations

Conflicting and unclear expectations are the most common problem when leading friends and former peers. When you move from a peer role to a positional leadership role, some of your team may expect to get a “pass” on poor behavior, others may expect favors or special treatment, and YOU may be expecting your friends to work especially hard because of your friendship.

All of this leads to massive disappointment when you do hold team members accountable, you won’t do favors that would hurt the team, and your friends don’t show any special effort.

5) Not everyone can handle it

Some people are able to manage the tension between friendship and supervisor. In my experience, however, it is the exception, not the rule.

It takes a great deal of maturity for both people to be able do this.

Seven Ways to Lead Peers and Former Friends

My experience didn’t have to end the way it did. Early in my career, I didn’t know about the problem I’ve just described. The good news is that a few Winning Well leadership practices can help you manage the transition from peer to positional leader:

  1. Lead from where you are, before you’re promoted.

Leading from where you are, without a formal title, will often lead to you being asked to fill titled leadership positions.

It also helps to ease the transition. If your peers all know you as someone who:

  • Sets an example
  • Practices healthy friendship (where you hold one another accountable)
  • Empowers others, and
  • Already balances the mission with your role on the team,

then you won’t surprise them with radically different behavior when you change positions.

However, as a team member, if you are constantly critical of other people and your supervisor, it will be difficult for you to lead when you have a formal leadership role.

  1. Be clear about expectations.

This is the essential step in the transition to leading friends and former peers: have a “no diaper drama” conversation about the transition and your mutual expectations. In this conversation discuss these topics:

  • Your commitments to your team and to the organization.
  • Your management expectations.
  • Your leadership values.
  • Organizational mandates.
  • Ask your peers to be honest about their concerns or expectations of you.
  • Discern if there are where they feel you are being unjust.
  • Be realistic about the times you will have to make decisions that are in the team’s best interest even if it conflicts with what you personally would like.

You want to prevent surprises. Your team needs to know where you are coming from. Don’t let it be a ‘gotcha!’ moment later on.

(Use the Winning Well Expectations Matrix in the free Winning Well Toolkit to help you have these conversations about expectations.)

  1. Clearly identify which role you’re playing.

This is difficult for some people because it takes a greater level of maturity in your thinking and relationships, but is very helpful for avoiding misunderstandings.

When you’re talking with a friend or former peer, clearly identify the role you’re in. Are you speaking as a friend or as their team leader?

For example: “As a friend, I am so sorry. That stinks! How can I help?”

“As the team leader, I can give you tomorrow to take care of your problem and then we will need you back.”

  1. Be clear, not perfect.

Be very clear about expectations, goals, and desired behaviors. You will never be perfect; so don’t try to act as if you are.

Your friends and former peers all know the ‘real’ you, so don’t suddenly try to act as if you’re perfect in ways they know you’re not. It’s fake and your leadership credibility will suffer.

It’s okay to be you. Take responsibility, be as clear as you can, and then:

  1. Apologize as needed.

Leaders often struggle to apologize, but it’s even more pronounced when a former team member is leading the team. Don’t let your insecurity and desire to be liked keep you from owning your junk, apologizing, and moving on.

  1. Weed as needed.

There are times when it just won’t work. For example:

A former peer continued to take advantage of our relationship and, despite my best efforts to clarify expectations and help him correct the behavior, nothing changed.

I had to be clear about the situation: “I want the best for you and I know this is difficult, but if nothing changes this will affect your employment.” He eventually took advantage of a second friend and supervisor and was fired.

You can’t control another person. Your job is to be the best leader you can be and give everyone on the team every opportunity to succeed. When someone isn’t interested in their own success, care enough to move them off your team.

  1. Get a new peer group.

Build relationships with other leaders, find mentors, and get coaching. There is nothing like a group of people who understand the challenges you experience and can share meaningful wisdom.

You can’t get this from your team. Over time, I built my own personal Board of Directors–people outside the company who I could learn from, confide in, and be accountable to.

Your Turn

Leading a team of your friends and former peers can be hugely rewarding, but it’s your responsibility as a leader to set clear expectations and act fairly. Even experienced leaders can benefit from reviewing their relationships to make sure they are healthy.

Leave us a comment and let us know:

How do you maintain healthy relationships with your direct reports or your own leaders?

What other suggestions do you have to help lead friends and former peers?


Creative Commons Photo Credits:

Colors of Fall by regan76 and Birds by barloventomagico

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.

5 Stages of Manager Soul Loss #WinningWell

As we’ve travelled around the world sharing our Winning Well message– that yes, it is possible to get results that last without losing your soul– along with the tools to help, so many managers have shared, “well, I don’t think I’ve quite lost my soul– but it sure feels like I’m headed in that direction.” Or “yikes, it’s a slippery slope.” And so we’ve worked to capture the themes we’ve been hearing along the way in this downloadable infographic. We encourage you to use this as a conversation starter with yourself or with your team.

You can download and share the PDF of this infographic here.

 

Michael Teoh

Being a Winning Well Manager and Working with Millenials (Michael Teoh)

Winning Well Connection

Our journey of collaboration with Michael has been a remarkable example of the magic that can happen when you stay open to the possibilities and collaborate across generations and cultures. We first met Michael online when we had both launched our new books— and were excited to share insights and support on another. That conversation led to a serious of joint webinars talking about Winning Well with Millennials in the workplace. When Michael heard we were headed to Southeast Asia, he offered to host us to partner on a large scale executive event in Kuala Lumpur. 

Thriving TalentsMichael, his partner Mallory, and the team at Thriving Talents are role models of blending the bottom line with the human spirit— and proof that a Millennial run company can grow fast, gain wide-spread international respect, and make a lasting impact on the results for the their clients. It’s also been fun to share stories and insights on the benefits and challenges of being a couple, running a fast-growing start up. We’re excited for what’s next in collaboration with Michael, Mallory and the Thriving Talents team.

 

 

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

Winning Well Reflection

Michael’s advice regarding millennials is good advice for your relationship with every person:  Don’t stereotype them. Understand them. A powerful reminder that leadership is a relationship and any time we forget that, we diminish our influence.

 

Your turn. What advice do you have for working with Millenials?

 

 

 

 

team

Frontline Festival: Leaders Give Pointers on Creating Connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture   reminds us that creating  authentic care–a genuine connection  where team members like and trust each other-takes time, energy, and consistency. A bowling event or a trust fall exercise won’t have long term benefits unless the experience can be quickly tied to daily challenges the team faces. In his post, “Most Teambuilding Isn’t,” he proposes a proven path to helping create trust and respect across a team. Follow Chris.

When Transparency Goes Too Far

My phone rang, “Karin I’ve just been told there’s going to be a restructure and significant downsizing. My team may or not be impacted. I have NO additional information, just that it will be months before all the dust settles.”

Now, if you’ve been following my writing for any period of time you know I’m the poster child for  transparency. I believe strongly in telling the truth, avoiding spin, and never making crap up.

But frankly the above scenario is a clear example of TMI. Too Much Information.

It’s too much information, precisely because there was not enough information. All my client received was enough insight to cause stress, uncertainty and disruption.

I see examples of pre-mature disclosure wreaking havoc all the time.

Yes. Transparency goes a long way in building trust.

At the same time, over-disclosure can send your team off the deep-end worrying about all kinds of issues for which they have no control.

If you’re like most managers there are times you didn’t shared enough and your team made crap up, and there are times you said too much and your team freaked out.

Questions to Consider When Deciding How Much To Communicate

Here are a few important questions to consider when determining how much to communicate.

  • Have I been told the information is proprietary? As long as nothing unethical is going on, when your boss asks you not share, don’t share. If you don’t understand why the information is sensitive, ask. Even those who seem to appreciate your bringing them in to the inner circle, will wonder if they can trust you with sensitive information moving forward.
  • What is my motive for sharing this information? If it’s to assuage your guilt or to have someone to commiserate in your stress you’re probably getting ready to share too much.
  • Does my team need this information to make informed decisions?

If you’re team is going down a path that this new information will derail, it’s important to share what you can or to slow them down.

  • Will having this information make it easier more difficult for the team to do their work effectively? One of your biggest roles as a manager is to remove roadblocks and grease the skids for success, that includes sharing the right amount of information to support the team in doing their work without creating unnecessary distractions.

The Winning Well Tour Continues

Winning Well Book SigningThis week, the Winning Well tour stopped in CA for the ICMI conference. We would love to speak to your organization or work with your team. Please call me at 443 750 1249 to learn more.

 

 

 

The Best Damn Doer Syndrome: Why the Hardest Workers Seldom Get Promoted

Are you working too hard?

Does everything fall apart when you’re not around?

Do you find yourself bailing out your boss, your peers, and your team?

If you can answer YES to any of these questions, it’s likely you’re being held back by the “Best Damn Doer” syndrome.

Be careful.

I know. I’ve felt the guilt of being promoted over people working longer and harder than me.

I’ve also promoted the “right candidate” over the one with the most sweat equity in the game.

And the other night, I had one of my clients ask me to help “John,” his high-potential “best damn doer.”

“John’s the go-to for everyone, he adds huge value AND it’s holding him and the business back. How do we get him past being ‘the best damn doer?'”

5 Ways to Overcome Being the Best Damn Doer

The Best Damn Doers are the glue, the lynch-pins, the guys or gals who consistently win the awards…. AND yet are frustrated when year over year their less “competent” peers get promoted.

If this sounds like you, here are a few ways to back away from the grind and add additional value to the team–and your career.

  1. Start with a Heart-to-Heart with Your Boss
    Bosses love the go-to guy. I know. I’ve had them on speed-dial for years. But the truth is, your boss is likely the same person coaching you to “delegate more and be more strategic.” Even when it’s your boss asking for you to be doing the doing, pause and explain how you’re working to develop your team. Commit to setting clear expectations and inspecting outcomes, but resist the urge to be the one to take care of it, even if it’s your boss doing the asking.
  2. Build Skills Before the Fire Drill
    When the crap’s hitting the fan, it’s hard to hand over the reins. Bring your team in early and often in low-stake situations. Get them ready.
  3. Delegate Well
    In Winning Well, we offer lots of tools to help in this arena. Be sure you’re delegating process not outcome, defining the finish line, and are holding people accountable.
  4. Ask Great Questions
    The best way to get your team thinking is to ask not tell. One secret to great leadership is getting your team thinking along the same wavelength. Ask your team open ended questions that encourage them to find solutions (if you’re reading Winning Well, see pages 135-139 for a useful list.)
  5. Be a Curious Learner
    Ask your team to teach you what they know. You might be surprised by their knowledge and approach. Then your coaching is gravy.

Bottom line. The more you can replicate your best damn doer skills, the better the results, for your organization, the team, and for your career.

Step away from the doing, and watch the magic.

Frontline Festival March 2016: Fresh Insights for Leaders

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival, in keeping with the seasonal turn toward spring, is all about fresh insights for leaders.  Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Our thanks as well to the Brainy Quote site for being a great source of quotations.

Next month, we celebrate the launch of Winning Well, so we are asking for submissions about what Winning Well means to you, as well as giving you an opportunity to show us! Submissions due by April 15–the day of the launch!–for publication on April 22nd.  New participants always welcome–please use this form for all the details.

Now, on to some fresh insights!

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services  encourages that you are the instrument that makes your leadership work. Nothing happens without your continuous attention to yourself and your artFollow Mary Jo.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited suggests some fresh ways to say things. (Not THAT type of fresh.) Follow Beth.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership advises that it doesn’t take much to stay interested, motivated, and growing, but it won’t happen by accident. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials shares that insights can be like relationships. Sometimes we must step into a different perspective from the onset. She likens it to keeping a relationship fresh. Follow Michelle.

According to David Dye of Trailblaze, leadership theory is great, but what works day-to-day in the real world? In advance of our new book, David recently spent time with a group of accomplished managers to share their one most valuable piece of leadership advice. Here is what they said…   Follow David.

Ariana Friedlander of Rosabella Consulting brings to light some of the deep seeded cultural norms that discourage learning and how they negatively impact creativity and innovation in our organizations. Then it provides readers with some specific steps they can take to begin correcting these problems. Follow Ariana.

No winter lasts forever. No spring skips its turn.
~ Hal Borland

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding shares that when people perceive that your comfort is more important than their needs or the growth of the organization…your leadership quakes. Leadership is not about you or your comfort.  Follow Chery.

Liza Heidelberger of MyLeaderSphere tells us that each leader has Super Powers, but those powers can easily become overwhelmed by the Dark Side.  Here are some ways that you can responsibly care for your leadership Super Powers.   Follow Liza.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement says leaders must be concerned with the results of what they are trying to accomplish. Leadership is not divorced from implementation of ideas it is intricately intertwined with implementation. Follow John.

Lisa Kohn from Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents “What you may be missing every morning” where she shares a simple act that can transform your life. And work. And effectiveness. And enjoyment. Follow Lisa.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader  asks, “What is a leader’s role? How about making sure everything in your organization connects effectively?”  Follow Paul.

Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.
~ Lucy Maud Montgomery

Scott Mabry of Soul to Work shares thoughts on how we invest our time and how we can undo busyness to focus more of our attention on leadership and influence. Follow Scott.

Bernie Nagle of Altrupreneur proclaims that contract is SO last century! Conscious leaders are learning that agreements based on Trust and Relationship are replacing the old paradigm of contractual obligation and “Remedy.”  Follow Bernie.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership   reveals three leadership lessons gleaned from the annual spring ritual of the flight of the Canadian geese in V-formation on how leaders can spur collaboration and improved communication among those they lead.  Follow Tanveer.

From Jon Mertz of Thin Difference: Mindfulness‬ and effective strategic leadership are tightly linked. More than new age thought mindfulness can shape strategic leadership.  Follow Jon.

Jennifer V. Miller of The People Equation  offers a fresh take on a classic piece of advice from leadership expert Ken Blanchard. Follow Jennifer.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com  shares that the audience decides if the story is believable. Find capable people and connect your vision with their desires. Follow Michelle.

The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.
~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights happily reminds us that it’s nearly spring. Though we have no control of the seasons, we have control over our mind. Leaders can choose their season. A fresh perspective and a fresh season may just ahead for you. Follow Skip.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center! tells us that not very many people are excited to get a phone call from an FBI Agent. They tend to be even less enthusiastic when the Agent tells them they need to speak with them about a pending investigation. As a result, I had to work—hard at times—to be likable if I wanted to get my job doneFollow LaRae.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute  says that diversity is needed to bring together the brightest minds to create solutions to business, economic and social challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Follow Artika.

Martin Webster of Leadership Thoughts reminds us that a crisis will happen in almost every business at some time and shares eight critical ways to lead in a crisisFollow Martin.

According to Julie Winkle Giulioni of DesignArounds, managers avoid career conversations fearing employees’ desire for promotions, which turns out to be a false assumption that puts career development at risk. Follow Julie.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
~ C.S. Lewis

 

How to Launch a Successful Project

Have you ever been handed an “impossible” project, only to realize that the next step is to convince your team it’s completely doable?

In this video, I share two manager’s responses to the identical task. The project was identical, their team’s response and level of engagement is worlds apart.

I imagine both scenarios will feel scarily familiar. What can you do to encourage more from scene number two in the New Year?

Thanks so much for your support of Let’s Grow Leaders in 2015. I love the feedback I’m receiving on the 2016 planning survey. If you have asked for something specific, and not included your contact information, please send me a note to let me know how I can reach out to you.

Also for anyone near the DC area, I’m excited to be supporting the Project Management Day of Service, where hundreds of project managers will volunteer their time to help non-profits organize and plan their projects. There are lots of ways to get involved, from volunteering to signing up your non-profit to benefit from the free services, or becoming a sponsor. It’s an amazing endeavor. Last year they had over 400 project managers donating their time and helped over 100 organizations. I encourage you to check it out.

I’m not going to be writing between Christmas and New Years, spending time with extended family and headed out on a scuba trip (Sebastian’s first, now that he has aged in at 10.)

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Namaste,

Karin

grow in peace

A Powerful and Cost Effective Way to Become a Stronger Manager

There’s no question. The best way to get better at leading is by leading. Learn some skills, get out of your comfort zone,  try them out, get feedback, take it seriously, adjust, repeat.

It’s the premise behind high-end executive development programs that include action learning projects and 360 feedback assessments.

The trouble is, such programs are often reserved for high-potential talent at a certain level of the organization. They take a significant investment and require a lot of time off the job, while the”real work” piles up.

I want you and the other managers in your organization to have access to high-quality leadership development that’s INTEGRATED with your day jobs. Learn a skill, apply it with your team while you work on real work, get feedback, take it seriously, repeat.

That’s why I’m bringing you this new mixed media course, which includes results-enhancing work you do with your team and a 360. Watch the video and head over the Results That Last course landing page to learn more. While you’re there you can sign up for a FREE 5 day leadership challenge and download my new e-book Mentoring in the Age of the Millennial.  I also want to make it easy for you to convince your boss of the amazing value of this investment, so you’ll even find a customizable email you can prepare to help persuade your boss, as to why you should begin immediately.

 

There’s real value in having teams of managers going through this together, which is why I’ve made it easier to purchase multiple licenses with tiered pricing. I’m finding most of the companies I’ve talked with are starting with a 10-person pilot to try it out.

If you would like you learn more about how this would work for your company or non-profit, send me an email at karin.hurt@letsgrowleaders.com and I can schedule a demo.

Please help me spread the word about this course, and make it easier for others to get results that last, the right way.

Why Job Descriptions are a Dying Art

A client called. “Karin, I’m going to send you the job description for the new role we designed, but ignore all the HR mumbo jumbo. Just concentrate on the competencies and see if they seem right to you based on the strategy we’ve been working on.”

Game on. We were going to have the conversation that was most worth having: How do we find the right person with the aptitude for this vital job? The 25% this, 37% that of traditional job descriptions was a crap shoot at best. We needed a thinker who would work with us to be as creative as possible and build this role into more than we ever imagined.

Planning out roles and functions is vital. Pricing jobs for fair market value makes sense. But when job descriptions serve to confine, or “swim lanes” become too narrow, you’re headed into dangerous waters.

I remembered the time the union fought so hard to prevent “service reps” from doing higher paid “customer rep” work, and kept a careful watch–telling both groups to be careful not to do too much outside their “role.” Once the lawyers got involved, the higher job was eliminated, and the career path disappeared, and really great people were disappointed, and stopped trying. I was devastated to see good people with hopes of moving up crushed by the instruction to do less, because some artificial boundaries said that would help. It didn’t. It never does.

It’s not just in union jobs. Recently, I failed to convince one of my MBA students in the power of thinking beyond her current low level ” job description.” She sings opera on the side and was asked if she would like to sing at her company gala (with external players). She said only if she were paid for the gig since this is “not in her job description.”

She had a big opportunity to get noticed and to differentiate herself. She didn’t sing as a matter of principle.

As a musician myself, I get it at some level. But, I’ll also never forget the time we were  in the middle of a touching measure of a huge rehearsal and the conductor put down the baton between beats, because it was time for a union break.

Most examples are not this dramatic, and often not articulated. But in almost every company I work in I see signs of the “it’s not my job virus” gaining momentum… and the “A Players” are shooting themselves in the foot while the mediocre get by just fine.

Why Job Descriptions are Old School

I can’t claim to fully understand every circumstance, and I know there are grave situations where good people are being exploited. I’m not talking about that. What I do know is the hundreds, at this point likely thousands, of people I’ve met over the years in reasonable paying jobs, whose fear of working outside their job description absolutely damaged their careers and sabotaged their long-term earnings.

And it’s even more critical now.

We’re in a knowledge and technology economy when even lower level jobs change faster than HR can keep up.

Your job description is the skeleton–the unimaginative view of minimal requirements. Many will stop there and stay put. And that’s a tragedy.

The game changers will understand this limited view, and know that the real work is to think past the basics and add value that changes the game. In most cases the money will follow. If not, know there are plenty of companies hungry to hire people willing to change the game.

The Call to HR

Of course you need job descriptions. It’s just time to get more creative. Imagine the possibilities if every job description had the 75% skeleton as it exists today, and then 25% encouraging innovation and additional contribution?

  • Continuously seeks new ways to enhance the customer experience and shares them with peers
  • Collaborates across departments for innovative solutions to improve quality and reduce costs
  • Builds a deep bench of talent through recruiting, mentoring and organic employee development

Let’s Discuss

The old Field of Dreams idea of “build it and they will come” sometimes fails as a short-term solution. But I’ve never seen a genuine effort of a competent person giving a little more than expected over time fail.

I’m wide-open to real dialogue here. Let’s talk about this important issue.