7 Ways To Inspire Hope

He had all the signs and words of stuck. “I can’t” “No one will help.” “No options.” He’d stop trying to improve the situation and was looking to numb it. His “sports ready” stance had withered to hunched and clenched. He still had an occassional “wish” for a miracle. But, wishes without action are another side of hopeless.
And yet, from the outside looking in, I saw huge possibility, talent, and relationships worth leveraging. I yearned to help him adjust his lens to see new beginnings.

Why I Subscribe to Hope

Hope encourages hard work, risks, and meaning. Not the “want without work” kind of dreaming. The feeling deep in your gut that there’s something more.

I’m ridiculously yet pragmatically hopeful. Ridiculous, because I dream big and set goals beyond my reach. Practical because I work like a dog to make wishes come true.
Hope brought me through a divorce and into a loving marriage
Hope led to “impossible” jobs that made a difference
Hope in people transformed careers
Hope inspires my kids
Hope matters
Hope Inspires Others.

7 Ways to Inspire Possible

Leaders are ambassadors of possibility. When tired eyes look your way, engage them in gentle challenges. Help them realize more.

  1. Start with your own heart – Connect with possible. Remember feelings of turnaround and triumph. Export passion in your connection.
  2. Ask possibility questions – Sit with them in the silence of consideration before narrowing to questions of feasible.
  3. Discover stories of past success – First excavate positive feelings then connect to potential actions.
  4. Identify folks to crew the lifeboat – Who do they (and you) know who could help? Encourage the fortitude to ask for it.
  5. Open doors – Sure, they need to do the heavy lifting. But when your hands are full, it’s helpful when someone opens a door.
  6. Commit to continued support – Ensure that this is more than a one time “pep talk”
  7. Your turn – What would you add?

*Photo source: http://seattletimes.com/special/mlk/

3 Lessons Of The Expectant Leader

“Expectations” is one of my favorite topics. Today, please enjoy the lessons of expectant leaders, from leader and guest blogger Dave Bratcher.

Ever wonder why performance is not at the level you expected?

We often look through the rear view mirror to analyze our performance. Just as the mirror suggests, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” They are closer because the one who is responsible for setting them is the same person looking into the mirror.

Have you ever been perplexed as to why some team members are not performing at the level you expect? What about your own level of performance? Do you know what your boss or clients expect from you?

3 Lessons of the Expectant Leader

  1. People will rise to your level of expectationThere is something magical about people performing to the level of your expectation. As a former School Board member, this is seen in classrooms around the globe on a daily basis. When test scores are low, it is often the desire of school administration to lower standards in an attempt to close the gap between performance and expectations. This has been proven to be the absolute wrong approach to take. Raising expectations will raise performance. This is also true within a family, as Karin recently reflected about her Dad
  2. Expectations must be communicated early and often – I am reminded of an assignment in college in which I spent hours completing the project, only to find out the grading metrics were not in line with what I produced. The expectations were not disclosed at the beginning; rather they were only used to judge performance. Have you ever thought, “How am I doing?” At some point in our careers we have all wondered this. Guess what? Your team members are normal and they may be asking themselves the same questions. In Dave Ramsey’s book, Entreleadership, he talks about the importance of developing a Key Results Area document for each position on your team. It is a short document, including 4-5 bullet points, describing the expectations for any given position. This document is then used to monitor and assess performance throughout the year. Our team should ALWAYS know where they stand, and it’s our responsibility to tell them.
  3. Inspect what you expect – I don’t like clichés, but this phrase is memorable. Just because it is easy to remember doesn’t mean it is easy to implement. I am talking to myself on this one. This has been the area that I struggle with the most. What I have to do is put a reminder in my calendar, marked “Follow Up” as a way to make sure the inspection follows the expectation.

About Dave Bratcher

dave bratcher Dave Bratcher (@davebratcher on Twitter) is the founder of DaveBratcher.com devoted to leadership development. Subscribe for updates at www.DaveBratcher.com and receive Dave’s FREE ebook, A Picture Book Manifesto on Leadership.  He is a John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer, and coach. Dave is also a writer and currently serves as the Vice President of Financial Services for his community foundation. He and his wife, of 8 years, have two children, ages 5 and 2.

Motivation And Transparency: The Conversation Continues

Today’s post is a follow-up to our June 21st discussion: What Motives You: 360 degree Perceptions. I challenged you to explore your motivation through introspection and conversation.

  1. Write down 3 or 4 sentences that you believe truly describe what motivates you.
    e.g. “To challenge people to grow toward their full potential”
  2. Identify 5 or so people you trust to give you candid feedback. Ask them to tell you the complete truth. Then ask, “What do you think motivates me?
  3. Listen and consider. Jot down your reactions. And your reactions to their comments.
  4. Join back on July 1st to share whatever feels comfortable. This “was cool. I learned a lot” works, no need for massive self-disclosure. Of course, we’re interested in all you’re willing to share.

Now for fun part, let’s discuss. If you didn’t play, it’s not too late.

My Motivation

I wrestled with how much to share of all this, I don’t want my blog to be about me, but about helping you. Then again, I thought if I shared more deeply, you might too. Please forgive me if this is too much. What motivation makes me wrestle with that dilemma for 3 days?

What I think motives me:
  • Growth, mine and others (that’s what gives me a rush)
  • Exciting challenges (I love to climb big mountains)
  • Accomplishment (and fear of not accomplishing)
  • Competition (I do hate to lose)
  • Doing the right thing (and changing bad guys)Continue reading

5 Ways To Unblock Leadership Energy

I felt my energy drain as I drove toward the call center. The center’s results were stagnant– it was time to dig deeper. I was there to help, but also to deliver some tough messages. Necessary, not fun.

“Joe,” one of the managers, ran enthusiastically across the parking lot. Joe’s energy ignited mine. The day was looking up. As we walked toward the center together, Joe high-fived and encouraged each arriving rep. They responded in kind. More positive vibes.

We entered the building and the rest of the managers sat quietly at the conference room table nervously awaiting my (and now Joe’s) arrival. The difference in energy–palpable.

Joe’s results blew away the rest of the struggling center. While the other managers shared action plans, Joe excitedly articulated his leadership vision and robust examples of personal connection, challenges and growth.

When I met with the executive team offline I questioned, “How do we get more Joes?” They squirmed, “We can’t expect everyone to have that level of energy.”

Energetic Leaders are Born, Made, and Destroyed

Energy is union, with yourself, the vision, and the team. Energy isn’t extraversion. Don’t waste your time looking for “Joes.” Unblock the stuck energy on your team. It’s not that hard. Release their inner “Joe.”

Empowering low energy destroys potential.

5 Energy Pressure Points

Your leaders have innate energy yearning for release. Get them unstuck. Their energy will cascade, and pretty soon you’ll have an entire organization high on Qi (9 out of 10 studies show well running Qi beats energy drinks without that awful crash ;-).

  1. Missing Connection – Connection fuels fire. Teach the power of connecting, with you, peers, and their team. Model the way. 360 feedback and coaching helps. So can a good talk. Explore insecurities and fear preventing valuable connections.
  2. Faking it – Pretending exhausts. Leaders pretend to look the part, fit in, mask insecurities, hide secrets. Help your leaders uncover and use their mutant powers by using unique skills that stretch them beyond their current job.
  3. Blurry Vision – Fuzzy vision confuses. When leaders lack energy, it’s often that they don’t understand (or buy-into) the vision. It’s hard to act jazzed, when you don’t get it. Go slow. Help them understand the bigger picture. Encourage closed-door dissent and questions. “Ah ha” moments radiate energy. Then help craft and practice messages.
  4. No Options – Choices ignite. Challenge your team with exciting possibilities. Leaders lose energy when they’re stuck. Stuck in their career, in a role, in a project. Help them discover options and new challenges.
  5. Stress – Stress sabotages . When leaders are stressed from competing priorities or home concerns they lose the necessary energy to lead well. Help them balance their goals and energetic pursuits.

10 Ways To Zap Energy And Squash Enthusiasm

Bad leaders suck life-force from their teams. They don’t mean to. And yet, contagious yawns permeate the workplace. Low energy abounds. Why?

I’ve been asking this question everywhere this week (my organization, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter). Here’s the top 10. I’ll leave it to you for #11.

10 Energy Zappers

  1. Blurry vision – Working frantically without a clear purpose is dumb. With pressure, dumb morphs into exhausting. Leaders must clearly communicate the vision and engage the team.
  2. Lack of connection – If everyone around you is gung-ho, and you don’t get it look within. It’s not them, it’s you. That’s great data. If you have one person on your team who you just can get there perhaps it’s time for a tough conversation. Learn what they really want to do.
  3. Missing information – Without information we make stuff up; make-believe is always worse than the truth. Filling in blanks is exhausting.
  4. Inauthenticity – Folks want the truth about the dynamics and safety of their organization, the market forces and challenges, competitive moves and yes, where they stand. Not knowing dims life-force.
  5. Feeling stuck – Lack of career growth or forward progress. Help your team grow.
  6. Personal ick – One follower wrote,
    “What gets me down or out of my regular mode of existence cold weather and not having a lover.”
    Honest feedback. We’ve all got our stuff. Leaders must lead humans, even in the winter. He added:
    “Nothing or no one can demotivate me. I’m the ony person who can motivate myself.”
    Yes! Tap into, and encourage, the personal elements in your leadership. Your team may need a listening ear and an understanding heart more than a pep rally.
  7. Too many priorities – Overwhelmed confuses energy. Refine focus to streamline energy.
  8. Unattended conflict – Healthy conflict energizes. Buried conflict exhausts.
  9. Boring – Monotony leads to sleepy.Mix it up. Create challenges. Find fun in repetitive tasks.
  10. Festering negativity – Even one whiner makes people crazy. Take Mr. Negative aside and get underneath. When others complain to you encourage straight talk. Don’t underestimate the impact of a loud negative minority.

*Photo by Larry Kohlenstein

What Motivates You? 360 Degree Perceptions

What motivates you? What would your friends say motives you? How about your mom? Your boss? Your kids?

It’s been a while since we did some real work together at Let’s Grow Leaders. Today I challenge you to a short-term experiment that I picked up reading What Keeps Leaders Up at Night. More to come on that book. It’s fantastic. I’m meeting with the author soon…

Join in the “What Motivates You” Fun

Read the activity below and follow the easy steps to participate. Join back on July 1st to share your experiences (I’ll be sharing mine).

What Motives You: An Experiment

The “what motivates you” methodology is simple

1. Write down 3 or 4 sentences that you believe truly describe what motivates you.
i.e. “To challenge people to grow toward their full potential”

2. Identify 5 or so people you trust to give you candid feedback. Ask them to tell you the complete truth. Then ask, “What do you think motivates me?

3. Listen and consider. Jot down your reactions. And your reactions to their comments.

4. Join back on July 1st to share whatever feels comfortable. This “was cool. I learned a lot ” works, no need for massive self-disclosure. Of course, we’re interested in all you’re willing to share.

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night author, Nicole Lipkin shares her advice on this experiment.

“Make sure your crew of respondents understands that you need complete candor. As you record their answers, note the context. Your mother will see you differently than will your long time colleague at work. But this is also true: People will color their answers with their own self-protective biases, distortions, and rationalizations. Still whether you like what you hear or not, perceptions can influence people as much as pure reality. If someone perceives you as a control freak, you must deal with that perception, even if you know it does not usually describe the way you operate. The appearance of impropriety is as bad as the impropriety itself. Resist your natural urge to defend yourself.”

Who’s in. Game on Come on it’ll be fun! Please comment and let me know you’re gonna play.

Namaste. Let’s grow together.

7 Unusual Ways to Motivate Your Sales Team

The first time I suggested we lower quotas to drive performance, my boss thought I was crazy. Until we did. Results sky rocketed. Why?

7 Ways To Motivate

  1. Lower Quotas – Out of reach quotas demoralize. Let them taste success. Most good comp plans include multipliers. When solid reps get a multiplied paycheck they understand possibility.
  2. Sell it For Them – “If my out-of-touch boss can do this, it can’t be that hard.” In my case, “if this HR chick now running our sales organization can do this, it must REALLY be easy.” Not my typical “wind beneath the wings” advice. Ensure you understand the obstacles first hand, and lead from there.
  3. Go Bird Watching – This week I stopped by the office of one of the most successful, results-driven sales leaders I know. His assistant told me he’d taken his entire team on a “bird watching” lunch. Perspective clears the creative thought process. Motivate with a surprise break and time to strategize.
  4. Stop Talking Money – “To motivate a sales person bring money.” True. But that’s not the only thing. Determine what else matters. Career growth? Prestige? Relationships? Have deeper conversations.
  5. Shave your head – I’ll admit, this is not my personal go-to, but I’ve seen it do wonders to motivate both sales and customer service teams across several companies. For some reason, teams can’t wait to see their boss’ bald head. You get bonus motivation if the team does the shaving.
  6. Make It A Team Sport – “Sales people are out to be #1.” Some sales folks also love being part of a winning team. It may mean more than the paycheck. Don’t underestimate the value of old-fashioned team rivalry. Cultivated well, they will help one another grow.
  7. What would you add?

The Secret to Employee Engagement

“How do I get my team to care?” Employee engagement is the number one requested topic from my readers. If you’re struggling with employee engagement, you’re not alone. Gallup says:

“Seventy-one percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive.”

The disengagement increases with education. Americans with a college degree are “significantly less likely to be engaged in their jobs than are those with a high school diploma or less.” We hire for knowledge and then discourage contribution.

The Secret to Employee Engagement

I recently met with 2 new hire training classes. One was alive, actively interested, asked great questions, and shared their optimism for their careers. The other class looked at me skeptically. Didn’t say much. Yawns were involved.

My colleage looked at me after my meetings, “Wow, what a difference in engagement between those two groups.” What was the difference? The hiring demographics? The trainer? Frontline leadership? Nope.

Look Within First

It was me. I approached the first class as I normally do. I walked around the room and asked each person to introduce themselves– to tell me something about them personally. I heard of new babies, graduations, hobbies. I also asked them to share “why they will be a rock star in this position.” As they shared, I linked their ideas to key messages I wanted to reinforce. Then, I shared a bit about me both at work and at home. After all that, we started the Q &A.

It was time consuming and we were short on time. As I entered the next classroom, I was warned “you took too long with the last class, we’re behind on the agenda, and we have a plane to catch.” I skipped the one-on-one intro stuff, and moved right to Q and A. Sure I was energetic and perky, but there was no trust. It wasn’t personal. I felt scary, and the yawns began. In hindsight, I should have skipped that class.

If you can’t engage well, don’t show up.

As leaders we set the tone for employee engagement.

  • Make it personal
  • Ask questions
  • Share yourself
  • Create connection
  • Inspire confidence
  • Assure them they matter
  • Insire a compelling vision
  • Link unique skills to the vision
  • Be fully engaged yourself
  • ?

In Defense of Wow: It's Okay to Be Impressed

Leaders who are afraid to acknowledge success lack confidence in their vision. Being impressed doesn’t incent laziness. Leaders gloss over great, looking for greater. They could have said, wow!

  • “This idea is amazing! But, I’d better not act impressed, or they won’t strive for more.”
  • “Sure the sales of this strategic product are great, BUT they are falling short in other areas.”
  • “Their year-over-year results are unprecedented, but there’s another team ahead. I’d better focus them on chasing that rabbit.”

Leaders think, “if I act impressed employees will stop trying.”

Worthy of “Wow”

When was the last time you let out a heartfelt “Wow!”? Not at a sunset. Or at a baby’s first steps. Or after a bite of chocolate cheesecake, all of which are certainly “wow” worthy. But when did you last “wow” at work?

“Wow has a reverberation – wowowowowow – and this pulse can soften us, like the electrical massage an acupuncturist directs to your spine or cramped muscle, which feels like a staple gun, but good.”
― Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers

Your team is accomplishing small miracles. Someone just trumped their personal best. Or, they worked all night to meet the deadline. Or, finally, the team is helping each other with no hidden agendas.

Look them right in the eye, pause and exclaim “Wow!”
But…
Resist the urge to “wow but” them..

In a post submitted for tomorrow’s LGL Frontine Festival, Tanveer Naseer, explains “feedback should make you hungry to achieve more.”

“I advised the students to savour this moment and to remember that it was thanks to their hard work, their persistence to overcome the obstacles in their path, and their drive to succeed that they were able to achieve this rare accomplishment. I followed this with a word of encouragement that they wake up the next morning with a renewed sense of hunger to once again push themselves to excel and move forward; to meet the new challenges they’ll face with the same drive and persistence that got them here.”

A good “wow” incents achievement. “Wowed” feels fantastic. It influences how you “wake up.”

Everyone needs feedback and tips to improve. Coach, respond, inspire. And every now and then, stop at “wow.”

Wow-a-Thons

My team holds regular, “wow-a-thons.” If I promise not to be too disruptive, they let me play along. A cross-functional group of leaders spends the entire day listening to customer interactions. If they hear a rep delighting a customer, they note what they heard and what makes it fantastic. They parade onto the floor to celebrate the fantastic “wow.” No coaching. No buts just celebration, with specifics. “When you said______” it really changed the customer experience. Wow. Thank you.”

If something was mildly wrong, they still celebrate, but make a note and find another example to address the concern. later. Wow doesn’t have to be perfect. The celebrating goes all day. Employees are uplifted. Team leaders practice watching for the good. It’s a party. Results sky rocket. No apathy is encouraged in these “wows.”

Tips for a Good “Wow”

  • Pick something amazing
  • Mean it.
  • Explain why
  • Be specific
  • Say it loud so others can hear
  • Vary the recipients (don’t always chose John)
  • ?

In Defense of Wow: It’s Okay to Be Impressed

Leaders who are afraid to acknowledge success lack confidence in their vision. Being impressed doesn’t incent laziness. Leaders gloss over great, looking for greater. They could have said, wow!

  • “This idea is amazing! But, I’d better not act impressed, or they won’t strive for more.”
  • “Sure the sales of this strategic product are great, BUT they are falling short in other areas.”
  • “Their year-over-year results are unprecedented, but there’s another team ahead. I’d better focus them on chasing that rabbit.”

Leaders think, “if I act impressed employees will stop trying.”

Worthy of “Wow”

When was the last time you let out a heartfelt “Wow!”? Not at a sunset. Or at a baby’s first steps. Or after a bite of chocolate cheesecake, all of which are certainly “wow” worthy. But when did you last “wow” at work?

“Wow has a reverberation – wowowowowow – and this pulse can soften us, like the electrical massage an acupuncturist directs to your spine or cramped muscle, which feels like a staple gun, but good.”
― Anne Lamott, Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers

Your team is accomplishing small miracles. Someone just trumped their personal best. Or, they worked all night to meet the deadline. Or, finally, the team is helping each other with no hidden agendas.

Look them right in the eye, pause and exclaim “Wow!”
But…
Resist the urge to “wow but” them..

In a post submitted for tomorrow’s LGL Frontine Festival, Tanveer Naseer, explains “feedback should make you hungry to achieve more.”

“I advised the students to savour this moment and to remember that it was thanks to their hard work, their persistence to overcome the obstacles in their path, and their drive to succeed that they were able to achieve this rare accomplishment. I followed this with a word of encouragement that they wake up the next morning with a renewed sense of hunger to once again push themselves to excel and move forward; to meet the new challenges they’ll face with the same drive and persistence that got them here.”

A good “wow” incents achievement. “Wowed” feels fantastic. It influences how you “wake up.”

Everyone needs feedback and tips to improve. Coach, respond, inspire. And every now and then, stop at “wow.”

Wow-a-Thons

My team holds regular, “wow-a-thons.” If I promise not to be too disruptive, they let me play along. A cross-functional group of leaders spends the entire day listening to customer interactions. If they hear a rep delighting a customer, they note what they heard and what makes it fantastic. They parade onto the floor to celebrate the fantastic “wow.” No coaching. No buts just celebration, with specifics. “When you said______” it really changed the customer experience. Wow. Thank you.”

If something was mildly wrong, they still celebrate, but make a note and find another example to address the concern. later. Wow doesn’t have to be perfect. The celebrating goes all day. Employees are uplifted. Team leaders practice watching for the good. It’s a party. Results sky rocket. No apathy is encouraged in these “wows.”

Tips for a Good “Wow”

  • Pick something amazing
  • Mean it.
  • Explain why
  • Be specific
  • Say it loud so others can hear
  • Vary the recipients (don’t always chose John)
  • ?

Entitlement Calls For Great Leadership

Entitlement is thirst for leadership. Entitlement builds over years. You can stop it.

Selfish words deceive.

  • “It’s not in my job description”
  • “That’s not what the contract says”
  • “My shift is over”
  • “I did what the customer asked”
  • “Why did that team get tee-shirts?”
  • “Seriously, they call this recognition?”

Listen deeply for pain, dissapointment, and fear.

 “Fixes” That Drive Entitlement

Before fixing, listen more. Attempt to solve the surface complaints, and aggrevate the deeper pain.

1. “Better” Recognition: “Something must be wrong with our rewards.” Form a committee. Ask the people what they most want. A well-intentioned and potentially useful approach in the right scene. Not if entitlement is your problem. More just reinforces “this for that.” (see, Why Doesn’t My Team Feel Recognized)

2. Benchmarking Communications: “Our rewards are great, employees just don’t understand them.” Create glossy benchmarking brochures. Share market analysis. Show how much we spend on healthcare. If it’s really about the money, this may help. Entitlement is seldom about the money.

3. Straight talk: “They should feel lucky to have a job in this economy.” Enough is enough. The paycheck is their reward. Performance manage those who don’t comply. We need to hire better. Truth in all that. Such talk won’t change culture.

Don’t Fix, Listen

Stop talking about the money. Don’t fix your recognition. Listen instead. Grasping for tangible rewards is a sign of a deeper hunger.

Look for signs of…

  • Weak vision
  • Inconsistent values
  • Betrayed trust
  • Broken promises
  • Overwork
  • Depersonalization
  • Fear
  • Insecurity
  • threatening leadership
  • ?

How to Break the 80 20 Rule

According to the 80 20 Rule, 20% of your team is carrying 80% of the load. If that’s the case, 80% could do substantially more. Have you come to accept the Pareto Principle as a given?

Of course, your performance management structure counts these slackers to make for a nice bell curve. So maybe it’s easier to just let it go. If the 80 20 rule is true, you could be leading better. You should be leading better.
 Buck Pareto.
Break the 80 20 Rule.
Engage the rest of the team.
Smoke your results.

Debate with HR on performance distribution on the back-end.

5 Ways to Beat the 80 20 Odds

1. Dig deep into the top 20%

  • Understand the source of their commitment
  • Recruit your rock stars to inspire the rest of the team

2. Create a Passionate Rally Cry

  • Connect everyone to the vision
  • Put everyone in the game
  • Do the math, determine what you need EVERY person to do.
  • Communicate what you need from every member of the team.

3. Understand What Works

  •  Observe best practices
  •  Look for specific nuances
  •  Share stories
  • Model and Celebrate behaviors

4. Spend Time With the Outliers

  • Identify the skeptics
  • Understand their fears
  • Observe their behaviors
  • Celebrate turnarounds
  • Turn skeptics into teachers

5. Develop Skills and Confidence