10 Incapacitating Leadership Mistakes You Make When Youre Scared

10 Incapacitating Leadership Mistakes You Make When You’re Scared

“This guy opened his door and hit your car!” Sebastian, our 12-year-old, announced as Karin and I returned to the car, our arms full of office supplies. He pointed out a small scratch on the door. We laughed about it and how the guy was surprised to find someone in the car he’d just scratched.

The thing is, I don’t mind a few scratches on my car. You can’t speed something down the road at 60 miles per hour, expose it to rain and road debris and expect it to emerge unscathed.

If you’re scared of scratching your car, you’ll never leave the garage. The only way to keep a car in ‘showroom’ condition is to leave it there.

Your Leadership Showroom

Fear is part of the leadership experience. You may fear ruining relationships, damaging your reputation, or even losing your job. When you lead, you’ll probably have anxiety and fear as you face the unknown and take risks to move your team and organization forward.

It’s normal to have these fears.

But if you don’t learn how to manage the fears that come with leadership, you’ll stay in “the showroom.”

10 Incapacitating Leadership Mistakes You Make When You’re Scared

Unmanaged fear incapacitates you and leads to a range of leadership mistakes. These insidious mistakes are dangerous because they can feel rational.

  1. You don’t deal with the very thing that needs attention.

You know that feeling of unease that creeps up and prompts you to procrastinate or avoid doing something?

Listen to it.

But instead of doing what it says (avoiding the problem), use it as an alarm calling for your attention. The thing you feel like avoiding is exactly what should have your full attention. Dive in and get it done.

  1. You lose credibility.

Even if you don’t tell them what’s going on, your team will figure it out. When you’re paralyzed with fear, your leadership credibility slowly erodes.

  1. You feel like you’re all alone.

When you’re scared, you forget your team. This one is particularly brutal because it cuts you off from one of your greatest strengths. Your team is smart and by working together you can figure it out and get it done…but not if fear isolates you. When you’re alone or isolated, things grow out of proportion.

Reconnect with your team to get a healthy perspective and engage many more minds in solving the problem.

  1. You react and create chaos.

Have you ever had a squirrel get inside your house? They are scared and panicked. Every little noise or motion sends them scampering back and forth, climbing up the walls, knocking over everything. It’s chaos!

When you’re scared, you can do the same thing and leave your people frustrated and confused about their M.I.T.s (Most Important Thing) and expectations.

  1. You give up your ability to create the future.

When you’re motivated by fear, you stop building a positive future as you try to just avoid problems. You can’t inspire your team with a message of “Let’s try not to fail…”

Instead, examine and prepare for the actual (not imagined) consequences.

Your mind can play tricks on you and grow imagined problems to epic proportions. This is why listening to your fear is important. What is it you’re scared of? What would actually happen if that came to pass? What would you do then?

If you can find people who have been in the same situations and learn what they did, that’s even better. The point is to reduce the imagined problem to real-life, know you can handle it, and build a positive future together.

  1. You clamp down on information.

In the absence of information, people fill in the blanks with all sorts of pathological nonsense.

And yet, when you’re afraid, you often stop the flow of information (because you worry about communicating the wrong thing or aren’t sure who you can trust). This feeds into the isolation that cuts you off from the very people that can help you.

  1. You avoid risks and end personal growth.

When you worry too much about making mistakes, you don’t take risks. When you don’t take healthy risks, you stop learning new things…and you stop learning altogether. Leaders who don’t grow lose credibility.

Perfectionists and high achievers sometimes let fear paralyze them because they fear making a mistake. But even engineers launching a satellite into space know the margin of error within which they can operate.

Mistakes are a good thing. They mean you’re trying something new and stretching. Use them well.

  1. You won’t apologize, own, and correct mistakes.

When you’re frightened of being seen as a failure, you might not own up to it and apologize. Effective leaders have the humility to “Own the UGLY,” admit their vulnerabilities, and take responsibility for their mistakes.

  1. You become a victim.

Sustained fear erodes your ability to act. That’s the definition of a victim – “This happened and there’s nothing I can do.”

When fear leads to victimhood, one of the best antidotes is to re-empower your self. Do this by asking two simple questions:

What are the results I want to achieve?

What can I do to accomplish those results?

  1. You inspire fear in others.

This is the worst mistake of all because leaders recreate themselves.

Your team is learning from you. If you stay in fear-mode, it won’t be long before your team acts the same way and now you’ve multiplied the mistakes on this list across your entire team.

When you see your team afraid to make mistakes, over-reacting, and unable to build a positive future, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror and see if they’re feeding off your fear.

Your Turn

Don’t let fear keep you in the showroom. We need you out there, making a difference. You’ll get a few scratches along the way – and that’s okay.

Overcoming your leadership fears takes time and practice. As you practice, you’ll find the situations that caused you two weeks of anxiety will only give you two hours of serious thought.

People with an extreme fear of spiders don’t overcome it by diving into a tank of spiders. They begin by reading about them, by spending time near them in a safe environment and work up to maybe even hold one.

What is the easiest step you can take? Is it to share your concerns with your team? Is it looking for someone who’s been in the same situation? Is it to write down the situation you need to address and plan for likely outcomes?

Leave us a comment and share: How do you manage your leadership fears, stay healthy, and keep your people moving forward?

10 questions managers should ask when their teams won't listen

10 Questions Managers Should Ask When Their Team Won’t Listen

One of the most challenging management experiences you’ll encounter is when it feels like your team won’t listen.

  • You share your vision of the future, what the team’s capable of achieving…and are met with shrugs and silent stares.
  • You share a new process to improve results…and everyone keeps on doing what they’ve always done.
  • You make recommendations grounded in real data…and they are ignored.

Leadership Opportunities

These times when it feels like your team won’t listen are great opportunities to build your influence. You might be tempted to turn to fear, power, and a raised voice to get things done, but I invite you to pause and look at what’s happening before you do.

When you learn from these moments your effectiveness will soar, but if you allow yourself to get so frustrated that you turn to fear or power to get things done, you lose credibility and trust.

Here are 10 questions to ask when you feel like your team won’t listen:

1) What do you want?

Whenever you have leadership challenges, the first thing to examine is your own desire.

There’s a big difference between wanting what’s best for the team and wanting what’s best for you. So what is it you really want?

If the answer is compliance “When I say jump, they better ask ‘how high?’ on the way up” – then you’re never going to have a team that truly listens. They will do things out of fear when they must and ignore you when they can.

However, if what you want for the team to achieve great results together…then keep reading.

2) Are you speaking their language?

Do the actual words you use mean the same thing to your team that they mean to you? Are you sharing numbers and facts when stories and demonstrations are needed, or do your stories need more data and explanation?

3) Have you listened?

When you don’t hear what people tell you, they naturally think you don’t care, they lose heart, and they’ll stop caring.

Not sure if your team is being heard? Ask a few team members to share with you: “Is there anything you’ve been trying to tell me that I’m just not hearing?”

Be quiet and listen. Thank them for sharing…and respond in time, even if it’s to explain constraints or why you’re taking a different direction. You don’t have to agree, but you do need to hear.

4) Are you credible?

If your people can say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about” and they have evidence to back up their conclusion, well, expect to be ignored.

You build your credibility. You can’t demand it. Can people trust you? Can they rely on you? Take a moment and seriously consider the answer to these questions. If you were on your own team, would you trust you, based only on what you see and experience?

5) Do you know what matters to your people?

If the values you’re promoting conflict with your team’s values, you’ll have trouble being heard. I worked with a CEO who was disappointed that her employees were leaving work when they were scheduled to leave. She wanted people who valued going the extra distance to get things done. Her employees loved their work, but they also valued their family and friends and considered it nearly immoral to sacrifice family relationships for work.

6) Are you ordering people or inviting them?

Look at both the literal words you’re using as well as the attitude behind them.

Do your words and attitude communicate dignity and equal worth? Or do your words and attitude suggest that you’re better than everyone else and they should just do what they’re told?

7) Have you explained why?

Your team’s lack of response may be because they don’t understand the consequences. Why is this important? How does it make a difference to other people? To the bottom line? Even military briefings include the reasons and objectives behind the orders.

8) Did you check for understanding?

When you share a task and ask “Are there any questions?” you will likely be met with silence.

Don’t assume that silence means they get it. Silence could mean confusion, embarrassment, or that they think they understand.

Rather, ask your team something like: “Let’s make sure we’re on the same page. What are the three things we’re doing coming out of this meeting? Why does this matter? When will these be finished? Make sure they received what you thought you communicated.

9) Have you said it often enough?

I have coached many frustrated leaders who complain that their team is insubordinate or unresponsive.

So then I ask “When was the last time you shared this task or explained what was supposed to happen?”

Some of the answers I’ve heard include:

  • “At that off-site year before last…”
  • “We were in the hallway six months ago…”
  • “At the company meeting last January…”

If you’ve communicated something once, you haven’t communicated.

As hard as it may be for your ego to accept, your team members have other lives. They have constant challenges confronting them every day.

It’s unrealistic to believe that something you said one time, last year, is on everyone’s mind. If it’s important, be the drummer. Keep the beat and consistently communicate the MITs (Most Important Things.)

10) Have you said it in different ways?

People receive information differently. I’m a reader first, audio second, and video third. But many other people get much more from video or other visuals.

As you reinforce the MITs, use different communication techniques.

We recommend 6×3 communication. The idea is to repeat critical information at least six times through three or more channels. For example, you might use a staff meeting, a video, and one-on-one meetings for your three different channels.

Your Turn

When it feels like your team won’t listen, it is easy to get frustrated and give in to the temptation to yell louder. But effective leaders know that when it seems no one’s listening, there are likely other issues that need to be resolved.

If you feel like your team won’t listen, ask yourself these ten questions…and listen to your answers.

Leave us a comment and share: How do you ensure you’ve been heard when communicating with your team?

 

The Importance of Applauding Yourself

Confident, humble leaders take a moment to privately applaud themselves. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a mini-timeout to tell yourself “Wow! Great job,” particularly for the incremental baby steps that change the game. Privately applauding yourself is vital if others aren’t looking at or caring about your greater mission.

One of the great joys of my new journey is that I get to meet so many kindred spirits from all over the world. I’m honing my “confident-humility” radar-detection system. I’m pleased to introduce Roberto Martinez from Bogota, Columbia to you through his guest post and short video interview.

I met Roberto after a speech I gave at the National Speaker Association’s Business Accelerator Lab.  He’s a doctor, a musician, a teacher, a speaker, a husband and father doing important work. You have to pull all of that out of him, though, because mostly he’s a humble man working to inspire good where it needs to happen most.

I was inspired by his thinking on taking time to “applaud yourself.” (Watch the video to hear more.)

See my interview with Roberto here. 

Roberto Martinez’s Thinking on Applauding Yourself

Some time ago a friend of mine asked me how to stay true to your journey toward fulfilling your dreams.  After all, it’s hard. There are competing pressures. Here’s my best thinking for the LGL community.

  1. Link to Passion:  Be sure that what you’re doing is connected to your passion and to your greatest purpose in life. It is not about “the what”… it is about the “why” and “the what for.”
  2. Don’t Think Small: The key is to verify that you are not doing what you want for a small reason. As I told my friend, make sure you are walking up that road not only to pay the rent, or to be able to go to the movies after you paid the bills of the month, but to create something really great. Something that counts for many and helps many people around you,while you are in the process. Your true passion is that thing that will get you out of your bed every morning full of energy and with a big smile in your face!
  3. Bring Optimism:  You have to mix that passion and intention with optimism, so you can ignite persistence. Remember that real optimism is not about being always happy, or never finding a bump in the road. It is about having confidence that sooner or later you will reach all your goals, even if you don’t necessarily know at present how you will accomplish them. If you persist in the intention and do the homework, you will find the way and you will meet the right people to overcome the barriers.
  4. Applaud Yourself: Celebrate the small victories that you have along the way. Usually people throw big parties, receptions and celebrations when they accomplish great steps, but you know what? You do not have to celebrate these great victories! Other people will celebrate them for you.  The ones that you have to celebrate are precisely the small ones. Those that nobody know about but you. Those victories that in the bottom of your heart you truly know they were very hard to gain, but you did it. Those victories will give you the confidence and the strength to continue when everything seems uphill.
  5. Be Aware of Your Legacy:  Make sure you are going accompanied in the road. Whose life is easier down the road as a result of your efforts? This is certainly one of the steps that creates the greatest commitment to your vision because is no longer just about you– it is about them.
  6. Enjoy the Journey: At the end of the day, it is not so much about the goal itself… it is about the type of person that you will become as you pursue the goal.

The synergy of these six steps will inspire you, and others, to support your vision.

I would love to hear your insights and thoughts. Feel free to reach out. Roberto@rmleadinglife.com

Visit Roberto’s site rmleadinglife.com or find him on Facebook, or Twitter @rm_leadinglife

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The Insiders Guide to Communicating the Big Picture

Is your team struggling with poor results, apathy, and feelings of being overwhelmed?  Stop and consider if they really understand the big picture.

Can they grasp real meaning in their work beyond the growing daily to do list. As we continue our series on the biggest mistakes team leaders make, we focus on the perils of under communicating the big picture.

Symptoms that Your Team Doesn’t Get the Big Picture

Kelly’s Story:

Kelly’s team is really busy. They’ve been working hard and getting by, but results are stagnant. She’s tried everything: more recognition, contests, she even came in dressed as a superhero to try to get the team riled up. Each of these stunts worked for a day or so, but then the results returned to their normal mediocre state and the stress levels creeped right back up.

Frustrated, Kelly went old school and writing warnings for those at the bottom of the stack rank. That got a few people’s attention, but now morale is in the tank.

She asked Frank, one of her most dedicated team members, how he was feeling:

I’m getting pretty stressed out too. It just seems that we’ve got this really long list of things to do and the work just keeps coming. I feel like I’m on a treadmill and am just running toward nowhere.

When Kelly asked if he understood, why they had been asked to work so hard this summer, he just shrugged his shoulders. Chances are, Kelly could make a big difference by doing a better job of communicating the big picture.

  • Mediocre results
  • High Absenteeism
  • Apathy
  • Insatiable thirst for recognition
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed

Why Team Leaders Forget to Connect the Dots

Communicating the big picture is a skill that’s often lost in early leadership development programs. After all, big picture thinking is for execs, right? No. Everyone needs to get where they fit in. Many team leaders under-communicate the big picture for the following reasons.

  • You Don’t Fully Understand It – Face it, sometimes the big picture is murky. It could be that change is happening so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Or, there’s a lot of secret stuff happening behind closed doors, and what’s hitting the front line really doesn’t make sense. If what you’re being asked to ask your team to do feels stupid, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure it makes sense to you. If you’re frustrated and confused, your team will see it. Get the clarity you need first. If that’s tricky ask for advice, or talkpoints, or an opportunity to role-play how to best communicate a message to your team. If it still doesn’t make sense, respectfully articulate your concerns. You may have a perspective that has yet to be considered.
  • You’re Relying On Someone Else To Do It – You know your team has heard the message at least 4 times. Go for 5. Even if they’ve heard the webcast, participated in the town hall, read then company newsletter, and had a visit from the senior team, they need to hear it from you. Teams need people they trust to translate the big picture. They need time to ask questions and to voice their concerns. Just because the smiled happily when your bosses boss shared the news, does not mean they’re gun ho and ready to go.
  • You’re Just Too Busy – When you’re drowning, it hardly seems like a good time to step back and contemplate the big picture. But you may be surprised how much time you can save from such a little investment. Once upon a time I was leading a sales team that was just not executing in one particular arena. They just didn’t seem motivated to try. It didn’t make any sense to me, because the comp plan clearly paid big bucks in this arena. I was venting to my finance guy, “don’t they understand that just doing this one thing right could go a long way in paying off their car?” He asked one simple question, “Karin, are you sure they know how they’re getting paid?” You guessed it, despite all the training on the comp plan, the team meetings, and the fact that they got a detailed statement each month, the majority of the team could not explain to me how they got paid. We took the time out to go through everyone’s statement one-on-one. Bingo.

3 Ways To Communicate the Big Picture with Ease

So you want to get better in this arena? Try these three steps:
  1. Magnify The Meaning – Talk to your team about the impact their work has on the greater good: the customer, the world, and others they serve. Engage in dialogue and ask them to identify what makes them most proud about the work that they do.
  2. Clarify Priorities – It’s vital that the tasks you’re asking the team to perform does not feel like a to-do list of unrelated tasks. Bundle the work into meaningful chunks that link back to the bigger picture. If you can’t combine the tasks into meaningful clusters, you may have too many priorities. Figure out what matters most and nail those. Know that if something needs to drop what that will be. If you have to fail at something be sure you’re the one that chooses what that will be
  3. Simplify the Message – If you can’t explain your team’s mission in one sentence you don’t fully understand it. If you’re really struggling, ask a few strong team members to give it a shot. Everyone on your team should be able to respond to your team’s mission in a very similar way.

All the other work you do as a team leader will be undermined if your team doesn’t have a strong unifying sense or where they’re headed. Ask your team today. Can they articulate your team’s mission in one sentence?

Note:

Under-communicating the Big Picture surfaced as an important theme in response to my post The Biggest Mistakes Team Leaders Make. If you missed that post, take a quick look so you can join the fun.

We’re working on a crowd-sourced e-book that will be free to all LGL subscribers. The Insiders Guide To Communicating the Big Picture is the starting point for chapter two.

Please share your success stories and lessons learned for possible inclusion.

We hope you will join the fun. It’s not to late to contribute your thoughts to the Insiders Guide To Micromanagement.

4 Signs You Have An Inspiring Point Of View

Weak leaders waffle and shape-shift. They’re easily swayed by popular opinion or the path of least resistance. 

Their point of view is remarkably consistent with whatever their boss says, or send messages that will cause the least amount of work. They attract other easy people, who’ll just go with the flow. The flow turns to stagnant mediocrity.

Inspiring leaders have a more deliberate, inspiring point of view. They’re attracted to, and attract, others with carefully considered perspectives.

“The most difficult work most professionals do is getting someone else to agree with their point of view and take action. The second most difficult work professionals do is developing a point of view in the first place.”
~ Seth Godin

Strong leaders articulate a recognizable point of view:

  • What would Gandhi say?
  • What would Jesus do?
  • How about Martin Luther?
  • Martin Luther King?
  • What would (insert your favorite leader here) do?,/li>

4 Signs You Have An Inspiring Point Of View

V – Vision: Your expectations are clear and easy to follow. People get where you are headed and why. Clarity brings consistency and comfort.

I – Integrity: You do what you say and say what you do. Your team knows what to expect from you, and what behaviors you expect from them.

E – Empowerment: An inspiring point of view guides, scaffolds and empowers action. No waiting around for permission and guidance. You stay out of the weeds because you know your team understands your perspective. They don’t have to run to you for decisions, they can just ask WW_D?

W – Wisdom: You’re clear but not stuck. You help others clarify their own thinking and articulate their point of view. You know the best results come after careful consideration of diverse perspectives. You welcome debate.

Point of View Check-Points

Consider your point of view on leadership or parenting, marriage, friendship, customer service. What beliefs do you hold most strongly? How do you communicate your point of view to your followers or children, spouse, friends, customers? If you’re brave, ask them. Do you like what you hear?

The Danger Of Knowing Exactly What You Want

Kerri knows exactly what she wants in her “some day” husband. He’s her intellectual peer, has common interests, and is hot – like her. She’s got big plans for her large hypothetical family.

She’s convinced Mr. Right is right around the corner. She only looks up when he matches the picture on her vision board. She doesn’t date much.

“We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.”
~ Dale Carnegie

It happens in careers too. Have a vision, mind-map your life, set goals, make plans, get up earlyhustle. Without direction, you’ll under-achieve. With over-direction you’ll destroy your potential.

The Danger of Knowing Exactly What You Want

Beware of the downsides of your know-it-all pursuit. Laser-like focus burns past peripheral opportunities. Strategically built networks exclude the “weirdos” you need.

“Tenacity is using new data to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work.”
~ Seth Godin

Dogged pursuit of exactly what you want scares those who’ve got relevant guidance. Pushing too hard, pushes away possibilities:

  • In pursuit of promotion, you miss your calling
  • You make the deadline, but miss the mistake
  • You hustle past the guy you need to know
  • You love your suppliers, so stop hearing pitches
  • You’re too busy to take on the special project

Hustle With Possibility

Think big, set goals, make plans and then…

  • Pause for rest and reflection
  • Hang out with unusual suspects
  • Read on unrelated topics
  • Volunteer
  • Make lateral moves
  • Notice what brings you joy
  • Listen to your team

What Needy Needs: 8 Ways To Empower Past Dependency

Needy drains energy. Needy distracts. Needy wastes time. Needy surfaces guilt “gosh, maybe they really do need more.” You want to help. Helping too much hurts them, you, and the rest of the team.

Dig deeper to get to the root cause of dependency. Maybe it’s them. Be sure it’s not you.

Causes of Needy

Needy comes from:

  • Upbringing
  • Self-doubt
  • Fear
  • Incompetence
  • Misunderstanding
  • Lack of vision
  • Unclear goals
  • Micro-management
  • Disfunctional teams
  • Bad leadership

From Needy to Needed

Turn your high-maintenance employee into a highly valued contributor. Give enough to help, without encouraging dependent behavior.

  1. Create safety. Build trust. Many needs stem from insecurity. Invest in the relationship and show you really care. Create professional intimacy as appropriate. As questions. Spend time getting to know them personally. Show up real. Share how you work on your leadership. Expose a personal mistake or two. Make failure a friendly topic.
  2. Listen – Get underneath root cause. This may bet messy, and may call for reinforcements, e.g. Employee Assistance Programs, a coach. If there’s work to be done, help them get help.
  3. Reinforce Vision and Goals – Check for understanding. Have them articulate their role in the big picture. Brainstorm together how they can best contribute, and what support they think they need. Also reinforce where you don’t need to be involved. Create clear parameters for decision making.
  4. Assess competence and skills – Make it okay to tell you they don’t know how. This is often the easist one to fix.
  5. Stay consistent – Stay calm through mistakes. Leaders who freak can bring back childhood memories, and childlike behaviors.
  6. Promote teamwork – Create space to talk about diverse team strengths. Encourage the team to rely on one another.
  7. Reasonable Reassurance. Recognize incremental wins. Celebrate success.
  8. Back off – Explain what your doing. Have a conversation. And then stop helping. Extreme, but potentially necessary. I talked to one leader who shared that his team had become so dependent, he just stopped answering their calls and emails. After the shock, I asked “soooo… how did that work?” The team started relying on one another and figured things out. Results skyrocketed.

Who Says You’re Not Qualified?

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.” “I don’t have experience.” “I’m too old to try that now.”

Negative self-talk smashes dreams. We look for data to corroborate our fear.

Big Starts Small

I always wanted to run the Boston marathon. The only issue, I hadn’t yet run a 10K. I was decidedly not qualified for that dream. I wasn’t a real runner. I was busy exec and mom. I could have easily talked myself out of it. I’m sure I could have found plenty of friends to affirm my self-doubt. I didn’t ask for opinions. I started running. A few laps around the neighborhood. A 10K, a half marathon, a couple of marathons, many lonely miles in the woods with a timer. On my 40-something Birthday, I ran Boston.

Sometimes, Nike is right.

Forget Qualified, Just Start

What’s your dream? If great seems too crazy to articulate start softly. John Acuff, author of START shares 3 questions fear conveys to “every person who dares to start down the road to awesome.”

  1. Who are you to do that?
  2. You’re too late
  3. It has to be perfect.

I asked John, What is the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of starting?

“The biggest obstacle is fear. I’ve never met anyone who told me, “I’ve never had a single dream, idea or passion.” Regardless of your age or job, everyone has had a dream at some point. What gets in the way most often is fear. We hear these voices of doubt that say, “Who are you to do that?” We feel unqualified. We fear failure but also success. In moments like that we put our dreams back on the shelf for another day or another week or even another year. One day we wake up and say those five powerful words, “How did I get here?”

Start by

  1. Working at it every day
    In her research-based book Mindset, Carol Dweck offers example after example of the unremarkable beginnings of remarkable people. Darwin, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Edison, became great by believing they could, working hard, failing, and getting better day by day. Renowned blogger Seth Godin wrote his 5000th post this week. Want to feel optimistic about getting better with time? Read his early stuff.  Seth Godin got great at writing by writing.
  2. Get experience
    Volunteer.  Give work away. Take a part-time job
  3. Get help
    Ask for feedback. Find coaches and advisors. Learn from every one you can. I love it when I get feedback on my posts. This week a friend wrote, “Strong post with a weak start. You can do better than this.” And then asked some provocative questions. I fixed it with gratitude. When you’re open to learning, people will help.
  4. Avoid the “haters”
    Acuff shares, “someone is going to hate what you do.” That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite. And I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate. With energy and vitriol and a passion that surprises you. Haters are inevitable. Your response is up for grabs.” Learn to manage your trolls.
  5. What would you add?

Start your dream. It’s not too late. Start small, build to amazing.

 

Who Says You're Not Qualified?

“I’m not sure I’m qualified.” “I don’t have experience.” “I’m too old to try that now.”

Negative self-talk smashes dreams. We look for data to corroborate our fear.

Big Starts Small

I always wanted to run the Boston marathon. The only issue, I hadn’t yet run a 10K. I was decidedly not qualified for that dream. I wasn’t a real runner. I was busy exec and mom. I could have easily talked myself out of it. I’m sure I could have found plenty of friends to affirm my self-doubt. I didn’t ask for opinions. I started running. A few laps around the neighborhood. A 10K, a half marathon, a couple of marathons, many lonely miles in the woods with a timer. On my 40-something Birthday, I ran Boston.

Sometimes, Nike is right.

Forget Qualified, Just Start

What’s your dream? If great seems too crazy to articulate start softly. John Acuff, author of START shares 3 questions fear conveys to “every person who dares to start down the road to awesome.”

  1. Who are you to do that?
  2. You’re too late
  3. It has to be perfect.

I asked John, What is the biggest obstacle that gets in the way of starting?

“The biggest obstacle is fear. I’ve never met anyone who told me, “I’ve never had a single dream, idea or passion.” Regardless of your age or job, everyone has had a dream at some point. What gets in the way most often is fear. We hear these voices of doubt that say, “Who are you to do that?” We feel unqualified. We fear failure but also success. In moments like that we put our dreams back on the shelf for another day or another week or even another year. One day we wake up and say those five powerful words, “How did I get here?”

Start by

  1. Working at it every day
    In her research-based book Mindset, Carol Dweck offers example after example of the unremarkable beginnings of remarkable people. Darwin, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Edison, became great by believing they could, working hard, failing, and getting better day by day. Renowned blogger Seth Godin wrote his 5000th post this week. Want to feel optimistic about getting better with time? Read his early stuff.  Seth Godin got great at writing by writing.
  2. Get experience
    Volunteer.  Give work away. Take a part-time job
  3. Get help
    Ask for feedback. Find coaches and advisors. Learn from every one you can. I love it when I get feedback on my posts. This week a friend wrote, “Strong post with a weak start. You can do better than this.” And then asked some provocative questions. I fixed it with gratitude. When you’re open to learning, people will help.
  4. Avoid the “haters”
    Acuff shares, “someone is going to hate what you do.” That’s not a maybe. That’s a definite. And I don’t mean dislike. I mean hate. With energy and vitriol and a passion that surprises you. Haters are inevitable. Your response is up for grabs.” Learn to manage your trolls.
  5. What would you add?

Start your dream. It’s not too late. Start small, build to amazing.

 

Perfect Vision is Over-Rated

You had a perfect vision. Great plans. Strong execution strategy. You worked very hard. You recruited the best talent. Game on.

Oh crap. You didn’t anticipate the change in weather. The new competitor. The newcomers with new ideas. You dig into your plan harder, someone calls you pushy. Your feelings are hurt. You keep pushing. They don’t understand how hard you’ve worked. It’s too late to change now.

Don’t lose vision in pursuit of the plan.

Blurry, But Perfect Vision

When everything appears to be “going wrong” step back. It may be going more “right” than you think.

1. Consider

  • Are the obstacles preventing my perfect vision, or changing the way we get there?
  • Is this change really bad, or just different?
  • Will changing the plan create more supporters?
  • Who’s still with me?
  • Why am I married to this specific plan?
  • Am I leading with confident humility, or just confidence?

2. Engage

  • Talk with the team, do they still believe in the vision?
  • Discuss the changes in circumstances
  • Generate ideas
  • Involve them in choices
  • Collaborate on solutions

3. Respond

  • Build the new plan
  • Garnish excitement from the obstacles
  • Overcome
  • Celebrate wins

Interviewing? 4 Ways to Set Yourself Apart

It takes more than qualifications to get the job. Don’t count on your track record. In a close race, best prepared wins.

Two candidates were interviewing for a District Sales Manager position. Both had great backgrounds and qualifications. Both nailed the Behavior Based Interview, and we moved on to talk about their planned approach.

Joe (not his real name) came with his generic 90 day strategy. It was as if he had read Michael Watkin’s Book, The First 90 Days,* and copied the generic advice into his plan. His key actions looked like that of so many other candidates. Part of Joe’s plan was to visit every store in his territory in the first 30 days. Yawn.

*p.s I love Watkin’s book. It’s a great read when applied well.

Before her interview, Jane (not her real name), took 2 days off and visited all the stores in the new territory (across a 200 mile radius) in plain clothes. She came prepared with a list of observations, priorities, a platform for improvement, and a robust plan to begin tackling the issues in the first 30 days. She nailed the interview.

Jane’s now knocking that job out of the park.

A Deeper Approach to Interviewing

When interviewing, don’t bring generic plans. Do your homework. Go learn something deeper to discuss.

1. An Understanding of the Business

Talk to people. Arrange advanced visits if you can. Determine who is best-in-class. Understand the current priorities. Use real data to share specifics for your strategy. Come with informed questions. How far you can go with this will depend on whether you are interviewing internally or externally. However, you may be surprised how much data you can find in either circumstance. You can gain much from a solid google search.

2. A Platform

Just like a political candidate, be prepared to share your vision for this role. What is the one big thing you will accomplish? Share why you are passionate about your vision. Articulate the unique aspects of your leadership.

3. Your Angle

Describe your key skills and abilities and how they will benefit this organization. Make connections between unrelated roles. Describe how your diverse experience has built transferable skills perfect for this position.

4. Your Track Record

Come prepared with specific results and deliberate stories that highlight your leadership. Don’t just share your stack rankings(a common approach), share how you achieved them.

How Do You Inspire Passion in Others?

What if you’re “skipping to work?,” but are having trouble igniting passion on your team? That’s more difficult, and a vital part of leadership.

Why Passion Matters

Jeremy Kingsley, author of the new book, Inspired People Produce Results shares 7 reasons passion is so important in the workplace.

Passion…

1. intensifies our focus
2. enables innovation and creativity
3. provides the drive to persevere, to avoid cutting corners and to pursue excellence
4. creates energy among colleagues that allows work to be completed more quickly
5. helps people deal with fear
6. makes employees want to stay in their jobs and contribute even when they’re not feeling at their bestv

When I spoke with Jeremy, we talked about why passion is sometimes hard to come by.

“Leaders have put so much focus on leveraging people’s strengths, that they forget about passion.”

For people to function at their very best we need to help them find the work that best leverages their strengths, AND which ignites their passion.

“If you don’t find the passion you might have a strong, miserable person.”

Jeremy suggests it begins in the hiring process. Ask people “what inspires you, what brings you joy?” And then be sure there is a close match with the job you are looking to fill. He also advocates for spending the time to really get to know your team. Talk with them about what they enjoy and their hobbies. Listen actively and see what makes their eyes light up that’s a clue to what can ignite their passion.

Jeremy’s book offers 9 other ways to “inspire people to produce results. Although Jeremy gave me this book, as you know, I am not selling, just sharing insights if fact you can read a free sample chapter.

Jeremy Kingsley is a professional speaker, best-selling author, and the President of OneLife Leadership. Since 1995 he has spoken to over 500,000 people at live events around the world. He has given over 2000 keynote speeches and his messages have reached millions through radio, television, and the internet. Jeremy holds bachelors and masters degrees from Columbia International University. He is the author of four books, his latest is titled: Inspired People Produce Results (McGraw Hill 2013)Jeremy lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife and two sons.