5 Reasons Your Team Just Doesn't Get It

5 Reasons Your Team Just Doesn’t Get It

When your team just doesn’t get it, you’ve got a chance to level up.

It’s a lament we’ve heard from many leaders—usually accompanied by frustrated pacing or a discouraged slouch with their head in their hands: “I don’t know what else to do. My team just doesn’t get it.”

This is one of the most frustrating leadership experiences. You’re working hard, moving fast, and passionate about what you do, but your people seem clueless. They don’t focus on the MITs (Most Important Thing). They seem lackadaisical about the details that matter most, and they don’t seem worried at all about the strategic issues keeping you up at night.

5 Reasons Your Team Just Doesn’t Get It (and what to do about it)

1. They don’t know what you know.

You earned that insight, energy, and wisdom. You know what’s likely to happen because you’ve been there. But your people might not get it because they don’t have your experience or knowledge.

Have you ever tried to describe the taste of an orange to someone who’s never eaten one? It’s challenging. It’s so fundamental that you’ll use it as a baseline for other conversations: “It tastes like an orange, only more bitter.” But someone who’s never tasted an orange won’t get it. You’ve got to start with them tasting an orange and build from there.

If you want your people to be able to think as you do, give them the same information you used to decide. Connect what they do to the strategic reasons for their work. Help them understand how their decisions affect the customers, their team, and themselves.

2. You haven’t said it so they understand it.

We are professional communicators. We speak for a living—and yet, just this week, Karin said to David, “Can you finish one of those sentences? I’m not following you.”

Later that day, David looked at Karin and said, “I understand all the words you just said, but feel like I’m missing something important.” Communication isn’t always easy—even for professionals!

You probably don’t communicate as clearly as you think you do. In fact, we can almost guarantee it.

The words in your head make sense to you, but that doesn’t mean they’ll have the same meaning for another person—if they even hear all of them. Your message winds its way through an obstacle course of competing priorities, distractions, and the filters each person has in their head.

To guarantee that people hear and receive your most critical messages, use 5×5 communication (say it five times, five different ways) and check for understanding (ask people to share what they heard, using their own words).

When you use five different ways of communicating and consistently check for understanding, you will find the communication tools that work most effectively for your people.

3. You hired the wrong person.

There are also times where someone doesn’t get it because their values don’t align with yours or they lack the skills they need to perform well.  One of the most common places this happens is in demanding, stressful jobs. Desperate for bodies, recruiters undersell the challenges and what it takes to thrive in the role.

If you’re regularly hearing exit interviews like “It was way harder than I expected” or “This isn’t what I thought it would be” then it’s time to look at your hiring process.

When a role or culture is demanding, don’t shy away from it. We have both hired for teams that asked more from people than most people would want to give. Don’t hide it; lead with it. Eg: “This role isn’t for most people. It’s demanding and hard. And it will give you an opportunity to make a real difference to our customers, clients, and your career.”

Follow up with behavior-based interview questions that help you identify if your candidates have shown this character, capacity, and values they’ll need to succeed.

4. They get it—and wish you would too.

It’s quite possible that you’re the one who doesn’t get it.

Doug is a senior leader who was frustrated by his team’s performance. He’d done an incredible job training them in the methods and processes that he’d introduced and that had fueled his company’s success over the past twenty years.

The problem was that technology had changed. His customers, and the way they consumed his product, had changed. Doug had been a victim of his own success. His people understood their customer and half-heartedly met Doug’s expectations while trying to fulfill their customer’s expectations.

His team got it. But Doug had to relearn what success looked like and how to lead a team that wanted to succeed but needed to do it differently than Doug had.

5. You don’t ask for what you really want.

Another common cause when your team just doesn’t get it is that your measurements ask for something different from what you really want. People focus on getting a score and forget the game. Common examples include:

  • The target has changed recently, but you haven’t updated your 5×5 communication and measurement strategy. Everyone’s still working toward the old definition of success.
  • People hit their KPIs, but focus on them exclusively and ignore the strategy or experience that the numbers represent.
  • Too many measurements obscure what matters most. Eg: Your customer service checklist has 54 items and people can score well on the rubric without providing a great customer experience.
  • You had a hidden benchmark that you never shared. You likely took this measurement for granted, but then realized that people with different experiences or personalities needed to know it’s important.

The key to solving the measurement problem is to ask clearly for what you want. Help everyone focus on a few meaningful metrics that paint a complete picture of success. Connect those numbers to the strategy and the specific behaviors that make the numbers meaningful.

One way to know that your team gets it is frequently to check for understanding about what truly matters most. Eg “Why do we track these referrals—what does that represent? What should it mean when the numbers are good? What do we do that gets us the numbers we want to see?”

These questions are brief micro-engagements that continually reconnect your people to the strategy and behaviors behind the numbers.

Your Turn

It’s frustrating when your team just doesn’t get it, but it’s also a huge chance to get better and improve your leadership, processes, or communication. We’d love to hear from you: What have you learned when your team just doesn’t get it that made you a better leader?

how to manage a strong but arrogant high-performer

How to Manage a Strong, Arrogant, Slightly Obnoxious High-Performer

When it comes to results—no one can touch him. There’s just one problem. He’s a jerk. How do you manage a strong, arrogant, slightly obnoxious high-performer?

A Profile of a Slighty Obnoxious High Performer

They come in all shapes and forms. “Dan” is charismatic and handsome, plus two espresso shots of attitude.

“Megan” is blonde, with a great purse, an MBA from a top 25, and a sarcastic streak that makes everyone in her wake feel like crap.

“Joe” can out-gun anyone with a spreadsheet at twenty paces, but ignores you if you can’t outwit his wittiness.

“Art” knows more about your business than you. He’s seen it all. But instead of helping others learn, he’s constantly talking about how he’s “just about done” with all the rookies.

You didn’t select them, but here they are on your team. They drive results, with implications.

Your bosses’ boss loves them—after all, they’re at the top of every stack rank report they see. So coaching feels tricky.

What should you do?

Door Number 1:  Ignore the issues. Be grateful for the results. And pray they move on before they do too much damage to the team?


Door Number 2:  Be the brave leader who has the tough conversation, and helps them understand their impact while helping them develop their full potential?

Sadly, I see so many “leaders” grit their teeth, complain to their spouse, and slip quietly through door number 1, praying that the next leader who manages this obnoxious high-performer will have more courage.


  • “After all, this guy’s clearly high-potential.” (Read that: “I’m worried I’ll work for him someday and don’t want to burn any bridges.”
  • “I’m not sure I’m as smart as him. I’d better shut up and listen.” (Read that: “I’m insecure.”)
  • “Sure, she’s obnoxious, but she gets damn good results, and goodness knows we need that right now.”  (Read that: “Why not? Everyone else does.”)
  • “She’s ticking off all her peers, but … maybe she’ll raise the bar.” (Read that: “Crap, maybe this confident humility stuff is all bunk, time to unsubscribe from LGL.”)

6 Tips for Managing a Slightly Obnoxious High-Performer

What To Do Behind Door #2

If you’re leading for long-term success, head directly to door number 2.

1. Show Concern

Start with acknowledging their competence and impact. Something like, “You’re smart and your results are on fire.  AND I’m deeply concerned that the way you’re showing up is going to derail your career. Would you be open to some exploration around this issue?”

2. Show Her the Data and Get Specific With Examples

If you’re the boss, your opinion will matter a bit, but not if they see you as a temporary stepping stone to tolerate. Offer a 360-degree assessment, or have him do it himself,

Or as author Julie Winkle Giulioni says, ask them to talk to others and bring you a “plateful of feedback.”

The more you can help them understand the specific behaviors that are ticking others off, the easier it will be to get their attention. It’s quite possible they’re so busy working on results, they’ve lost the peripheral vision necessary for positive relationships.

I’ll never forget the time my boss said to me. “Your peer had a great idea in the last meeting. But you just passed right over it to share yours. You’re not the only one with good ideas around here. How hard would it have been to take out a pen and write that down?”  Yikes.  Amen.

3. Offer Help

When you’re passionate and great at what you do, it’s tricky to see how annoying you are. Ask for permission to point it out the next time. Invent a secret signal if needed.

4. Set a Goal

Get them focused on a specific goal of supporting another on the team and advocating for their ideas. Build that into their formal development plan. Even if they are not interested in being a people manager, being difficult to work with is never a good long-term career strategy.

5. Help Them Navigate the Narrative

If their intentions are good, but they’re coming across a bit braggy, tell them about this Harvard research.  Why Managers Should Reveal Their Failures (HBR Ascend),  and help them on their internal re-branding strategy.

6. Consider Making the Tough Choice

It’s easy to get sucked into the trap of thinking you have no choice but to accept the behavior. Be sure you’re looking at the bigger picture and the drain on the productivity and morale of the rest of your team. Are you losing other “A players” (or even solid B players) because they don’t want to work with this person? See also: Why Leaders Should Not Be Afraid to Fire Their Top Performer (Inc.)

Your turn.

What advice do you have for managing an obnoxious high-performer?

why just do your job doesn't work

Why “Just Do Your Job” Doesn’t Work


When you’re frustrated with a team member who seems to be doing everything but the work you hired them to do, it can feel tempting to bark “Just do your job.” Or perhaps you’ve got a team member who responds, “I don’t care about the big picture, just let me do my job.” In either case, you’ve got a leadership and performance challenge. The world is changing and your team’s success takes more than a “just do your job” attitude. In this episode, you get ways to move out of this attitude and bring out the best from every team member.

Leaders Share About Career Development

Leaders Share about Career Development: A Frontline Festival

Welcome to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival!  This month, our contributors share their thoughts about career development. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors.

Are you a leadership writer? We’d love to have you join us with your articles, videos, podcast episodes, or simply your best thinking on the topic (even if you don’t have additional content to link.) Our topic for March is diversity and inclusion. Click here to submit your thoughts and content!

Featured Asking For a Friend Guest: Julie Winkle Giulioni

Julie, the author of Help Them Grow or Watch them Go, answers the question “My people all want career development, but I have pitifully little time. What should I do?”


Career Development Thoughts for Leaders, their Teams and their Organizations


Jesse Lynn StonerJesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership gives us Career Mobility Forces Organizations of the Future to Transform. Career mobility is the way of the future. Here are six ways organizations must transform to be ready.  Follow Jesse.


David GrossmanDavid Grossman of The Grossman Group shares Six Tips to Help Employees Grow and Develop. Taking an active role in the development of your team demonstrates confidence and concern for the future of the organization. It also gives employees feelings of significance, community, and value. Put these six tips into practice to help employees grow in their careers.  Follow David.

Laura Schroeder of Working Girl provides Navigating the Four-Day Work Week. An increasingly popular career path for senior professionals is to negotiate a part-time contract, and companies that embrace flexible work arrangements have access to a more diverse and experienced talent pool. Is the ‘four-day workweek’ right for your organization and how can you support part-timers in a full-time environment?  Follow Laura.

Sean GlazeSean Glaze of Great Results Teambuilding says This ONE WORD is the Defining Trait of Winning Teammates. Winning Teammates are the glue that holds organizations together because they bring more than technical skills with them when they arrive – they also bring vital interpersonal skills that contribute to a more profitable and positive team culture. But it was after a funeral that I learned the defining trait of winning teammates.  Follow Sean.

Maria Tanski-Phillips of Patriot Software shares Five Ways to Drive Employee Career Development in the Workplace.  To retain top talent, you need to show employees that they can grow and climb up the career ladder at your company. Learn five ways you can support and drive employee career development at your small business.  Follow Maria.


Julie Winkle GiulioniJulie Winkle Giulioni of JulieWinkleGiulioni.com  provides a video, How Leaders Can Help Employees Own Their Career Development, which offers actionable strategies for supporting and empowering others toward relevant and sustainable growth.  Follow Julie.


S. Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture offers a video, Culture Leadership Charge: The Gender Happiness Gap. More women feel insecure in their roles then men do, and are more inclined to be job hunting. This video will help you fix your company’s efforts to demonstrate full equal treatment for all.  Follow Chris.


Thoughts for a Leader’s Own Professional Journey

Robyn McLeodRobyn McLeod of Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents Thoughtful Leadership in Action.  So often we focus more on the decisions that others make or the opportunities that others have. Instead, we should reflect on what we want for ourselves, push ourselves beyond our comfort zones, and be willing to make mistakes and be imperfect. Then we can become the kind of Thoughtful Leader that we want to be.  Follow Robyn.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares Individual Contributor to Boss: Some Questions to Answer.  Thinking about moving from individual contributor to someone responsible for the performance of a group? Read this first.  Follow Wally.


Eileen McDargh of The Resiliency Group shares In 2020, Forget about Your Eyes. Work on Your Ears.  My “vision” for 2020 is that I must strive to be a more compassionate listener. Find out how that can impact your career and home life.  Follow Eileen.


John HunterJohn Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement gives some Advice for Managers Who are Just Starting Out.  Advice for new managers: Learn to experiment and iterate quickly. Your main aim should be to manage the management system (which may mean the management practices used within your scope of authority or influence).  Follow John.

Shelley Row

Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates offers Make the Career Change Leap: Three Threads to Weave the Net.  Do you desire to make a substantial career shift but find yourself paralyzed with inaction and doubts? Weave the net, leap, work like crazy, and the net will appear.  Follow Shelley.


Chip BellChip Bell of Chip Bell Group asks Are You a Disruptive Mentor? We live in a time when effective leaders are expected to be disruptors. What does that mean for their role as a mentor?  Follow Chip.


Beth BeutlerBeth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited reminds us that as we consider our career and professional development, we don’t forget to cultivate the less tangible soft skills such as time management, communication, and emotional intelligence.  These skills will serve you well in all aspects of life—personal or professional—and help you have a positive impact on those around you no matter where your career leads you.  Follow Beth.

What would you add?

What’s your best practice or tool when it comes to career development?

3 Most Important Leadership Skills

3 of the Most Important Leadership Skills Your Leaders Hope You Have

Senior leaders share the most important leadership skills to master now.

As we work with senior leaders to build their leadership development programs, the conversation always turns to the most important leadership skills their frontline and middle-level leaders need.

Inevitably, these veteran leaders bring up similar abilities – the skills that differentiate top leaders from their peers. Master these important leadership skills and you’ll build a foundation for success throughout your career.

If you’re responsible for training or building leaders in your organization, how can you ensure that they learn and practice these skills?

The 3 Most Important Leaders Skills

1. Time management

We’ve never met a leader with too much time on their hands. In fact, this is isn’t just a skill that senior leaders identify—every leader we’ve ever met talks about the challenge of prioritizing their overwhelming flood of responsibilities, meetings, and day-to-day crises.

You can’t lead when you’re exhausted or reactively flipping back and forth from one crisis to the next. So how do you master time management?

The first step is to reframe your goal. Most people think of time management as “How can I squeeze more activity into my day?” But more isn’t always the answer. Rather, focus on how you can do what matters most and make the most difference with the time you have.

My mantra is: Infinite need. Finite me. Mind the MIT.

“Infinite need” means that there will always be one more activity you could do. That never ends. You’ll never finish the list. Let go of that desire.

“Finite me” recognizes your limits—limited time, energy, and money.

“Mind the MIT” calls you to focus on what matters most. MIT stands for Most Important Thing. What matters most for your business, your team, and the results you need to achieve? What are the two or three critical activities that will consistently produce those results?

Once you know your MITs, time management is about making room for what matters most. Some of your schedule is outside of your control (though you can have more influence if you can show the RoI), but as a leader, you have several ways to free up time to do the work only you can do.

2. Practice Accountability & Tough Conversations

Recently we spoke with a high performing leader about the best leaders in her life. She was unequivocal: “The best leaders I’ve ever had were the ones who cared about me enough to tell me what I was doing that wasn’t working and then showed me how I could be more effective.”

Your ability to achieve breakthrough results depends on your skill at tough conversations. Most leaders live in the twilight zone of vague conversations that don’t directly address struggling performers because they don’t want to hurt the relationship or lose the person.

If you struggle to have direct conversations, start by recognizing that if you really care about someone and their career, a direct conversation honors them and is compassionate. Then, equip yourself with the tools to do it well.

The I.N.S.P.I.R.E. method will help you prepare for and hold a performance conversation that builds your relationship and achieves results.

3. Work from the Why

In another recent conversation, an executive described her most effective managers: “They understand what matters most to our clients and how our KPIs relate to serving the customer. They get that the KPIs are there to serve the customer.”

This leadership skill has increased in prominence over the past decade. Work from the why starts with a clear grasp of your business, how it serves its customers, and how it operates financially.

Working from the why is about helping your team to understand why you do what you do, connecting everything you ask of your team to a meaningful reason you’re asking it, and then helping team members understand the specific behaviors that lead to successful outcomes.

Working from the why transforms “busy” into game-changing results. The connection to meaning and purpose energizes team members and inspires performance.

What are Your Most Important Leadership Skills?

Leaders consistently list these three as some of the most important leadership skills you can have—but they’re not the only ones we hear. Also, high on the list are communication, connection with your team, and motivating your team.

Leave us a comment and add your thoughts: What is one of the most important leadership skills you hope every leader brings to their team?


Leadership Problem with Passion

The Leadership Problem with Passion


Passion is good. Passion for your customers, passion for excellence, and the team’s passion to support one another all lead to great results. But there’s a dangerous problem with passion that can undermine your culture and ruin your leadership. In this episode, you’ll learn how to identify this trap, how to prevent it, and ensure that passion drives healthy results and team relationships in your team.

The Best Way to Help Your Team Win

The Best Way to Help Your Team Win

No one comes to work wanting to do a bad job. Losing is stressful. When the scorecard trends in the wrong direction, how do you help your team win?

And how do you help a strong team get even better?

Focus on the game, not the score.

How to Help Your Team Win

Brian (not his real name) began the team meeting by covering the team’s scorecard and Key Performance Indicators.

“Great work on your sales KPIs, we’re in the top-tier across the board. We are so close to beating Sharon’s district. If everyone just sold one more today, I think we can do it! Also, we seem to be struggling in the customer service KPIs. We have a downward trend and there are four districts ahead of us. I need more focus there across the board. Janet, you are doing the best so whatever you’re doing keep it up! Everyone else, I need you to try a bit harder. Awesome. Thanks everyone, now let’s go make it a great day. Remember, fantastic customer service!”

If that sounds like a team huddle you’ve ever been in, you know why we have a love/hate relationship with KPIs. Brian’s team may understand the KPIs, but they don’t have a clue what they are supposed to do when they leave that meeting.

What should they DO to sell one more?

How DO they improve the customer experience?

KPIs Are Indicators, Not Action

Scorecards and KPIs provide wonderful directional indicators. Good trends point to actions worth replicating. Bad trends shine a spotlight on what must change. A hard look at the data can help you identify the best practices which will help your team win. Comparative scorecards will also help you identify outliers who need more support.

KPIs are important.

While KPIs are great directional indicators, one of the biggest mistakes we see team leaders make is talking about the KPIs INSTEAD of the BEHAVIORS needed to achieve them.

People don’t change scorecards, they change behaviors.

A focus on KPIs versus behaviors can lead to useless, even stupid, actions.

Almost any behavior applied with enough focus will create a short-term lift in results.

Micromanagement can get you there for a hot minute. Fear and intimidation will work for a while. Heavy incentives and hoopla will create a short-term lift. Ice cream and pizza can’t hurt either.

But, upward trends in KPIs without an underlying change in the right behaviors, can lead to a false sense of security.

When the fear goes away or the sugar wears off, the results go back down.

The Behaviors That Matter (Try This Approach to Change the Conversation and Up your Game)

The only way to build sustained results is to improve the underlying behaviors. Don’t ask a sales rep to make more calls if they don’t know what makes a call successful. Don’t ask a team leader to spend more time on the floor, if they don’t understand how to support and encourage their team.

So what are the right behaviors? Why not ask the team?

Let’s go back to Brian’s meeting. Sales were solid, but the customer experience was suffering. He needed his team focused on the customer experience.

What if Brian started by showing up curious?

“We’ve got a downward trend in our CX metrics, but a few of you are knocking this out of the park. In fact, Janet, you’ve had one hundred and thirty-seven customers say they would recommend you to a friend this month. What specifically are you doing that we can learn from? Who else has a best practice to share? Okay, great. Now, I’m giving everyone three index cards.  I’d like each of you to pay careful attention to your interactions with customers today. At the end of the day, I want you to write your very best approach for providing a ‘wow’ customer experience. Please be as specific as possible. For example, showing up confident, energetic and sounding interested in the first forty seconds of the call.

Please give me your cards before you leave today. I’ll look at the themes overnight and tomorrow morning in our team huddle we’ll talk about what we learned.”

And of course, Mark should do a check for understanding to ensure everyone knows what they’re going to do. “So, just to ensure I’ve communicated this well. What are you going to do with the cards today? And what will we do in our huddle tomorrow?”

This easy exercise works at multiple levels. First, it ensures everyone focuses on your customer’s experience that day—as they are paying attention to their behaviors and the impact they are having. And it turns your collective conversation the next morning to best practice sharing.

Your Turn

What tools and techniques have you used to ensure the conversation focuses on behaviors?

How have you avoided the distraction of numbers and KPIs?

See Also: How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted

how to help a new manager be more confident

How to Help a New Manager Be More Confident

We were just wrapping up the first session of a  leadership program when “Sal” raised his hand. “How do you help a new manager be more confident?”

He continued, “I mean it’s tricky to have a difficult conversation or run a great meeting when you’re not convinced you know what you’re doing. And the problem is, your lack of confidence makes your team question your competence. Which of course you can sense, which makes you feel even less adequate.

And then the whole thing just goes downhill from there. I want to get in front of this as fast as I can to help this new manager, what advice do you have?”

3 Ways to Help a New Manager Be More Confident

I’m so glad Sal asked that question because the struggle is real.

It’s tricky to show up confident when you’re not convinced you know what you’re doing. So, if you’re looking for ways to help a new manager (or yourself) show up with more confidence start here.

1. Train Them on The Fundamentals

This sounds obvious, but most managers we talk with tell us they wish they had received some fundamental leadership training when they first started their role.

By the time they land in one of our foundation programs they say, “Wow, I wish I had learned this ten years ago! It would have saved me so much heartache and frustration.”

If you want to help a new manager be successful, be sure they’ve received training on fundamentals like setting and reinforcing expectations, checking for understanding,  keeping the team focused on what matters most, building trust and connection, how to delegate, and building a cadence of accountability and celebration.

Be sure to pick a practical training program, that gives them ways to practice and reinforce what they’ve learned.

You don’t learn how to be a great leader by watching a video.

Be sure to ask these 5 questions before choosing a leadership development program.

2. Ask Confidence-Building Questions

When managers lack confidence, we often find that they have had one or two bad experiences that dominate their thinking.

“OMG one time I tried to give someone feedback and THEY CRIED!!!!”

“I tried to give my team recognition and no one seemed to care, so why bother…”

The truth is, sadly, our brains are wired to remember the bad experiences more than the good ones, which is not helpful. Confidence-building questions can help your new manager bring more positive memories to the forefront and balance their thinking.

Here are a few starters:

  • What does your team love about your leadership? How does that help them to be successful?
  • Can I do this? If so how?  HT to Dan Pink
  • Tell me about a time you had an awesome _________ conversation. What made it so successful?
  • How did you learn to do ____? What ideas do you have about how you could teach that to your team?
  • (For a new manager promoted over their peers) What is one behavior that you know led to your success in your former role? WHY did that work? How can you help your team better understand the “why” and “how”?

3. Break it Down

When a new manager takes over a team for the first time, there is so much to learn and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Help them focus on one skill and outcome at a time.

Here’s an example (just to get you started …):

  • Week one: Get to know your team by having a one-on-one with each team member (learn about who they are as people.)
  • Week two: Establish your top MIT (Most Important Thing) priorities.
  • Week three: Work with your team to communicate those priorities and check for understanding.
  • Week four: Build your 5 x 5 communication plan. (How will you communicate those priorities five times, five different ways?)
  • Week five: Help your team identify their most critical behaviors for achieving their MIT priorities
  • Week six: Focus on recognition. Celebrate what’s going great. Where do you see the behaviors in action? How can you recognize these behaviors in ways that are specific, relevant and timely?

Just a start

So that’s a start. What would you add? What’s your best advice for helping a new manager build confidence and competence?

Other Resources You May Find Helpful

Winning WellWinning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul

9 Ways to Teach Yourself to Be a More Confident Boss

10 Common Excuses That Silently Damage Manager’s Careers

Why To Be Over-Confident (every now and then)

How to Help Employees Have More Confidence

How to Disagree with Your Boss

How to Disagree with Your Boss


You see it differently. You’re concerned about a missed opportunity or a strategic mistake. Stay silent and you miss a chance to build your credibility and reputation. But disagree without tact or grace and you can permanently damage your career. In this episode, you’ll get the tools you need to disagree with your boss in a way that gets results and builds your relationship.

how to promote the best leaders

How to Promote the Best Leaders

To promote the best first-time leaders, focus on more than results.

Your decisions about who you put in management and leadership roles are some of the most important leadership decisions you’ll ever make. It’s a decision about who you will trust with your most important asset—your people. With so much at stake and riding on the quality of your leaders, what do you look for when you want to promote the best leaders?

Many leaders look to their high achievers—the people who are very effective at what they do. The best programmer, the top salesperson, the teacher who consistently helps students overcome obstacles and achieve. Others look for a person’s willingness to speak up, take charge, and “get things done.”

Unfortunately, neither high-performance nor a commanding personality are reliable indicators that a person can lead well.

Some high-performers are fantastic leaders and others struggle to make the transition. Some outgoing personalities lead well and others don’t. (And some of your quiet folks may amaze you with their ability to bring people together to get things done.)

The Problem with Performance

We’re not saying that a leader’s technical proficiency and expertise doesn’t matter. It does.

People need to trust their leader and their competence at work. Being a remarkable example goes a long way.

It’s not that dissimilar from how you hire for roles requiring technical competence. You look for competence at the fundamentals, but excellence in their area of expertise matters even more.

In the same way, when you’re looking for leaders, you want good performance. But, the number one ability you are looking for is their capacity to lead.

One of the biggest mistakes we see leaders make when promoting high-performers to leadership positions is using performance or personality as a surrogate for leadership.

Promote the Best Leaders (even if they haven’t led before)

So how can you tell if someone has the capacity to lead—before they’ve actually led?

Start with these foundational characteristics:

  • Technical knowledge and expertise and a strong track record of results (they know what they’re doing and command the respect of others up, down, and sideways.)
  • Integrity (you can count on them to do the right thing consistently.)
  • Accountability (they do what they say they will— and hold others to a similar standard.)
  • Vision (they see opportunities where others don’t and can rally their peers around a compelling vision.)
  • Commitment (they care about the success of the team— beyond their own results.)
  • Confidence (they are willing and able to stand up for what matters and speak the truth—in a way others can hear.)
  • Humility (they surround themselves with people who will challenge them and encourage new ideas.)

Note: This confident-humility dynamic includes the ability to use power judiciously.

Most employees don’t come to you with all of these characteristics fully developed. In fact, apart from integrity, character, and personal responsibility, the others will always develop over time.

This means that you will need to invest in building these traits in your employees and give them opportunities to demonstrate these abilities.

Whether you use formal 9 box succession planning or a more informal process, you’ll want to train leadership skills, and then give people a chance to lead. These opportunities reveal leaders and build leadership capacity. You’ll discover who can influence before they have formal power, and who can exercise influence without abusing the privilege.

Ad hoc projects, interdepartmental teams, committees, interim-assignments when a supervisor is absent, as well as employee-sponsored initiatives are ample chances for your team to practice their leadership skills.

As you evaluate potential (and pitfalls), don’t forget to follow up these assignments with a debrief about what worked, what they learned, and what they would (or could) do differently next time.

To promote the best leaders, look for the people who lead where they are and don’t need position power to get things done.

Your Turn

We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and share your number one strategy to develop leadership and promote the best leaders?

See Also: 9 Creative Ways to Develop Your Managers

7 Big Rules For a Successful Talent Review

Practical Help for Exhausted Leaders Get More Done

Practical Help for Exhausted Leaders Who Need to Get More Done

To get more done, start with you.

In the past few months, we’ve heard from many leaders asking for help with time management. They feel the pressing need to get more done, but many of them feel like they’re already maxed out or running on empty.

How do you maintain your energy, do what needs doing, and make sure you have enough for important decisions and relationships?

I’ve had to ask myself this question many times throughout my life. In the past, I had a nasty habit of running myself into the ground until I was sick, exhausted, and no good to anyone. That’s no way to live and it certainly isn’t good leadership.

If you want to sustain your impact and accomplish your leadership goals, it’s essential to maintain your energy and use your time as effectively as possible. Let’s start with your energy.

Five Ways to Manage Your Energy

1. Stop thinking in terms of work-life balance.

You have a life. Work is part of that life.

When you think of work vs life, you often begin taking from one to supplement the other. In short order, you are literally fighting yourself.

A healthy perspective on what you do and why you do it is vital to making good decisions. If you’ve thought of “work” and “life” as two different things, it’s time to reframe:  How does your work integrate with and serve your life?

2. Know your “why.”

I’d woken up in a hotel one thousand miles away from home. Karin texted me just as I left the hotel on my way to a client where I would facilitate a Winning Well leadership workshop. Her message?

“Go change some lives.”

That’s my “why.” Investing in people and helping them become the best leader they can be fuels me. It motivates me. It’s the literal energy behind the words I’m typing right now.

Your “why” is your greatest source of leadership energy.

Why are you leading?

This is the answer to many questions – especially when you don’t feel like it and it genuinely takes real effort to lead.

What is your purpose? Why did you sign up? If your why is about the power, prestige, or pay that comes with leadership roles, you’ll likely run out of steam. There’s never enough power, fame, or money for your sacrifice and work.

But serving the people and purpose in your work can be endless sources of energy. Let those ground you and motivate you.

3. Watch your energy drains.

What gives and depletes your energy?

I’m an introvert. I love being with people, but I also know that it depletes my energy. If I do it long enough, I can actually become physically ill.

When I conduct multi-day workshops with groups that enjoy evening dinners and fun, I often explain that I want to be my best for the workshop and will forgo one night of fun to ensure I get the solitude necessary to recharge my emotional batteries.

If you’re an extrovert, do you spend time with people who energize and motivate you in the direction you want to go? Do you take enough time to reflect on your relationships?

4. Make fewer decisions.

Making decisions takes energy. The more decisions you make in a day, the more difficult it becomes to make the next one. Stop making decisions you don’t need to make.

  • Insist that people on your team make decisions they should make.
  • Unsubscribe from the unhelpful email that saps your decision-making energy.
  • Make low-risk decisions quickly. If the consequences are minimal, make decisions quickly and move on.
  • Make decisions once. This is an old and essential productivity tool: look at an email once. Then either delete it, act on it, schedule it for future action, put in a file related to its project, or put it in a ‘maybe read later’ file.

5. Get outside your bubble.

This helps your energy and the quality of your leadership decisions. Connect with people outside your team and organization. See how what you’re doing relates to your community and the world. You’ll get insights that re-inspire you and new ideas to use with your team.

Get More Done

As you take care of yourself and manage your energy, it’s time to look at how you’re leading and where you get more done in ways that serve your team and the results you want to achieve.

1. Mind the MIT.

It’s a mantra: “Infinite need. Finite me. Mind the MIT.”

If your list feels overwhelming, that’s because it is. There will always be more to do than you can possibly achieve. Recognize it. Embrace it. Then let go of your need to do everything.

Doing more in less time isn’t always the answer. In fact, it’s a poor choice when it distracts you from taking effective action where it matters most.

Start by getting crystal clear about your MIT (Most Important Thing). What’s the strategic goal you’ve got to achieve in the next three months? What’s the MIT for this week? For today? For the next hour?

Get focused and Mind the MIT. Do your daily MIT first whenever possible.

2. Communicate for results.

Most leaders think they’ve communicated, but ask their team what their leader said and it gets murky fast. Don’t let that happen to you.

Clarify the MIT. Be clear about what needs to happen, when it will be done, the specific next steps, and follow up. Don’t leave understanding to chance: check for understanding and ensure everyone on the team is on the same page.

3. Schedule the finish.

Good intentions, talented people, and strong commitment don’t ensure results.

You’ll reclaim lots of wasted time when you don’t leave the finish to chance. Schedule the finish by making an appointment on your calendar for the next step or follow up. For example:

If the team will send a referral request to their top ten customers, schedule the finish by letting them know that at the next meeting you will ask them to submit their list of who they emailed and what they heard.

4. Build a more powerful team.

Your work as a leader is to bring people together to get results you can’t do on your own. The better your team, the more time you’ll have to do the work that only you can do.

Learn your team member’s confidence and competence so you can quickly have the conversation that will help them grow. Use the 9 What’s Coaching Method to help them solve problems on their own. Ask how you can help and look for opportunities to invest in their growth.

5. Close every loop.

You scheduled the finish. Now it’s time to finish. Did everyone keep their commitment? Is it done? Were results what was expected? If so—take time to celebrate and encourage your people.

If not, take time to practice accountability. Don’t wait. Have the INSPIRE conversation as soon as possible. Every day you delay is another week or month of poor results and wasted emotional energy as you avoid the conversation.

6. Do Less

Take time as a team to Own the UGLY – what’s not working, what’s got to go, and where can you improve your processes? What can you stop doing altogether? What can you do more efficiently?

You’ll find answers, but only if you take the time to ask the questions and commit to the solutions. As you eliminate inefficiencies or unnecessary tasks, resist the urge to re-schedule that time.

If your work requires creativity or problem solving, you’ll get a return on the investment of a built-in margin where you intentionally allow yourself and your team to think, reflect, and recharge.

Your Turn

I’ve learned that hard way that you’re no good to anyone when you’re an exhausted, irritable mess. It’s also your responsibility as a leader to take care of yourself – no one can do that for you. We’d love to hear from you too: leave us a comment and share your best practices to manage your energy and get more done?

See Also: How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted

leading in a caustic culture

Leading in a Caustic Culture


How do you lead well when the culture around you is negative, apathetic, or abusive? In this episode David discusses how you can lead and create a positive experience for your team – and even have a chance at transforming a caustic culture.