The Surprising Way to Encourage Disengagement

Within three years, Mike had gone from an excited, creative new hire full of passion, energy and ideas, to a guy with one foot out the door with disengagement like carbon monoxide: invisible and impossible to smell. Here is his story.

My first year, my ideas and alternative views were “refreshing.” I was quickly viewed as a rising star and invited to the right meetings. I was pleased to be rewarded with the coveted “exceeds expectations” rating. I was constantly looking for ways to improve our processes and make the company better. The next year, I guess I got a little too comfortable with sharing my opinions. In hindsight, I could have positioned them better, but I was saying what needed to be said. And every time I left a meeting the level above (except my boss) would thank me for speaking the truth. I just cared so much about our cause and was attached to our vision.

I received a “developing rating” that year.  That’s when I knew I was going to have to leave, but I wanted it to be on my own terms. I decided the only way to survive was to just stop caring. And that’s what I did. I buried my passion and I went along, even if I knew a better approach. And that year, I was once again given the rating of “exceeds expectations.” I “exceeded expectations” by caring less, offering less, and doing less.”

Mike’s boss made a point to chime in on the appraisal with a comment: “It’s nice to have you back.”

Mike is convinced his secret was subtle, but I doubt it. I imagine other box 9 candidates with great ideas vicariously got the “settle down” message and stiffled their enthusiasm as they polished their resumes.

It’s easy to think of engagement as everyone singing along with a merry smile.

Dig deeper. Your most engaged players may be the naysayers. They may need some polish, but be careful not to rub off their passion and value in the process.

Who Decides Your Future?

It’s been a long day, turning into tomorrow, but I can’t get her out of my mind.  Ling (not her real name) bravely raised her hand in my Masters level leadership class tonight. “Professor, I see how these techniques would be important for someone who could accomplish something great, but it’s hard to apply for someone like me…”

I gave more examples and stories of how these basic techniques are easily used in motivating frontline teams or to stand out in an interview.

Again, Ling shook her head.

Let me step back and paint a picture. Ling is early in her career, from China, taking a masters level curriculum completely in English. Life is tricky. Visas are uncertain. She’s a rock star contributor– thinking deeply and expressing great insights. She cares, she tries, she knows a great deal. She’s scared.

Someone like me…

I paused to hear more.

Ling continued, “I’m not going to accomplish anything like THAT.”

Next, a few more few anxious nods. Not from the men.

And I’m left with the nagging question so many of us feel.

“Am I someone who could accomplish something great?”

Who, or what, limits our belief that we can be great?

What’s the right level of audacious hope?

I’m sure she’s thinking, “For God’s sakes Professor, just give me enough practical advice to land a job.”

We’ll go there. But I’m not sure that advice will work.

“One notch above” won’t differentiate or lead an employer to go the extra mile to take on immigration.

Being remarkable takes bold moves, differentiated thinking, and a really strong “why.”

In an uneven playing field who defines remarkable?

How do you build audacious confidence amidst a chorus of assimilation advice to “just fit in?”

This is not just Ling’s story.

Her journey is hard. Yours is too. You can be the guy who “accomplishes something great.”

In fact, we’re counting on it.

Karin Hurt, CEO

Other LGL News

I’m delighted to announce I’ve signed a book publishing contract with AMACOM with co-author David Dye. Working title is Winning Well:  How to Lead Your Team to the Top Without Losing Your Soul.  We’re headed for an early Spring release, stay tuned for ways to get involved.

I also had fun this week with a feature article on Yahoo:  What to Do When Your Boss Drives You Crazy

Are you looking for a keynote speaker or some support in taking your team to the next level? Please give me a call for a free consultation. 443 750-1249.

5 Ways to Ensure Your New Program, System, or Idea Is Adopted

From my perspective, the new system was genius. Instead of our enterprise customers typing in their service orders in an email for call center reps to retype them into our systems (which almost always contained errors) the customers now had an easy interface that would “flow through” to the backend systems. Faster, with higher quality, and an added bonus of working on weekends.

Only one problem, the reps (and their union) HATED it. And they had a point. What about white glove treatment for high-end customers? What about relationships?

The truth is both points were true. Large Enterprise customers wanted efficiency AND differentiated service from THEIR kind reps, like Kenetra. It wasn’t either/or. It wasn’t them or us. It was about working together on building a customer-focused adoption strategy.

And that’s why our Region led the Nation in “Flow Through.”

Although I give some tongue-in-cheek credit to my rendition of “The Flow Through Happens Tonight (to the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight). Thank God this silliness preceded YouTube.

If your program, system, or new idea isn’t gaining traction, don’t push– involve.

5 Ways to Ensure a Smoother Roll Out

1. Be Honest about the Benefits

ALL employees care about is WIFM (‘What’s in it for me’) is BS. Sure, employees want to know “What’s In It for them.” They equally want to know what’s in it for you and for THEIR customers. Leaving that part out just leaves them to fill in the blanks and make assumptions (i.e. the next thing you’re going to do is downsize). They want to know you’re thinking this through with your brain, and not just your pocketbook.

2. Start Small

Don’t start advocating for a system that’s not ready or full of flaws. Test it first with a small group, take their feedback seriously and get it right. It’s tough to regain credibility. “Oh yeah, I admit it sucked before, but now it’s better,” only leaves the masses wondering why some bozo made a choice to sing praises for a system that was full of problems in the real world. Even if you think it works well in the IT war room, field test it first. Yes, this takes time. Go slow to go fast.

In the example above, we worked the kinks out with one team and gave headquarters feedback until I’m sure they were sick of hearing from us (actually, me… never make your team be the bad guy). Take the risk of making some waves to make it easy for your team. We were slower out of the gate than most regions. But no one remembers that part of the story.

3. Establish Easy to Access Listening Posts

This is perhaps the most important part. Really listen to what your people are saying. Most importantlly, respond to feedback with solutions–not selling. When you fix something, communicate it back five times, five different ways.

4. Gather Reluctant Testimony

Lift up as many testimonials as you can. Get your most excited employees showing how your new idea, system or process changed their world. Your most influential stories will come from the least likely suspects: the sales guy who never bothered with this crap before; the new rep who’s now running circles around the old timers because she uses the system; the supervisor who got her entire team (including the union steward) doing Harlem Globe Trotter tricks with the system.

5. Involve the Team in Key Decisions

No one wants stuff done TO them, or even FOR them. WITH them goes a lot further. What’s working well and how do we leverage it? What enhancements do we need? Where should we head next? All these questions go a long way.

Are you facing a vital strategic change? Please give me a call at 443-750-1249 to discuss how I can best support you through consulting and speaking. Together we will achieve breakthrough results.

Experts Share Advice on Inspiring Breakthrough Results: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our March Festival is all about inspiring breakthrough results. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about “Spring Cleaning” for your leadership or team (e.g. renew, refresh, planting seeds). New contributors welcome.

The Internal Side of Breakthrough Results

The achievements of an organization are the result of the combined efforts of each individual. – Vince Lombardi

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership reminds us that breakthrough results and business success take more than smarts. Guts and discipline count, too. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas of Positive Potentials reminds us that breakthrough results are often like “overnight sensations.” We all know or heard of people who have come “out of nowhere” and were the next big thing. Stop there—Not true. See why . . .  Follow Michelle.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding points out that breakthrough leaders are curious.  They enjoy turning rocks, are willing to get dirty and courageously face the squiggly things they discover.  And those discoveries inspire change and results.   Follow Chery.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks helps us learn how George Washington laid the foundation for breakthrough results in the American Revolution and beyond. He mastered these four career hacks before he turned 25. Follow Bruce. 

Barbara Kimmel of Trust Across America advises that breakthrough results can be achieved by companies that proactively build trust into their business strategy. If you don’t think a business case for trust exists, this article may change your mind. Follow Barbara.

Scott Mautz of the Make It Matter blog helps us discover a formula that expresses how an organization’s energy is derived, and provides the four questions leaders can ask themselves to avoid sapping precious energy from the quest for breakthrough results. Follow Scott.

From  Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.comThese four words are what helped a shy assistant nearly set a company record for sales…in her first week. Less than two years later, she scored in the top 1% on the SHRM exam as she transitioned into HR management. It all started with these four words.  Follow Matt.

Jennifer Miller of the People Equation explores what happens when you’re just plain stuck. Try these four tips to help you break through the mental clutter.  Follow Jennifer.

Michelle Pallas of Michelle Pallas, Inc. asks and answers: “Want breakthrough results? Change you!” Follow Michelle.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  shares that you can’t achieve breakthrough results until you have the confidence to show up and lead from your truth, not from behind an illusion of perfection.  Follow Alli.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center observes that when we stop striving to do our best, we become complacent. We settle into a comfort zone that produces mediocrity, and it takes mental toughness to break out of that rut.  Follow LaRae.

The External Side of  Breakthrough Results

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited gives pointers on setting goals with your team that will achieve breakthrough results. Follow Beth.

David Couper of Improving Police suggests that to inspire breakthrough results, a leader must: deeply listen to others (including dissent), oversee a quality training program, model an engaged style of leadership, create a system of improvement, be data-driven and sustain improvements. Follow David.

David Dye of Trailblaze, Inc. shares the most important five minutes you’ll spend to get clarity, accountability, and breakthrough results after your team stumbles upon a breakthrough idea. Follow David.

From John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement blog: Breakthrough results don’t always require remarkable innovation or even radical change.  Often incredible results are the result of creating a system that is continually improving and over time hundreds of actions build and help achieve breakthrough results.  Building such a management system takes great care. Follow John.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference shares that as leaders we can get caught up in the hard-core metrics when we’re measuring results, but what if we also focused on heart? Heart delivers a confidence to make the places we work and live better with each week, month and year. Follow Jon.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights shares, “Have you ever seen the massive pumpkins that compete for the world’s largest title? Thousands of pounds, these champion growers credit the good seed, good soil, and good luck. What I learned about breakthrough results mirrors what I learned from these monster pumpkins!” Follow Skip.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center points us toward research study into teams that create breakthrough results, identifying these six benchmarks of high performance teams. How does your team stack up? Follow Jesse Lyn.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context shares how respect is incredibly important. In the quest to create workplaces where people can find meaning and do their best work, she believes that we need to aim much higher. Follow Linda.

frontlinefestival-300x300-300x300Call for Submissions. The April Frontline Festival is about Spring Cleaning for your leadership or team (e.g. renew, refresh, planting seeds). Please send your submissions no later than April 10th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

3 Ways Thinking Small Will Improve Employee Engagement

Great entrepreneural companies have a passionate spirit that feels like a gust of warm wind sweeping you off your feet as you walk through their door. It may be a bit hectic, but you want to tighten your shoelaces and run along. I’ve been working with some of these guys on strategy and growth, and it’s an exhilarating journey.

There are challenges of course, but I’m not finding them in the employee engagement arena. Employees are volunteering to help with the enthusiasm of Horshack in Welcome Back Kotter. 

I’ve also seen companies rush to get (or stay) big, and lose their edge. Vision turns into secret plans for the inner circle, lawyers cautioning against transparency, building a diversity “strategy” that translates into babble and ratios, leaders turning to HR for employee engagement, and somewhere along the line, someone deciding it’s time to start “stack ranking” performance.

As you become bigger, never forget the joy and freedom of being small.

3 Ways Thinking Small Will Improve Engagement

“From a small seed, a mighty trunk may grow.” -Aescuylus

1. Be Real, Fun, Involved, and Empowering

An entrepreneurial CEO recently brought me in to help build leadership bench strength. Rather than “train,”  we built a vision, identified priorities and then a business case for a program with a significant spend but a massive ROI.

The CEO stayed out of the room until the team presented their “case” along with theme music and dramatic visuals at the end of the day. His eyes glistened, and his comments were brief, “If this works, this will be gold.” Then he laughed and said. “Hold on, I’ll be right back.”

He then came back with a large, professionally printed version of a previous plan to tackle the same issue that had failed. He said one word. “Execution.”

After his eight word caution, he funded the project.

They executed flawlessly.

A well-mannered, “I believe in you, don’t screw this up,” goes a long way.

2. Keep the Vision Visible

Despite the obvious common sense nature of this statement, I’m always surprised at how rare this is. Sure you’ve got to hold some stuff close to the vest, but if you’re having employees sign “non-disclosures” right and left or are keeping your true strategy confined to a small inner circle, know there are a lot of dots not getting connected and a lot of brains thinking small because they don’t have the perspective to think bigger.

Folks feel the secrecy, which leads to a fast growing feeling of “If you don’t trust me, why should I bother?” Bothered and included leads to brilliance. Share enough information to stir positive, proactive angst.

3. Stay Humble

Small companies have the common sense to know they can’t know it all, and are not afraid to learn, read, and bring in extra support. I’ve only heard, “I really need to get smarter in this arena” from the small guys.

When you think you already know, you don’t learn.

In a fast-changing world, the confident and humble will outsmart and out run “I’ve got this.” Every time.

Be real, open and humble. Think smaller to think bigger.

employee engagementToday’s image is a word cloud based on your awesome comments (and emails) on Friday’s post, defining “employee engagement.” If you missed the chance to add your definition click here 

 

The Real Definition of Employee Engagement

Ever since Gallup revealed their findings that 70% of workers are either disengaged or actively disengaged in their work, “employee engagement” has been all the buzz. Quite frankly, none of this is new, and anyone reading this blog knows that and is working hard to change the game.

Tonight, I started to write a different post (which I’ll save for Monday), but got sidetracked when for grins, I looked up Employee Engagement in the Urban Dictionary, searching for a pithy opener. I was shocked by the search results:

urban-dictionary

employee engagement isn’t defined.

Can you define it?

Game on.

Let’s do this!  Please leave your best definitions in the comment section here, and I’ll upload your responses (or just go for it and upload your own to Urban Dictionary). What an opportunity to tell the truth. Of course consider the medium–you’ll want to be “hip.”

P.S. my son Sebastian (9) reminded me the other day (after I commented on how “hip” he looked) that neither of us would know “hip” if it bit us in the butt… but “the way we looked now, was about as good as it gets.”

With that said, I’m quite sure our hip crowd is up to the challenge.

5 Ways to Strengthen Trust With Weak Ties

I would describe our meeting as a roll of the dice. Perhaps someday we will upgrade our relationship to “weak ties,” but yesterday we were just 2/850 at the Great Ideas Conference chatting through our freebie Hyatt sunglasses over lunchtime brisket and gluten-free potato salad. “Joe,” the CEO (named substituted for anonymity and rhyme), seemed genuinely intrigued by our LGL mission. He works with significant innovators (with a capital I– think people who will invent the next product you must have and will be willing to spend too much for.)

“Karin, what I’d be most interested to hear from you is how you build trust with weak ties. We depend on that. Getting true innovators to connect with and trust one another online and around the globe is a vital ingredient of real progress.”

Game on. I’ve got perspective (as Granovetter’s strength of weak ties theory is arguably my favorite communcation theory of all time), but I’m sure our LGL tribe is up to the challenge. Let’s go help Joe (and others ready to go) make positive change in our world.

5 Ways to Strengthen Trust With Weak Ties

All the components of the Green’s trust equation still apply (credibility + reliability + intimacy/ self orientation)

1. Share expertise (Credibility)

Share your good stuff. Showing up with real expertise will attract other curious and innovative souls. The more people are talking about your ideas, the higher the probability of being introduced to other experts with complementary or challenging views.

2. Respect Others Consistently (Reliability)

I’m always amazed at the stupidity of those who check out credentials before helping. Or treat folks differently based on letters behind their name or klout scores. Discriminatory respect ignores the strength of weak ties theory. Treat everyone with deep respect and you’ll be known as the “really great guy (or gal)” others “just have to meet.” The brother of the intern you met in the forum may turn out to be just who you need on your next project.

3. Do What You Say (Reliability)

It’s certainly easier to blow off a commitment to a weak tie than a colleague. You don’t have to help everyone, but if you say you will, do.

4. Be Real (Intimacy)

Don’t be a snob or tell us how wonderful you are, just show us through your ideas and engagement. Share a bit about yourself as a person. Be honest about where you’re stuck. Whether you’re around the world or sitting in the cube next door, human beings want to work with other human beings.

5. Give generously without expectation (Self-Orientation)

If you’re just out for yourself, people will smell it and tell their weak ties. Social media makes it easy folks, to warn the world. In my own collaborations, I’m consistently being warned of when to steer clear. “Trust checks” are often only a DM (Twitter Direct Message) away. (See also:  7 Reasons Collaboration Breaks Down.)

People trust people who know what they’re doing, who show up consistently with a generous heart. Be that guy, and your weak ties will quickly tighten into trusted bonds of true collaboration.

Other LGL Fun

Karin Hurt, CEO

I’ve had some fun with media interviews this week. A Fortune article on the hottest job trends, and Blogging and Marketing Tips by Experts on FirstSiteGuide and a round-up of most vital leaderhip characteristics. Tip: Blogging is a great way to give generously. Check out Matt Banner’s updated guide to starting a blog here.

A 3 Step Process to Increase Your Confidence

“Oh the minute they made the announcement, I knew she’d be down on the field,” my husband told my parents over wine and brie. My parents both just smiled. As wacky as it sounded, they weren’t shocked either. In hindsight it was an audacious move, but I’d always wanted to sing the National Anthem over the microphone in a big stadium.

So when the master of ceremonies at my son Sebastian’s jujitsu tournament announced that their singer had bailed and they were looking for a volunteer, I raced down from the stands climbed up on the podium and grabbed the mic.

I sang. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll never forget the sound of my high G reverberating through the stands, or the look of astonishment on Sebastian’s face.

“You’ve always been like that,” my mom shared. “I’m not sure where all that confidence comes from.”

As I’ve been helping others build their confidence, I keep coming back to that question. Just where does confidence come from? How do we best help feel more confident to give their dreams a go?

I’ve gone back and dissected a number of my other more ballsy moves. Here’s what they have in common.

A Simple Process To Increase Your Confidence

Have a Clear Vision of What You Want

Now, of course, I hadn’t been walking into every stadium hoping for my big break. But, singing the National Anthem was clearly on my bucket list. And each time the Orioles would broadcast a call for audition tapes, I’d always start practicing when I was in the car alone, knowing that someday, I’d send one in.

If you know what you really want, your heart will be ready to go before your rational mind starts chattering about why you should stop.

Guarantee Yourself it Won’t Be Perfect

I’m always humbled when I go back and read some of my earliest blog posts. I would never publish them today, and in fact have even considered taking them down. But I realize that doing so would be a huge disservice to anyone else working to build a platform. You become a better writer by writing, better leader by leading, better singer by singing, better lover by loving. There’s not much that doesn’t get exponentially better with practice. Starting messy is vital. If you wait until you’re perfect, you’ll get passed by the courageous fools out there practicing in the real world.

Change “Which Means” to “And So”

It’s easy to lose confidence when we’re a rookie. Change, “I came in last in the race WHICH MEANS I’m not very athletic,” to “I came in last in the race AND SO I’d better start running a bit more hills to increase my endurance.”

OR

“I didn’t get the job WHICH MEANS I’m never going to make it in this field” to “I didn’t get the job AND SO I’d better double the number of applications I do each week.”

Confidence begets confidence. We become better human beings by being human. We get better at doing by doing.

Know what you want, give it a try, and ask yourself “and so” after each setback.

In Other LGL News

audvisor karin hurtSpeaking of overly confident first steps that worked out just fine: I laugh now at the audacity I had to send Seth Godin (whom I’d never met) my first blog post (as you heard above, it was terrible). He was gracious enough to write back with encouragement. As I’ve kept working on my craft, I’ve had some nice opportunities to interact with him (same wonderful encouragement). Now we’re both involved in this exciting new launch. Pandora for leadership thinkers. I’d love for you to check it out and see what you think.

Why Can't I Fix Him?

My heart sunk as I heard all Kathy had done attempting to fix the scene. Actually, despite the reason for her call, the “scene” was progressing remarkably. They’d come so far in such a short time: a clear vision for 2015; a strong action plan on the biggest rock; a shared leadership model for execution; and Kathy had stepped up to lead her peers in coordinating the action plan. When they presented the plan to the CEO he remarked that the plan was “gold,” all they need now was execution.

She had tasted the beautiful, supported cocktail of pressure coupled with opportunity, and was ready to change the game.

But the call wasn’t about all that. It was about her stuckness.

“Everyone’s on board. But one of my peers hates it.”

She went through everything she had tried to get him engaged.

Connection. Listening. Disclosure. Listening. Questions. Vulnerability. Inclusion. Sharing Credit.

Nothing worked.

Her conclusion.

“This means I’m failing as a leader.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: How many times have you drawn that same conclusion? P.S. Yes, start with humility and do everything you can. But sometimes, it’s not about you. Ironically, being sure it’s about you, is not humility.

Careful to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I asked her to repeat exactly what she’d said. This time she added, “I know I’m not always like this, but I this time, I’m sure. I was really nice. I promise.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: This could be part of the issue. Folks have memory of our past behavior, even as we’re looking to grow. 

She shared the connection she’d made with others. The engagement. The helping people get past “I’m not sure.”

She was nailing it.

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: Yikes, maybe I was failing. I was out of provocative questions, and even worse, advice.

And then I went where I usually don’t.

“Can you succeed without him?”

“Yes,” she replied, “But it won’t be as much fun.”

That’s the spirit. She had the big picture.

“I understand. Does the business need this? Is everyone else all in? ”

Reinforcing the obvious.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Sadly, my best advice, “Do everything you can to keep trying. Stay confident in your vision, humble in your approach. But at the end of the day. Keep moving the project forward.”

“Oh yeah, and be sure your boss is in the loop.”

Why Can’t I Fix Him?

My heart sunk as I heard all Kathy had done attempting to fix the scene. Actually, despite the reason for her call, the “scene” was progressing remarkably. They’d come so far in such a short time: a clear vision for 2015; a strong action plan on the biggest rock; a shared leadership model for execution; and Kathy had stepped up to lead her peers in coordinating the action plan. When they presented the plan to the CEO he remarked that the plan was “gold,” all they need now was execution.

She had tasted the beautiful, supported cocktail of pressure coupled with opportunity, and was ready to change the game.

But the call wasn’t about all that. It was about her stuckness.

“Everyone’s on board. But one of my peers hates it.”

She went through everything she had tried to get him engaged.

Connection. Listening. Disclosure. Listening. Questions. Vulnerability. Inclusion. Sharing Credit.

Nothing worked.

Her conclusion.

“This means I’m failing as a leader.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: How many times have you drawn that same conclusion? P.S. Yes, start with humility and do everything you can. But sometimes, it’s not about you. Ironically, being sure it’s about you, is not humility.

Careful to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I asked her to repeat exactly what she’d said. This time she added, “I know I’m not always like this, but I this time, I’m sure. I was really nice. I promise.”

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: This could be part of the issue. Folks have memory of our past behavior, even as we’re looking to grow. 

She shared the connection she’d made with others. The engagement. The helping people get past “I’m not sure.”

She was nailing it.

EDITORIAL TIMEOUT: Yikes, maybe I was failing. I was out of provocative questions, and even worse, advice.

And then I went where I usually don’t.

“Can you succeed without him?”

“Yes,” she replied, “But it won’t be as much fun.”

That’s the spirit. She had the big picture.

“I understand. Does the business need this? Is everyone else all in? ”

Reinforcing the obvious.

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

Sadly, my best advice, “Do everything you can to keep trying. Stay confident in your vision, humble in your approach. But at the end of the day. Keep moving the project forward.”

“Oh yeah, and be sure your boss is in the loop.”

Situational Confident Humility: A Self Assessment #confidenthumility

A participant in one of my sessions took me aside and said:

I totally agree with your concept. It’s the execution that’s hard. When I’m truly confident that my team can win, I’m able to calmly step back and humbly listen to their ideas. I know that sweet spot you’re talking about where the real magic happens. But it’s when I need that magic most, when my boss is breathing down my back, or I actually don’t know what to do, that I start acting like a jerk and barking orders. Intellectually, it makes no sense. I know that behavior sets me back, but I keep getting stuck in the same patterns.

Confident humility is not a fixed state. Most of us are either more confident or more humble in certain situations. In order to help you think through this, I’ve created a confident humility self assessment based on a frequency scale. Take a look and see how often you do these behaviors–and which circumstances inspire or hinder your ability to be the leader you strive to be.

leading with confident humility assessment (click here to download PDF).

Situational Confident Humility

Confidence

In what scenes do you…

  • Bring significant subject matter expertise to the team?
  • Take a stand when needed?
  • Ask tough questions that make people think?

Humility

In what scenes do you…

  • Recognize your vulnerabilities and knowledge gaps?
  • Admit mistakes?
  • Feel more concerned about business results than who gets the credit?

Vision

In what scenes do you …

  • Help your team imagine possibilities they may have not considered?
  • Uncover potential?
  • Make a lasting impact?

Connection

In what scenes do you…

  • Invest deeply to get to know the business?
  • Take time to get to know leaders as people?
  • Listen carefully?

Ah, and as a bonus… my favorite tweet of the week.

I like that… beats the hell out of

Professor Lupin on Facing Your Fears #confidenthumility

Our biggest leadership screw-ups are fear in disguise. Fears have a powerful and dangerous habit of shape shifting into a monster that stands in our way, blocking the behaviors we most need for success.

Mike’s arrogant approach and intimidating demeanor is covering up his biggest fear–that the team will discover he’s not really an expert. The team talks about him constantly–about his horrible leadership–and avoids interaction. His fear wins.

John doesn’t start the blog he’s always wanted to write for fear of being irrelevant. His fear wins.

Rachel doesn’t share her best practices with her peers, because she wants to be the best and get promoted. She doesn’t get promoted because she’s not a team player. Her fear wins.

When we pretend we’re not afraid, fear wins.

By denying what scares us, our worst characteristics emerge bigger than the demons we fear.

But if we can NAME our fear, and see it for what it truly is–a ridiculous exaggeration of the worse case scenario–we stop the cycle.

We show up stronger, and have the strength to lead from a place of bigger confidence.

No one teaches this better than J.K. Rowling’s Professor Lupin.

Name your fear. Visualize it. Face it. And discover what makes it ridiculous.

I agree with Seth, “the worst trolls are in your head.” Give them a name. Laugh at them. And lead well.