You’re in a unique position to develop your team’s confidence (or erode it). In this episode, we discuss one of the most important ways leaders help teams to develop confidence and belief in themselves.
You’re in a unique position to develop your team’s confidence (or erode it). In this episode, we discuss one of the most important ways leaders help teams to develop confidence and belief in themselves.
Unprecedented. Upside down. Turmoil.
Those are just a few of the more popular words used to describe the profound change we’ve all experienced. But as much as they capture, they leave out.
They leave out the reality for health care leaders who ask their teams to stand beside them, putting their lives at risk while they work with inadequate resources and decide who will die and who has a chance to live.
They can’t describe the feelings of our friends who have lost people to this disease.
Those words don’t address the sadness of leaders who have had to furlough or lay off their teams—or who have lost their own job. (And please don’t use the word “non-essential” to describe these folks whose work we very much need.)
Nor do they describe the overwhelm of leaders who have to figure how to manage suddenly invisible teams, bolster morale, and give everyone the support they need – all while juggling spouses and kids who need the WiFi.
So yes, unprecedented and upside down, but so much more.
Two years ago, I wrote about the business every leader undertakes when they agree to lead. I’ve been thinking about those words quite a bit over the past few weeks. Here is an excerpt:
If I could give a one-page orientation manual to every person who takes a management or leadership position, it would say:
You may have taken this job for the money (it’s not going to be enough),
for the power (you don’t actually have power – it’s an illusion),
or for the prestige (no job will make you feel good about yourself).
Maybe you took this job because you care about the people you serve and results you can achieve together. If so, you’re off to a great start.
When your team has hope, you have a chance.
Welcome to leadership—welcome to the hope business.
Leadership is the belief that if we work together, we can have a better tomorrow.
That’s hope. But if you’re like most leaders, no one’s ever told you that you’re in the hope business.
But every day, you ask your team to try, to think, to solve problems. Why? Why should they try?
The only answer is hope.
Because when we work together, we can make things better – better for our customer, better for one another, better for our families.
Hope is more important than ever. But hope doesn’t mean you have all the answers.
Hope is having the audacity to take the next step, to do the next thing.
Hope is getting scrappy and fighting for your employees and your customers because you know there’s a tomorrow, even if you can’t quite see it yet.
And sometimes hope is listening to their fears or tears. And sitting with them, believing with them, until they can take their next step and do the next thing.
Welcome back to the hope business.
What is your next step?
You’ve got this.
You might want to read:
In the past two weeks, we’ve been in several meetings and conversations with leaders responding to rapidly changing coronavirus scenarios. Regardless of the industry, as leaders shared responses and next steps, many of their teams reacted in the same way:
These moments of rapid change and unprecedented response naturally cause anxiety, doubt, and grief. The old way of doing things is gone—even if only for a month or two. What now? Can we handle this?
In these moments, your team needs your leadership more than ever. Address these moments of rapid change with calm clarity and then focus on answering the doubt.
In a state correctional facility, Christine faced a challenging problem.
With no prior supervisory experience, as one of a small handful of female staff in a mostly male prison, and with a highly diverse and contentious inmate population, she had been placed in charge of creating a clothing factory. As if those weren’t enough barriers, prior attempts to open a similar factory in other state facilities had failed.
One year later, Christine’s factory was out-producing the prototype operation, had an impeccable safety record, and could run itself without supervision.
I was able to talk with Christine, asking what made such a rapid transition, and seemingly impossible results, possible. Here’s what she said:
It began with my belief in the people. When they came to me, they wanted to tell me about what they had done on the outside—why they were in prison. I cut them off, told them I didn’t really care about who they were last year. ‘This is who we will be in this factory and this is what we’re going to do.’ Most of them didn’t believe it at first, but pretty quickly they responded to someone believing in them.
She described how male inmates would initially object to sewing because they thought it wasn’t something men did.
Christine would walk over to the industrial sewing machines, quietly operate it, produce a garment, return to the men and say, “You’re telling me women can run this industrial machine but you can’t? I don’t believe that. I believe you can.”
I love Christine’s message: “This is who we will be in this factory and this is what we’re going to do.”
Faced with major change and hurdles, your team needs your confidence.
This is the essence of leadership: believing that together we can do more and have a better tomorrow. That’s what it means to be a CBO – a Chief Belief Officer.
Your team needs a CBO right now. Your team needs to hear you say, “You can.”
I know you can.
Leave us a comment and tell us: How a leader in your life is or was a C.B.O. for you? How do you communicate your confidence in your team when times are tough?
You might also like to read:
Leading When Life is Out of Control (podcast)
You know you should encourage your team – but how do you encourage people in a way that’s authentic and builds results? In this episode, David shares three ways to guarantee your encouragement builds momentum and helps your team achieve results.
As a leader, there is one connection you can make that will do more to inspire your team and increase productivity than anything else you might say. In fact, when you move from none of this to all of it, you can double your team’s productivity.
Leadership is the belief that together, we can have a better tomorrow. Are you in the hope business?
Each week I read leadership articles from various online resources and share them across social media. Here are the five leadership articles readers found most valuable last week. Click on the title of the article to read the full text. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think, too.
Most of my career has been in leadership roles — and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I mean, a lot of mistakes. More than I can count.
I’ve learned about leadership the hard way. I’ve learned the most about leading by doing it the wrong way.
I can still remember when I first hit the management track. My very first thought? “Finally, I don’t have to be ‘on’ all day!”
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
So with that in mind, here are some things I once forgot, and I’m sure others have too at some point in their careers.
My Comment: This is one of those rare articles that has made two appearances in the Top 5 – and with good reason. I once read a fable that said the “curse of our humanity is that we forget.” Those words stuck with me and they will certainly resonate as you read Perry’s article. I’ve watched so many fantastic team members enter management roles and forget the very things Perry mentions. I know I’ve done it too. How can you prevent yourself from forgetting: What it’s like to follow? That you can be wrong? And more…
“Surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.” Edmund Lee
I’ve got another epic custom track from Fearless Motivation for you today. This one is on a topic that I really believe in.
We are so influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. It’s nearly impossible to rise to your own personal greatness if you aren’t surrounding yourself with people who are doing the same.
My Comment: Look back at motivational speakers through the centuries and you will find a common thread: surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do and who are like the person you want to become. This isn’t empty hype. Your brain takes shortcuts to keep you safe and healthy with the minimum amount of effort. One of the big shortcuts it takes is to look at the people around you. What are they doing? If you do that too, you’re likely to be okay. Peer pressure is a real phenomenon that you can use to propel yourself.
Entrepreneurs aren’t known for their fondness for sitting around. We’re always on the go! And while traveling around the country, or world, can be fun and exciting, it’s also exhausting and sometimes even a little stressful. Getting enough sleep, staying healthy, being organized — these are only a small number of the obstacles of constant travel. Luckily, there are tons of products available today to make traveling smooth and stress-free. Here are a few of our faves for you nomadic types.
My Comment: First, I was surprised at how popular this article was. I guess many of you have entrepreneurs in your life and the holidays are approaching. Karin and I totally fit the description of “on-the-go entrepreneur” – I spoke in seven countries last year and had several ten-day stretches that included eight airplanes. That said, #6 is cool and #7 is intriguing.
Every employer has heard the words “employee engagement,” but do most executives truly understand what it means? More importantly, do they know how to measure it?
Employee engagement is important because involved employees are typically more productive, have more energy and are more creative.
“Engaged employees are passionate about what they do,” said David Almeda, chief people officer at Kronos Incorporated. “Highly engaged employees build better products and take better care of customers because they want to, not because they are told to.”
My Comment: I invite you to approach this article with caution. Measuring employee engagement is useful, but can also be very destructive. The worst thing you can do is survey your people and then either ignore what they said or, as I’ve seen happen, punish them for their answers. Another poor practice I’ve seen: executives don’t realize the extent of Gamer manager behaviors and managers bribe or pressure their people to answer differently than they might.
If you want inspired, energized employees who give discretionary effort, be prepared to do the work. The survey is just a measurement to let you know where you’re starting. Before measuring, commit to the work of fixing your broken systems, of developing your leaders, and addressing cultural issues that undermine trust and collaboration.
With the hectic pace of today’s world, we easily get caught up in the busyness of life.
We are forever stressed, overwhelmed, and running errands, attending to work, rushing to office, stuck in traffic jams. Our mind is swirling with thoughts, and we have no control over it. We do not even think to press the pause button and listen to the body whispers.
The bones creak, joints are screaming for attention, but we don’t care. There is a lot of work to get done and many mountains to climb. The to-do list never ends and goals remain goals forever.
My Comment: Apte has some important reminders for us in this piece. Your leadership is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourself so you’re able to go the full distance. Reflect and know what matters most. Filter the noise. Always pertinent.
What thoughts do these articles bring to mind? Do you see something differently than the author? Did you have a favorite leadership article this week? Leave us a comment and let’s hear from you.
I started thinking about leadership mistakes just after we picked up some office supplies. We’d left Sebastian, our 12-year-old, in the car while we ran in to grab a few things.
“This guy opened his door and hit your car!” Sebastian 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.
Fear is part of the leadership experience. You may fear to ruin 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” and make critical leadership mistakes.
Unmanaged fear incapacitates you and leads to a range of leadership mistakes. These insidious mistakes are dangerous because they can feel rational.
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.
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.
When you’re scared, you forget your team. This is one of those particularly brutal leadership mistakes 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
This is the worst of the leadership mistakes 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 leadership 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.
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?
“David, it’s a mess.” Barb ran her hand through her hair and sighed. “It’s tough to inspire your team when trust is so broken.”
She frowned and continued, “I’ve been here 20 days and have met with people at every level and every department, asking what it’s going to take to turn things around.”
What a Mess
Barb had been appointed interim CEO by her Board of Directors after two executives in a row had resigned at the Board’s request. Employee retention had dropped to an all-time low in the history of the company, their finances were a wreck, and their institutional reputation was in jeopardy.
“One thing that keeps coming up.” She frowned. “Over and over again, I’ve heard these stories – about how people were told to do things with no explanation, how policies were set and then ignored by executives and those they favored, while everyone else was punished if they didn’t comply, and how no one saw or heard from their leaders apart from all-hands meetings or sudden, secretive disciplinary meetings.”
She shook her head, “These leaders were MIA and there’s no trust left anywhere.”
Can We Go Practice?
This conversation was fresh in my mind when Sebastian, our eleven-year-old budding magician asked if I would take him to a downtown street frequented by tourists so he could practice his magic skills.
If you’ve ever met Sebastian, he’s the epitome of “outgoing.” People frequently use the words “fearless” and “precocious” when talking about him. Nevertheless, when faced by the prospect of approaching strangers on the street (with me observing from a safe distance), he froze.
Stage fright set in. The fear of rejection paralyzed him and this normally outgoing kid turned into a shy wallflower.
I encouraged him to give it another try. I identified some likely prospects who looked like they wanted to be entertained, and I shared how success often is found on the other side of rejection.
Then he looked it at me and said, “If it’s so easy, you do it.”
I tried redirecting.
I protested, “I didn’t ask to come out here.”
He handed me the cards.
“I’ve already done this, I don’t need the practice.”
He folded his arms and tapped his foot expectantly.
I took the cards and scanned the crowd, searching for a friendly face, while fending off eleven-year-old heckling.
Finally, I found a likely prospect and proceeded to perform one of Sebastian’s tricks for a teenage boy, his mom, and his sister.
Ten minutes later Sebastian had earned a couple of dollars, lots of laughs, and was talking about how fun it was to perform for people.
Inspire Your Team: The Fundamentals of Trust and Inspiration
As we walked home, I asked Sebastian what had changed for him that allowed him to go for it.
“I didn’t think I could do it, but…” he smiled, “when you did it, you showed me it was possible.”
Sebastian and Barb had identified two sides of the same leadership truth: when you want to inspire your team, your example sets the tone, builds trust, and makes the impossible possible.
Barb’s discovery of dysfunction was a vivid reminder of the importance of trust.
Can your people look at you and see you doing what you ask of them? Do you embody the “why” behind the “what” you ask of your team? Do you treat people consistently, justly, and transparently?
Most leaders we work with will say that they want to do these things.
They intend to live this way…but.
They get busy. They’ve got so much to do that they don’t take time to lead by example. They assume people will “just get it” or that someone else will make the connection and explain why this is important. Or they get impatient with the process, let their frustration get the best of them, and make poor employment decisions.
If you want to inspire your team like Barb ultimately did: listen, lead, let them see you doing what you say, and trust them. Before you move to mission, common purpose, and the more “glitzy” elements of inspiration, these are the fundamentals to inspire your team.
As Sebastian reminded me that afternoon as he shuffled his cards: you never outgrow the need to lead by example.
Leave us a comment and share how you inpsire your team: How do you ensure that you lead by example, even when you’re busy and overwhelmed?
Be the leader you want your boss to be,
The odds are against you. With all your imperfections, odds are: Someone else is more qualified, your marriage won’t last, your new business will fail, the publisher will reject you, you won’t win the election, or you’ll never make the olympic team.
“If we do what is necessary, all the odds are in our favor.”~ Charles Buxton
Better to save your energy, and your pride. Shoot for something more realistic. Stay where you are. Stick to what you know. Where you are now, is not that bad, after all. Calculating the odds is prudent, but not always helpful.
The Wall Street Journal article, Imperfect Bodies Chase Gold lifts up numerous, interesting examples of imperfect bodies, beating the odds. These athletes just weren’t cut out for their sport of choice. Until they were. Take hurdling star Lolo Jones, who decided it was time to bobsled.
When she first met Todd Hays, Olympic coach in 2012 he was skeptical: “I have her two chances to make the team, slim and none.” Hays says of their first encounter. To Hays, Jones was strong, but in the wrong way for bobsledding. Her muscles were long and sinewy and lacked the explosiveness to push a 375-pound sled.” Until it did.
The Wall Street Journal now reports, “countless squats and clean-and- jerks have given Jones thighs like tree trunks, a bulky rump reminiscent of a NFL running back and the shoulders of a lumber jack.” Not what I’m going for (don’t worry, Marcus), but it’s her dream…so game on.
Jones knows the odds are against her, which is all part of the fun:
“Yes, it’s my first Olympics,” Fenlator shared in a recent interview.” Yes, I’m an underdog or whatever you want to say. But I’m here on a mission. And I have expectations to do well. Thank goodness for expectations.
Will Lolo win? Perhaps. Not sure it matters. What would be far sadder is if she never chased her dreams. No one wins a race they never start. Where will your imperfection take you?
How do you inspire hope when someone is really stuck?
Jason had all the signs and words of “stuck.”
“I can’t.” “No one will help.” “No options.”
He’d stopped trying to improve the situation and just tried to numb it.
His “sports ready” stance had withered to hunched and clenched. He still had an occasional “wish” for a miracle. But wishes without action are another side of hopeless.
And yet, from the outside looking in, we saw huge possibility, talent, and relationships worth leveraging. We yearned to help him adjust his lens to see new beginnings and inspire hope.
How do you inspire hope in someone like Jason?
Great leaders are ambassadors of possibility.
When tired eyes look your way, engage them in gentle challenges. Help them to realize more.
Here are 7 ways to inspire hope in your team:
What vision of the future do you communicate? Is it attractive? Does it call people to be their best selves? Is your vision worth the work, sweat, struggle, and perseverance?
Acknowledge reality. You don’t need to sugar-coat the truth – that erodes trust and hope. Start with reality and then move to hope: “Here’s where we are. Here’s what’s possible. And I know we can do it.”
Navigate your narratives and tap into your own stories. Where has hope transformed your life? Who gave you hope when you weren’t sure you could get there? Connect with what’s possible and remember those feelings of turnaround and triumph. You’ll provide that same passion in your connections with your team.
Sit with them in the silence of consideration before narrowing to questions of what’s feasible. Hope is rooted in possibility. What can you do together? You may need to start with small steps and small wins to help someone regain their belief in themselves, their team, and you.
If you’ve known the person for a while, what history can you call on to re-inspire? If they are new to you, perhaps ask them “In your career, what are you most proud of?” Find those positive feelings then connect them to potential actions.
Who do they (and you) know who could help? Encourage the fortitude to ask for the help they need.
Sure, they need to do the heavy lifting. But when your hands are full, it’s helpful when someone opens a door.
Ensure that this is more than a one-time “pep talk.” Schedule the finish: when will you follow up? How? Make an appointment for both of you to check-in and take those next steps.
How do You Inspire Hope?
We would love to hear from you: how do you inspire hope and energize your forlorn team members?
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.
Jeremy Kingsley, author of the new book, Inspired People Produce Results shares 7 reasons passion is so important in the workplace.
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.