Experts Share Their Thoughts on Spring Cleaning: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our April Festival is all about spring cleaning. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pics and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about energizing leadership. New contributors welcome.

Spring Cleaning Our Priorities, Attitudes and Skills

“We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself–your own house–which we never do.” -Marina Abramovic

David Dye of Trailblaze acknowledges that whether you’re a veteran leader or a first-timer team leader, there are fundamentals that are easy to forget but vital to remember. Spring is a great time to clear your head and focus on these 15 tips David shares to remind you what’s really important for you and your team. Follow David.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “Have you ever… been bored from a lack of a challenge, tempted to rest on past successes, or gone in search of greener pastures just to grow?” Continuous Improvement increases satisfaction, engagement and growth – right where you are!   Follow Chery.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks says “Spring is a great time to be proactive in renewing your leadership using these 5 strategies. Review your progress on annual goals, discover good books for leaders and how to give back to your network.”  Follow Bruce.

In the post, When is it time to do nothing? Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders  shares that spring cleaning is essential for strong leadership, and that it’s possible to get there by actually doing nothing. By stepping back to take a breather, you can recharge, refresh, and renew and then enjoy your new outlook and enthusiasm when you step back in.  Follow Lisa.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting asks if you’ve conducted your leadership spring tune-up?  Follow Terri. 

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that declaring your purpose has power to complete your past, provide a mirror to your present, and guide you into your future. Follow Susan.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that adding emotions as a component of mental toughness may seem at odds with the critical thinking that is required in the tough world of business today. But researchers are realizing that the key to lifelong success and happiness is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle—gratitude. Follow LaRae.

Spring reminds us how to make leadership bloom – our eyes are opened to the beauty of what is ahead. Soul Sparks are essential to tap into the beauty of leadership within ourselves and others.  Thanks, Jon Mertz of Thin Difference. Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of the Faithful Pacesetters admits we can all get burned out at times. Is it possible we are not following the goals we had once set?  Follow Jeff. 

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  asks “Are you wondering if it’s time to take the alternate route or hang in there with your current direction? Here are a few truths to tap into during your decision-making process.”  Follow Alli.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights posits that leaders have the power to choose seasons. As winter turns to spring, pause and throw out what is holding you back. Embrace the new season of hope because leadership requires spring cleaning of the mind even more than the home. Follow Skip.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context shares that actions such as eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations? Follow Linda.

David Tumbarello at Tumbarello Writing Solutions shares that it’s the time of year to define what is important, clean what is messy, and look for opportunities and challenges for growth and gives some simple suggestions that may help the new and experienced leader clear clutter and allow priorities to rise to the top.  Follow David.

 Spring Cleaning Our Environment


Spring cleaning“If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares a 7-minute method for de-cluttering your office (or your house.) Follow Beth.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reminds us that revitalizing a staff and standards mean setting the example ourselves. Follow Paul.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation reminds us that effective leadership requires clarity of mind. She explores the connection between physically cleaning the office and the resulting mental clarity that emerged. Follow Jennifer.

Spring Cleaning Our Company Culture and Teamwork

Spring cleaning 3“I’ve always valued and encouraged teamwork and that collaborative spirit of ‘we vs. I’ is core to Intuit’s success…” -Brad D. Smith

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us that human beings can’t go full speed all the time. Take breaks–it will make you and your team more productive. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement shares that creating a system where continual feeding is not needed is great. But if that isn’t the state of the organization yet, then continual feeding is required: or your improvement efforts will fall short of the potential gains, or die altogether. Follow John.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “Why do some teams seem to perpetually stay motivated while others fall flat?” This spring, make a commitment to keeping your team motivated with this one “secret” to great teams.”  Follow Matt.

Todd Ordal of Applied Strategy reminds us that Company culture is not something that just happens. Here is how a CEO can peer through the mist and build the one that they want.  Follow Todd.

Springtime reminds  Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center of fruit trees and the power of values-driven companies–or more accurately–the cost of NOT being one. It’s why her tree service company lost her business. Here are 6 tips to clean up your team values. Follow Jesse Lyn.

Thanks to Larry Coppenrath for the great maps of today’s Festival. Follow Larry (click images to enlarge).

Spring Cleaning 1Spring Cleaning 2Spring Cleaning 3Spring Cleaning 4

Call for Submissions. The May Frontline Festival is about Energizing Leadership. Please send your submissions no later than May 8th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

 

Experts Share Their Thoughts on “Spring Cleaning:” A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our April Festival is all about spring cleaning. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pics and to all our contributors! Next month’s Festival is all about energizing leadership. New contributors welcome.

Spring Cleaning Our Priorities, Attitudes and Skills

“We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself–your own house–which we never do.” -Marina Abramovic

David Dye of Trailblaze acknowledges that whether you’re a veteran leader or a first-timer team leader, there are fundamentals that are easy to forget but vital to remember. Spring is a great time to clear your head and focus on these 15 tips David shares to remind you what’s really important for you and your team. Follow David.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding asks, “Have you ever… been bored from a lack of a challenge, tempted to rest on past successes, or gone in search of greener pastures just to grow?” Continuous Improvement increases satisfaction, engagement and growth – right where you are!   Follow Chery.

Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks says “Spring is a great time to be proactive in renewing your leadership using these 5 strategies. Review your progress on annual goals, discover good books for leaders and how to give back to your network.”  Follow Bruce.

In the post, When is it time to do nothing? Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders  shares that spring cleaning is essential for strong leadership, and that it’s possible to get there by actually doing nothing. By stepping back to take a breather, you can recharge, refresh, and renew and then enjoy your new outlook and enthusiasm when you step back in.  Follow Lisa.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting asks if you’ve conducted your leadership spring tune-up?  Follow Terri. 

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that declaring your purpose has power to complete your past, provide a mirror to your present, and guide you into your future. Follow Susan.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center shares that adding emotions as a component of mental toughness may seem at odds with the critical thinking that is required in the tough world of business today. But researchers are realizing that the key to lifelong success and happiness is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle—gratitude. Follow LaRae.

Spring reminds us how to make leadership bloom – our eyes are opened to the beauty of what is ahead. Soul Sparks are essential to tap into the beauty of leadership within ourselves and others.  Thanks, Jon Mertz of Thin Difference. Follow Jon.

Jeff Miller of the Faithful Pacesetters admits we can all get burned out at times. Is it possible we are not following the goals we had once set?  Follow Jeff. 

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  asks “Are you wondering if it’s time to take the alternate route or hang in there with your current direction? Here are a few truths to tap into during your decision-making process.”  Follow Alli.

Skip Pritchard of Leadership Insights posits that leaders have the power to choose seasons. As winter turns to spring, pause and throw out what is holding you back. Embrace the new season of hope because leadership requires spring cleaning of the mind even more than the home. Follow Skip.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context shares that actions such as eating healthy foods, exercising and getting enough sleep all boost our individual immune systems. What actions can we take to boost our ethical immune systems? And how could doing that help us create more ethical organizations? Follow Linda.

David Tumbarello at Tumbarello Writing Solutions shares that it’s the time of year to define what is important, clean what is messy, and look for opportunities and challenges for growth and gives some simple suggestions that may help the new and experienced leader clear clutter and allow priorities to rise to the top.  Follow David.

 Spring Cleaning Our Environment


Spring cleaning“If you want to get rid of stuff, you can always do a good spring cleaning. Or you can do what I do. Move.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited shares a 7-minute method for de-cluttering your office (or your house.) Follow Beth.

Paul LaRue of The UPwards Leader reminds us that revitalizing a staff and standards mean setting the example ourselves. Follow Paul.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation reminds us that effective leadership requires clarity of mind. She explores the connection between physically cleaning the office and the resulting mental clarity that emerged. Follow Jennifer.

Spring Cleaning Our Company Culture and Teamwork

Spring cleaning 3“I’ve always valued and encouraged teamwork and that collaborative spirit of ‘we vs. I’ is core to Intuit’s success…” -Brad D. Smith

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us that human beings can’t go full speed all the time. Take breaks–it will make you and your team more productive. Follow Wally.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement shares that creating a system where continual feeding is not needed is great. But if that isn’t the state of the organization yet, then continual feeding is required: or your improvement efforts will fall short of the potential gains, or die altogether. Follow John.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “Why do some teams seem to perpetually stay motivated while others fall flat?” This spring, make a commitment to keeping your team motivated with this one “secret” to great teams.”  Follow Matt.

Todd Ordal of Applied Strategy reminds us that Company culture is not something that just happens. Here is how a CEO can peer through the mist and build the one that they want.  Follow Todd.

Springtime reminds  Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center of fruit trees and the power of values-driven companies–or more accurately–the cost of NOT being one. It’s why her tree service company lost her business. Here are 6 tips to clean up your team values. Follow Jesse Lyn.

Thanks to Larry Coppenrath for the great maps of today’s Festival. Follow Larry (click images to enlarge).

Spring Cleaning 1Spring Cleaning 2Spring Cleaning 3Spring Cleaning 4

Call for Submissions. The May Frontline Festival is about Energizing Leadership. Please send your submissions no later than May 8th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

In other news:

energizing leadersI’m excited to share that April 20th marks the launch of the release of a collaborative book, Energize Your Leadership, written by 16 thought leaders (many of whom are active contributors to this Festival.) Read the story of our collaboration here AND View the trailer.

The 5 Biggest Succession Planning Mistakes

The 5 Biggest Succession Planning Mistakes

Succession planning, done well, gives you a brilliant competitive advantage. Poorly executed, at best it’s a waste of time, and can wreak serious havoc on long-term performance.

Here are a few disturbing phrases,  I’ve heard in the last 15 days:

  • “Oh, we’re too small to need a formal process.”
  • “Our business is moving so fast we don’t have time for that.”
  • “We’re baby boomers and we don’t know how” (trust me, I would never have included this one until I heard it TWICE this week from different companies looking for help).
  • And the scariest of all, “We’re a family owned-business so the decision is obvious.”

The 5 Biggest Succession Planning Mistakes

1. Talking People Before Priorities

Before you can decide WHO is in your succession pipeline, be sure you are clear on WHAT you need. Think about the future and the critical competencies that will make that possible. Write them down. Then map your people against those possibilities. Choosing people for tomorrow based exclusively on today’s performance will slow you down.

2. Cloning

What often passes for “executive presence” is actually someone who looks and acts like the rest of you. Be careful. Sure you want poise, effective communication, and a tidy together look. But it may also be true that the quirky creative who marches to a different drum may just who you need to take your strategy to the next level. Too many like minds lead to uninspired strategy.

3. Letting Diversity Trump Common Sense

If you complete your 9 box succession planning grid and it’s all balding white guys with a dry sense of humor in box 9 you clearly have a problem. The question is, what IS that problem? Take a hard look in the mirror for bias and discrimination. Challenge one another to make it right.

Sometimes, it’s another issue. It’s the recruiting and leadership development that is broken. You can’t make someone ready for the next level by talking yourselves into it. Or worse, putting diversity multipliers on executive compensation which incent them to promote the diverse candidate just to hit a target.

The worse thing you can do is pad your “grid” by sliding diverse candidates into blocks where they don’t belong. Sure, identify opportunities for accelerated growth to make up for lost time. But NEVER promote an unqualified person for diversity reasons. You hurt them, your business, and weaken your diversity strategy.

4. False Consensus

You know you have a true box 9, high potential when every head at the table is chiming in with a resounding “Yes!” Not looking the other way when conflict arises.

A succession planning conversation without conflict is useless. The very best talent reviews involve robust discussion and lively debate which leads to important next steps (e.g. “You’ve got to know my guy better;” “She needs a stretch assignment.”)

If you start playing games like “I’ll vote for your manager if you vote for mine, the business loses.

5. Ignoring the Plan

The worst succession planning sin of all is going through the motions, and then reverting to the old patterns “just this time” when it comes to promotion. No one will take your succession process seriously the next time.

Don’t short change your talent strategy. The right people, at the right place, at the right time, will change the game. Be sure you’re prepared.

 

Karin Hurt, CEOIf you’re struggling with succession planning, I can help. I’ve facilitated hundreds of succession planning discussions over the years from the executive level, through merger integration, and at the frontline. Succession planning is worth doing well. Please give me a call for a free consultation, 443-750-1249.

See Also: How to Navigate Yet Another Office Shake Up (Wall Street Journal)

How Leadership Development is Hurting Your Career

“What’s the best way for John to improve?” I asked, one of those coachy-interviewing questions people like me say to bosses and peers of folks we’re working to support.

“Honestly, I wish he would just stop trying so hard to improve, and just lead. We’ve all given him plenty of advice. He’s taken a gazillion courses. He’s hired a great coach. But around every corner he’s asking for constant feedback. It’s exhausting. Besides, he can’t possibly do everything we’re suggesting all at once, so he’s creating expectations he can’t live up to.”

My advice: listen, breathe, and do. Stop looking outside for feedback.

Even the best intentions taken to extreme cause harm.

Don’t over-think your leadership. People are watching. You need feedback, and most people ask too little. And as it turns out, some people ask too much.

Signs You’re Asking Too Little

  • You have no idea where you really stand.
  • You’re blind-sided in performance reviews.
  • You keep getting passed over for promotions and don’t know why.
  • You don’t really know what your peers think about you.
  • You have no idea where you stand with your bosses’ boss.
  • Your team never shares constructive feedback.

It might be time for a do-it-yourself 360.

Signs You’re Asking Too Much

  • You keep hearing the same advice over and over.
  • You haven’t had time to really improve.
  • You’re ignoring the advice and asking again, hoping the advice will change.
  • You’re addicted to the conversation.
  • You talk more about you than about your team.
  • You’re more focused on your own improvement than on improving business results.

It’s a tragedy when leaders stop learning. Equally devastating is when leaders become more focused on their own improvement than on leading well.

Experts Chime in on Bold and Innovative Leadership: A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our September Festival is all about Bold and Innovative Leadership. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!

Self Leadership  

“Freedom lies in being bold.” – Robert Frost

No one has the words “Bold” or “Innovative” printed on their business cards; but Bill Benoist of Leadership Heart Coaching shares that when you look, these leaders are all around us. Follow Bill.

More often than not, “Leadership Failure” is simply a “Failure to Lead.” Bernie Nagle of Altrupreneur discusses how one must be bold enough to embrace vulnerability, in order to step into the role of Leader.  Follow Bernie.  

If your leadership is all about you, it ends when you come to an end. But if your leadership isn’t all about you, it will live beyond you. Ryan Jenkins of Next Generation Catalyst shares his take here. Follow Ryan.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders presents Do what Lewis Carroll did Before Breakfast to visualize a different opportunity or outcome. Follow Lisa.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer Leadership helps us Discover four reasons why leaders need to rely on the power of “and” to ensure their organization’s ability to succeed and thrive. Follow Tanveer.

Skip Prichard of Leadership Insights shows that Leading YOURSELF, then Leading OTHERS, then Leading the GAME will make you a winning and bold leader. Take your game up a notch. Follow Skip.

Bob Whipple of The Trust Ambassador encourages us to try this very different method of erasing executive stress. It really works, but few executives can see the wisdom in it. Too bad – they are more stressed than they need to be. Follow Bob.

Bold leaders think outside the box…or a hand of cards. Beth Beutler of HOPE Unlimited shares what she learned from a badly played hand. Follow Beth.

Barbara Kimmell of Trust Across America shares The VIP Model of Trustworthy Leadership: VISION & VALUES+INTEGRITY+PROMISES KEPT. Follow Barbara.

Team Development  

“Unity is strength…when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” – Mattie Stepanek

Michelle Cubas of Business Influences! says that Leadership can be contagious. That’s the secret sauce! Multi-Dimensional Leaders head smooth running, self-directed organizations. Follow Michelle.

Martin Webster of Leadership Thoughts gives three areas you need to focus on to improve team performance.    Follow Martin.

Dan Rockwell of Leadership Freak exhorts that calling for boldness without the foundation of hope is a frustrating waste of time. Learn four ways to build boldness and ten ways to build hope. Follow Dan Rockwell.     

Julie Winkle Giulioni shares that employees who are not developing are actively lagging behind. Leaders need to deliver a bold message: Grow or go home! Follow Julie.

You’ve heard it a zillion times before: the importance in taking the time and effort to develop your employees. So why aren’t you? asks Dan McCarthy of About.com Management & Leadership Follow Dan.

Matt McWilliams observes that leaders who are positive and encouraging have more productive (31% more productive!) teams in this post  . Follow Matt.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame acknowledges that there are always barriers to adoption when it comes to innovation. Leaders at all levels should assess progress in six key areas to ensure success. Follow Alli.

Jim Canterruci of the New Leadership Normal blog says that the new leadership normal uses a fundamental equation – 9/10 – 60/40. The Secret Leadership Key explains this equation that unlocks the barrier to sustainable growth and a championship culture. Follow Jim.

Change  

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

Leadership Coach Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce shares how taking a risk and trying something new makes us better, bolder leaders. Follow Julie.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference shares that in a world filled with complicated leadership theories and sophisticated philosophies, sometimes the most innovative thing a leader can do is keep it simple. Follow Jon.

Leadership power manifested in organizations is shifting. Be ready! There is a new definition of power to embrace! Thanks Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services. Follow Mary Jo. 

Many of us think things are getting worse…don’t we? In this blog post, Jeff Miller of The Faithful Pacesetters uses Paul from Bible as example of a leader who was able to prepare people for change. Follow Jeff Miller.

The assumption that organizational change has to start at the top is wrong. Jesse Stoner of Seapoint Center relays how to initiate change no matter where you reside the official org. chart. Follow Jesse.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog shares how Leadership is tested when results are bad. So many abandon leadership and resort to blame and latching onto any change just to show they are reacting. Follow John.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context observes that strategies that may have worked in ethics five years ago will not help us now. To succeed, we need to broaden our worldview and expand the scope of what we consider to be “ethical territory.” Follow Linda.

Chery Gegleman of Simply Understanding asks, “Are you getting the right information, in the right form, to the right person, at the right time? If not prepared to be inspired to keep communicating!” Follow Chery.

Michelle Pallas of Lead On challenges us to have an opinion, but don’t judge. Don’t be afraid to change your thinking. Changing your mind is not a show of weakness; it is a bold act of courage that shows others you’re listening. Follow Michelle.

Call for Submissions. October’s Frontline Festival is about Achieving Breakthrough Results. New participants welcome.  Click here to submit your link.

Who’s Influencing Your Leadership?

Pleased to welcome this guest post from Bruce Harpham.

In the world of music, composers and performers are influenced by each other every day. I was recently reminded of this tendency when I enjoyed a performance by pianist Richard Rubin. He showed how Andrew Lloyd Weber, the Broadway composer behind The Phantom of the Opera and other works, liberally borrowed from musical works. In some cases, it is clear who influenced Weber’s work.

Scientists are also heavily influenced by their peers. Ground-breaking scientist Isaac Newton observed, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” That is a powerful idea for all leaders to consider. However independent minded you are, others influence your leadership approach.

Choose your leadership influences carefully.

The Rule of Five: Understanding Your Influences

If you take pride in your independence, this section may be hard. As a leader, you are constantly influenced by those you lead, fellow executives and others. Influences are inescapable.

In our complex world, it is challenging to imagine all the influences that impact you. The country you live in, your education, your age, and your leisure pursuits are some of the influences that leave lasting traces.

The most important influence on your leadership is the people all around you. Answering the question “Which five people do I spend the most time with?” is the easiest way to understand your influences. Don’t worry if you don’t like the answer! That discontent gives you the fuel to make a change.

Tip: Start small by changing your focus. Use the final section of this article to find one new person to provide positive leadership influence.

Growth Is Not Automatic: Harness Helpful Influences To Grow

John C. Maxwell’s excellent book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth emphasizes the importance of growth. Maxwell points out that growth happens naturally in childhood. In adulthood, growth is not automatic (except around the waistline!)

You may grow occasionally when a new obstacle comes your way. Accidental growth is not reliable. Would you buy a car that only worked “on occasion?” Not if you valued your time. In order to grow your skills to reach new goals, you must grow intentionally.

With the right influences, greater growth will come fast and furious. Mentors, coaches, sponsors and others can bring new perspectives, questions and resources.

With the wrong influences, your leadership will never grow. Even worse, the constant doubts and negativity will undermine whatever leadership qualities you have.

Accessing New Influences

By this point, you’re convinced about the importance of influence. Even more, you understand that the right influence can push you toward your goals. Read on for ideas to cultivate positive influences.

Books (Hint: Go Beyond The Business Section!)

For years, I have accessed new influences, ideas and opportunities through books. I often find myself browsing through the business section at my bookstore. For growing leaders, that is only the beginning. I also strongly encourage you to read widely – consider Ryan Holiday’s recommendations for Moral Biographies for example.

Here are two book suggestions to bring new influences into your leadership thinking.

  • Tribes by Seth Godin

Godin is best known for his expertise in marketing and the Internet. Tribes is Godin’s contribution to leadership. He points out that today’s tool makes it easier to build a tribe of followers behind your ideas. The only barrier is you. Do you have the skills and commitment to lead?

  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson.

Known to many for his studies in electricity, Franklin has much to teach us. Franklin regularly changed his occupation: from entrepreneur publisher, to diplomat and American statesman. For those interested in personal development, I also encourage you to read Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography – Franklin’s desire to better himself through self-education, study and moral discipline is well worth studying.

Consulting and Coaching

Once upon a time, accessing consulting was out of reach for most people. That is starting to change. Today, you can hire coaches and consultants for reasonable rates. For less than $500 using a website like Clarity FM, you can obtain helpful, customized recommendations to help you reach your goals.
For the best results, prepare and send out a written agenda for your first meeting. Bring several written questions that you can reference. Now is not the time for an unfocused conversation. For the best results, I recommend bringing a paper notebook (I prefer Moleskine notebooks for their durability and easy-to-handle size) and pen rather than an electronic device.

Follow these seven steps to get the most out of your time working with a coach. I recommend having at least two coaching sessions, with an interval of one to four weeks in between.

  1. Decide on a single goal to pursue, preferably with a clear measure (e.g. “to sell 1,000 copies of my book” or “to land my first executive management role in the financial industry”).
  2. Study your coach’s materials before you contact them. (e.g. visit the person’s website and read multiple articles. If they strike you as promising, I suggest buying and reading one of their books next). Take notes as you study their material. If they cannot clearly communicate their abilities, I suggest you move on.  Tip: Search for coaches and consultants on Google by searching for “keyword coach” or “keyword consultant” (e.g. “project management consultant” or “productivity coach”)
  3. Based on steps 1 and 2, decide whether this coach can help you in your current quest. If yes, continue to the next step. Otherwise, return to step two to review another person.
  4. Prepare for your first meeting with the coach. Complete any forms or questionnaires. Make a list of your goals and questions in writing.
  5. Attend the first meeting with your coach. State your goals clearly and ask for specific homework – vague suggestions such as “work harder” need to be refined and made specific (e.g. improve your ability to give feedback to staff).
  6. Work on your homework from the first session. Make notes on what you achieve and what you want to discuss next time.
  7. Attend the second meeting with your coach. Review your first meeting, homework completed and discuss your next challenge.

Learm more about Bruce here.

Confidence Competence Model

7 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Employees

You see her talent and potential. She’s not convinced. She has great ideas, but seldom shares. She could be contributing so much more, you know it. But for reasons you don’t understand, she’s not ready. It’s crushing you to see her shying away from possibilities. But building confidence is complicated. You’re not a psychologist and this stuff can get messy.

Yes, building confidence takes time and energy. Trust me, it’s worth it. Turning around confidence will rank high on your personal lifetime leadership achievement awards. No one will call it out, but you’ll know, and so will they. You may find out years later. Building confidence creates long-term impact for the employee, for the team, and for your company.

Game on.

7 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Employee

1. Treat her with deep respect.

She can’t feel like a project. No Henry Higgins stuff here.  Have her at “hello” by treating her as the rock star you know she is capable of becoming.

2. Be specific about what’s right

“You’ve got potential” will fall on deaf ears to someone who doesn’t buy it. Be as clear as possible with examples when giving praise. “When you said X, did you see the conversation change? You are making a difference.”

3. Have her teach what she knows best

Find her gifts and have her share. Start one-on-one, then evolve to bigger gigs. Nothing instills confidence more than teaching.

4. Help her prepare

Nothing builds confidence more than being the “smartest” guy in the room. 9 times out of 10, the “smartest” guy in the room, is really the most prepared. Help her do her homework and role play the scenarios she’s most likely to face. The next time, it will be easier.

5. Celebrate incremental improvements

I’m a HUGE believer in Confidence Bursts. Try this and let me know how it goes.

6. Scaffold her achievements

Give her more than she thinks she can do, but don’t leave her hanging. Scaffold her well with mentors and advice, which will help her win, without interference.

7. Encourage through mistakes

If she lacks confidence, even the smallest mistake will affirm her feelings of inadequacy. Help her learn from mistakes, but also reassure her that mistakes are all part of learning. Try your best to not freak out.

Confidence leads to creativity, productivity, excellence, and engagement. Invest deeply. It matters.

See Also: 5 Ways To Build Service Rep Confidence

building your leadership credo

How To Build a Leadership Credo

What’s your leadership credo? Have you ever sat down to really think about your deepest beliefs and core values?

It’s so easy to just get through your day, without really thinking about how you lead and why. Days become months and months become years. Pressures, grooming, and politics all create counter-pressures to authenticity.

Articulating what you value, helps you to stay true to what you believe.

Every year, I take time out to work on my leadership credo– to reflect on what I believe and how this is translating into behaviors. Then, during good and bad times, I pull it out and see how I’m doing. Am I staying true to what I say I believe?

For the first time this week, I formalized the process and shared it with a group of leaders representing over 10 countries and a cross-section of industries. Today, I share the easy-to-implement process.

How to Build a Leadership Credo

1. Set up

This exercise pairs well with a discussion on leadership authenticity. It can easily be done in a team meeting, an offsite, or in a classroom. It works great in my MBA classes.

2. Creation

Encourage participants to use a combination of words, pictures, and any other creative sparks to articulate their credo (can be done as a “homework” assignment).  Encourage participants to be as creative as they possible and to limit their work to one page (the definition of a page may vary based on the medium). Each credo should include the following components:

  • Core leadership values (e.g. integrity, transparency)
  • Operating principles (e.g. develop strong peer relationships)
  • Desired outcomes (“As a result of my leadership this year_______”)

3. Gallery Walk

Provide each participant with 6 dot stickers for “voting” (3 yellow and 3 blue). Have each team member walk around the room and share their credos with one another. Give them enough time and space to really listen to one another’s point of view and to identify similarities and differences. When they are struck by the message or creativity of a particular credo, they can recognize their colleague with a yellow dot for the depth of thinking or a blue dot for creativity. You can reward the most dots in several creative ways.

4. Discussion

Debrief the themes and process with the group. For highlights of the themes and for examples of the creative credos watch the video summary. Let’s have some Monday fun. Share the most important aspects of your leadership credo.

For more easy-to-implement leadership tools and techniques check out our book Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results–Without Losing Your Soul and download our FREE book group facilitator’s guide. 

stuck in the middle with you

Stuck in the Middle With You

The other day I got the kind of feedback that kicks you in the gut and makes your brain hurt for days. I’m sure you know the kind, it stings with truth, but you’ve got a gazillion counter points you would never say out loud, for fear of appearing to not be listening. It’s from an amazing leader who worked on my team for several years, and is a regular reader of LGL.

This is a long one, so for those of you who prefer a musical soundtrack with your pondering, click here.

She writes:

One area of frustration for me in business is much like my frustration in the collection and recording of history down through time, and that is the winners make the history, it’s from their perspective and rarely is it all-inclusive of the realities of the time. Many leaders go through their career (certainly once they get to a higher level) believing that their station or title in their company validates that their perspective is somehow best, or more insightful. These leaders don’t leverage the best from their people or their organizations, and the idea that they understand how their employees feel is somewhat silly. To me your book represents a leader saying why and how I should relate to them, excuse them, allow for and understand their human nature.

That’s where the disconnect was for me, at what point do leaders really need to understand, and act on how their behaviors, their decisions affect the masses below them? In short I want leaders to improve, have better sight, understand and truly grow about those in their care. I want leaders to see more than market share, and stack ranks. I want leaders to see and appreciate intention, effort and of course results. But more over I want leaders to be real with me, and I want them to strive as hard to understand me as I strive to understand them. In doing this leaders improve the lives and careers of their employees.

Karin I think you are a great leader and I will admit I expect a lot from you, to that end the brilliance I’ve seen in your past writing and have referenced and yes even bragged about to others simply was not here for me. Frankly this seemed safe, when what all leaders really need (throughout their careers) is to be grabbed by the shoulders and shaken from time to time and forced to remember from whence they came, to understand the politics of our world are their making, and thusly they have the power to unmake it. Knowing that leaders in business buy and read this type of book, I feel you have the knowledge and credibility to improve them in their view down their chain of command as opposed to another attempt to give line employees better understanding of how and why their bosses do what they do so they can advance.

The gist of the issue: Hey, whose side are you on here? The imperfect bosses or the people?
The short answer is: Yes.

You see, I’ve been running around talking to every podcast, radio station, or media outlet sharing my opinion that your boss is just an imperfect human being doing the best she can, just like you. I’ve been firing people up and empowering them with practical tools and advice for advancing their career, even if their boss is a jerk. I believe strongly that helping people defend themselves against an imperfect system and regaining their power is vital.

And I’ve also seen the other side. I do agree there are leaders who need to be “grabbed by the shoulders and shaken from time to time.” I can’t stand the arrogance and abused power. I hate it when leaders forget about the human beings they’ve been entrusted to support. I worry about a system that over-grooms their leaders and the cycle of intimidation continues. I cringe when leaders are too busy to understand their impact.

The question on the table: Am I cutting the leaders too much slack?
The longer answer is: Yes and no.

We’re All Stuck In The Middle of Something

Sure the system is imperfect. People are imperfect. There are good guys and bad guys at every level. I’ve learned a heck of a lot about getting unstuck on both sides of the equation. I must help, and will do everything in my power to help you, them, and the guys in the middle.

We must work together to create the conversation that will build better organizations through meaningful visions, great cultures, and brilliant execution. Such results come from imperfect, inspired people who care for the big picture – at every level.

I’m not ready to pick a side. The best good I can do is right here, stuck in the middle – with you.

The Secret To Communicating With Executives

Without executive support your project will fail. You need funding, headcount, and time. Your team’s counting on you to manage up well. You’re looking for the secret sauce to convince your boss. Start by avoiding these 5 mistakes.

5 Big Mistakes When Communicating with Executives

  1. Over Confidence – Executives are suspicious of rose-colored glasses. Water down you exuberant optimism. If it’s going great, speak to “early positive indicators.” or about being “cautiously optimistic.” Throw in a few things you’re worried about for good measure. Execs like to worry. Throw them a bone.
  2. Lack Of Confidence – Don’t send him to bed at night worrying if you’re the right guy for the job. Show up strong and knowledgeable. Listen to his questions carefully and share your expertise. Balance accomplishments with plans to resolve your biggest concerns.
  3. Over Disclosure – Tell the truth elegantly, and then shut up. You know a lot, avoid the temptation to prove it. You don’t want that exec getting involved in minutia. Unless you’re a big fan of more readouts and escalations, share what’s relevant and move on.
  4. Forgetting To Breathe – The tendency to spew will undermine your credibility. I’ve been in more than one exec review where the speaker was instructed to “take a breath.” Pause for questions. Make it a conversation.
  5. Ignoring The Ask – Even if they don’t ask, have an ask. Execs want to contribute, but aren’t sure where to jump in. They’ll feel better, and you’ll get what you need.

The Secret

The secret to executive communication is credibility. Work on building trust and connection in every interaction. Trusted advisors build a track record of solid decisions and successful projects. Layer on appropriate confidence and carefully crafted words, and your project and relationship will prosper.

23 Great Thoughts On Leadership Development: A Frontline Festival

I’m delighted to present the September edition of the Frontline Festival. This month’s focus: Leadership Development. I encourage you to read the insights and share your perspectives. Namaste.

Leadership Development

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference offers, You Are Born to Be Brave: How Do You Sustain It. “To be an effective leader, we need to understand where our bravery comes from and what empowers it so that we can lead with purpose and solve problems with the right actions.” Amen.

Julie Winkle Giuliani of juliewinklegiulani.com shares Everything I Needed to Know About Leadership, I Learned When My Kids Entered Kindergarten. So great that we get to relive these important lessons with our kids. I must say, I’m learning a lot from second grade and freshman year in college too.

Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak shares his post How Peter Drucker Mentored. The best point: “Accountability requires a volunteer.”

Jesse Lynn Stoner, Seapoint Center, shares The Space Between Closely Supervising and Delegating. She shares practical advice for leading in the space between closely supervising that can be too much, and delegating which can be too little. Fantastic read for frontline leaders.

Dan McCarthy, of Great Leadership shares his recent post 10 Succession Planning Best Practices. For a practical guide to implementing leadership development and succession planning programs check out his ebook as well.

David M. Dye of Trail Blaze brings us 18 Truths You Really Can’t Avoid if You Want to Stay Relevant, Effective, and Connected. Leaders who avoid landing in the dust-bin of history do one thing consistently: they learn. David provides 18 principles that will help you both learn and grow as a leader as well as ensure your team remains relevant no matter what happens.

Lolly Daskal of Lead From Within, brings us The Wisdom of Insecurities. As leaders, when we are honest about our insecurities we become vulnerable in our state of development. Attention to our own experiences can provide insights into the ways we can grow.

Matt McWilliams of MattMcWilliams.com shares You Are Not a Natural Leader. “There is no such thing as a natural leader. Great leaders are great by choice.” So, agree. Leadership is never handled.

Pete Friedes brings his Lead Change Group post, 16 Beliefs Held By Effective People Managers. Your personal beliefs can enhance or limit your effectiveness as a manager. Here’s a checklist. How are you doing?

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding shares What’s Outside Your Comfort Zone. I love her list of small ways we can begin pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones.

Dan Forbes of Lead With Giants shares an important post about developing your leadership authenticity, 5 Words that Changed the US Army and Leadership.

Leaders cross our paths every day, many of whom go unnoticed. This post Leaders, Leaders Everywhere Every Day, by Robyn McLeod of Chatsworth Consulting Group shares what to look for – the traits and ways of being – to find the leaders in your midst who are having a positive impact on your employees and your organization.

Joan Kofodimos of Teleos Consulting shares How Hardship Creates Leaders. So many young leaders aspire to an unbroken chain of “successes.” But it’s actually hardship that more powerfully builds wisdom in leaders. What does hardship teach leaders, and how can you best survive and thrive as a leader when these hardships inevitably occur?

Blair Glaser of Blair Glaser wins the award for best title, Three & A Half Words That Will Make You An Exceptional Lover & Leader.

Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group, LLC share their art, Shopping for Leadership Development.

Kate Nasser of katenasser.com brings us Leadership People Skills: 5 Essentials to Spark Team Agility. My favorite, “untie the nots”.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership shares Becoming a Great Leader is Up to You. If you want to become a great leader, you have to take responsibility for your own development.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog, shares Practical Ways to Respect People. Leading people effectively requires more than authority. Change has to start from the top. You need to understand people (and organizations as systems) in order to take effective action as a leader.

Leigh Steere shares her clever Lead Change Group post, 10 Management Lessons From Harry Potter. Need a break from your diet of business books? Consider some management wisdom from Albus Dumbledore and the Potter cast of characters.

Frank Sonnenberg of Frank Sonnenberg Online shares, Attention Leaders We Need to Talk. For more about Frank, read Lolly Daskal’s interview with Frank in the Huffington Post.

New to the Frontline Festival

Kimunya Mugo of Lead By Choice shares his powerful experience of personal growth in his post, Rise Up Titans. My favorite point, “leadership is complementary, not competitive.”

Jarie Bolander of enduranceleader.com shares 4 Proven Methods To Encourage Others To Step Up & Lead. My personal favorite #3, “Ask others to encourage them.”

Chantal Bechervaise of Take it Personel-ly shares her post Seek Criticism In Order To Improve Yourself. I love her examples of practical questions to ask if you really want constructive feedback.

Call For Submissions

Have a post you’d like included in an upcoming Frontline Festival? Contact me at letsgrowleaders@gmail.com for more information.

October – Vision and Values
November – Gratitude
December – Gifts

Cross-Training To Strengthen Leadership Skills

Today’s cross-training moment is a guest post from David Tumbarello. When he’s not guest blogging for Let’s Grow Leaders, David provides data and writing solutions in the health care field. The leisure activity he enjoys the most is coaching children in the art of creative writing. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cross-Training to Strengthen Skills

I was injured – it was another summer when I couldn’t run as much as I would have liked. My body told me it had to exercise but my Achilles wouldn’t comply. The solution was as old as the sport – begin another exercise and work out different muscles. I pulled down the bicycle and began biking around the lake. It was my summer of biking.

In athletics this is called cross-training. Instead of repeatedly using the same muscles every day, the athlete develops complimentary muscles. Instead of strengthening the running muscles, it was time to let those rest and develop the biking muscles.

I think about leadership muscles. One leader might be strong with her project management muscles. One leader might excel with coaching. Another with leading in creative purists. And another might be good with running a successful meeting. Those are strengths and leaders should maximize their strengths.

But occasionally, a leader should take a sabbatical from their primary leadership muscle. Step back from the typical routine. Begin to cross-train. Instead of running meetings, a leader with this strength should delegate the responsibility. While resting that muscle, the leader can act as a secretary or take notes on the white board or volunteer for a committee. Instead of mentoring, a leader can take a year off and find a way to improve the feedback loop for the enterprise. Let one muscle rest. Let another grow.

A leader at church recently said that there are years when the land produces an abundance of crops and years when it must lie fallow. It’s a cycle. The resting land will reward the farmer the following year. In the same way, leaders should consider resting certain muscles which will allow those practices to come back stronger.

With cross-training, the leader will benefit by learning a new practice — and with new eyes. And then upon returning to the first strength, after some time off, the leader will be able to see that old routine with new eyes. Strengthen, rest, and repeat.