Leadership is often lonely – but it doesn’t have to be. You’re not as alone as you might feel. In this episode, David discusses three connections every leader can make that will nourish, energize, and help you grow.
Leadership is often lonely – but it doesn’t have to be. You’re not as alone as you might feel. In this episode, David discusses three connections every leader can make that will nourish, energize, and help you grow.
Do you have a great idea burning inside you? Will it transform your company? In today’s episode, you’ll meet Jamie Marsden – an engineer who saw an opportunity and built a team to support leaders in a groundbreaking way. He’ll share his journey, inspiration to help you do the same, and some helpful thoughts on being a great manager and leader.
Welcome to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival! This month, our contributors share their thoughts about decision-making and problem-solving (and several weighed in on the choice between coffee and tea.) Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors!
The June Frontline Festival will be about developing ownership and commitment. We’ve expanded the Frontline Festival to include other formats such as podcasts and artwork and are always looking for new thought leaders to join the party. Won’t you join us? Send us your submissions here!
Now, on to the May Festival where our submissions lent themselves to two major themes:
Eileen McDargh of The Energizer gives us Resiliency Routed by Routine. When the track seems clear in both directions, past and future–knowing you can only see as far as the bend in the “road,” move forward. What conscious effort will you now make? Follow Eileen.
Eileen votes coffee.
Tony Mastri of Marion Marketing gives us How to Set Marketing Goals (vs. Objectives) with Examples. Solving the problem of which goals and objectives you should be setting and measuring at your business can seem like a monumental task. This post will aid your decision-making process for setting goals and objectives for yourself or your team. Follow Tony.
Tony chooses coffeeeee (sic) (black) unless he has a sore throat. In that case – tea with honey.
Chris Killeen of elitePOD writes, Lesson Learned or Just Observed? A Weapons Officer’s Perspective. Every organization needs to make mistakes to improve. The hard part is capturing lessons … the RIGHT lessons … to learn from for future success. The Air Force Weapons School provides a method to do this rapidly and precisely which increases the decision cycle capability for any organization. Follow Chris.
Chris votes coffee.
Jon Mertz of Activate World gives us Holacracy: Achieving Clarity and Productivity. What happens when a company transitions from a traditional business model to one with distributed authority? According to Morgan Legge, of Convert.com, decision making is shifted into the hands of the role holder. She and Jon discuss her company’s transition to a Holacracy and how it has broken open a lot of old paradigms and ways of thinking about work. Follow Jon.
Beth votes both tea and coffee and even coffee substitutes. She likes to mix it up.
Shelley Row of Shelley Row Associates asks, Do You Have Analysis Paralysis? You strive to make data-driven decisions, but too much data can result in analysis paralysis. Here’s a way to help. Follow Shelley.
Lisa Kohn from Chatsworth Consulting Group writes What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do where she shares a few simple steps for having more clarity, flexibility, and confidence to make the important decisions you have to make. Follow Lisa.
Maria Tanski of Patriot Software provides Problem-solving and Decision-making: Key Ingredients to the Best Possible Solution. Solving problems and making decisions can be challenging. Use these five steps to help determine the best solution for your business and improve your problem-solving techniques. Follow Maria.
Maria prefers tea.
S. Chris Edmonds of Driving Results through Culture gives us Heads or Tails? Three Keys to Better Decision Making. How good a decision-maker are you? What influences your approach? Humans vary in the pace of their decisions. Chris gives us three ideas to consider in order to improve our decision-making process. Follow Chris.
Chris loves a good cup of coffee.
David Grossman of The Grossman Group gives us The Best Way to Come at a Problem. Before you can solve a business problem or achieve a goal, you have to understand what the situation is. Find out how to do just that in the most effective way. Follow David.
Have you ever noticed the radically different approaches people take to preparing Thanksgiving dinner?
Scott might order the whole thing from a caterer just to have it done.
Jenny asks what they can bring, then shows up early with extra, and offers to help chop, cook, set the table, or watch the kids – whatever you need.
Joe loves creating a feast and schedules everything to arrive at the table precisely 60 minutes after the guests arrive – whether they’ve actually arrived or not.
And Tina relishes the conversation among friends and family, forgetting what’s in the oven. The food might be overcooked or late, but the camaraderie, wine, and laughter are fantastic.
There’s no wrong or right way to do Thanksgiving. (Although David’s on Joe’s side and I’m with Tina all the way).
People are different.
And thankfully, just like your family at Thanksgiving, the people on your team are wonderfully different, too.
However they show up, each person brings a different gift to your team.
Recognize their gifts. Help them leverage the unique magic they bring to the team.
You need them. You need all the magic you can get.
To our U.S. readers: Happy Thanksgiving!
To our readers around the world: we are thankful for you and the Let’s Grow Leaders community.
If I could give a one-page orientation manual to every person who takes a management or leadership position, at the top of the page 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 your can achieve together. If so, you’re off to a great start.
Welcome to the hope business.
When your team has hope, you have a chance. Hope means they believe in you. They trust you and one another. You are credible and you have a strategy they believe can succeed.
Everything you do from now on will build or erode hope.
I know you can do this.
Welcome to the hope business.
Welcome to leadership!
If you’re like most leaders, no one has ever told you’re in the hope business. That this is the most important thing you can give your team. That without it, you are finished before you ever get going.
Hope is your most important leadership responsibility.
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.
Hope isn’t a strategy – but it’s a damn good fuel. [Tweet This]
Because when we work together we can make things better – better for our customer, better for one another, better for our families.
When It’s Tough
You might be wondering how to lead with hope when circumstances are challenging. Perhaps a market shift means you have to close some elements of the business that aren’t relevant and regroup to face a changing environment. What does hope look like in that scenario?
Hope is the message that together you’ll get through it. Hope is the gracefulness with which you make the changes. Hope is the way you call your team to their personal best. The belief and practice that no matter what happens, each of you will be better for the way you choose to lead through it.
One of the reasons we wrote Glowstone Peak was to inspire children (and the adults who love them) with the power of hope. As Selvia realized, “Nothing gets better if I stay here. So she started walking.” That’s hope – and the courage to try.
We hope you’ll share the story with the children in your life.
Now, we’d love to hear from you: What role does hope play in your leadership? How do you lead with hope – especially when times are challenging?
Let’s face it, leadership is hard. Every great leader faces this reality.
You give it everything you have, but sometimes, it feels like it’s just not enough. When that happens though, here’s what you have to tell yourself…
You’re not alone.
Or, I should say…you don’t have to be.
When I was in San Francisco to deliver a keynote, I visited the famous California Redwoods. Standing beside the tallest living things on the planet was astounding.
Some them are thousands of years old. I saw the tallest tree–tall as a 36 story building with a trunk that would take ten or twelve people to encircle. Wow!
When I returned to my hotel that night, I went online to learn more about these trees. Specifically, I wanted to know about their roots. The roots I had seen were shallow and short.
What I found surprised me.
I expected the redwoods to have deep root systems, but they don’t. Their roots only go down five or six feet…but they extend outward 100 feet. In fact, the roots of nearby trees entangle, connect, and even fuse with one another. Together, the trees anchor one another through thousands of years of storms, wind, and floods.
Think about that for a moment–the tallest living things on earth don’t get tall by themselves.
They do it together.
As a leader, your trajectory and success – especially when things get tough – depend on your connections. There are three connections I’ve found that energize every great leader.
Of course, you are there to serve your team.
But a funny thing happens when you do this. You will find your team also serves you. You don’t have to problem-solve on your own. You can rely on them.
Where you need to grow, they’ll challenge you. When your team trusts you, they’ll do amazing work with you. When you lead well, your team makes you stronger.
You can bring the tough questions to them and they’ll problem solve with you. They’ll hold you accountable. Karin and I have both had team members confront us when we weren’t leading up to our own standards.
Leadership is challenging work. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always feel good. It can be difficult, but extremely rewarding to find a good group of colleagues who will encourage you and help you problem-solve. If you’re looking for this kind of leadership community, consider our International Leadership Cohort of people just like you who are committed achieving breakthrough results – without losing their soul.
In addition to mutual encouragement and problem-solving, you also benefit from time spent with people outside the “bubble” of your organization. You’ll see your own situations with fresh eyes and better perspective.
Who is helping you get better?
Many leaders have a series of mentors and coaches over their lifetime…but it’s your responsibility to find them.
Recently, I saw an aspiring great leader sit back on a social media forum and post something like, “Hey, I really wish you’d mentor me!” It was a generic comment that felt needy and as if he were a victim, powerless to help himself.
Most mentors won’t respond to that sort of energy. You want to find people who are farther down the road, who are doing what you want to do or have the kind of influence you want to have, and then approach them with a specific and actionable request.
You might say, “I’ve noticed you are very effective at cross-departmental relationships and problem-solving. I’ve been challenged in this area and have some specific questions I think you could help with. Would you be willing to mentor me in this? You’ll find that I take your suggestions seriously and put them into practice as soon as possible.”
Accept their answer. If they say yes and have a particular way they want to work, go with it, and follow through. If they say no, honor that too. The chemistry must be there for mentoring relationships to work.
There are also times you’ll want to rely on a coach. Coaches can provide targeted, objective feedback and skill-training to shorten your learning curve and help you make rapid progress with your leadership challenges.
Remember, just like redwoods, a great leader gets to be great based on the strength of their connections to their team, to a community of colleagues, and with mentors and coaches.
Where do you need to connect?
Leave us a comment and share how you stay connected to your team, a community of leaders, and mentors & coaches who help you grow.
We first met Bill when he was publishing his first book– and I interviewed him to help share his message. Since then, we keep finding ourselves in the same leadership conversations and communities, and always enjoy connecting to share best practices. I love the way Bill taps into his own leadership experiences and stories to communicate the importance of confident humility.
Years ago I was coaching a young leader who was under a lot of self-imposed pressure. His dad was the second-generation owner of a $500-million-dollar construction company, and he had tapped his son as the eventual heir to the kingdom. But his son felt entirely unready for such an awesome responsibility. How would the company keep selling big projects to keep people working? How would he lead senior staff members, all of whom had more knowledge and experience than he? How would he, in short, live into his father’s footprints?
Complicating the matter was all the advice the young leader was getting. Everyone had a vested interest in having him succeed, so they were going out of their way to let him know what moves he should take. Though grateful, he was overwhelmed. “Bill,” he said, “I want to be a good leader, I really do. But people expect me to be tough, driven, and decisive, yet patient, friendly, and caring. I’m confused. Where do I start?”
You don’t have to be a CEO’s heir apparent to struggle with the same question. Leaders get a lot of mixed messages about what’s most important to followers. As a leader, you’re expected to be bold and calculated, passionate and reasonable, rational and emotional, driven and patient, principled and flexible, competitive and cooperative, strategic and tactical, and yes, confident and humble. Faced with all of these conflicting factors, is it any wonder new leaders scratch their heads and wonder, Where on earth do I start?
My advice to new leaders is this: if you want to be a good leader, start by being a good person. Leadership is an inside job. Before you can lead people outwardly, you have to lead yourself inwardly. Leadership starts with internal goodness, in other words, integrity. Goodness is not some pie-in-the-sky philosophical concept. It’s not some prudish, goody-two-shoes standard of stilted perfection. Goodness is practical. When you’re good, people trust you. They know you won’t cheat them, or violate their confidences, or mistreat them. They know you’ll consider their interests, listen deeply and share generously, and be respectful. They know you’ll never stop striving to do the next right thing.
Your goodness is the single most important determinant of whether followers will trust your leadership, and trust is crucial to good leadership. When people trust you, they’ll work harder on your behalf, they’ll have a higher tolerance for your idiosyncrasies, they’ll be loyal to you, and, most importantly, they’ll act with integrity too. Trust begets trust, and when you act with goodness it becomes an invitation for others to act with theirs, mutually strengthening the trust between you.
The good news is, when you focus on developing and strengthening your character, when you commit yourself to leading in a principled and honest way, and when you make serving others your primary leadership aim, you are exemplifying very essence of what my friends Karin Hurt and David Dye mean by the title of their essential leadership book, Winning Well. As a leader, you win well when your inner goodness informs all your leadership actions and decisions. You’re truly winning well as a leader when the best of you brings out the best in others. You want to be a good leader? Then start by being good.
When confronted with the overwhelming number of leadership examples, much less the amount of advice, you’ll encounter, it can feel overwhelming. That’s why we so appreciate Bill’s straightforward reminder that all leadership begins with you. Be a good human being who people can trust. That is the foundation of Winning Well – and all the influence you’ll ever have.
From his books that taught us and informed our early careers, to the selflessness he consistently demonstrates, to his embodiment of professional confident humility, Marshall has been a tremendous supporter of Winning Well. We were honored when Marshall wrote the foreword for our book. Thank you once again, Marshall for your unwavering commitment to blending the bottom line with the human spirit and your support of Winning Well.
I’ve made a career out of helping business leaders develop better relationships with their colleagues and team. In the course of that work I’ve seen many managers who struggle to achieve business success; much less build meaningful professional relationships.
If that’s you, you’re not alone. The truth is that in companies, nonprofits, and government offices around the world it’s not hard to find stressed out, frustrated, (and often hopeless) managers. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Not for you.
It’s a message we can’t repeat often enough: you can achieve business performance without sacrificing your humanity, your well-being, or your sanity.
I often share with executives that the only performance appraisal that really matters is the one you give yourself as you look back over your life. When friends of mine interviewed people in the last years of their life, three themes emerged: be happy now, friends and family are critically important, and if you have a dream, go for it.
From a business perspective, my ultimate business advice isn’t very different:
When you cultivate a healthy management mindset, improve business performance, experience less stress, and build better relationships with your colleagues and team, you’re on your way to a great life and great results. To me, that’s Winning Well.
Ultimately, your work as a manager is about far more than what you make or how you serve your customers. Whether you give it conscious attention or drift along, you will leave a legacy – in fact, you’ve already built one. Take a moment to ask yourself:
There’s a temptation to wait for ‘someday’ before you take action, but that day will never come. Today is the only day there is where you can take action and build the leadership legacy you want to leave the world.
Life is good,
One of the things we appreciate about Marshall is his ability to cut through complexity and identify the MITs: have fun – help people – do the right thing. Leading well isn’t complicated when we remember that above everything else leadership is a relationship – and relationships are your greatest legacy.
Letting slackers slide reduces your credibility, causes your best performers to bolt, and leaves the rest of the team wondering why they bother. No one wants to mire in their own mediocrity. And high-performers hate nothing more than watching their poor-performing teammates drag down results. Tolerating poor performance creates a morale death spiral that takes Herculean force to reverse.
Of course there’s also the over-the-cube talk about the two slackers– the poor performing guy and you. The more you allow the poor performance to go on, the more the rest of the team will shrug their shoulders and join the poor performance bandwagon. Now the death spiral is accelerating with centripetal force, squandering time and draining vital energy from your team.
The sad truth is that every day, team leaders around the world turn their heads and let the poor performance continue.
Don’t fall into these traps.
I’m going to start with the benefit of the doubt: that you (or the team leader you’re trying to help) cares, and is not a performance problem. If that’s not the case, same rules apply, one level up.
Beyond that, here’s a gut check for why you’re allowing poor performance to continue.
If you’ve got a struggling performer on your team, do all you can to help. And if It’s time to let them move on, help them to do that gracefully.
There is much good research on the characteristics of high-performing teams. It is possible to structure teams in ways that maximize performance (e.g. small number, shared vision, complimentary skill sets). A great resource for this is
Katzenbach and Smith’s The Wisdom of Teams.
I have been on teams that are identical in these criteria, and yet there is an invisible factor that seems to drive performance– chemistry.
When I was in my early twenties, I played Sergeant Sarah Brown in a Community Theater production of Guys and Dolls. Young Sarah is a spunky Salvation Army worker with a logical list of characteristics she is looking for in a man. Sarah meets Sky Masterson, an attractive con artist and gambler, who laughs at her long list of desired traits and gives her his one-factor list, “chemistry.” Well, of course it’s a musical, chemistry wins, they fall in love and sing happily ever after.
The thing is, in both love and teams chemistry matters.
And yet, when we make hiring decisions, we often start with a list of desired competencies, backgrounds and skill sets at an individual level. Like Sarah, we work to attract the best talent for the individual roles, and then after the fact, work to pull them into a high performing team. Chemistry is even more vital when looking to select the leader of the team.
I am not suggesting hiring based exclusively on DiSC, MBTI or some other personality profile. However, all other things being equal, hiring for diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and approaches can help to create some serious positive combustion.
I recently went through a DiSC workshop with my larger team. After the session, one of the women on my team came up to me and asked, “Did you do that on purpose?” She was referring to the very eclectic mix of personalities on both my direct report team and throughout the organization.
At first, my reaction was “no, I hadn’t even thought about DiSC.” But the truth is, having had a unique opportunity to build the team almost entirely from scratch, I had been very deliberate about hiring leaders with different backgrounds, experiences, expertise and styles. They in turn did the same. As a result, we have a team that works hard to leverage one another’s strengths and make up for gaps. They have each other’s backs. They have chemistry and results on are on fire.
In addition to the more traditional views on diversity (race, age, gender), there are other important factors to consider when hiring for a high-performing team
I also find there are some characteristics were similarities are quite helpful. I find having a team unified by these factors helps them to work more effectively with their diversity.
Think about the teams that you have worked on with the best chemistry.
As I have been doing more writing, I have been paying a lot of attention to which leaders I find most inspiring–and why. For me, energy is a big factor in both whom I want to follow, and who I want on my team.
Leaders with strong, positive, engaging energy inspire others towards great results. It is much harder for the team to run out of steam when the leader keeps showing up strong.
When building teams, I always look for those with an engaged heart and spirit who are fired up with positive intensity. A lot of the other key skills can be taught if a person is wired that way. People have come to understand that this is how I roll, so it is getting easier to attract people who want to live in a fast paced, intense environment. Energy attracts energy.
So with all that outward focused energy, why do I get so tired?
In preparing for this week’s writing, I looked to what others are saying on the subject. My friends at Chatsworth (Chatsworth on Forget About Managing Your Time, Manage Your Energy Instead), have good thinking on managing energy versus time and using those patterns. That work then turned me on to Energy Project.
The Energy Project hones in on four key areas which drive our energy: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. They offer a free “energy audit” for people to self assess how they are doing in each of these key areas, and then email the results with recommendations. The cool part is that they also offer a sliding energy tool that provides suggestions based on the importance each of those factors has to you.
My results from the audit showed strong energy on the mental, physical, and spiritual dimensions, but that I was on the cusp of “an imminent energy crises” on the emotional front. Suggestions include “taking more time for activities I deeply enjoy” and “having more quality time with family and friends.”Consistent with what my husband said to me just this morning, “I think you need to go do some more yoga, not by yourself, with your friends.” Turns out he is a good energy barometer as well.
So, this weekend I did some yoga, had dinner with my husband, bowled with Sebastian, and paddle boarded with Ben. And now from a calmer emotional heart, I head into a vital week at work and explore energetic leadership on my blog each day. Hope you will join the conversation.
Part of my mission for this blog is engaging leaders of all ages in the leadership conversation. Today, I present a guest post from Jared Herr, age 12. If you are a leader of any age, interested in collaborating on a guest post on leadership, let’s talk more.
You are a caring amphibian and always try to make others the best they can be. You put the muppets in roles where you know the can succeed. You are a role model of hard work, and get all of those crazy animals pulling together as a team. You inspire them to care about one another.
Kermit, one of your greatest strengths as a leader, self-reflection, is also your challenge. You may want to check out Karin’s post (is strength your weakness). For example, you will double and triple check yourself to make sure every muppet is in a part of the show. But when things go wrong, you take it out on yourself. You always point out things you messed up with or things you should have done. I think you feel a lot of pressure being a leader.
I wish you could have more confidence in your decisions. Once when you fired Miss Piggy (she deserved it), you ended up face down on the floor (of course, that may have something to do with dysfunctional love, but that’s another post).
You are so nice. I worry sometimes you have trouble confronting or giving the tough coaching messages. You always lead to victory in the end. You might save some time if you could give more direct coaching along the way.
Kermit, you sure seem to face a lot of pressure as leader of the muppets.
I worry that you feel like as their leader, you need to be with them 24/7, and you don’t get much personal time.
All said, it is not easy leading green. And you have a nice track record of results. Keep up the great work. I know you will continue to grow into an amazing leader.