Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Overcoming the “Feedback Trifecta” to Communicate Better as a Leader

Guest post from Angela Sebaly:

A recent Harvard Business Review article examined Shell Corporation’s adoption of an 18-month program designed to help the company’s offshore workers give and receive feedback before their upcoming deployment. With the help of an outside consultant, Shell’s experiment pushed the typically tight-lipped crew to talk about everything from what it was like for them growing up to what it was like working with each other.

The study found that the shift in how the men communicated with each other, especially with respect to their vulnerabilities, contributed to an 84% decline in Shell’s accident rates and the company's level of productivity in terms of numbers of barrels. Efficiency and reliability exceeded the industry's previous benchmark.

Think for a moment: Does your workplace’s culture encourage this sort of communication? Or does it unknowingly - and sometimes knowingly - promote avoidance of honest and open communications? Especially when it comes to giving and receiving constructive feedback?

Chances are, it’s the latter. 

This isn’t unusual. The most difficult and important feedback to give is usually the most necessary to hear and yet it largely goes undelivered. That’s because honest feedback is difficult -- even painful -- to give and to receive. It’s so much easier to shirk these uncomfortable situations by just avoiding them.

This dynamic shows up in organizations of all shapes and sizes. Though many managers and organizations struggle with providing feedback, I’ve been able to boil feedback problems down to three different categories -- what I like to call the “Feedback Trifecta”.  

In the Feedback Trifecta, the skills needed to give feedback are underdeveloped, leaders responsible for delivering the feedback lack the courage to do it, and the typical workplace environment unknowingly and sometimes knowingly promotes avoiding honest and open communication. And organizations pay for it, since avoidance merely causes problems to fester and resentment to grow. Teams and entire companies can become feedback-resistant, and will inevitably suffer. 

I discuss the Feedback Trifecta in more detail in my new book, The Courageous Leader.

No matter how you cut it, there will be pain when giving feedback because saying what needs to be said has consequences.  Thus, recognizing that feedback can cause pain, and accepting that pain, is essential to being able to provide it.

With this in mind, I offer the following tips to for moving past avoidance and making feedback a constructive part of your team’s routine:

     Remember that the goal of feedback should be to encourage others and inspire their courage.
     Remember that feedback is crucial in moving us from one point to another in our work, relationships and lives.
     When giving feedback, say what needs to be said in way that enables others to hear it, with respect and concern for the person on the receiving end.
     When receiving feedback, honor the giver by appreciating his or her feedback
     When receiving feedback, remain in the role of receiver rather than victim
     When receiving feedback, let yourself mourn for what you have heard until you reach acceptance.

The tough consequence of giving feedback is that we can’t choose for the other person how they choose to hear our words. More importantly, we can’t choose for others what they choose to do with them. We don’t like that feedback leads to people we care about and work with avoiding us, holding grudges against us, and lashing out at us. We don’t like being the villain when they choose to be the victim. This is why giving feedback takes courage. The choice we have is to shy away from it, provide it haphazardly or give it skillfully and courageously.

About Angela Sebaly:

Angela Sebaly, author of The Courageous Leader (Wiley, spring 2017), is co-founder and CEO of the firm Personify Leadership, a training provider. Formerly the Vice President of Leadership Development for a global oil, gas and chemicals inspection company, Angela also serves as principle consultant for the firm Invested Leadership, a training provider.  An entrepreneur developing a global presence, Angela has been coaching, facilitating and leading teams and organizations for over two decades.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Eight Ways Mentoring Brings Out the Leader in Your Employees

Guest post from Patty Alper

“Employees want to be part of something that is bigger than a company. The business culture is internally based, but the philanthropy is external. That volunteer ethos provides something more than a quarterly return on earnings . . . it stretches employees beyond their day-to-day job.”
 - Rick Luftglass, former director of The Pfizer Foundation’s education volunteer programs
Corporations have long known that their best employees are successful often because they have acquired skills beyond those needed to be an employee. In fact, the greatest managers and executives learn that skills to inspire and lead others do not naturally come from working as a subordinate. Rather, they come from testing out leadership skills in relationships with others.

Companies can let those skills develop on their own – e.g. through the growth of the individual as he or she is exposed to more work-based situations, and as he or she must resolve corporate problems and adjust to new organizational scenarios. But a company is remiss if it doesn’t actively challenge its employees by providing and encouraging these growth-developing opportunities outside of work.

In a recent study on business volunteerism and how it attracts, develops, and retains talent, Deloitte found that 92% of the people surveyed agreed that volunteering improves employees’ broader professional skill sets as well as adding to their leadership skills. As a matter of fact, they learned that 80% of active volunteers move more easily into leadership roles and grow their careers further as a result.

More specifically mentoring, is one of the best ways a company can grow its employees as leaders in many other tangible ways. Let’s review these in detail:

1. Mentoring teaches you to plan, to help others execute, and to be flexible--all traits of leadership. As a mentor to a class of students or to individuals, you need to be organized to fill your time productively. You will be potentially teaching a younger mentee applicable real world skill sets. Patience and precision in your communication will be required as you begin to educate a new learner.  Meanwhile, witnessing another take hold of a new idea requires your agility and empathy.  Ultimately, you begin to understand that your shared knowledge is received by others and how.

2. Mentoring hones your ability to think while you speak. As you become more comfortable presenting to classrooms of students, you will find that your dialogue is less rigid, and more conforming to how the conversation flows. You will start to reorganize your thoughts – and perhaps your entire presentation – based on how your students respond. Being flexible in your implementation and thinking as you “do,” are invaluable traits for a leader.

3. Mentoring positions you as the role model, and the mentees begin to model themselves after your behavior. This is an unparalleled way to learn how to be a leader. Since you represent the little-known business world to students, as a mentor, you think about how to model a successful business person. You think about your appearance, your language, and your style. You teach the mentees how to keep a cool head through obstacles, and how to design a strategy to overcome hurdles.

4. Mentoring gives you confidence. As students model your behavior, and as your internal fears surprise you by turning into successes, you will naturally start to become more confident. This self-realized confidence will make all the difference in your career path – especially when you are presented with new scenarios in business, in which you will have to rely on your own intuition, confidence, and abilities to overcome.

5. Mentoring will prompt you to realize how far you have come, and how far you can bring mentees. As you continue to meet with your students, you will start to think, “Oh! I’ve been here before. I remember when I was their age …” And then you will start to consider how far you have come on your own journey. This will not only contribute to your confidence; it will also contribute to your appreciation of what mentoring brings to these students. In due time, you will see the ripple effect that your presence, your ideas, and your time has had on others. This contributes to a mentor’s new found empowerment.

6. Mentoring builds humility. As adults, we often focus on our achievements when discussing our careers with others. We are trained to tout our successes in our resumes, and to bring out the most hire-worthy aspects of our career during interviews. We might even use industry-specific words that sound like we really know our stuff. With students, however, this approach can be limiting, and even inauthentic. Students already know that certain times require a focus on the highlights, rather than the low points. But those aren’t what are interesting. Students are far more curious about the struggles and the bumps in the road. They want to hear how you thought you were defeated, and what you did next. And to best relate to the students, mentors will learn how to use the language the students speak. Bring the conversation to their level. When you think about the needs of your audience, you become a better leader.

7. Mentoring builds reliability. At one point, you may have been the “I’m-always-10-minutes-late” person. Or maybe you were the quintessential procrastinator. As a mentor, your inclination to be late or to procrastinate will diminish quickly. Before long you will learn how to structure your day accordingly because you will feel responsible to others who need you and who look up to you. What impact will your tardiness have to your mentee?  You will learn the value of being reliable to others.

8. Perhaps one of the most elusive, but also one of the most valuable skills, is learning how to listen better. As you grow in your mentorship, you will learn to listen more, and pick up on non-verbal cues. Eventually, you will communicate based on this feedback. A good mentor can take the pulse of the mentees as a dialogue progresses. He or she can learn how to gauge the interest of a class or an individual, and determine if a different tactic should be used. More importantly, a great mentor – and a great leader uses feedback to shape their communication and become even stronger and more effective. And the mentor learns a valuable asset for leadership.

As a mentor, you may feel you are learning these traits just so that you can “survive.” But before long, you will see that these traits also benefit you in the C-Suite. In this case, the “giving” does result in the “receiving.” I encourage you to join our cause at www.teachtowork.com. I am confident you will impact your life, by impacting others.

Patty Alper, author of Teach to Work: How a Mentor, a Mentee, and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America has been in the field of marketing, communications, and sales for thirty-five years. She's successfully served firms in the real estate, hospitality, finance, and non-profit sectors through her consulting practice, The Alper Portfolio Group, Inc. For eighteen years, she has been a trustee of the Alper Family Foundation. It is through her philanthropic giving that she became engaged with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and how she ultimately developed the "Adopt a Class" program. Alper was honored as the 2010 NFTE Philanthropist of the Year, DC region and currently sits on the National Board.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Effective Leadership Is Just Seven Questions Away

Guest post from Michael Bungay Stanier:

Recently, I stepped into an elevator on the way to a meeting and noticed that the button you press to close the door quickly was much more worn than the one you press to keep the door open. You’ve probably done the same as me: jabbing the button to get the door closed so I can get ON with things. And it made me laugh, really, because it’s a delightful microcosm of how we’re always trying to rush things, big and small, in business and in life.

In our organizations, there’s a constant drumbeat of busyness. As a manager, it’s tempting to see your role as being to give advice and encourage action. That’s part of it, for sure. But I’ve discovered that to have more of an impact, to be what Peter Drucker would call “the effective executive,” managers and leaders need to stay curious a little longer and rush to action and advice a little slower. Less jabbing the “close door” button, more time thinking about which floor you’d like the elevator to take you to.

In The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, I name seven questions that will help busy managers stay curious and lift their leadership game. Despite the title of the book, it isn’t about turning these managers into coaches. But it is about helping them be more coach-like, an underutilized leadership skill.

But Who Has the Time for That?

The greatest resistance that comes from this simple invitation — to stay curious longer, rush to action and advice a little more slowly — is, of course, the lack of time. Everyone’s busy, so surely the fastest thing to do is just tell them what to do.

There are three reasons giving advice can be a false economy. The first is that often you’re providing solutions to the wrong challenge. It’s a pretty good bet that the first challenge someone presents to you is not the real challenge. Rather, it’s a symptom, a best guess, a smoke screen, a half-baked solution, or something else — just not actually the real challenge.

Second, in nominating yourself as the source of all wisdom, you’re being trained by your people to do their work for them. You’re complicit in moving them away from being self-sufficient, confident, masterful and autonomous. You’re setting yourself up as the bottleneck and the road block.

And finally, if I may be blunt, your advice just isn’t as good as you think it is.

Here, then, are seven proven questions that will help you stay curious longer, rush to action and advice a little more slowly, and change the way you lead forever.

#1: The Kickstart Question: What’s on your mind?
The key to having a good conversation is getting off on the right foot. My first coaching question is called the Kickstart Question because it does just that — it kickstarts a conversation and accelerates it into interesting territory. It finds a sweet spot in being an open-ended question (You tell me what you want to talk about . . .) that encourages focus and gets us to the stuff that matters (. . . but let’s talk about something important).

#2: The AWE Question: And what else?
I believe that the AWE Question is the best coaching question in the world. We know that the first answer to a question is never the only answer, so asking this question draws out more from any coaching conversation — more wisdom, more possibilities. It also works as a self-management tool for you. If you’re asking this, you’re resisting the temptation to jump in and offer up solutions. This question keeps the elevator door open, so to speak.

#3: The Focus Question: What’s the real challenge here for you?
This question helps us get to the heart of an issue instead of immediately jumping in to solve an entirely different problem. The words “real” and “for you” have the power to provoke self-reflection and a deeper level of thought than does merely “What’s the challenge here?”

#4: The Foundation Question: What do you want?
This can be a difficult question to ask (and even more difficult to answer), but asking it can often get us to the heart of things. That’s because we don’t always know exactly what we want, even if at first we think we do. This question demands a clear answer — and forces you to come up with the best way to help, without jumping in and taking over.

#5: The Lazy Question: How can I help?
Once you know what the other person wants, the next step is asking how you might assist. This question invites the other person to make a clear request. In order for them to request something of you, they need to be clear about what they need. The question keeps you both curious and lazy — if you find out how exactly you can help, you’re less likely to spend time doing things you merely think people want you to do.

#6: The Strategic Question: If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
If you have a hard time saying no, this question is for you. You’re not alone, of course. We’re all pretty good at saying yes, even though we’re already at full capacity. The result is that we’re failing to make as much difference as we’d hope on too many things. But to truly commit to something and make a difference, you’ve got to create space. And a “yes” is empty without a strong “no.” When you ask this question, you bring forth a promise to prioritize and make a commitment real.

#7: The Learning Question: What was most useful for you?
This is the perfect question to conclude a conversation. It’s not just about encouraging learning and development, though that does happen, but also about extracting the value from the conversation. People remember more when they find the answer themselves. Asking this question is an effortless way to reinforce what was discussed during the conversation.

Which Floor?

We’re all on an elevator, headed somewhere. It’s tempting to get those doors shut ASAP and hurry on. Don’t worry, the doors will shut soon enough. Meantime, use these seven questions to get clearer on exactly which floor you’d like arrive.

About Michael Bungay Stanier
Author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, Michael Bungay Stanier is the Senior Partner and Founder of Box of Crayons, a company that helps organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work. It is best known for its coaching programs, which give busy managers practical tools to coach in 10 minutes or less. Download free chapters of Michael’s latest book here.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

3 Tips on How to Become a Magnetic Leader

Guest post from Roberta Matuson:

Lots of people think they are magnetic leaders when they are anything but. I define magnetic leaders as those who appear to effortlessly attract talent that will stick around.

I open my book, The Magnetic Leader: How Irresistible Leaders Attract Employees, Customers and Profits, with the results of a recent TinyPulse New Year Employee Report, where one thousand working Americans shared their workplace wishes for the New Year. Participants were asked what one thing they wished they could change about their manager. The second most popular answer was to have their manager quit. This response aligns with what I see in my consulting practice. Clearly some work needs to be done in this area.

Here’s how you can begin your transition from manager to magnetic leader.

Shift your mindset
People don’t start out their management career with the intention of being anything less than a stellar leader. However, things happen. Be open to the possibility that you may need to do rethink your approach to management.

Start by asking your people if they’d recommend your department to others, as a great place to work. Anything less than an immediate “Absolutely!” is a no. If that’s the case, follow up by asking, “What can I do differently so you’ll feel comfortable doing so?” Then take steps to make these changes.

Work on your communication skills

One of the seven attributes of magnetic leaders that I mention in my book is strong communication. Magnetic leaders communicate frequently and clearly.

How as a leader do you rate yourself in terms of communication skills? In a 2002 survey of 1,104 employees in organizations around the United States, 86% said their bosses thought they were good communicators, but only 17% said their bosses actually communicated effectively. Clearly there’s a failure here to communicate.

Let’s face it. Many of us could certainly increase how frequently we communicate with team members, as well as those around us. Try this. The next time you are tempted to send a quick text to a team member, whose desk is around the corner, do something completely unexpected. Walk over and have a conversation. Small changes like this will make a big difference in how others perceive you as a leader.

Put others before yourself

Magnetic leaders put the needs of their people before their own. Here’s what I mean by this. Let’s say you have an employee who is supposed to stay late to handle a customer who is calling from the west coast. This employee is a single parent who gets anxious when she isn’t home to help her kids with their homework. A magnetic leader would offer to take the call on her behalf, so that she could leave on time.

Think about what you and your people have on your calendars this week and look at ways you can put their needs before their own. Pick one or two things and it won’t be long before it feels natural to put the needs of others before your own.

© Matuson Consulting, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Roberta Matuson, The Talent Maximizer® and President of Matuson Consulting, helps world-class organizations like General Motors, New Balance and Microsoft achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. Order a copy of her new book, The Magnetic Leader: How Irresistible Leaders Attract Employees, Customers and Profits. She’s also the author of Talent Magnetism: How to Build a Workplace That Attracts and Keeps the Best and the bestselling book, Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around. Sign up to receive her free newsletter, The Talent Maximizer. Follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mentoring Moments and More for Millennials

Guest post by Dianna Booher:

Millennials drop an employer quicker than they leave a boring party when they see no career-growth opportunities. Career development is the cool calling card––a powerful tease to job seekers you’d like to have join your team.
Today’s employees want personalized career plans that fits their goals, dreams, and lifestyle. They expect their individual leaders to show interest in their career and coach them on how to reach their potential. Leaders know all this. They actually want these career-development opportunities for themselves.

The problem? In this understaffed, deadline-driven climate, developing team members simply drops to the bottom of a leader’s to-do list. Managers insist they’re so busy that they have little or no time to coach or even consider these “extra benefits” like career development.
But wait. We’re not talking “training” here—as in designing training courses and sending  staffers off the job. Who has time to wait for them to return and play “catch up” for days or weeks? Strategic thinkers often do things differently today. Consider any one or several of these “mentoring moments”:

Mentoring Moment #1:  Create an “aside” conversation. You may not have an hour to devote, but you can spare a minute or ten. When the occasion occurs, invite the team member to “Step into my office for a minute. I just decided to sign a contract with Z Company. Let me tell you how I arrived at that decision, so in the future when these things come up, you’ll have some background here.” The individual will understand that you are investing time—no matter how brief—in their career development.
Mentoring Moment #2: Touch base periodically about their interests for future assignments and career growth.  Has anything changed in their immediate and long-term goals? Any new skills gained?  New stretch assignments they’d like to tackle? Hobbies become career aspirations. Career aspirations fade to become only hobby interests. Income and savings goals evolve as family situations change. Their health or a family member’s health may necessitate lifestyle and career choices. Staying updated on their current needs and goals demonstrates interest.

Mentoring Moment #3: Suggest resources—things or people. Make millennials accountable for their own development. Suggest resources they may not be aware of—your company’s HR function, a local university, industry conferences, books, audios, subscription programs, webinars, podcasts, or online programs. But whatever they choose, make sure your team understands that they’re responsible for their career development in the same way they’re accountable for their physical fitness. Simply mention a resource that you’ve found helpful, and suggest they may want to investigate further for their own purposes.
Later, reinforce their personal accountability every chance you get.  Ask if they found any of the resources you’ve mentioned helpful. What did they like or not like? Did they find another book, course, podcast, blog, or app more useful?

At staff meetings, as part of your discussions from time to time, ask team members what books, articles, or blogs they’re reading. What conferences have they attended? What new insights have they gained that they can share with their colleagues?
All of these opportunities demonstrate interest in career development for the team and for individuals. And such casual discussions accomplish several additional purposes: They keep you up to date on changes in employee goals, reinforce that team members themselves own the responsibility for their personal development, and give them opportunity to get a mentoring moment from more experienced group members. And you, as leader, have facilitated that learning.

Developing your team doesn’t mean another block of time at the end of an already overwhelming month or quarter. A mentoring moment or two can be brief but powerfully engaging. After all, what employee doesn’t like to talk about themselves—their goals, their dreams, and their future opportunities?
Dianna Booher is author of 47 books, published in 60 foreign-language editions. Her latest book is CommunicateLike a Leader: Connecting Strategically to Coach, Inspire, and Get Things Done. She works with organizations to help them communicate clearly and with leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. Good Morning America, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Bloomberg, Forbes.com, Fast Company, FOX, CNN, NPR, Success, and Entrepreneur routinely interview her for opinions on critical workplace communication issues. www.BooherResearch.com  @DiannaBooher

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Mastering the Art of Coaching

Guest post from Gregg Thompson:

The barriers to entry into the coaching business are very low. In fact, anyone can throw up a sign that declares that they are a career coach, a life coach, a business coach, or just about any other type of coach, even if they are devoid of coaching credentials of any kind. As someone who has been a leadership coach for 25 years and who leads a global company that provides coach training to thousands of organization managers every year, I find this more than a little unfair.

There is, however, an element of truth in all of the business cards, websites and advertisements asserting that the principal is a coach. And it is this: Anyone can coach anyone. While not everyone can teach chemistry, shoot sub-par golf or play a concerto, we all have the ability to have a conversation in which the other person leaves the conversation feeling more powerful, more inspired and more committed to making the best possible choices about their work, their career and their lives. This is what coaches do; engage in dialogue that helps others learn, develop and perform at higher levels.
So, let’s explore a few questions about coaching.

First, is it an art form? Yes…and no. An art form is generally considered to be any human activity that can be regarded as an expression of creativity, and the best coaches do bring their very best creative talents into the coaching conversation. Here is the hitch. When a portrait is seen as a masterpiece, the person who created it is considered a master painter.  However, when a masterpiece is created in coaching, it is the person being coached who is the artist, not the coach.  The coach’s job is to be the catalyst and the facilitator helping the other person function at the highest possible level.

Second, how do you master coaching? Notwithstanding the point made above, some people are extraordinarily good at coaching. People are drawn to them and often initiate substantial positive change in their work and lives as a result of their connection and conversations. It starts with the coach’s perspective. They see people differently than most. They choose to see people as naturally talented, innately resourceful and able to learn and grow. They also believe that others are fully capable of making their own decisions and solving their own problems. This perspective alone sets the great coach apart from many. Additionally, great coaches act with noble intention. They intentionally subordinate their interests, needs, etc. to direct all the attention and energy toward the person being coached. And lastly, they trust and use their intuition. They recognize that since they no longer are the expert (that’s the job of the person being coached) they need to rely on the synthesis of all their experiences, learning, beliefs and values that comprise this thing we call intuition. These wonderful men and women have the courage to trust their minds to tell them what is true without immediate proof or evidence.    
Practical interpersonal and communication skills such as active listening, giving feedback and asking good questions are all important elements of good coaching.  While doing coaching well is important, mastering the art of coaching requires much more than fine tuning these skills. The person who also commits to being coach-like by seeing the best in others, acting with noble intention and using their intuition in service of others will help those whom they coach create their own masterpiece.
GREGG THOMPSON is the author of THE MASTER COACH:  Leading with Character, Building Connections, and Engaging in Extraordinary Conversations.  He is President of Bluepoint Leadership Development, recognized as one of the finest providers of coach training programs in the world.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How to Spot A Player Talent in an Interview

Guest post from Rick Crossland:

Why Don’t Executives Love to Interview?
It is surprising how many executives and even HR professionals do not like or look forward to interviewing candidates.  After all, this should be the celebration of bringing on another great employee, right?  Their fear is likely because many of them have historically not had very good success predictably selecting top performers through their current interview process.

Here are some of the reasons hiring managers do not enjoy better success in hiring top performers:

1.    They do not follow a structured hiring process.

2.    They ask the wrong kind of questions in the interview.

3.    They are looking for the wrong attributes in candidates.

4.    They are often fooled by candidates that talk a good game, but lack results and or character.
The cost of underperformers to your organization is immense. When an interview is carefully and properly done—and the right questions are asked, it is very straightforward to determine if your candidate is an A, B or C Player.  You only want A Players—those employees in the top 10% of the workforce for the salary paid that you would enthusiastically rehire.  The recently released book, The A Player is dedicated to defining and showing your executives and team members what A Player performance looks like.

Let’s examine the factors needed to successfully spot A Player talent consistently in your interviews.
Use a Structured Interview Process

In a typical interview process, HR managers, hiring managers and other team members interview a candidate in short, back-to-back interviews.  You have the good intention to thoroughly compare notes after the interviews, but often this never happens.  If it does, the debrief process usually does not include enough specificity on the strengths, weaknesses, results and skill sets of a candidate.
Instead, follow a structured behavioral-based interview process.  Get your entire decision team in to interview the candidate in one two-to-four hour sitting.  A longer, more intensive interview like this helps you see the differences between A, B and C Players, as the latter cannot provide enough details of their accomplishments.  After the interview, immediately go through the specific results the candidate has accomplished and compare notes for inconsistencies and where the candidate exaggerated his or her capabilities. Comparing your top two or three finalists using this methodology will yield amazing clarity.

Managers Typically Ask the Wrong Types of Questions in an Interview
Recently some HR managers of trendy, high tech companies have espoused some seemingly cool interview questions and techniques.   These include handing candidates a marker and having them sketch out the process of their favorite hobby on a whiteboard, asking if they believe in life in outer space, or the proverbial “tell me about yourself” interview question.

The problem with these techniques is they tell you nothing about what the candidate has accomplished in your industry.  Even if they happen to map out an industry-specific process, they are likely parroting what they saw someone else do.  They may just possess academic knowledge on a topic, not firsthand results.
It is important to understand that the primary determinant to a candidate’s future success is his or her actual past accomplishments.  To determine these, you must use behavioral interview questions.  A behavioral interview asks specific questions about the candidate’s actual accomplishments.  This is far more predictive than a situational interview, which asks hypothetical questions that are quite easy for a candidate to fabricate answers.

Managers Often Look for the Wrong Attributes in Candidates
Managers are often fooled by the wrong kinds of candidates.  The candidates that tend to most often fool managers are the flashy candidates or “showdogs.”  These types of candidates typically have good emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) skills and tend to be well dressed and articulate.  They tend to woo hiring managers with buzzwords, industry jargon, name dropping and strategic sounding talk. 

But don’t let these candidates fool you with these sweet-nothings.  These are candidates who talk a good game, but do not produce results.  In about 18-24 months they will be repeating their speech at another unsuspecting company.
The key to identifying these candidates is to use the structured interview and behavior interview tools mentioned above.  In addition, develop a job scorecard with defined performance attribute metrics on all aspects of the role.  A sample format of this job scorecard can be obtained at www.aplayeradvantage.com/resources. 

Ask specific behavioral-based questions around the scorecards.  These will sound like “When you were the marketing manager at Atlas Corp., describe a time you improved the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing actions.  What were the specific results and how did you accomplish this?”  Or, “Describe a B or C Player you coached up to be an A Player.  What were the specific results and how did you accomplish this?” 
As you have already most likely ascertained, the showdog candidate will not be able to hold up to this level of scrutiny.  They will try to take credit for their teammates’ results—but cut through this smoke screen by asking them “What were your specific contributions and results.”

These types of flashy candidates appear impressive, but they aren’t. You do a disservice to your organization hiring them. 
The above-mentioned tools will help you spot A Players who may or may not have great interview skills, but can produce real results.  While some folks wow you from answer one, other great candidates are a little more shy or humble.

Remember, if you want to be an A Player manager or leader, you must have a team of A Players. Therefore, being able to spot A Players in an interview becomes an invaluable skill to you.

Rick Crossland is author of the book The A Player. He works with organizations across the country to transform good companies into great companies. His practice, the A Player Advantage, which he founded eight years ago, is consistently employed to help take quality businesses to the next level of efficiency. He works with organizations across the country to transform good companies into great companies with his A Player approach.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Leadership at Two Levels

Guest post by Mark Miller:

Leadership is a fascinating quality. There are countless articles, studies and opinions about what makes good leadership. But, no matter *how* you develop and act out your own leadership qualities, there will always be two sides: A private, individualistic view, and the view the public and your team sees.
Both are vital.

Let’s take a look at leadership on two levels: leading yourself and your team.
Mastering the Moments

Self-leadership may begin as a private matter, but it quickly moves to public view, and is evident in moments as clear as the shallows in a placid lake.
When you see it, you marvel – someone creating music no words can describe; a master craftsman doing with ease what mere mortals could never do; or a leader, intuitively uttering the right words with perfect timing.

Character, although difficult to discern from a distance, always reveals itself up close.
If you look carefully, you can often catch glimpses of a leader’s character on full display. It is in those moments we are both inspired and challenged to raise our own game.

When we see the highest form of leadership in action, we are filled with the promise of our own potential to become a servant leader. Is there anything more amazing to witness?
These marks of the servant leader are not the domain of superheroes. However, when we witness them their effect may closely resemble super powers.

These are the moments every leader must strive to master…

·    We want to seek wisdom when the world has decided a sound bite will do.

·    We want the audacity to expect the best in the most difficult of circumstances.

·    We want the ability to accept responsibility rather than blame others.

·    We long to do what is right without thought of personal costs.

·    And, more than anything else, we want to consistently put others ahead of ourselves.

These are the behaviors, even habits, we want and need to cultivate in our own actions. It is our success here, in these moments that matters most.
Only when these behaviors are harnessed and hotwired into our very soul, their power now under our control…

Then, and only then, does the servant earn the opportunity to become the leader.
Building Your Team to Change the World

As a leader works to master his or her moments, the leader must also work to inspire greatness in the action of his or her teams.
Great teams are the stuff of legends. Throughout history, people coming together, pursuing a common goal have, time and time again, made the inconceivable believable.

·    Almost 2,500 years ago, it was a team that rebuilt the walls around Jerusalem in 52 days - walls which had laid in shambles for more than 140 years!

·    It was a team of 400,000 dedicated professionals at NASA which enabled men to walk on the moon.

·    It was a team of artists, more than 500 of them, who made over 2,000,000 sketches, which enabled sound and picture to come to life like never before. The film released in 1937, was called Snow White.
And many of you have been on a team that accomplished great feats and changed your world.

Now, it is your turn. You are the one who can build the team.
When teams are at their best, there is nothing like them. When they flounder in dysfunction and poor leadership, their pain is palpable. A poorly led team is a colossal waste of time, talent, energy and opportunity.

That is why teams must be led well. A place where performance soars and potential is realized. A place where talents are celebrated and dreams come true. Does this sound like your team?
It can be…

Of the tasks a leader will ever undertake, none may be easier to say and harder to do. Although the time and energy required can be staggering, the effort pales in light of the possibilities.
There is something in all of us calling out to be part of something bigger, some thing, or place, or team, where our talents can be leveraged, our passions can be channeled and our sense of contribution fulfilled. That place can be your next team.

Start building! 

About Mark Miller
Mark Miller is the best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and the Vice President of High-Performance Leadership at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, LeadersMade Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.