Sunday, March 28, 2010
When I first started training new managers, we used a DDI program called “Interaction Management”. One of the program’s three “Key Principles” of leadership was “Ask for help in solving the problem”.
According to DDI, “Showing trust is the best way to receive trust in return. Leaders who don’t try to solve all the problems themselves but instead involve the employee or team show trust. Involvement builds commitment.”
At the time, it seemed overly simplistic and somewhat contrived, but being a new trainer with no real management experience, I stuck to the script and enthusiastically promoted the concept. We even had managers role play asking for help, as if they were learning some new language.
Little did I know how important that simple concept could be for a leader, and not just for new ones, but experienced senior leaders as well. Just like Bullwinkle, it was the right trick, but it’s often poorly executed.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had meetings with senior leaders and at the end of the hour, not once did they ask me for my opinion. I once even timed a new VP. It took 57 minutes (in a one hour meeting) until he finally said “So what do you think?”, as he glanced at his watch. At least he remembered to ask.
I recently came across the concept again while reviewing Tom Peter’s new book “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE”.
Tom calls the concept The 4 Most Important Words. “The four most important words in any organization are “What Do You Think?” Why are these words so important? What you are really saying is “you are a person of value that has an opinion that I want to hear.” Remember (and use) these four words and you will benefit enormously. “
I really like the way Tom has made it easy for leaders to apply this concept. Just memorize 4 words and use as often as possible.
Asking for the opinion of others – especially your direct reports – is a show of respect and a powerful motivator.
Just remember that when you do, you have to actually mean it. Ask early, not after you’ve already made up your mind. Listen for possibilities, not for points of disagreement.
Always express your appreciation. If it’s a misguided idea, then use it as a coaching opportunity. If it’s a keeper, than make sure the person gets credit for the idea.
OK, so maybe it’s not so simple. For now, just say the words. Try it at home too. The, sit back and listen. Listen for the non-verbal feedback as well - the energy level, the body language, the tone, and expressions. You’ll see what a big impact you’ve had as a leader.
What do you think? (-:
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
We hear the economy is on the right track. The dark clouds are lifting. Leadership is praised.
But really, wasn’t it leadership – or lack of it – that landed us in this mess?
When banks were handing out mortgages for a smile and a signature, then bundling exotic instruments with unknown global impact, where were senior leaders to put a stop to it?
When accelerators started sticking worse than gum on a shoe, where were Toyota leaders to stomp the brakes?
In my role with AchieveGlobal, which develops leadership training for organizations around the world, I helped guide recent research on key leadership questions, including: What constitutes effective leadership in the 21st century? How has leadership changed to keep pace? What are today’s leadership best practices?
Our study found that leaders have focused on financials, both before and now during the recession – with a kind of tunnel vision on the bottom-line. Asked about their top challenges, U.S. leaders selected “cost pressures,” followed by “growing the business,” and “driving sales.” Beyond that finding, three of five U.S. leaders in the study (60.8 percent) rated bottom-line business results as more important than any other leadership concern.
Regrettably, we found that this focus on financials begets lopsided leadership prone to errors in judgment and action. Take another area of leadership action: diversity. Before the recession, encouraging diversity was all the rage. But last year, when we asked U.S. leaders to rate practices in six critical “zones of leadership,” more than half (51.8 percent) ranked diversity the least important zone (with similar results in three of the four global regions we surveyed).
The many possible reasons for this result include perceptions that diversity is “political correctness” (rather than a critical way to leverage human potential), that “people at bottom are the same” (blinding leaders to the unique gifts of diversity), and that diversity, while important, is low-priority in a down economy.
Exacerbating these misperceptions, we found, is a global reluctance to reflect – defined as the leader’s skill and will to step back and ask, “What role could I be playing in the problems I’m facing?”
The poor ratings for diversity also likely reflect the fact that it’s harder to manage diverse people, that some countries surveyed (e.g. China) have very little diversity, and (let’s face it) that ethnocentrism still lives.
Whatever its causes, this result reveals a pernicious blind spot among today’s leaders about the meaning and, yes, the bottom-line value of diversity. For companies with global operations, our study does predict that renewed focus on diversity may happen sooner rather than later: these businesses identified their most pressing challenges in the broad area of diversity, notably in “creating virtual workplace structures” and “succeeding with mergers and acquisitions.”
To survive our economic maelstrom, however, leaders would do well to leverage the unique contributions of diverse people, driving innovation and honing a competitive edge in a shrinking global workspace.
Looking forward, our study revealed that long-term success will take a new leadership mindset. While business is one undeniable focus for most leaders, success in the 21st century requires leaders who can assess their own strengths and liabilities in several “leadership zones,” adjust current strategies, and adopt new strategies. Only then will they be ready for the unknown challenges and opportunities to come.
As AchieveGlobal’s Director of Solution Development, Craig is a thought leader who works cross-functionally and with clients to guide creation of a range of responses to market needs. Since 1986 he has played a central role in developing the company’s flagship programs in leadership, sales, and customer service. Craig holds a B.A. and M.A. from San Francisco State University.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Many, women and men, believe they can’t. Equally, many have experienced failure while trying, but there is indeed a way for women leaders to be successful and happy.
The question is: What makes women happy? A team of researchers spent five years looking for the answer to this question. After this time, they discovered why successful women are as much excellent professionals as excellent in life.
They talked to more than one hundred extraordinary women worldwide who have managed to uphold happy families and also leadership careers in every kind of field, from orchestra conducting to espionage, and who state that they are deeply satisfied with the choices they have made.
Based on their research, the team discovered 3 practices that these women follow that, when combined, become a winning formula, and are all aspects that we can control:
1. They have a passion
One of the most important characteristics the researchers found is that these women are prominent because they are doing something they see as significant.
Some women simply know what makes them happy and chase after it since they are very young, like a Nigerian lawyer who was inspired by a TV show when she was a child and didn’t stop until she was able to establish her own law firm. For others, the road towards the discovery of what makes them happy sets them free to find passion in new ways, like a consultant who dumped a profitable career her parents had chosen for her to follow her dream of making movies.
Finding their passion gave these women the strength to turn into individuals that make things happen, instead of waiting for others to decide about their lives. Being able to do this fills you with a kind of energy that moves from work to home and vice versa, making everything right, and rewarding.
2. They see obstacles as opportunities
These women are realistic, they are able to analyze the evidence and act accordingly. Women are very often labeled as emotional extremists, vulnerable to feelings of failure when confronted with problems, but it is possible to turn things around consciously and take care of any issue for what it is.
3. They bond with others
Being emotional is, in fact, a strength of successful women. Women leaders are able to bond with people, and through these deep relationships, they get a feeling of being in the right place. By acknowledging the individuals around them, they are able to boost and speed up their personal growth.
The research showed that women who follow these practices are happier and more successful in their jobs, as leaders, and in their lives.
Every company should be aiming to get and keep these women leaders; they are strongly capable of steering leadership performance and action by creating meaning and might, by outlining circumstances to find the best way out, by channeling the force of comprehensiveness and total commitment, and by dynamically directing energy flows.
These women are powerful and happy because they assumed control of their lives, and anyone can do the same, regardless of ambiguity, chance, or any stress they may be experiencing.
John Hersey is a successful business owner, published author and motivational leadership speaker. John writes one of the most recognized leadership blogs in the business world: http://www.JohnHersey.com/blog
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
We’re off to Italy to visit our daughter, who is in Rome studying abroad.
Interesting way for an Irish guy to celebrate to celebrate St. Patrick's day, right?
We also have a 25 year anniversary coming up, so we figured we would use that as an excuse to as well. Mrs. Great Leadership has always wanted to ride a gondola in Venice.
I’ve got a couple guest posts scheduled, and will still be able to publish comments and respond to a few emails remotely (as long as my iPhone doesn’t fail me).
How about if we all take a little break from leadership development for just this one post.
Here are a few questions for you – please comment and I’ll read and publish from afar:
Any tips or advice from you world travelers? Favorite Italian experiences? Favorite food?
What’s your opinion on study aboard programs? Rich development experience or a glorified vacation? Did you do one in collage, and how was it for you?
How about vacations and work? Do you completely disengage, or keep up with emails?
Best and worst international travel experience?
Sunday, March 14, 2010
This is the 3rd of a 5 part series about some of the little things you can start or stop doing that can make a big difference on how you are perceived as a leader.
Maybe you’ve seen the beer commercial where the guy just can’t seem to say the words “I love you” to his girlfriend:
OK, now imagine that guy is a leader, and he’s trying to say these words:
“I was wroooo………. (wrong)”
“I don’t nnnnnnnn…… (know)
“I need helllllllllll…. (help)”
“I’m sa sa sa sa…….. (sorry)”
Pretty silly, right? However, I’ll tell you, I see this all the time. The more senior the leader, the worse it gets. And just like the beer commerical, I see it more in men than woman.
As leaders, we often feel the need to project unwavering confidence and optimism. Never let ‘em see you sweat, right?
There’s certainly nothing wrong with that to a degree. No one wants to follow a wimpy, pessimistic, or bumbling leader. Especially in tough times, we need our leaders to show us the way and inspire us to feel like we’re going to make it against tough odds.
However, just like any leadership skill that’s overdone, too much confidence has it’s dark side. It looks and sounds like:
- Not willing to admit you’re wrong
- Not willing to ask for help
- Not being willing to apologize
- Being a know-it-all
When people see behavior like this from leaders, they don’t get inspired. They think:
Arrogant…… clueless…… self-centered………jerk.
Your lose the respect and trust of your employees, irritate your peers, lose credibility with your manager, and possibly damage your organization by stubbornly refusing to change course.
A little dose of humility goes along way. I’m not talking about the big, dramatic public Tiger Woods apology. You don’t need to hire a public relations firm to stage it for you. It’s way easier than that. All it takes is a authentic, genuine, display of vulnerability.
Like this, from blogger Bret Simmons.
We’ve all been guilty of pulling one of these at some point in our careers.
I can relate. Something similar happened to me last week. I said something behind someone’s back and it got back to them. It was unprofessional and a stupid thing to do, especially given the role that I’m in. I called and apologized.
For homework, try practicing these and other simple phrases until you can say them without stuttering:
“You know what? I was wrong, I really was.”
“I shouldn’t have done that to you, and I apologize. I’m sorry, I really am.”
“You know what, I really don’t know. I’ll find out and get back to you with an answer”.
“I could really use some help on this. I’m way behind and have hit a wall”.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
I have bad news and good news for all of you leaders and aspiring leaders.
You decide which you’d rather read first. Start with the good or jump to the bad and come back.
The Good News:
The ability to listen has been identified in study after study as one of the most important leadership skills – if not THE most important – than any other.
When you listen, you’re seen as a leader that:
Cares about others
The ability to listen to employees, manager, peers, coworkers, and customers is a core, foundational skill for successful leaders. The ability to listen is key to:
Developing and maintaining relationships
Making good decisions
Now here’s the good news:
Listening is one of the EASIEST leadership skills to learn and apply! We were born with the ability to listen. It’s a natural gift. Most people already know how to listen, and when they choose to, can do it very well.
If you want to listen, but for some reason you really don’t know how, no worries.
All you have to do is keep your mouth shut. Then, listen like the CEO is talking to you. Or like you're on a first date.
If that doesn’t work for you, then there are plenty of books, videos, courses, and blog posts with excellent, proven tips. No need to repeat them all here. With a few tips and a lot of practice, you’ll be astounded with the results.
Talk about little things that will make a BIG difference – what other skill could give a little this kind of return on investment? Give it a try. Sit back and watch your relationships improve – at work and in your personal life.
The Bad News:
Listening is one of the lowest rated leadership skills for executives. It’s an average rated skill for individual contributors and managers, then takes a nose-dive for executives. It’s one of the most common flaws I see on 360 assessments. It’s the number one reason employees think their bosses are jerks.
The botom line: poor listening is a significant contributor to executive derailment (failure).
When you fail to listen, you’re perceived as someone who:
Is insensitive to the needs of others
Is arrogant, impatient, or uninterested
Makes others feel stupid or unintelligent
Failure to listen can result in:
Bruised and unproductive relationships (both at work and home)
…..and eventually, if not addressed – you’ll go down in flames.
If you’re seen as a bad listener, in most cases, it’s because you’re making a CHOICE not to listen. To be blunt, you’ve gotten so full of yourself (due to your success), that you don’t have the interest or patience in what most people are saying.
If you don’t believe me, try asking for feedback. Ask the people in your life that matter to you how well you listen - and what it means to them when you don't. If this little scolding has already caused you to see the light, then go back to the good news. There’s hope for you. Good luck!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Every one of these posts are Oscar-worthy.
Opening Musical Extravaganza:
Art Petty sings and dances with a glamorous showgirl on each arm with Leadership Caffeine-Learning to Lead in the Project-Focused World posted at Management Excellence.
Best Supporting Actress:
The nominations are:
Janna Rust in Self Leadership: Lead yourself to success posted at Purposeful Leadership.
Erin Schreyer in Do I Have Food Stuck In My Teeth? posted at Authentic Leadership.
Anna Farmery in Why you should hate a weekend! posted at The Engaging Brand.
Jane Perdue in Let Us Be the Water posted at Life, Love & Leadership.
Becky Robinson in How To Develop Others posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk, saying, "In order to grow, people need exposure, opportunity, and challenge."
And the winner is..... Becky Robinson !
Best Supporting Actor:
The nominations are:
Tom Magness in Learning Leadership from "The Office" -- Part I posted at Leader Business, saying, "If you are hooked on "The Office" as I am, you will appreciate this post. We learn leadership from good and bad role models. There are plenty of both with the show's star and office manager, Michael Scott. If you are hooked on the show, or on leadership, you'll enjoy these comments."
Chris Young in Startups, Culture-Shaping, and the "Lifetime Employment Award" posted at Maximize Possibility Blog, saying, "Start-ups are exciting organizations to be a part of. However, leaders can often be blinded by their history with a team member who was "there from the start" and unwittingly give them a "lifetime employment award" at great expense to the organization's culture and the morale of its other employees."
William Matthies in Business Wisdom: Words to Manage By posted at Business Wisdom: Words to Manage By.
Mike Henry Sr. in Community's Forth Dimension posted at Lead Change Group Blog.
Tanmay Vora in Quick Thought on Leadership and Subordination to a Cause posted at QAspire - Quality, Management, Leadership & Life!, saying, "When people subordinate a leader, they are not a leader's subordinates. They are subordinates to a cause. In that context, even a leader is subordinate to a cause. This post tries to emphasize on this very important facet."
And the winner is.....Tanmay Vora
The nominations are:
Mary Jo Asmus in Listening, Part II: What REALLY Gets in the Way? posted at Mary Jo Asmus.
Sharlyn Lauby in 7 Types of Power in the Workplace posted at hr bartender, saying, "Everyone has power. It's using your power effectively that makes a positive difference."
Alice Snell in Influence and Learning posted at Taleo Blog - Talent Management Solutions.
LisaRosendahl in Eliminating the Static in Performance Management posted at Lisa Rosendahl, saying, "Performance management is one of the most important things a supervisor can do and it is essential that it be done respectfully and professionally from start to finish.
Jennifer V. Miller in 25 Free Leadership Resources posted at The People Equation.
And the winner is...... Jennifer Miller !
The nominations are:
David Zinger in Employee Engagement: The Zinger 2020 Vision posted at Employee Engagement Zingers, saying, "The future of employee engagement during this decade."
Jason Seiden in Your Job Sucks? Really? I'm Shocked. Oh, Wait: No I'm Not. posted at Next Generation Talent Development, saying, "Leadership success starts with the ability to work through adversity... even when adversity comes in the form of our own bad attitudes."
Steve Roesler in All Things Workplace: What Do We Expect From "Real" Leaders? posted at All Things Workplace, saying, "Leadership authority Steve Roesler says, "One thing I am sure of: You can't microwave leaders and expect a 5-Star Experience.""
Scott Eblin in Next Level Blog posted at Next Level Blog, saying, "One of the biggest questions for managers moving into executive leadership roles is "How do I delegate bigger decisions to my team and still manage risk?" Scott Eblin has been talking with his clients about that question and has come up with some answers."
Tom Glover presents Challenges To Being a Team posted at Reflection Leadership.
And the winner is..... Scott Eblin!
The nominations are:
Miki directs MAPping Company Success posted at MAPping Company Success, saying, "In any leadership position you are responsible for creating the culture or subculture (the culture of your group within the overall company culture). Here are 7 basic areas you need to think through and do in order to create and implement the kind of culture you want."
Wally Bock directs 4 Reasons Why Being a Boss is Not an Olympic Event posted at Three Star Leadership Blog, saying, "Olympic athletes are fun and inspiring to watch. But they're lousy role models for a boss."
Adi Gaskell directs A siesta a day keeps the afternoon slump away posted at The Management Blog, saying, "An article showing the virtues of having a nap in the afternoon if you want to be at your best throughout the day."
Amy Wilson directs Pay for Performance is Dead...almost posted at TalentedApps, saying, "This post covers several signals suggesting that the pay for performance model that we’ve touted in the past might need a serious makeover."
Nissim Ziv directs Leading a Team Effectively posted at Job Interview Guide, saying, "Teams can be a very effective in producing innovative solutions in the workplace. In jobs throughout every industry, employers always emphasize the need for “good team players.” Teams can generate enthusiasm and increase communication between workers from different departments. “Teamwork” should be the mantra of every organization. Yet, we all know that creating a team can be a bit like creating a monster."
And the winner is.... Wally Bock!
Best Special Effects:
Aaron Windeler presents Leadership: You don’t know it when you see it posted at Scientific Management.
Nick McCormick presents Social Media Policy Guidelines posted at Joe and Wanda - on Management.
Benjamin McCall in Thing about Leadership... One size does not fit all, posted at ReThinkHR.org.
Shawn M. Driscoll in Dealing with Disillusionment posted at Shawn Driscoll.
Anne Perschel in Fixing the Hole in the Corporate Soul posted at Germane Insights, saying, "Business guru Gary Hamel published "The Hole in the Corporate Soul," (WSJ) the same day I was writing how to fix it."
And the winner is..... Anne Perschel!
Here are the rest of our nominations:
Ericka Hines presents Leadership: The future that will exist posted at Ericka Hines, saying, "My blog is targeted towards those in the public sector(nonprofits/social enterprise/government) . I try to make the idea of leadership accessible to understand and to do. I hope that this works for the carnival."
Jason Reid presents Multi-tasking – doing things badly in twice as much time posted at Sick With Success .com, saying, "A look at how using synergy accomplishes more than multitasking (with examples)."
Andy Klein presents Embrace failure as part of growth posted at The Fortune Group Blog, saying, "When people know they can try and fail and not be reprimanded for doing so, they soon get good at what they do. Growth means trying, so encourage people to try!"
Katy Tynan presents The Simple Path to Leadership Bench Strength posted at Survive Your Promotion!.
Divinelysmile presents The Gender Gap: 10 Surprising Stats on Women in the Workplace posted at JobProfiles.org - Job Descriptions and Online Schools to Start Your Career.
Angela Martin presents 50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First posted at Online Colleges.org.
Heather Stagl presents Monitor Your Organization’s “Non-Verbal” Communication posted at Enclaria LLC, saying, "It is widely cited that 93% of meaning in a conversation is derived from non-verbal cues. Extrapolating this phenomenon to organizational communication means that most meaning comes from outside official sources."
Kathy C presents Coaching as a Leadership Competency posted at The Thriving Small Business.
Russell Dygert presents Steak or Hamburger posted at Becoming Who I Should.
Gilda Bonanno presents Using Improv Comedy's "Half-Life" Technique to Stay Within Your Time Limit While Presenting posted at Gilda Bonanno's blog, saying, "Public Speaking is an essential success skill for leadership development yet many aspiring leaders still struggle with it. One of the most frequent mistakes they make is to go over the time limit when presenting. This blog post describes a technique from improvisational comedy that can help presenters learn to deliver the essential elements of their message while staying within the time limit."
The next edition of the Leadership Development Carnival will be hosted by Sharlyn Lauby, over at hr Bartender on April 4th. Please use the Carnival Submission form on the sidebar if you would like to submit a post.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
BTW, some of you may be looking for my next installment of “Leadership Lessons from Undercover Boss”. You can stop waiting – I’ve stopped watching after the third episode. I said I would give it one more chance after the disappointing Hooters episode – and I did. I suffered through watching 7’Eleven’s CEO Joseph M. DePinto be amazed at how much coffee one of his store sold, how much food they threw away, and how hard his employees worked. He came across as another “Forrest Gump” CEO – basically a nice guy, but clueless. I can’t take it any more. I'll stick with American Idol for my dose of reality show.
Anyway, back to the new series.
I work with a lot of very successful leaders and aspiring leaders who set very ambitious improvement goals for themselves. They want to be more strategic, lead change, be more visionary, improve their presentation skills, learn marketing and finance, and improve their work-life balance. Yes, these are all important and impressive goals. However, they can be huge mountains to climb, and take years to master.
I once heard of a parent that screamed at their teenager: “if you want to clean up the environment, why don’t you start by cleaning your damn room!”
Sounds like pretty good advice for leaders too. In addition to those BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals), why not set some little-bitty achievable goals (LBAGs) for yourself too?
Something that requires little investment but yields a lot of profit, with a nice ROI. $$$
Here’s part 1: Show up on Time
Imagine yourself in the following scenarios and respond with brutal honesty:
1. You’re at a meeting that looks like it’s going to run late. You check your blackberry and see your next meeting is with one of your employees. It’s just a routine 1on1. What would you do?
2. You have a meeting to get to on the other side of town that starts in 20 minutes. On a good day you can make it there in 10 minutes. You’re buried with emails. Do you knock off a few more emails, or leave now to give yourself a little cushion at the risk of arriving early?
3. You’re in a very important meeting that’s running late. Someone 3 levels down in the pecking order has an appointment with you and is waiting for you in your office. Does this bother you at all? Or should they understand, given your position and responsibilities?
4. You have a meeting with the CEO at 4:00m. What time do you show up?
Your responses to these scenarios will tell you a lot about how you manage your time. OK, so you might have a time management issue- big deal, right?
However, they might also reveal some clues that you may be abusing your power as a leader and/or showing a lack of respect for others. You might be subconsciously prioritizing who you are late for based on status, or self-inflated view of yourself.
Does that sound overly harsh and judgmental? It may be. We're all human, and we're all late now and then. Stuff happens. Believe me, I’m nowhere near perfect when it comes to being on time. However, at least I feel really bad about it when it happens. In fact, writing this post serves as a reminder that I've been slipping.
I didn’t always understand this. I was one of those habitually late people.
There were two events that woke me up.
A few years ago, I was that minion waiting outside the big kahuna’s office. I was used to it…. it went along with the territory. However, this executive was different, and taught me a huge lesson I’ll never forget. He came rushing up to me, shook my hand, and sincerely apologized for keeping me waiting. He said it went against a strongly held personal value he had – that NO one, no matter who they were, had the right to abuse their power and keep someone else waiting.
Wow. Heck, he was only 5 minutes late… but he really meant it. He made me feel important – just as important as if he had kept the CEO waiting. I respected him so much for that, and always went out of my way to be an advocate for him.
He was a role model for me, and while I haven’t always lived up to that standard, I’ll always remember the lesson and have strived to.
The second event involved a project team that I was a part of. Again, I was that person that always looked at showing up on time as “early”. I figured nothing every happens the first 5 minutes of a meeting, everybody else does it, and I was being productive by maximizing every minute of my precious time.
This project leader took me aside one day and explained to me the impact that being late to his meeting had on him. To him, it was a slap in the face as the leader of the team. I was telling him my time was more valuable than not only his, but the other 10 people in the room. It wasn’t just a nuisance to him… it really bothered him, and he assessed performance based on this character flaw. To him, it was career limiting.
Fortunately, he cared enough about me and my development to give me this feedback and advice. I’ll bet there were a lot of other managers where he didn’t, and held it against them.
These two experiences changed the amount of value I put on being on time.
Being on time shows people you can manage your work and life, you’re competent, you’re responsible, and shows respect for others.
As leaders, we’re judged by our actions – not our intentions. Want to earn the respect of others? Start by showing up on time.