Tuesday, December 30, 2014

10 New Year's Development Goals for Leaders for 2015

For many leaders, it’s a time to reflect on accomplishments for the year and establish goals for the upcoming New Year.

It’s also a good time to set leadership development goals, either as part of a formal development planning process, or just because it’s a proven way to continuously improve as a leader.

While leadership development goals should always be specific and relevant to the individual leader and linked to the organizational context, there are most likely a few common ones that most any leader could benefit from.

My latest article over at About.com Management and Leadership gives leaders a top 10 list to choose from:
New Year’s Development Goals for Leaders.

Monday, December 29, 2014

5 Measures of a Great Leader

"The world is changing at a blistering pace", says Frank Sonnenberg, and "in order to address our changing times, the leadership function is also going through a metamorphosis."

Read Frank's guest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to learn the 5 Measures of a Great Leader.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fixing Your Broken Rewards and Recognition Programs

The problem with most recognition programs is they aren’t personalized to what motivates the individual employee.

So here are some tips and techniques for you to create a reward and recognition program that is customized, impactful and will keep your employees motivated and engaged.

Read Beth Armknecht Miller’s latest guest post over at About.com Management and Leadership:

to learn more.
I wish all of my Great Leadership readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

High Potential Program Transparency and Communication

One of the most hottest issues around talent management is a lack of transparency and poor communication when it comes to high potential or successor notifications.
When someone is selected as a high potential, should they be told? How should a manager handle this tricky discussion?
Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership:

to find out!

Monday, December 22, 2014

What to Get Your Boss for a Holiday Gift

This post recently appears in SmartBlog on Leadership:
If you google “gift ideas for your boss”, you will find pages of results, mostly from companies that sell gifts.

However, if you search “should I get a holiday gift for my boss”, the consensus answers seems to be “absolutely not!”

At least according to Miss Manners (Judith Martin), Emily Post, Ask a Manager (Alison Green), and the Evil HR Lady herself (Suzanne Lucas), all very credible workplace etiquette experts.

They say it’s either blatant sucking up, or could at least give the appearance of sucking up. Holiday office gifts should be given “down”, but not “up”.

On the other end of the boss gift giving continuum, you find holiday gifts that will impress your boss. While I think the idea of giving a holiday gift to impress your boss is pretty slimy, I have to give the author credit for being transparent.
Where do I stand on the issue of holiday gift giving for the boss? Somewhere very close to the “don’t, it’s poor office etiquette”, but perhaps not that extreme.

Yes, I think it’s never appropriate to give your boss anything too expensive, but I can come up with a few thoughtful, inexpensive ideas that would be appreciated without crossing the line into sucking up territory.

Here are a few guidelines and ideas for boss holiday gift giving:
1. Never spend any more on your boss than you are spending on your co-workers.

2. If you are a boss yourself, always spend less on your boss than you spend on your own employees.
3. Stay away from gifts that are too personal or intimate, i.e., nothing that you would buy your spouse or significant other.

4. DO NOT fall prey to most of the crap on lists like this. No, thank-you, but I really don’t need a Dachshund letter organizer or a Desktop skee-ball machine.
5. Stay away from self-help books, like “How to be a Better Leader”. The boss may think you are sending a message.

6. While a small, work-related framed picture is sometimes a good idea, a framed picture of yourself is creepy. I would also avoid a picture of you and your boss with your arms around each other. That just might make your co-workers a bit uncomfortable the next time they are in your boss’s office getting reprimanded for something and you’re staring back at them being hugged by your boss.
7. Homemade goodies are definitely OK. Everyone loves Christmas cookies, including this boss. A small plate, not a gift basket that takes up the entire desk.

8. A nice pen would be OK, especially if you’ve noticed that your boss favors a certain type of pen.
9. Anything Dilbert. Good bosses don’t take themselves too seriously.

10. Something with an inspirational leadership quote. Even better if you’ve heard your boss mention the quote.
11. A card, with a nice note.

Regarding "group gifts":

What about the group gift from “all of us”? Some would say that a group gift is a way to work around the appearance of sucking up. However, the group gift can be fraught with just as many landmines. First of all, if you are the organizer, your co-workers may see you as sucking up. Plus, you now not only have to find a gift that you hope your boss with like, but you also have to please all of your co-workers.

Then, who decides how much to chip in? This person just started a new job and was asked to chip in $100! While $100 may seem ludicrous to some, it must have sounded reasonable to someone. If this ever happens to you, and you either think it’s too much to spend or you just don’t want to chip in, you can always quote me or any of my sources and say “no thank-you, it’s not considered proper office adequate”. And if you are the organizer, please don’t get cute and leave names off the card of those that didn’t chip in.

Good luck, and please don’t forget to count your blessings and have a wonderful holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Currency of Relationships

Guest post from Erica Peitler:

Today all work involves engaging and collaborating with others. If you lead any
size team and relationships are a problem for you, your plans will most definitely derail. Be attentive and ensure that your relationships are built on solid foundations and that you continually nurture them over time.

Build Your Relationship Currency with Three Building Blocks:

  •     Establish Credibility
  •     Be an Authentic Messenger
  •     Demonstrate Gravitas
Establish Credibility: Relationships in business are often first established in forums where technical topics are discussed. Asking insightful questions, listening attentively to what others have to say, validating someone else’s viewpoint with your own experiences, and sharing useful information will start to establish your credibility. These behaviors also signal your sincerity to build mutually beneficial relationships versus engaging in superficial conversations with either no agenda or in which your own personal agenda is emphasized.

Making a positive first impression through interactive engagement is an entry point that can lead to a shared interest in investing more time in building deeper relationships. Building personal credibility is an ongoing process that is facilitated by your sincere, consistent, and service-oriented behaviors to share your knowledge and expertise.

Be an Authentic Messenger: Authenticity requires being real in expressing who you are to others. To gain followers, you must be authentic, because people want to genuinely connect with, trust, and believe in their leaders.

Being our authentic selves naturally serves as a magnet to attract others into relationships with us. Being an authentic messenger means that you honestly understand how you feel about a given topic and communicate your perspective in a way that conveys both your intellectual and emotional points of view on it. When you are an authentic messenger, you are able to build deeper relationships because you are connected to yourself and therefore transmit an emotional connection to others. Authentic connections establish intimacy beyond transactional information sharing; they build trust and confidence.

Demonstrate Gravitas: Having established both credibility and authenticity creates the conditions for you to now demonstrate that you are a leader with gravitas. While many find it difficult to describe, people look up and actively turn attention to the individual who has this desirable quality. Gravitas is similar to charisma in that it captivates us, but it is less about how you physically show up and attract attention and more about how you compel others to lean in and listen with extreme interest to what you have to say because it is expected to be insightful and is delivered with meaningful wisdom. Being recognized as a leader with gravitas is a highly regarded distinction. These leaders build powerfully intimate relationships. 

If you struggle with relationships, try to take a realistic look at why. Uncovering the essence of this challenge can make a big difference in how you address your personal learning and development process. For example, being introverted may limit the number of relationships you build because your preference is for fewer, more intimate, connections. For other individuals, being disconnected from their own feelings may make them insensitive to the feelings of others, inhibiting their ability to empathize and therefore create meaningful connections. Still others may fear not being accepted or, worse, rejected, which may make them reluctant to proactively engage in the relationship-building process.

Being self-absorbed, needing to be the smartest person in the room, or being so focused on tasks that the people you are working with don’t even cross your mind are additional reasons why relationships may elude you. Find the root cause and challenge yourself to consciously address it with a coach or mentor. Seek feedback on how to change your approach so that you gain more comfort and achieve greater success with this critical leadership currency. If relationship building simply does not seem important to you, you may have a choice to make with respect to your leadership aspirations. As you progress in your professional career, your technical skills will start to matter less and your interpersonal skills will matter more. If you aspire to team or organizational leadership roles, relationship building is mandatory. If you can’t or won’t address this vital area, you simply will not advance in your career.  

About the author:
Erica Peitler is an accomplished leadership performance coach and high-impact facilitator who creates the conditions for change and growth with her clients so that they can take the evolutionary or transformational steps toward achieving their full potential as individual leaders, high performing teams, and organizations operating at a level of excellence.  www.ericapeitler.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

50 Ways to Develop Leaders

I've been writing a series of posts over at About.com Management and Leadership covering use of the 9 box performance and potential matrix for succession planning and leadership development.
The latest installment is how to use the 9 box to diagnose development needs and come up with "box appropriate" development ideas:
Others in the series include:


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

7 Ways to Assess Leadership Potential

There is more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case, to assess for leadership potential using the performance and potential 9 box matrix.

Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership Development to find out how.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

7 Traits That Indicate You Might Not Be Leadership Material

Guest post from Rosalinda Randall:

Are you ready to consistently set a good example? Can you be engaging,
good-humored, tactful, available, considerate, courteous, honest, reliable, and understanding, every day, all day?

Being an effective leader is a task not everyone can do. At least not without guidance from mentors, experience, desire to think of others first, and the will to absorb his or her staff’s positive and negative traits. Are you leadership material?
1. Unpredictable moods: If you have some sort of “mood/behavior disorder”, please seek medical assistance. You may not be leadership material if:
  • you give in to your moods. 
  • your mood creates doubt in your abilities and mistrust among your coworkers.
  • your moods suggest that your decisions will be biased.
2. Emotional breakdowns are the norm: Again, if you have a personal matter that is ongoing and continuously affects your ability to do your work, please seek assistance. You may not be leadership material if:
  • you are not “available” to others.
  • you show indifference or get out of doing your duties because you just “can’t handle it” right now.
  • you create doubt as to your ability to cope with situations, opportunities, and challenges. 
3. Personal woes are apparent to all: This is relative. For some, a personal woe is not being able to buy the car of their dreams; having to settle for only a semi-luxury car instead. For others, a personal woe is losing their home, forcing them to move in with their parents. It really comes down to how you handle the woe. You may not be leadership material if:
  • you send out daily email blasts and constant posts on social media about your woe.
  • you share your woe with everyone that walks by your cubicle or enters the lunchroom.
  • you interrupt others only to show that your woe is worse than their woe. 
4. Allows unnecessary interruptions:  A day can be filled with interruptions. Are you able to control them and/or set boundaries? You may not be leadership material if:
  • you answer the phone or constantly glance away from whomever you are speaking with to check your flashing cell phone.
  • your dog distracts and interrupt you.
  • you disengage to yell out your lunch order as your coworker walks by?
5. Does not follow-through: Forgetting to reply to an email has happened to everyone. It’s how you remedy it that matters? You may not be leadership material if:
  • you make commitments and forget to show up or decide it’s not important to you.
  • you promise to gather information by the end of the day, and never do it.
  • you receive the information you requested and forget to acknowledge it.
6. Bad manners: People remember the seemingly insignificant words and small gestures. Words can change the entire delivery of a request or statement.
  • Do you use “please” when you ask for a favor, information, or make any request?
  • Do you say “thank you” after your favor or request has been satisfied?
  • Do you race to be first in line at the lunchroom buffet?
  • Do you arrive early to pick out the best donuts, but are the first to leave?
  • Do you openly point out your coworkers’ mistakes?
  • Do you gossip?
  • Do you avoid doing anything that isn’t in your job description? And if you do an extra task, you make sure everyone knows about it?
7. Same rules don’t apply to everyone: Being in a position of authority requires a professional attitude and a consistent manner when handling problems and people. You may not be leadership material if:
  • you overlook or ignore the rules with only particular staff members.
  • you don’t follow the same rules that you are imposing on others.
  • you blame others to avoid taking full responsibility.
  • you lie, omit, or exaggerate.
  • you walk around with an air of arrogance, just because you are in a position of authority.
WWALD? (What would a leader do if he/she is experiencing a crisis or personal woe?)
  • A leader would alert his/her immediate supervisor and the HR department; deciding not to burden his/her colleagues.
  • A leader would consider taking a few days off to handle the woe.
  • A leader would suck it up, put on a happy face, and exude a positive attitude.
  • A leader would gather their colleagues to fill them in; not necessarily sharing details, but enough to ease their mind.
  • A leader would privately seek assistance to help him/her resolve or manage their crisis or personal woe.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” –John Quincy Adams 

About the author:

Rosalinda Randall, author of "Don't Burp in the Boardroom" is a modern-day expert on tact and civility, using etiquette as a foundation. She has been spreading civility for more than 14 years. By lending personality and humor to an age-old topic, Rosalinda’s tactfully, straight-forward manner provides her audience with modern social and business practices.

Monday, December 8, 2014

All About the Performance and Potential Matrix

Regular Great Leadership readers are already familiar with the performance and potential matrix, otherwise known as the "9 box".

In case you'd a refresher, I'm writing a series of posts on the 9 box over at About.com Management and Leadership.

Here's part one and two:

8 Reasons to Use the 9 Box Matrix for Succession Planning and Development

How to Use the 9 Box Matrix for Succession Planning and Development


Thursday, December 4, 2014

5 Pitfalls That Make Workplace Conflicts Worse

Guest post by Peter T. Coleman and Robert Ferguson:

Great leaders are not afraid of conflict. They put it to work.

Conflict in an organization is a lot like fire. When it sparks, it can intensify, spread and lead to pain, loss, and irreparable damage. It can distract, distance, derail, and occasionally destroy opportunities and relationships. It makes most people anxious, and as a result it is often mishandled and made worse. It’s especially costly in today’s work environments where 25% to 40% of managers’ time is spent mired in conflict with aggrieved board members, supervisors, clients, peers and subordinates.

But if managed well, conflict can work for you and your organization. Constructive disagreements enhance creativity, encourage honesty, and lead to better problem solving. Great leaders know this and learn the skills it takes to make conflict work. It takes skill and wisdom to manage and resolve difficult conflicts in the workplace. But even if you feel frustrated when you fail to completely resolve the conflicts that burn around you, there are several things you can avoid in order to prevent conflicts from getting worse, and to turn them into something positive.

Avoid these pitfalls:

1. Treating all conflicts as the same. If you treat all conflicts the same way, you will fail at most of them. Our research has identified seven distinct conflict situations, depending on your answers to these three key questions:

· Is the other party cooperative or competitive? (In other words, to what extent do our goals overlap?)

· Who has more power? (Do you have less power than someone with whom you disagree, or more?)

· How much do I need the other party to achieve my goals? (Or, what can I get done without depending on others?)

The seven situations that those questions help you identify are Compassionate Responsibility, Command and Control, Cooperative Dependence, Unhappy Tolerance, Independence, Partnership, and Enemy Territory. Each situation requires a different approach, and diagnosing the situation correctly leads to the most effective strategy.

2. Ignoring power differences. Most leaders (and consultants) overlook the full significance of how power differences affect conflict. Whether you have more power than the other party, or less, it takes additional skills to get to the real issues and achieve your goals. If you have less power, you risk overstepping your bounds or inviting abuse. If you have more power, you risk eliciting dishonesty or sabotage from your supervisee. Ignoring power differences, and lacking a strategy for them, can render standard conflict resolution methods ineffective.

3. Abusing the power you have. Read any page of any history book and you see how monarchs, generals and presidents abuse power. But so do supervisors, middle managers, and team leads. You only need a little power to abuse it –– and thus make yourself less effective in conflict. Great leaders are highly aware of how they influence others, and watch out for the most common power traps, such as: “The Bulletproof Trap” (you make conflicts worse by thinking you are invincible), the “Not-Seeing-the-Trees-for-the-Forest Trap” (you appear insensitive to your underlings by ignoring details because you only see the “big picture”), and the “Screw the Rules Trap” (you bend or break rules because after all, you’re special –– you’re the leader! This sets the stage for minor or major rebellions).

4. Neglecting the power you have. Even if you are in a position of power, you also have a boss with whom you do not always agree. When you find yourself in lower power in a conflict, you may fall into different traps. These include the “Keep your Head Down Trap” (you keep your aspirations so low you don’t even try to find better solutions), the “Powerlessness Corrupts Trap” (you succumb to cynicism or rage toward those in authority, turning to apathy or sabotage), and the “Victim Status Trap” (you wallow in a sense of oppression and victimhood, which ironically can lead to a sense of superiority and refusal to negotiate).

5. Misunderstanding power. Don’t make conflict worse by acting passively. Even if you are less powerful than the person with whom you disagree, it doesn’t mean you have no power. Less power does not equal powerless. There are always informal ways to influence managers and leaders above you in the organization. And these methods do not show up on the organization chart. They include actions such as appealing to the others’ interests, eliciting cooperation, creating positive relations with superiors, fostering reciprocity, rational persuasion, increasing their dependence on you, and more. 

If you are determined to lead others to great results, learn all you can about making conflict work.

Author bios:
Robert Ferguson, PhD, is a psychologist, management consultant, and executive coach. Peter T. Coleman, PhD, is Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, Director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution. They are the authors of Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement. Follow them on Twitter @conflictpower.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Most References are Worthless (unless they are fomer managers)

When it comes to references, the only reference that matters is a former manager. The candidate’s manager is going to have first-hand experience managing the employee. They will know their strengths, weaknesses, and can even provide valuable advice for the hiring manager on how to manage the employee if hired.

Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to learn how to use the "TORC" method to get guaranteed access to a candidate's former managers!

Monday, December 1, 2014

The December Leadership Development Carnival

The December Leadership Development Carnival is up! It's being hosted this month by Michael Lee Stallard.

Over 25 recent leadership development posts from some of my favorite bloggers.

You can find it right here.