Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Before you can Lead Others, you need to Manage Yourself.

This post recently appeared in SmartBlog on Leadership:

Before you can earn the right to lead others, you need to “manage” yourself.
I know I’m not the first to use that phrase. Steven Covey wrote about it, and it’s taught in our leadership program at the University of New Hampshire. 

It’s more than just another nice, pithy little leadership motto. It’s so true! But what exactly does it mean?
In plain language and practical application, it means that no one is going to follow or be inspired by someone who is an emotional train wreck, a red hot mess, and can’t punch themselves out of a paper bag without giving themselves a black eye.

In addition to the mixed metaphors, here’s what managing yourself means:
1. You know who you are and how you are perceived by others. We leadership development geeks call this “awareness of self”. It’s not as easy as it sounds - most people have “blind spots” as to how they are perceived by others. We overestimate our strengths and expect to be judged by our good intentions, not by how we are really behaving and if we have insulting the hell out of somebody.

In order to improve our self-awareness, we need to stand in the mirror and see ourselves as others see us, not as how we see ourselves or want to be seen. That can only happen with feedback. In order to get feedback, we need to seek it out, respond non-defensively and with gratitude, and then actually do something about it.

2. Develop your Emotional Intelligence. Daniel Goleman nailed it in his classic 1998 HRB article “What Makes a Leader”. When he examined the elements of emotional intelligence (self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill) he found a direct correlation with leadership effectiveness and business results.
I’d recommend taking an emotional intelligence (EI) self-assessment, or even better, an EI 360 assessment, where you ask others to rate your behaviors. The good news is, EI, unlike IQ, can be improved with understanding and practice.

3. “Control” your emotions. Another way of saying self-regulation. Controlling your emotions doesn’t mean not being emotional – it means not letting the limbic part of your brain take over the rest of you and cause you to go on psychotic rampages. For more on how to maintain your compose, see last month’s Brief.
4. Develop a set of guiding principles, or core values and walk the talk. Core values could include integrity, honesty, credibility, respect for others, and humility. Great leaders are crystal clear on their values and use their values guide their behaviors and decisions. With a clear and consistent set of values, or guiding principles, leaders demonstrate consistently in their behavior and others understand where they are coming from and why.

5. Balance. By balance, I don’t just mean “work and life balance”. I mean taking care of yourself – your health, practicing mindfulness, managing your stress levels, getting enough sleep and exercise, and building meaningful  relationships. We know this when we see it – we say “you know, that Cheryl really has her %$#& together.” When you are out of balance, it impacts your behavior, which impacts your ability to lead others.
So if you want to inspire, motivate, set direction, and make a difference in the lives of others – to lead – great! But you first need to get your own %&*$ together and learn to manage yourself.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

What You Need to Master Work/Life Balance

Guest post by Jeremie Kubicek 

You are a business owner. Your life is out-of-control, or that is how it feels at times. Some days you are connected with those you love and other days you feel so distant. Other days, you are so productive that you are amazed, while others you feel burned out because of over work. 

Does that sound familiar? That was my life for years. Driving hard, making things happening and trying to manage work/life balance. 

Get this. Work life balance is a farce. Others usually speak it to people, with the goal of getting them to work less and connect more. Again, that doesn’t work. And again, I know because I have both tried it and have been spoken to by these noble friends. 

Work life balance is primarily not about time. That is where most work life balance tools go wrong. They assume that if busy adults could simply manage their time then all will be well and everyone will enjoy them and vice versa. 

Business and life is actually more about mindset than time. For instance, I can schedule a lunch with my wife during the week because I want to feel good that I connected with her during the work day, but actually be very far away from her. My body may be at the lunch, but my mind might be very far away. The same can occur with time with kids or friends. 

How our mind goes, so goes our actions. Therefore, we have to master our minds in order to shift into the right gears at the right time. Time is not the issue, our mindset is. 

Here are the best ways to learn how to shift your mindset so that you can be both present and productive in a consistent way:

1. Pick a marker that triggers your mind to shift from task mode to connected mode. I currently use a bridge as my marker to shift my mind into the best gear to be present with my family on the way home. The results will be more connectivity with your family with greater peace in your personal life.

2. Use time to cause you to shift into the appropriate gear. The :58’s are good triggers to cause you to shift. If you have a meeting at 3PM, then use 2:58 to shift into thinking about your next meeting and the person specifically that you are going to meet. The results will be increased influence and more productivity as well.

3. Don’t look at email before breakfast if possible. When we choose to do so we let others set our agenda for the day based on their email or request. When you choose to wait then you can appropriately recharge and be energized for the day ahead.

I my new book, I take these concepts deeper by using a metaphor called the “5 Gears.” It is based on a manual stick-shift transmission, with each gear correlating to a corresponding behavior that people shift into at certain times and with certain people. Each gear has a purpose, and if you apply this driving analogy to the way you “drive” your life – aligning the right gear with the right speed and situation – it will allow for a smooth journey. The goal being to help busy adults become masters in emotional intelligence. 

If you have issues with being distracted or possibly with becoming overwhelmed by your work consistently, then your mind might be stuck in 4th or 5th gear. If you don’t shift appropriately then you will stay stuck in a gear that will eventually cause burnout, discontentment from loved ones and a disconnection from reality.  Most adults live in that space today. 

Learn how to shift your mind to be in the right gear at the right time and you will experience a work life balance based that leads to you being present and productive.

Bestselling author Jeremie Kubicek is co-author of 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time and co-founder of GiANT Worldwide, a global company dedicated to transforming and multiplying leaders and teams. Follow him on Twitter at @jeremiekubicek.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Are you Rewarding “the Right Stuff”?

Rewards systems reinforce what management values.
Are you rewarding “the right stuff”?
Read Michael G. Winston’s guest post over at About.com Management and Leadership to learn about the importance of rewarding “the right stuff” and the consequences of not doing so.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why You Need an Executive Coach

Guest post by Bonnie Marcus:

I earned my certification as an executive coach in 2006. At that time most people still assumed that coaching was done primarily in sports not business. Coaching for executives was a relatively unknown field and untapped resource. When companies hired a coach for an executive then, it was primarily because that executive needed some assistance to improve their leadership and management skills; that they weren’t meeting the expectations of their position. Coaching, therefore, had a stigma and was not considered a coveted asset.
Now, almost a decade later, there has been a shift in perception and subsequent use of executive coaches. Most individuals and companies hire coaches to improve performance, but also to provide executives with the guidance and support to take their leadership to the next level. Executive coaching gives individuals a distinct advantage in a competitive ever-changing environment by helping them increase their influence and effectiveness as leaders; enhance their political savvy.
Executive coaches assist leaders with gaining a better understanding of their strengths to build influence across the organization.  Betsy Myers, founding director of the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University, writes in her book, Take the Lead, that “Leadership isn’t something you can put on like a suit of clothes or generate by copying someone else. Leadership is about who you genuinely are. Successful leaders are those who are conscious of their behavior and the impact it has on the people around them.” Leveraging authenticity through self-awareness not only nurtures confidence, it also reinforces credibility with key stakeholders and sets an example for everyone in the organization to follow. This self-awareness is a reality check that is not easily accomplished without the honest, objective feedback of a good coach.
Coaches contribute an objective perspective on the political landscape of the corporate culture which is essential for the survival and success of any executive. In order to be an effective leader, it is critical to understand the dynamics and to stay tuned to the fluctuations in the workplace. It’s easy to lose focus on the politics in order to accomplish the necessary tasks for one’s job. A coach provides a road map to navigate the complexities of the organization and to establish the accountability required to stay focused on the politics and relationship building.  This ongoing attention to the work environment protects executives from potential power plays that can rob them of their power or position. The information gathered with a coach from a regular assessment of the politics helps to identify potential allies to champion important initiatives as well as to determine possible barriers to success.
Consistent with nurturing political savvy, a coach partners with the executive to manage their reputation internally and across the industry. Understanding how best to position and advocate for their leadership, their team, their organization, and their mission is a political skill. Communicating their vision and motivating others to take action is essential for effective leadership, and a coach will help craft the right message and delivery.
Finally having a coach as a career partner helps executives cope with ongoing stress. Today’s frenetic business environment requires its leaders to be resilient. The fast pace and constant pressure of workplace culture calls for the ability to not only make quick decisions but change direction with a minute’s notice. That culture, along with the desire to maintain some balance in life despite constant distractions and requirements of the job, creates a pressure cooker of stress. An executive’s energy can easily be depleted, their effectiveness challenged especially when their stress is not managed. The coach is there to advise their client of potential stress triggers as well as the optimal method to manage the pressure of their position.
In summary, executive coaching today goes beyond the traditional approach of performance improvement. A coach provides a great advantage to an individual seeking to improve their influence and effectiveness. By hiring executive coaches for support, an organization benefits from having leadership that is well positioned to move the organization forward and be competitive in today’s marketplace.
Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed., is the President of Women’s Success Coaching, where she helps professional women advance their careers. She is the author of THE POLITICS OF PROMOTION: How High-Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead (Wiley).  You can connect with her at www.womenssuccesscoaching.com.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

12 Flavors of Feedback

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.”
-           Ken Blanchard

Yes, feedback can be motivational and developmental. But it can also be a cold, harsh slap in the face. It all depends on the delivery.

Read my latest post over at About.com Management and Leadership for 12 positive and negative examples of how to provide employee feedback.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What are YOU Looking At?

Author and consultant Bill Treasurer writes about the importance of coaching someone to focus on what they need to do, not what they should avoid.

Read about it over at About.com Management and Leadership. But whatever you do, don’t go near that rock!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

5 Ways to Manage Conflict

When it comes to managing conflict, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Or for you cat lovers, there's more than one way to bake a cake. In fact, there are five ways to manage conflict, or five conflict management styles.

Read my latest post over at About.com Leadership and Management development to learn about each of the five styles and when to use them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

10 Ways to Keep Cool and Composed

This post was originally recently published in SmartBlog on Leadership:

When a leader blows up, loses their temper, or lets their emotions get the better of them they can quickly develop a reputation as volatile, moody, defensive, or having a lack of leadership presence.
Unfortunately, all it takes is one public outburst. When coaching leaders who have received negative 360 degree feedback about composure, I’ll ask them when the last time they lost their cool was. In most cases, it’s on a rare occasion, maybe months ago. However, people remember, and it becomes a tough reputation to overcome.

Maintaining your composure can be hard! Emotions serve us well, especially in dangerous situations. Chemicals are triggered that enable us to run away from or fight an angry bear. Which serves us fine if we are in the woods confronted by an angry bear. Not so good when confronted by an angry co-worker in a meeting.
So what can you do to overcome the urge to throttle your co-worker that says something that sets you off? Here are 10 techniques to try:

1. Channel your emotions deliberately. Learn to use your emotions as a tool, and not let your emotions control you. Great leaders understand the power of emotion. They use them to inspire, to demonstrate passion, and to be seen as authentic. However, they never let their emotions take over their brains and make them say stupid things that they later regret.
2. Identify your “triggers”. What people, behaviors, or situations tend to set you off? Think back over the last 6 months. Chances are, you’ll identify patterns. Give up on the expectation that the world or others need to change to stop setting you off. Own your own triggers and take responsibility for changing how you react.

3. Practice active listening. When you feel that trigger and adrenaline rush, keep your mouth shut and listen. Ask clarifying questions and paraphrase your understanding of the other person’s point of view. Active listening will not only buy you time to regain your composure, it will help diffuse the emotions of the person that’s attacking you.
4. Count to 10. Yes, it’s a cliché, but it works!

5. The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise: Credit goes to Mary for this one. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise.
·         Exhale completely through your mouth
·         Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

·         Hold your breath for a count of seven.
·         Exhale completely through your mouth, to a count of eight.

·         This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

6. Exercise, diet, and sleep. A lack of any of these will lead to stress, which leads to a greater likelihood of losing your cool.
7. Take a “helicopter view”. Imagine yourself rising above the situation and looking down at what’s happening. Analyze the situation – try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and figure out where they are coming from. Then, come back down and attempt to address the issue.

8. Learn to accept feedback as a “gift”. Learn the art of giving and receiving feedback.
9. Take it “off-line”. If it’s an issue that should be resolved between you and “the bear”, suggest that the issue be discussed and resolved after the meeting. Doing so allows both parties the chance to calm down and prepare to focus on problem solving without emotion getting in the way. Sometimes, what seemed important even goes away or becomes much less important.

10. Learn alternative approaches to handling conflict. Most people have a preferred style of handing conflict. There are actually six: competing, collaborating, compromising, avoiding, and accommodating. None are better than the others, they all can be very effective. See the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKITM) for more on the six conflict styles, and take the assessment to find out what your preferred style is.
Try out a few of these techniques until you find one that works for you, and you’ll be seen as a leader that stays calm and can take the heat when it gets hot in the kitchen.