Friday, October 17, 2014

Ask For It - Use It

A little bit of soapbox this morning.  I was reminded yesterday of one of my pet peeves - taking surveys or asking for input and not using it.

This is one of the best ways to get people to shut up and shut down.  If you continue to ask and not act you'll completely stop getting meaningful usable information to improve your leadership, customer service, employee engagement, and revenue.

At one of the organizations I used to work for, we were given employee surveys three times while I was there.  Nothing was ever meaningfully acted on with the information that was collected.  While the first survey was completed by a very high percentage of employee's, can you guess what the percentage was completed for the third one?  It was below 50%.

Why should people take time to share their opinions and ideas if they know there will be no action taken?  It's a waste of their time and intelligence.  And it doesn't look well on you either.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Actions For Aspiring Leaders

I am thrilled and honored to have a guest post today by Bill Treasurer. His latest book, Leaders Open Doors-2nd edition, was released this week and became the first book I've read through twice within a year. Check out the links at the bottom to find out more and to pick up a copy.

Actions for Aspiring Leaders

People have high, and often conflicting, expectations of leaders. At once, we expect
leaders to be reasonable but passionate, decisive but inclusive, visionary but explicit, and powerful but humble. We also want leaders who are rational but emotionally intelligent, caring but impartial, and profit-driven but people-oriented. The list of expectations is so long and contradictory that the aspiring leader is right to ask, “Where on earth do I start?!”


Here are six actions that budding leaders can take to point their leadership in the right direction:
Answer the Holy Question: Here are the four most important words that you’ll ever learn in the English language: What do you want? People will follow you to the extent that you provide a clear vision of a better future you can help them reach. But you have to start with a clear vision of what you aim to achieve through the application of your leadership influence. What, exactly, appeals to you about leading others? Why would anyone want to be led by you? What good do you hope to do on behalf of others?

Focus on Them: Leadership is not about the leader. It’s about those being led. A leader is deemed successful based on the results that the people being led achieve. It’s tempting for newbie leaders to spend time hobnobbing with leaders who are more senior to them on the organizational ladder. You’ll go farther faster by dedicating time with the people whose results determine your success…the people you’re leading.

Get Ready for Mistakes: Rookie leaders blow up when mistakes are made. Considering how often mistakes are made in any organization, budding leaders should get a handle on how mistakes are handled. People you lead will lose clients, get the data wrong, come in over budget, or drop the ball in some other way. Don’t explode or mentally write the person off. Be mindful that how you handle (or mishandle) mistakes will set an example for others to follow.

Know Their Goals: As a leader, you’ll be under a lot of pressure to advance the goals of the people above you. Some leaders get so obsessed with the goals of their bosses that they neglect the goals and aspirations of the people they are leading. People have a right to grow and develop under your leadership. But you don’t have a right to dictate the terms of that development. Converse with each person you lead to understand what they want to get out of their job, role, and career. The sweet spot is when you can align the goals of the organization with the career goals of the people you’re leading.

Nudge Toward Discomfort: People don’t grow in a zone of comfort. They grow, progress, and develop in a zone of discomfort. As a leader, your job is to provide tasks and opportunities that stretch people beyond what they already know – which, for them, will be uncomfortable. The trick is to move people enough outside of their comfort zones that they are growing, but not so far out that they are petrified with fear. You’ve gotten it right when people learn to be comfortable with discomfort.

Express Sincere Gratitude: You may say that you value people, but if you constantly move up deadlines, rarely ask for their opinions, take credit for their good work, set unrealistic goals, and don’t say “thank you” for their hard work, then you don’t really value them. And they know it. Remember, they are the ones who will determine whether or not you’re successful as a leader. So get used to saying these words like you mean it: Thank you!

Leading others is not easy. You’ll have to balance the needs of the people above you with the needs of the people you’re leading. You’ll have to deal with mistakes, complaints, and idiosyncratic personalities.

But it is also rewarding. Your leadership influence will advance the goals of your organization and bring about career growth and advancement for the people you’re leading. When it’s all said and done, you’ll become a better person in the process of contributing to the betterment of the lives of others.


Bill Treasurer is the Chief Encouragement Officer of Giant Leap Consulting and author of Leaders Open Doors, which focuses on how leaders create growth through opportunity. 100% of the book’s royalties are being donated to programs that support children with special needs. Bill is also the author of Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and Courageous Leadership, and has led courage-building workshops across the world for NASA, Accenture, CNN, PNC Bank, SPANX, Hugo Boss, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs, and many others.  Contact Bill at btreasurer@giantleapconsulting.com, or on Twitter at @btreasurer.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Leaders Open Doors - And Provide Opportunity

Still one of my favorite quotes, author Bill Treasurer says, "If your door is always open, how on earth would you effectively get any work done ...?" This is something I've tried to figure out for years, seeing many doors open and little being accomplished.

This is the second time in a year that I’ve read Leaders Open Doors, by Bill Treasurer . . . this being the new second edition.

Treasurer, Founder and Chief Engagement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting, provides us a whole new definition to "open door policy" - one that takes action to open doors for others - one that creates opportunities for others, and yourself. He mixes humor, personal stories, and a profound insight into a book that's very easy to read, understand, and put into practice.


This second edition contains an Epilogue with some engaging examples of gratitude that people have had recalling how past leaders that had opened doors for them. It’s sure to get you thinking about who has opened your doors . . . and who has not.

Leaders are role models and set the tone of the organization. Opening doors for people shows that you care for them and want them to succeed as much as yourself. This book will help you reform your culture by helping you to become a positive and powerful influencer. This is a book for sharing.  Share it, along with your new found attitude, with other leaders and you'll soon have employees that thrive and grow . . . and stay.

. . . and keep in mind - All royalities from this book are donated to children's charities!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Customer Service? But They're Co-Workers!


What all employee's need to realize is that INTERNAL customer service is just as important as external.  Everyone is a customer of someone else.  It's not rocket science.  Just think about these 3 simple factors to provide better quality service:
Respect:
Everyone has their job for a reason.  While all members of a team may not contribute equally, each is considered equally important.
When you give respect, you earn respect.

Interdependency:
It's not a one man show.  We can only truly succeed when our entire organization succeeds.
When you are there for someone, someone will be there for you.

Reciprocity:
“What goes around, comes around”.  Usually, this is used negatively.  With a winning team, it's in reference to mutual benefit and support.
When you're willing to give assistance, support, caring, and benefit of the doubt, you'll also receive the same in return.

 Give a little - gain a lot!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bad Leader Habits

"Is your workplace frustrating and lifeless or is it engaging and inspiring?"  Do you need a
little help transforming your lack luster culture?  So happy to welcome a guest post by author and speaker Chris Edmonds.  His new book, The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results,Inspiring Your Employee, and Transforming Your Workplace, is on the shelves today.



Originally published on June 16, 2014 at www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com

I learn a great deal when I’m coaching leaders and executives. Recent conversations have brought to mind three bad habits that leaders need to break.

A habit can be defined as an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

We humans find comfort in routine – even if those routines and habits don’t serve us well all the time!

If habits are “almost involuntary,” we are likely less aware of them. We might be even less aware of the benefit or disservice our habits cause us.

The following “bad leader habits” consistently cause disservice – to the leader, to their team members, to team performance, and to team member engagement. And, I see leaders struggle with the impact of these bad habits quite frequently.

The first bad leader habit is not listening. If leaders don’t listen, they’re working in the dark. They won’t understand the current reality. They’re disconnected from their key players and from key information required for good decision making.

There are two components to leader’s effective listening – understanding the speaker’s ideas, needs, or concerns, and having the speaker feel heard. Understanding the speaker’s ideas requires the leader to pay attention to what’s being said. The leader may need to ask clarifying questions to ensure he or she understands the situation or opportunity as the speaker see it. The leader may need to make notes to ensure they don’t miss anything important that’s being shared.

The speaker will feel heard if they experience the leader paying attention, showing appreciation for the speaker’s insights, and learning the speaker’s recommendations. Note that listening doesn’t mean you agree! The leader can describe their view after listening well to the speaker’s point of view.

The second bad leader habit is abdicating. Abdication is the absence of dialog and mutual problem solving. Why might a leader abdicate to a team member? The leader may trust the team member thoroughly – but isn’t positioning their delegation of authority and responsibility very well. The leader may not know anything about the issue or the opportunity – and doesn’t engage in dialog because they might feel “stupid.” Another common driver of abdication is the lack of time for the leader do to anything with the information the speaker provides.

Strategic delegation is an effective way to assign authority and responsibility. That approach requires discussion, planning, goal and deadline agreements, and the like – which doesn’t happen if the leader abdicates.

The third bad leader habit is fixing – which is the polar opposite of abdication. Fixing happens when the leader takes control of the issue or opportunity and either 1) acts on it him or herself, 2) tells the team member exactly what to do and how to do it, or 3) assigns the issue or opportunity to a different team member.

Even if the leader has the skills necessary to fix the issue, is it a good use of the leader’s time to engage in that micro-level activity? Probably not. If the team member raising the issue or opportunity doesn’t have the skills to fix it, the leader and the company would be better served to engage someone to help teach the team member those skills. That would build capacity for addressing these needs in the future.

Do you engage in any of these bad habits? The best way to find out is to ask your team members. Learn their perceptions. If you discover that you have some bad habits, refine those habits, ask for feedback, and continue to refine.

 
Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies. Chris has delivered over 100 keynote speeches to audiences as large as 5,000, and guided his clients to consistently boost customer satisfaction and employee engagement by 40+% and profits by 30+%. He is the author or co-author of six books, including “Leading At A Higher Level” with Ken Blanchard. His next book, "The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace"  will be published by John Wiley & Sons in September 2014.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Make It So

Mark Twain said, "It isn't so astonishing, the number of things I can remember, as the number of things I can remember that aren't so."

Being a leader means that information is coming at you from every direction.  With so much information to decypher, why is it that people remember so many things that aren't so?

Leaders have to realize that they're not always getting fed the best information.  Unfortunately subordinates and number crunchers want to make themselves, or the company, look the best they can . . . even at the risk of a few "fibs".  And what would we rather remember - good things or bad things?

Leadership is not a title.  It's an attitude.  No one becomes a leader because of a name plate.  It takes learning and understanding.  And that means learning to be able to sort through information in order to make the best decisions.  You need to learn to be able to cut through the . . . bad info, and focus on what's right.  It's not always going to be good.  It's not always going to be something you want to deal with.  But it's a skill that will allow you to make better decisions down the road.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Muffin Communication

I had a good laugh the other day while I was reminiscing.  I was my director's second in command.  She was someone I had a good working relationship with and often stood in for her for meetings and decision making.
Around Christmas time one year she was out of town for about 10 days or so.  On her very first day out of the office another director had dropped off some homemade muffins to her - muffins that, the directors, looked forward to every year. . . . I think you know where I'm going here.

Obviously, they would be stale before she got back so everyone in the office turned to me . . . almost in unison.  "Make an executive decision", they all said.  "It would be a shame to let them all get old."  So a decision I made.  They were delicious.

When our boss got back she was asked how the muffins were.  "Huh, what muffins?"  She wasn't too happy, and after everyone in the office pointed, went looking for - you guessed it - me.

Well after I made my many apologies - and hearing snickers from around the corner - I explained the reasoning behind it, and to make a long story short, everything was good.

This is a pretty light hearted example but it could have been something way worse.  Point is, this confrontation could have been avoided with an email, voice message, or even a sticky note.  Sometimes you need to make those executive decisions.  But ALWAYS be sure you keep the communication lines open.