If we were great actors we would be in Hollywood…..People see what you feel

As a leader, it is a constant battle to have the right plan, attitude, and belief that success is attainable and within reach. The leadership commitment is to exude confidence and be a positive force in the organization at all times. People check their leader(s) for genuine feeling/emotion constantly, and what they are looking for is positive energy, motivation, and hope.

When you are dealing with the biggest issues and are feeling a bit down – know that no matter what you do, your true feelings and state of mind are trickling down to those you lead. You may believe you are not showing a negative side to your team, and you may even say that your peers, but don’t fool yourself for too long. In these moments (which there are many in leadership) we must act swiftly and do whatever it takes to get our heads back in the right place; only then will others feed off of the positive energy they need and deserve, and in turn everyone is then part of the solution.

Reminds me of a great quote………..

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

If you fail to handle yourself first, others will feel it and the impact is magnified.

“If you want something you’ve never had you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” – unknown or maybe Thomas Jefferson

My wife and I were visiting Asheville, NC this past weekend and walked by a local shop that had this quote in their window.  I did check the source and while it is listed as unknown, some believe it came from Thomas Jefferson.

I normally post original thoughts only, but this really struck a chord and I wanted to share. As leaders we are constantly trying to develop other leaders and the ability to grasp this concept and be motivated by it is something we must see in them.  Most “good” performers need to know something has been done before and then have to be motivated to achieve the same or better results; it requires good leadership to lead good performers and we need this foundation in our organizations. But how do we find and develop other leaders who will innovate and create tremendous growth for all stakeholders?

When striving for consistent exponential growth, we must find (or develop) team members that have the capability and desire to be entrepreneurial, which is what this quote is all about.

 

It is important to pause, relax, and thank the leaders around you….

No leader has success without the loyalty, drive, ingenuity, and tenacity of the other leaders on their team. The role of a “leader of leaders” is to mentor/motivate, challenge, and hold them accountable, but we must not forget to routinely let them know how much they are appreciated. Similarly, we should show appreciation to those who lead us as well. Just think of when someone you lead, or someone who leads you, takes the time to ask how things are going and/or proactively lets you know how much you are appreciated. How does that make you feel?

While it is so easy to do, we must fight against the tendency to assume other leaders are not in need of positive feedback. The one on one sharing of the appreciation we have for other leaders in our lives is something they are more than deserving of, and it is a necessity in creating/maintaining a great culture and ever-lasting relationships.

For any MCCi folks reading the post and for those who have led me……… Thank you! Saying it here is not good enough; I know I can do a better job of putting this in practice and will be holding myself accountable to act.

Age old lesson learned from a 1st grader’s teacher…..

This morning my oldest daughter (Eloise) asked me to sign her binder to confirm that she had done her homework, and her reading assignment last night.   She had done both so I signed it and she was all set.   As I was getting ready to head into the office, my wife told me that the day before Eloise had forgotten to get her binder signed and as a result only received 1 “pom pom” which is indicative of how well they do on any given day.  It was the first time Eloise had not received the highest mark (2 pom poms) and she was devastated.  After learning this, it made total sense in regards to how eager she was to have someone sign off this morning (her mom has always done this and she was not awake yet).

My biggest takeaway as it relates to adults and the professional world is that all organizations need awesome 1st grade teacher types (Like Mrs. Dunn in Eloise’s case) as part of their management/leadership teams. The result of setting clear expectations, inspecting results, and holding people accountable is that all are given the chance to reach their own optimal success level.  Everyone needs guidance and accountability.   While it may not be a daily focus like it is in 1st grade, the best business leaders know the importance of this same concept and it can surely be exemplified by doing a review of what the best-in-class organizations are doing.

Failure to practice the same concepts as grownups is simply a failure to lead.

People listen to people who listen

Avoidable signs of not listening:

  • Hostile tone
  • Passive aggressive questioning
  • Response before thought / considering viewPoint of other party
  • Lack of empathy / unwillingness to acknowledge concerns and opinions of others
  • Negative body language
  • Use of the wrong communication medium / inviting miss-understanding

When others make one or more of these mistakes, be a leader and do not oblige with the same approach/mistake. If you are their leader, do take the time to reflect on their approach and coach afterwards. If it is a peer, realize that taking the same approach in a response fuels divide; you can’t make someone else grow, but how you react will have an impact and influence regardless of the chain of command.

And when we are guilty of not listening we should have humility, correct it, and move forward together. Grow from it – it is what others expect and what will be respected.

Be most thankful for the leaders in your life who give guidance and feedback, but who let you/require you to lead and do the work.

I remember a moment 15 years ago when I told my boss, and told him with conviction, that I realized my job was for him to not to have to worry about what I was doing at all.   My job was to eliminate the need for him to have to manage me or any part of the business I was running.   The reaction was a genuine expression of relief on his part and we have operated under that creed without wavering for the last 15 years.   The other thing it did was allow him to go focus on other ventures and continue growing (This is what I would call nirvana for a leader; to have other leaders impacting growth in an exponential way).  Another vivid memory from an event that occurred in the last 3 years was when a new and very strategic team member came on board.  That person said the same thing, except this time it was directed a me; I was relieved and rejuvenated; it is what I wanted and needed.

Managers lay out a plan and tell their folks what to do.  They inspect, coach, and make sure the results are being realized.   The team members they manage expect them to do these things, which often limits strategic thinking, leadership development, and overall growth all the way down the food chain.   Organizations really only get the boost and the growth when managers transition to leaders and have more expectations from their teams, and of themselves.  It is on the existing leaders in the organization to stop doing what they have always done, and let/require the up and coming managers/leaders take the reins.   This requires acceptance that mistakes will happen, which is alright as long as new/different inspection systems are put in place so that mistakes are not detrimental.   This also requires managers to subscribe to the leadership concept of “if it is to be, it is up to me”, and the underlying principle that their job is to make sure their leaders do not have to develop strategy, worry, or handle execution for the area they are in charge of.   It is also on the manager/up and coming leader to not let their leader do their work.   Leadership development is a two-way street, especially in high growth organizations where everyone is growing and replacing themselves.

Regardless if we are thinking about Management or Leadership concepts, everyone needs to feel supported.   Even the President/CEO needs to feel supported by their Board, Leadership Team, etc..  However, there is a huge difference when it comes to support expectations and how they differ between Leaders and Managers.  In summary, the less managing/leading you need yourself, the more of a leader you have become.

Manager’s (Someone who has not crossed the Leadership Chasm) beliefs on the type of support they need:

  • Leadership training
  • Guidance
  • Feedback on performance
  • Assistance with personnel matters
  • Assistance drafting strategy
  • Assistance creating inspection systems
  • Assistance in motivating team members
  • Accountability

Leader’s beliefs on the type of support they need:

  • Feedback/Accountability from their Leader/Board – Primarily when they ask for it.
  • Validation of the plans, inspection systems, culture/people/motivation strategy that they put together

So if you would classify yourself as a Manager or an Up and Coming Leader, who is trying to get cross the chasm into full leadership, have you looked your leader in the eye and said – “I got this and I understand and am committed to doing what it takes so you do not have to worry about my area”?  If you are not ready to say this – don’t.  And only say it if you really understand what it means to fully lead and ready for that awesome responsibility.   Also know that your leader wants you to do this, expects you to get there, and that it is your growth path.   Own it – Crush it!

Effective Leadership (strategy, praise, admitting mistakes, etc.) is done verbally; Transacting/Formalizing is done via written communication.

The first email account I had was in college and the first text message I sent was at the age of 27 – in order to get a first date with Kristen (my bride).   For this reason and regarding leadership development, I believe I had an advantage over the folks that are in their 20’s today;  mainly because verbal communication was the primary option back then.   I only had to learn how to text (on my Nextel “beep beep” phone – note that the first iPhone was 2007) because Kristen would not answer my calls or respond to voicemail.  Comparing my experience with the younger generation who has had email and text messaging since they can remember, it has likely made leadership an even tougher endeavor for them given that face to face and verbal interactions are key to effective leadership.

I was listening to a TED talk last week and the presenter stated that the #1 benefit from a training program they delivered to their up and coming leaders was focused on communicating effectively.   It made me remember the most practical and highest impact course I had to take a long time ago when going through an MBA program, which was “Effective Communication in Business”.   I distinctly remember an exercise where they had us go through the archive of our business emails and pull the three worse examples of communication and then present them to the class.  They weren’t just teaching us how to write, the medium we should use, or self-awareness in regards to the perception others have due to our actions; they were teaching us leadership.

Regardless of what/who we are trying to lead, large advancements in what we are trying to achieve only happen with a more intimate form of communication.   The quicker/easier/less stressful way to communicate is to text/email/send a letter, etc., which is also why it is typically the wrong way to handle more strategic matters.   Written communication is still an important step, but only as a follow-up to formalize and/or confirm what was discussed.

Some examples (based on my opinion only) of when to use certain channels:

Verbal/In Person Communication Written Communication
Strategic planning Meeting notes
Consulting with customers/team Conveying supporting information
Recognition for large achievements Confirmation of understanding
Reflection on and learning from mistakes Formalizing next steps
Apologizing Reporting/inspecting what is expected
Training/mentoring Conveying general information
ANY sensitive matters Business transactions