Welcome to our August business eNewsletter focusing on leadership in the workplace.
Quote of the month:
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series
In this Issue…
- A Quick, Easy Way To Set Up New Leaders (And Their Team) For Success
- 5 Keys to Inspiring Leadership, No Matter Your Style
- You Shouldn’t Try to Change the World
- 4 Leadership Lessons That Leaders Say They Wish They Had Learned Sooner
A Quick, Easy Way To Set Up New Leaders (And Their Team) For Success
By Cari Coats
The only thing certain about a leadership transition is its inherent uncertainty. What are the priorities of the new leader? Will there be changes? How will they fit in, or worse yet, will they?
Reports suggest that as many as 40% of new leaders fail regardless of whether they’re promoted from within or hired externally. What gives? These are qualified, successful executives with track records. And the interview process is painstakingly thorough.
In my coaching practice, I do a lot of work with transitional leaders. All too often, companies undervalue a strategic and disciplined approach to onboarding new leaders, one that pays particular attention to the critical importance of culture fit. After all, their new leader already knows how to be successful. They don’t need anyone to hold their hand. Well, there’s a reality to Marshall Goldsmith’s best-seller, What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, and it applies here.
Teams often have limited information about a new leader, their priorities and operating style. Likewise, the new leader comes in with their own ideas, may not take the time to “listen and learn” and often is unaware of key issues and/or concerns. Yet, building rapport and trust quickly is essential for the team to perform.
A best practice I’ve used to accelerate the time it takes for a new leader and their team to get to know each other, clarify expectations and ensure a successful start is a New Leader Assimilation session. It’s best done at about the 45-to-60-day mark of the leader’s tenure, facilitated by an objective, third party who walks the leader and team through a series of steps and questions, only taking a few hours. Here’s how it works:
1. Leader sets the tone and exits: The leader opens the session by giving a brief explanation of their leadership style, background, operating philosophies and vision for the team. The leader encourages open, honest communication and commits to listening and being responsive to the needs of the group. The leader then hands off to the coach or facilitator and leaves the session.
2. Feedback and group input: Next, the coach walks the team through a series of questions and documents all of the responses on a flip chart. Questions include:
• What do and don’t you know about the leader (but would like to know)?
• What do you want the leader to know about the team? You? The company? Current state? History/background? Company culture?
• What should the leader pay attention to in this role?
• What do you need most from the leader?
• If you could define the top three priorities for the leader in the next six months to a year, what would they be?
• What one or two things can the leader do to help you individually and/or as a team right now (early wins/quick fixes)?
• What are your concerns? What are you afraid to ask?
• How are you going to help to make the leader successful?
3. Leader response preparation: The team breaks, and the coach debriefs with the leader one-on-one to review the feedback and formulate messaging and response. The more candid and transparent the leader is, the better. Quick wins should be identified and fleshed out.
4. Leader/team open discussion, commitment and follow-up. The leader and team regroup and the coach facilitates discussion around the leader’s responses and clarifying questions. Quick fixes are discussed. It’s important that the leader thank the group for their input and candor and commit to next steps and follow-up.
The New Leader Assimilation is a quick, safe way to fuel team connection, initiate trust, and ultimately drive performance. It’s a small investment of time that pays huge dividends.
Read this article Forbes.com
5 Keys to Inspiring Leadership, No Matter Your Style
By Gwen Moran
Inspiring greatness is all about leading by example. The best leaders have these habits in common.
This article is included in Entrepreneur Voices on Effective Leadership, a new book containing insights from more than 20 contributors, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders.
Forget the stereotypical leadership image of a buttoned-up person in a gray suit hauling around a hefty briefcase. Today, standout leaders come in all shapes and sizes. She could be a blue jeans-clad marketing student, running a major ecommerce company out of her dorm room. He might be the next salt-and-pepper-haired, barefoot Steve Jobs, presenting a groundbreaking new device at a major industry conference.
“Our research indicates that what really matters is that leaders are able to create enthusiasm, empower their people, instill confidence and be inspiring to the people around them,” says Peter Handal, chief executive of New York City-based Dale Carnegie Training, a leadership-training company.
That’s a tall order. However, as different as leaders are today, there are some things great leaders do every day. Here, Handal shares his five keys for effective leadership:
1. Face Challenges.
Great leaders are brave enough to face up to challenging situations and deal with them honestly. Whether it’s steering through a business downturn or getting struggling employees back on track, effective leaders meet these challenges openly. Regular communications with your staff, informing them of both good news and how the company is reacting to challenges will go a long way toward making employees feel like you trust them and that they’re unlikely to be hit with unpleasant surprises.
“The gossip at the coffee machine is usually 10 times worse than reality,” Handal says. “Employees need to see their leaders out there, confronting that reality head-on.”
2. Win Trust.
Employees are more loyal and enthusiastic when they work in an environment run by people they trust. Building that trust can be done in many ways. The first is to show employees that you care about them, Handal says. Take an interest in your employees beyond the workplace. Don’t pry, he advises, but ask about an employee’s child’s baseball game or college graduation. Let your employees know that you’re interested in their success and discuss their career paths with them regularly.
When employees, vendors or others make mistakes, don’t reprimand or correct them in anger. Instead, calmly explain the situation and why their behavior or actions weren’t correct, as well as what you expect in the future. When people know that you aren’t going to berate them and that you have their best interests at heart, they’re going to trust you, Handal says.
3. Be Authentic.
If you’re not a suit, don’t try to be one. Employees and others dealing with your company will be able to tell if you’re just pretending to be someone you’re not, Handal says. That could make them question what else about you might be inauthentic. Have a passion for funky shoes? Wear them. Are you an enthusiastic and hilarious presenter? Get them laughing. Use your strengths and personality traits to develop your personal leadership style, Handal says.
4. Earn Respect.
When you conduct yourself in an ethical way and model the traits you want to see in others, you earn the respect of those around you. Leaders who are perceived as not “walking their talk” typically don’t get very far, Handal says. This contributes to employees and other stakeholders having pride in the company, which is an essential part of engagement, Handal says. Also, customers are less likely to do business with a company if they don’t respect its values or leadership.
5. Stay Curious.
Good leaders remain intellectually curious and committed to learning. They’re inquisitive and always looking for new ideas, insights and information. Handal says the best leaders understand that innovation and new approaches can come from many places and are always on the lookout for knowledge or people who might inform them and give them an advantage.
“The most successful leaders I know are truly very curious people. They’re interested in the things around them and that contributes to their vision,” Handal says.
Read this article Entrepreneur.com
You Shouldn’t Try to Change the World
By Robbie Abed, Author, writer, and founder of Firemeibegyou.com
Boeing CIO Ted Colbert teaches entrepreneurs how to do innovation the right way.
First, he wakes up at 4, every morning.
He works out, every morning.
And he reads, every morning.
If you’re like me, you’re lucky if you can do just one of those three.
It’s clear that he’s a man on a mission, and in many respects he is an entrepreneur leading change within a large organization.
I reached out to Colbert, because I have always been curious how leaders of large companies approach leadership. Time and time again, I’ve seen that the best leaders are entrepreneurs within their organizations, and we have a lot to learn from them. Here is what I learned from him.
1. The best way to change the culture of a company is to let the data do the talking
How many times have you presented the vision for your company and gotten blank stares? You spent nights and weekends on this beautiful presentation, and it fell flat.
Well, chances are the reason it fell flat is that no one believed you.
I became curious. How do you convince hundreds of thousands of people to act on your grand vision? More meetings and town halls can only go so far.
Colbert has an answer to that problem:
“I knew from day one that the best way to make positive change within an organization was to empower our teams to collect data through projects in specific business units, and use that data to guide us to better decisions. If you unlock the power of data, you unlock the capabilities of your team to make better decisions.”
For entrepreneurs, the best way is to launch early and get market feedback. If you’re waiting for a big launch and no one has seen your product, you’re going to have a hard time. You and your team should be confident that what you’re building is actually needed. You only have so many executive decisions in you before things start to fall apart.
2. Don’t try to change the world overnight. Find the real challenges and implement solutions to them one step at a time
The one common theme during my interview with Colbert was that he focused on demonstrating value and empowering “pathfinders” to enable real innovation to happen within the organization.
It seems like an obvious point to make, but from my experience of working for many organizations, large and small, demonstrating value was never achieved, because the focus was on big-bang projects with big launches that sometimes failed the day they launched.
Becoming a pathfinder and being on the frontlines of what you’re creating allows you to build trust with your team. If your team doesn’t trust that what you’re building is going to work, then you’re going to have a tough time scaling.
3. What’s the best way to recruit great talent? Do great work
“There is no magic trick to hiring great people. Great people want to work for companies doing great things. So the best way to hire great people is to naturally create great, world-changing products,” says Colbert.
Incidentally, the morning of my interview with Colbert, Boeing announced it was working on a hypersonic jet that would allow you to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo in three hours.
Of course, many of us are not able to create a hypersonic jet, but we are capable of creating things that will make an impact in the world. If you create something you believe in, chances are there will be a lot of other people out there who want to believe in it.
So, don’t focus on the “recruiting trick” or the Ping-Pong table and video game room. Want to attract and hire great people? Create something people can be proud of.
4. Aspire to do great things, but always focus on core values
Entrepreneurs are forced to adapt to their surroundings. We have to sniff out opportunities.
“Always focus on core values, and let those values guide you through the noise around you. It’s easy to get distracted, but I always lead to my true north values. I believe in them, and therefore I lead by them. Don’t let your aspirations get in the way of your core values,” says Colbert.
Aspire to do great things. Just let the data do the talking, lead by example, and if you have to get up at 4 o’clock every morning, then maybe you should start one day at a time.
Read this article at the Inc.com
4 Leadership Lessons That Leaders Say They Wish They Had Learned Sooner
By Jeff Boss, Contributor
As a leadership coach, I often see the same leadership challenges arise across industries. There’s the challenge of time (there’s never enough of it), decision making, navigating organizational politics (which is really a trust issue), creating a shared purpose, communicating across silos and, of course, the dreaded accountability factor (which is typically absent).
No matter what industry you’re in, there are certain performance measures that must occur if you are to move the ball forward. There needs to be leadership that governs and guides direction and behavior – and not just “up there” but at the individual employee level, as well. There needs to be trust before there’s candor so your team can optimize how it communicates and, therefore, produce work. There needs to be information sharing so people understand context and intent which allow them to make their own decisions.
However, achieving these are easier said than done. While not an all-inclusive list, below are four common lessons that I hear leaders say they wish they had learned sooner:
There is no work/life balance.
Stop chasing it. The whole work/life balance thing doesn’t exist if you’re ambitious, motivated and hungry. You can’t get to the next level, achieve your goals or pursue your dreams if you’re only playing 50% of the time. To do what you love and love what you do takes work – a lot of work. I certainly didn’t become a SEAL because I had “balance.” Instead, what I had was an obsession. I had a goal and was obsessed with achieving it. As a result, I created impact in my life and in my work. Think of the work and life domains as existing along a spectrum where one day requires more effort at work and another demands more attention at home. Obviously, the challenge is when work demands all your attention such that it takes away from your impact at home. Accept it. Stop fighting it. You can’t chase both dragons. That’s why setting decision-making boundaries for yourself and your team is so important because boundaries reduce the sense of enormity and overwhelm caused by uncertainty. Speaking of decisions…
Making the right decision vs. making the safe decision.
I spoke to a healthcare project management team one time and I asked the group, “What does leadership mean to you?” One of the participants responded, “Leadership is about being liked.” No, leadership is not about being liked. If leadership were about being liked then it wouldn’t be called leadership, it’d be called friendship.
Leadership is about having the courage to make unpopular decisions because they’re the right decisions. It’s also a leader’s job to communicate not only the why behind that decision so people understand the rationale behind it but to also to listen to people’s concerns so you can make a more informed decision.
Strong leaders don’t shy away from difficult decisions. They may not like some of the decisions they face but they know that avoiding a decision is also decision in itself, and procrastination only exacerbates the problem.
Emotions aren’t scary.
Emotions are uncomfortable topics for weak leaders. That’s a strong statement, I know, but in my experience as a leadership coach, the strongest leaders are comfortable talking about emotions because they’re confident with themselves. Think of it this way. Leadership takes courage. If leadership was easy then it wouldn’t be an approximate $130 billion industry and I’d be out of a job. Performing a skill you’re already good at or having a discussion about a topic you’re already comfortable with isn’t leading, it’s execution. It takes courage to talk about uncomfortable topics (emotions in this case), and when you do, you become not only more resilient as a result but also a leader that people are willing to follow because of your courage.
Behind every complaint is an unexplored question.
Meetings are more than employees simply getting together to talk and “figure things out.” Meetings provide an opportunity for connection and belonging. Nowhere else are there such glaring opportunities to build community, make decisions, connect and find meaning. However, counterproductive workplace behaviors, such as showing up late or having sidebar conversations, pose direct threats to such opportunities. Even a seemingly benign remark by an employee provides insight into that employee’s world. Instead of ignoring it, ask the employee to help you understand his or her thinking behind it. Otherwise, the same problem will persist or worsen.
Learning is a competitive advantage, and the most effective leaders dedicate time to learn. What leadership lessons do you wish you had learned?
Read this article at the Forbes.com
The views and opinions presented in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of SpiritBank.