Why Keeping Commitments is Critical to Your Influence

When we think of someone with integrity, we think of someone we can count on to come through on what they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not always a safe bet today.

Over the last several years I’ve noticed a change in the way we use the word integrity. The word used to mean staying true to your word—even if it’s difficult, inconvenient, or expensive. But today I hear more and more people using the word as if it means being true to themselves—even if that means leaving someone else to clean up the mess.

This might look like a win if we’re trying to save ourselves from difficulty and discomfort, but it will come back to bite us in the end. Nothing destroys our credibility faster than bailing on a commitment.

Why is integrity so important?

  1. Trust depends on integrity. If people can’t rely on your word, they won’t trust you. They may extend some grace, but eventually, people will doubt and disbelieve.
  2. Influence depends on trust. People will refuse the influence of leaders they distrust. Just look at how this plays out in politics or the media. We follow people we trust.
  3. Impact depends on influence. You can’t make the impact you want unless you can influence others and shift their behavior.

Now think of other relationships: marriage, parenting, church, whatever. The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us. If we’re not true to our words, that means our relationships will be as unreliable as we are.

“The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us.” – Michael Hyatt, Author

5 Ways to Be a Leader Everyone Adores

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Like any skill, the ability to lead successfully has to be developed and nurtured. First-time managers, especially those with little or no training, may find it counterintuitive that the “script” they’ve relied upon until now – “My skills, my talents, and my technical knowledge have led to my success” – is no longer their ticket to success as new leaders.

In fact, sticking to the same script will actually make them less effective.

Instead, new leaders must “flip their script” in the way they think and act in these 5 Key Areas:

  • Mindset
  • Skillset
  • Work attitude
  • Perspective
  • Integrity

 

1. Start learning like a leader

Center for Creative Leadership faculty member William Gentry, author of Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, explains that successful first-time managers are able to flip their mindset from “being a great individual contributor” to “being a team leader who motivates others to succeed.”

Gentry’s research found that such leaders tend to have a more open approach to learning than those stuck in the individual contributor mindset.

“Their motivation to learn because it was fun, exciting, and engaging…far outweighed their motivation to learn because it would bring them rewards, recognition, and would impress others.” Gentry even found that effective new leaders talked to themselves differently, using second-person pronouns (you and your) and not first-person pronouns (I, me, and my).

An old script might read, “I’ve never been a manager before. How can I possibly do this?”

A more constructive inner dialogue for effective new managers is: “You have the ability to learn about leading others. You can be a great boss.”

 

2. Build skills for team success.

According to Gentry’s research, effective leaders are those who make the flip from the skill set that has worked for them in the past to learning new skills crucial to managing others:

  • Communicating with others the way they want to be communicated with
  • Influencing others to move work forward and gain support for their decisions
  • Building and leading teams successfully
  • Developing others’ skills by assigning them challenging tasks and providing ongoing feedback

In Gentry’s research, leaders who relied solely on the technical expertise that landed them their promotion were unsuccessful in their new leadership role.

 

3. Delegate — don’t do it all.

Productive leaders drive team results by delegating tasks. They set goals for their team members, and they give positive and negative feedback to help them develop.

“Do it all” bosses who haven’t flipped their script still define themselves by the amount of work they alone do.

By not delegating, they convey the message that they don’t trust their team to do a good job. Team members stagnate, productivity slows, and the company suffers.

 

4. See the bigger picture.

New leaders face an abrupt change of perspective, from “outsider” to “insider” when it comes to company politics. In his book, Gentry explains that first-time managers who accept politics as a necessary part of the big picture tend to be more productive and satisfied with their jobs.

They work with the system by:

  • gathering information about the thoughts, behaviors, and needs of coworkers and stakeholders
  • observing what is appropriate behavior for each situation and acting on that
  • connecting genuinely with a diverse group of people to build support for their team’s and stakeholders’ goals and gain new information

New leaders who don’t expand their perspective will likely view politics as a chore and won’t garner any of the benefits.

 

5. Focus on what’s “right,” not what’s easy.

With leadership comes responsibility — to always act on what is “right,” rather than what’s easy or self-serving. Strong leaders have flipped their focus from themselves to how their actions could affect their team, the organization, and everyone involved.

Developing integrity takes time and practice. Gentry advises:

  • When making important decisions, ask, “What would Mom or (important others in your life) think about this?”
  • Be honest about what you can and cannot do — and when you can deliver.
  • Don’t let a relationship, time pressure, or monetary rewards cloud your judgment; take yourself out of the equation to fully understand the consequences of any decision.

New leaders who focus on integrity build trusting relationships with their team and are more likely to enjoy long-term success.

Courtesy of Center for Creative Leadership

 

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

Overcoming 4 Challenges for Top Leadership Teams

A top leadership team isn’t just another team.

The best practices and conventional wisdom of effective teams are just not sufficient to create a high-functioning team of C-level executives. The role and realities at the top create unique challenges.

Here are four (4) challenges that senior executive teams often face when they turn to Center for Creative Leadership for help:

1. The game has changed. Something is new and shakes up the team’s equilibrium. It could be a new CEO, a new team member, or new strategic challenges.  Whatever the shift, the team struggles with focus, collaboration, and trust.

2. The battle to achieve both functional and company goals has multiple fronts. Senior executives typically play a dual role of leading their own function, while being responsible for the high-level goals of the business as a whole.  This tension is constant, and can easily lead to lack of alignment and political infighting.

3. Conflict is either too intense or underplayed. Egos and disagreements overshadow substance. Alternatively, discussions are “too polite.” Either way, important conversations happen outside the room, difficult topics are avoided, and decisions don’t stick.  At the senior team level, the ability to be transparent, give constructive feedback, and address team dynamics is crucial for success.

4. A “good enough” team is no longer enough. The team has been effective up to now, but they want to up their game. There is untapped potential among them.  They are holding back, not challenging themselves to become a fully functioning, high-performing, best-in-class leadership team.

What Senior Teams Need to Do to Overcome These Challenges

  • Senior executive teams need to invest in their own development.
  • Make understanding and improving team dynamics and processes a priority; they are not secondary priorities to running the business.
  • Without the ability to manage how they work together, top leaders will undermine the direction, alignment, and commitment needed to drive performance and see results.

Exciting News!

Robyn Marcotte We at Aha! Leadership are excited to announce we have entered into a partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in order to provide clients cutting-edge leadership development resources that are researched and designed by a top-ranked, global provider of leadership development.

In the spirit of continuous development that we inspire in our clients, we, too, model such – creating a strategic alliance with one of the world’s most respected leadership development institutions — CCL.

CCL also recognizes the value of partnering with Aha! Leadership because it helps further CCL’s mission of inspiring greater leadership in businesses and organizations.

I am excited about our relationship with CCL because it allows us to broaden the services we provide our clients, including ground-breaking cultural assessments, or offering new topic-specific workshops for leaders.

Want to hear more? I would love to share more about how our expanded capabilities will enrich and provide exceptional leadership development programs for you. I welcome your call or email.

Robyn Marcotte

Robyn.marcotte@ahaleadership.com

248.882.2354

 

 

 

6 Steps to Happy Customers

In today’s interpersonal world, extraordinary service and relationships are the keys to earning repeat business and attracting new customers. A dissatisfied customer may not only cost your business revenue, but also damage your reputation as well.

Here are some great reminders on how to keep your customers happy and coming back:

  1. Keep your word. Your ability to deliver on your promises to a customer speaks highly to your character and credibility. This is something customers look for and appreciate.
  2. Be honest. If you misrepresent yourself to a customer, your credibility will suffer. Create a reputation based on honesty and trust with customers.
  3. Show up on time. Punctuality is a reflection of your organizational skills and dedication. Being late will reflect poorly on customers or potential clients. If you can’t be on time, be early.
  4. Acknowledge your mistakes. Clients will generally be flexible and forgiving if you quickly acknowledge an error and work to fix it. Attempting to cover up a personal mistake will never work out in your favor. Also, don’t make excuses or blame others. Take responsibility and find a solution to make your customers happy.
  5. Handle conflicts gracefully. If a client or employee tests your patience, criticizes or questions your authority, do not react with hostility. Keep you disposition under control and remain on topic – stick to facts.
  6. Don’t burn bridges. Never respond emotionally or hostility if your business is threatened. Instead, remove yourself from the situation and return to the conversation when you are calm. You never know when you may need someone that will be hard to reach if you have burned bridges.

 

 

Source: Jacqueline Whitmore, Poised for Success

10 Habits Ridiculously Successful People Do Every Day

“What is your number one secret to productivity?” Kevin Kruse, NY Times Bestselling Author, Entrepreneur has asked this question of over 200 ultra-successful people, including 7 billionaires, 13 Olympians, and a host of accomplished entrepreneurs, yielding some fascinating suggestions. What follows are some favorites from Kevin’s findings.

  1. They focus on minutes, not hours. Most people default to hour and half-hour blocks on their calendar; highly successful people know that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and that there is nothing more valuable than time.
  2. They focus on only one thing. Ultra-productive people know what their “Most Important Task” is and work on it for one to two hours each morning, without interruptions. What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals.
  3. They don’t use to-do lists.  What task will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals?  Instead schedule everything on your calendar and live by that calendar.  It turns out that only 41% of items on to-do lists get done.
  4. They delegate almost everything. Ultra-productive people don’t ask, “How can I do this task?” Instead, they ask, “How can this task get done?” They take the ‘I’ out of it as much as possible, eliminating the control issues, and they are not micro-managers.
  5. They make it home for dinner. Intel’s Andy Grove, who said, “There is always more to be done, more that should be done, always more than can be done.” Highly successful people know what they value in life. Yes, work, also life outside of it.
  6. They use a notebook. Richard Branson has said he wouldn’t have been able to build Virgin without a simple notebook – he takes it with him everywhere. Free your mind by writing everything down as the thoughts come to you.
  7. They process e-mails only a few times a day. Schedule time to process emails quickly and efficiently, versus checking often throughout the day.
  8. They touch things only once. How many times have you opened a piece of regular mail or even email —only to deal with it again later? Highly successful people try to “touch it once.”
  9. They practice a consistent morning routine. Most of these highly-successful people nurtured their bodies with water, a healthy breakfast, and light exercise; they nurtured their minds with meditation or prayer, inspirational reading, or journaling.
  10. Energy is everything. You can’t make more minutes in the day, but you can increase your energy to increase your attention, focus, and productivity. Food is viewed as fuel, sleep as recovery, and breaks as opportunities to recharge in order to get even more done.

 

You might not be an entrepreneur, an Olympian, or a billionaire, yet their secrets may help you to get more done in less time and help eliminate that feeling we can get of being overworked and overwhelmed. What do you do to stay productive?

 

Excerpt from Dr. Travis Bradberry, TalentSmart, April 2016

10 Thinking Habits to Avoid as a Leader

Certain aspects of thinking and behaving like a good leader can be tough for many leaders. The best leaders who grasp concepts like influence, vision, listening, and delegating with relative ease arrive there through hard work and practice and taking responsibility to own up to “our stuff” when “our stuff” is at fault. Remember the old saying, “for every finger you point, there’s three pointing back at you”?

How a leader thinks and acts can no doubt impact a team for better or worse. Better = high-functioning leadership fostered by mutual trust and accountability. Worse = dysfunctional leadership hampered by poor decision making and weak social/emotional intelligence.

How to think and act as a leader is as much about what you should do, as much as what you should not do. Our goal is intentional leadership – Being conscious and intentional about how you lead others and yourself.

These 10 common thought patterns hold leaders back, destroy their self-esteem, and damage relationships in the workplace. Do you see yourself? Being aware is the first step to change.

Being very

  1. Extreme – seeing things in black and white, and blowing things out of proportion.
  2. Broad – generalizing from a specific; labeling people rather than their behaviors.
  3. Negative – seeing the glass as half empty and dwelling on the worst possible outcome.
  4. Demanding – wanting things their way and having expectations that cloud a sense of reality.
  5. Judgmental – condemning others for their shortcomings and being unable to forgive.
  6. Obsessed – getting on a track of being unable to budge or view things differently.
  7. Confused – having pictures in their heads that do not match the “real world”; feeling that they don’t get what they think they’re “supposed to” get.
  8. Intolerant – having a need to have things the way they “should be”; finding it difficult to have patience and tolerance for differences that don’t fit their needs and expectations.
  9. Perfectionist – having a need to be “right” and not make mistakes.
  10. “Shoulding” on Self and Others – placing expectations of how one “should” be, thereby limiting their ability to accept self and others without judgment, leading to negativity and tendency to criticize.

Which of the above resonates with you as a leader? What may be the hardest distorted thinking pattern to overcome? Or even accept that it’s dysfunctional? Which may be the easiest to overcome? We would love to hear from you – aha@ahaleadership.com

Reference: Article Lead Change Group, March 18, 2016

 

 

 

9 Skills that Pay Dividends Forever

Robyn Marcotte  The further along we are in our career, the easier it is to fall back on the mistaken assumption that we’ve made it and have all the skills you need to succeed. We should never stop learning – The act of learning is every bit as important as what you learn.

Mahatma Gandhi says it well…“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Our time is finite, so focusing on these nine skills will yield the greatest benefit as will always continue to pay dividends.

  1. Emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. EQ is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships – it is what sets star performers apart.
  2. Time management. Learning to manage your time effectively frees you up to perform at your absolute highest level, and it does so every single day of your life.
  3. Listening. True listening is about understanding, not rebuttal or input. Learning how to suspend judgment and focus on understanding the other person’s input is vital to our success!
  4. Making decisions. Learning to make sound decisions and move forward. We will not always have all the facts, but to know when you have enough to base a decision and not be crippled by fear of making a decision or a wrong decision.
  5. Asking for help. The ability to recognize when you need help, summon up the courage to ask for it, and follow through on that help is an extremely valuable skill.
  6. Getting high-quality sleep. When you don’t get high-quality deep sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc and ultimately impairing your ability to think—something no amount of caffeine can fix. This slows your ability to process information and solve problems, kills your creativity, and increases your emotional reactivity.
  7. Knowing when to stop talking. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.
  8. Taking initiative. You have to take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone, until taking initiative is second nature.
  9. Staying positive. The real obstacle to positivity is that our brains are hard-wired to look for and focus on threats. We have to train our brain to make it a habit.

In Summary, this is by no means an exhaustive list – what else do you believe should be included? Please email me at aha@ahaleadership.com. I would love to hear from you – Robyn

 

Reference exerpt – Dr. Travis Bradberry/Forbes Mar 7, 2016

Become a Better Leader with these 100 Podcasts!

Robyn Marcotte Podcasting is a great way to learn and be inspired through the stories that are shared. Storytelling is a powerful tool and a central component of leadership. Want to understand why Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama became national leaders? A big part of it lay in their ability to tell effective leadership stories.

If you have an interest in entrepreneurship, tech, leadership, business, creativity, or just learning and expanding your mind, here are 100 podcasts that can help you bring your best to all you do.

Pick out a few to start with, then get ready to listen and learn while you’re in the car, on the treadmill, or during your morning commute.

# 27 is my personal favorite!

To view the list, please click here….and get ready to be inspired! – Robyn

As a Leader, 5 Vital Questions to Ask Yourself

Ask and answer these questions regularly to get laser focus clarity around your team’s productivity and you can improve goal-setting, and more effectively lead and inspire performance among your team.

Question #1: Do I have the right talent?

Great leaders are purposefully and strategically surrounding themselves with talented people. These employees are working alongside their leaders and behind the scenes, driving productivity, profitability, and overall success. Studies have shown that 80% of turnover is directly tied to bad hiring decisions—and turnover is expensive!

Question #2: Ask ‘What’s the goal?’ often

Starting with you and then moving out to the frontlines of your team, determine whether everyone’s has a good grasp of their major goals. Pull employees aside and ask “What are your goals?” or “How are you performing against your goals?” If individuals struggle with articulating their goals, describing activities they are doing instead, you’ve got your answer – not clear!

Goal clarity is vital – cultures that embrace a “What’s the goal?” mindset are more productive – ask often… It’s powerful!  

Question #3: Do we have goal alignment with other departments?

High performing companies are strategically aligned through goal alignment across departments. EX: goal is to reduce overtime so you cut customer service hours, yet the customer service department gets flooded with more calls during its fewer open hours, hurting the customers’ experience and productivity. This is goal misalignment.

Question #4: Are we holding people accountable?

Real accountability requires sheer discipline if it is going to work. Regularly scheduled accountability meetings where performance is discussed, reported (and measured progress) is an excellent to keep everyone focused on the goals. These meetings also provide insight into what is and is not working and who needs coaching.

Question #5: How are we performing against the competition?

Knowing your competition gives you an opportunity to create a competitive advantage. Ask your team to explore how they’d feel if they could do something new or different relative to the competition. Then inspire their productivity, giving your employees the freedom and support necessary for developing cutting-edge solutions that align to the company’s goals

As we head into a new year and for many companies as you create new goals, this is an opportunity to embrace these concepts and put into action regularly.

 

Source: “The Disciplined Leader: Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters” by John Manning