Developing new leaders; enhancing current leadership skills.

12 Challenges First-time Managers Have

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An individual contributor or professional getting promoted into his or her first formal leadership position in an organization is one of the biggest and most difficult transitions for any leader. Far too often, the leader and the organization take for granted just how difficult that transition is.

And the numbers prove it: 20% of first-time managers are doing a poor job according to their subordinates, 26% of first-time managers felt they were not ready to lead others to begin with, and almost 60% said they never received any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role.

No wonder 50% of managers in organizations are ineffective. Their ineffectiveness may be the result of not realizing what they are getting themselves into when it comes to leading others, not being supported in their new leadership role, and not being given the opportunity for training and development early enough in their careers as leaders.

Think of the time and money that has to be spent on replacing these ineffective leaders, not to mention dealing with the low morale and disengagement of employees working under these ineffective leaders. This inevitably hurts your leadership pipeline and may eventually hurt your organization’s bottom line.

First-time managers have as much of a right for leadership development as others, but their voices, time and time again, go unheard. They want to do well but so often are struggling at making the transition from individual contributor or professional who does the work and does it well, to a leader who must continue to do the work and more importantly, leads others doing their work. Many first-time managers feel that no one understands what they are going through.

So what can you do to help?

Here’s a simple and doable solution: Understand the struggles first-time managers have and help them overcome the challenges relevant to their new leadership role.

This white paper backs the effort by:

    1. Presenting the 12 challenges first-time managers have, as found by researchers from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) and Davidson College.
    2. Specifically providing detail with the three most-often mentioned challenges:
      • Adjustment To People Management/ Displaying Authority
      • Developing Managerial & Personal Effectiveness
      • Leading Team Achievement
    3. Offering ways for you to help first-time managers effectively deal with these challenges.

The information from this white paper will help you understand the perspective of first-time managers and the struggles they have. You can use the information to support first-time managers
in the most difficult transition they have made so far in their careers, develop them as leaders, and ultimately, strengthen your leadership pipeline.

Introduction

“As my role transitions from one where I was responsible for my own work as a chemist to now being responsible for leading a team of chemists (in addition to finishing out the current project which I started previously) I find myself lacking the internal tools to effectively do my job. Before I was a good-to-excellent chemist. Now I am an OK chemist and OK manager. Further, many of the attributes which gained me recognition as a chemist are now hampering me as a manager.”

This is what it feels like to be leading other people for the first time in your life in organizations. These quotes from first-time managers (FTMs) give you a glimpse into the difficulties, struggles, and challenges that FTMs face every single day. Their technical savvy, the stuff that helped them get that promotion to management in the first place, won’t fix everything anymore. They can’t concentrate solely on their own work anymore. Now, they are the boss. Now, they have to understand, motivate, and meet the needs of others, many of whom they worked alongside with previously. And these difficulties, struggles, and challenges are not from just a few people.

Many FTMs are part of the largest population of leaders in your organization right now: frontline managers in entry- or first-levels of management. FTMs are your next generation of leaders, the pipeline for the top leadership positions of your organization, and represent the leadership bench strength of your organization. Clearly they are an organizational imperative to success. Yet, the numbers suggest they aren’t treated that way.

Click here to read the full White Paper

“Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.”- Reed Markham

Join us for Ignite the Leader Within Summit

 

We are excited to be a part of Ignite the Leader Within Summit!  

From February 13 – February 26, you are invited to participate in this online training summit to learn how to become a better leader, improve team performance and boost your profits from 30+ International Leadership experts! 

Once registered, mark your calendar to listen to our very own Robyn Marcotte’s interview on February 23 with her presenting her biggest Aha! moment as a leader and how she continues to improve her leadership strengths.

Click here to register for this free event!

 

IgniteYourLeadershipBook

Don’t have time to listen to the online summit, but still interested in learning more?  You can order Ignite Your Leadership: Proven Tools for Leaders to Energize Teams, Fuel Momentum, and Accelerate Results by clicking here.

 

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” –Douglas MacArthur

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

3 Steps to Become the Leader YOU Want to Be

1to1Many leaders come about the role and title by accident. Due to good technical skills, a great work ethic, seniority, or the unexpected exit of a former leader, a new leader is promoted. Without warning, and often without support or development, the new leader goes from “one of us” to “one of them.”….and oftentimes results in poor team dynamics.

It begins with you – take control of your path. Three steps to developing yourself, becoming the leader you want to be.

Step 1: Define your leadership.

Step 2: Make friends with reality.

Step 3: Build a plan to close the gap.

Step 1: Define your leadership

This first step is the fun part. Decide who you want to be as a leader. Here are seven (7) simple questions to help you start defining your new vision:

  1. What are your top two or three values?
  2. In order to lead by your stated values what is required of you?
  3. What tough decisions might you have to make in order to set a good example?
  4. How do you handle poor performance?
  5. What do you do to manage your anger and frustration?
  6. How do you speak?
  7. How do you inspire others?

After you answer these questions on paper – You are the creator of this experience. There’s no one stopping you from developing a vision of who you want to be, how you want to be perceived, how you want to feel, and how you perform your role.

Step 2: Make friends with reality

Telling the truth is the difficult part. This step is second in the process for a reason. If you start with facing reality before you define your vision you may get discouraged. Telling yourself the truth about where you are takes courage, maturity, and a certain amount of character. As you look at what you want to create, where are in in comparison? Do you tend to allow bad behavior from your employees? Do you lose your temper? Do you make promises you can’t keep? Are you a poor planner? Now that you have completed step two, you probably have a big gap between where you are and where you want to be. In short, you have a lot of work to do.

Step 3: Build a plan to close the gap

As a leader you need to be a good planner. There’s no better way to test and train your planning abilities than to start with yourself. Your plan includes shoring up your weaknesses, developing new skills and building empowering habits. Start thinking more like an entrepreneur — hire your own coach or go to a conference.

Conclusion

It’s great when your company invests in your growth and development, but why wait or rely only on that avenue? You have choices because you are a creator. You were chosen to lead because of your character, your initiative, your work ethic or other wonderful qualities. Don’t let any company determine your worth or your ability to elevate your leadership—embrace an entrepreneurial mindset and commit to your own leadership journey. No matter how much you invest in yourself, that investment is never wasted, and always gives you a return on investment.

Expert from Smartblog on Leadership, May 2, 2016

10 Questions to Ask when Choosing Leaders

One of the most painful mistakes of leadership is choosing the wrong leaders. The difference between success and failure begins with choosing the right leaders. (And ejecting the wrong.)

It’s foolish to define leadership as getting things done. The focus of leadership is people. You earn leadership opportunities by getting things done. You become a leader when you get things done through others. When someone steps into leadership they leverage the talent of others:

  1. How do they make people feel?
  2. How do they maximize the skills and talents of others?
  3. How are they instilling a sense of mission?
  4. How are they developing others?
  5. How are their values, not urgencies, guiding decisions?

10 Questions to Ask and Answer…

  1. What is their definition of leadership?
  2. How are they expressing curiosity?
  3. Where do they fall on the scale of optimistic vs. pessimistic?
  4. How are their values?
  5. How do they appreciate the impact of their behaviors on others?
  6. What makes you believe they can focus on “what” needs to be done without getting lost in “how” things get done?
  7. How are they able to see the world through the lens of others?
  8. How are they including others in decision-making?
  9. How do they respond to failure or correction?
  10. How do they respond to authority?

Bonus: Do they aspire to lead?

Exploring the answers to these questions, will provide you insight if you are choosing the right leader of people (and not a ‘boss’).

 

Excerpt from Leadership Freak – April 20, 2016

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