In our last newsletter, 3 Must-Know Principles for Scaling Leadership Development we explored the principles for scaling leadership development to promote organization success. In this article we zoom in to take a closer look at the skills leaders in the middle need to be most effective in their roles.
Making the move from star performer to effective leader can be a challenging shift for new managers. Individuals who have always been successful at getting things done find that their ability to succeed on their own has reached its limit.
When this happens, it’s time for theses “managers in the middle” to to shift their focus and embrace their role as leaders. This means developing six key skills to get things done through others:
- Thinking and acting systematically
- Learning Agility
Those who are able to harness these 6 skills can “lead from the middle”. They are better able to contribute to the organization’s strategy, they are more likely to advance, less likely to experience career derailment, and better able to manage not only work obligations, but family, community, and personal demands as well.
Aha! Leadership can work with you to develop emerging leadership talent, learn more by visiting our workshops page, or by reaching out to us!
Learn more about strategies for incorporating leadership development into your organization by reading the full Click here to download the full White Paper.
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” -Henry Ford
Successful organizations know they need to work differently than they have in the past. Superstar talent that performs well in an isolated silo is critical, but not enough in a world that is constantly changing. Bringing development to all levels of leadership makes it easier for an organization to execute its strategy and achieve its goals.
When building a leadership development program, it’s important to focus on 3 principles:
- Plan: Strategy First. Organizations don’t go to market without a sales or operations strategy. Likewise, there should be hesitancy about going to market without a leadership strategy.
- Build: The Right Learning for the Right Level. Just producing a training program is not enough. The organization needs to create a framework to support learning and development goals.
- Leverage: The Right Talent – Outside and Inside. Engage external partners and internal teams to champion the initiative and develop new leaders.
Scaling leadership development is the best way to create new capabilities across an entire organization in a short amount of time. Aha! Leadership offers Growth Group Mico-to bring Leadership Development to every level of your organization. Learn more about our educational approach here.
This month’s White Paper explores the keys to devising a leadership development strategy that aligns with the organization’s strategic plan. Click here to download the full White Paper.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” -Jimmy Dean
Being a leader is about using influence to implement decisions and to gain support for ideas and vision. Especially when it comes to leadership, actions speak louder than words; and when it comes to changing behaviors, oftentimes the best way to lead is by example. You can set that example starting today by following the ten things that require zero talent:
- Be on time
- Make an effort
- Be high energy
- Have a positive attitude
- Be passionate
- Have a positive work ethic
- Have effective body language
- Be coachable
- Do extra
- Be prepared
Click here to download the full White Paper to learn about influence and power, as well as the three most effective ways to influence people.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Each person has a preference for how they would like to be influenced. Selecting the best influence tactic is important to achieve the desired outcome with a person or group. Effective leaders understand the way others want to be influenced and apply the right tactics to build alignment and commitment. To shape direction, alignment, and commitment through interactions with others, leaders must be skilled in 6 areas:
- Understanding and navigating organizational politics: Organizations have formal and informal structures. Understanding and effectively navigating through complex political situations require political insight. Leaders adjust to the reality of corporate politics and are sensitive to how the organization functions.
- Creating visibility: To create new opportunities, effective leaders stand out and get noticed by others while staying authentic. They are careful to allow their team members to shine while not over-promoting themselves.
- Building and maintaining personal trustworthiness: Leaders ask others to take risks along with them. Therefore people must believe in the leader and their leadership. Leaders must show integrity and be widely trusted.
- Leveraging networks: Forming and nurturing a network of relationships is invaluable in today’s interconnected world. Networking allows leaders to generate new experiences and to tap into the skills and vision of others.
- Clear communication: Writing and speaking clearly and briefly and applying a variety of communication styles helps leaders to get the message across and to ensure the right impact.
- Motivating others: By motivating others leaders create a climate in which people become engaged and empowered. Leaders understand the needs, styles, and motivators of others. People will like working with and for those leaders and will be more receptive to their influencing.
Influencing, Manipulation, and Power
Influencing is different from manipulation. Influencing is a process and is characterized by a positive intention in the interest of the persons influenced and of the organization. Trust is at the core of the relationship between the influencer and the people influenced. The leader or person who exercises influence builds trustful relations, is transparent about the goals, the purpose, and his or her values. There is no hidden agenda, and the leader does not abuse any psychological or other weaknesses of the person who is influenced. Positive and effective influence results in alignment and commitment.
Influencing affects, shapes, or transforms opinions, behaviors, and actions. While power often is associated with control in hierarchical organizations, leaders at all levels in the organization can leverage different bases of power to influence others.
In this White Paper, we explore the power of relationship, the power of information, and the power of expertise; and how these techniques are essential for the leader to influence others, with or without formal authority.
“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.“ – John C. Maxwell
In our last newsletter, Assumptions that can Harm Your Coaching Culture; we focused on developing a coaching culture that inspires discovery, reflection, and persistence. This kinds of cultural shifts can require big changes in the landscape of leadership.
This powerful video explores one leader’s high stakes decision to let go of control, and empowering his crew to make decisions.
“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves” -David Marquet
Coaching is more than a collection of effective techniques. The qualities associated with coaching are the ones that energize us and generate creativity and commitment. Coaching culture is about having the conversations that may not usually happen to make sure we understand and can act in ways that amplify collaboration, agreement, and alignment.
The first step is understanding the myths and misconceptions surrounding coaching culture. These assumptions can prove major resource drains for organizations looking to implement a coaching culture:
- Coaching culture is achieved via lots of coaching, as if sheer quantity of programs could change a culture. True culture change is not an accessory that can be clamped onto the current system. It has to touch both formal and informal processes and be embraced because it just works better.
- Changing to a coaching culture can be the flavor of the month. The glittering possibility of an inspiring, creative, and humane workplace attracts us, but overly optimistic pictures can blind us to ineffective approaches.
It’s best to think of this kind of culture change using metaphors like farming. Farming implies starting small, planting many seeds, and being willing to nurture the process through multiple stages. Organizations that successfully implement a coaching culture approach the process in phases. This White Paper challenges you to avoid these assumptions as you cultivate a coaching culture throughout your organization.
Why a Coaching Culture?
Coaching is most well-known as a collection of techniques or a professional service, but beneath the prominent public face are key assumptions and a philosophy of human change, accomplishment, and well-being. Coaches ask questions, encourage exploration, reluctantly advise, and show well developed listening and feedback skills. These are the superficial manifestations of a view of human relations that radically embraces the competence of each person. A coaching view affirms that by inspiring discovery, reflection, and persistence in another person, that person becomes capable of significantly greater achievement, deeper and broader thinking, and more consistent expression of their values over time.
We have all experienced relationships that inspired us and suffered under others that demoralized us. Consistently, the qualities associated with coaching, such as deep self-awareness, genuine interest and caring expressed through curiosity, open questioning, and listening, are the ones that energize us and generate creativity and commitment.
Part of the power of coaching is that it gives a mechanism for leaders to balance toughness of mind with consideration for the emotional climate of those they lead. Coaching is mostly about getting to the truth, but what makes it powerful is its assumption that the recipients of uncomfortable truths can and will change. Coaching never misleads others about the consequences of their actions, choices, and relationships. Coaching is about discovering the whole truth, facing the tough issues, and creating a liberating space for improvement.
Coaching culture is not just “doing coaching.” It’s having the conversations that may not usually happen—across functions, across levels—to make sure we understand and can act in ways that amplify collaboration, agreement, and alignment.
To make this more explicit, we will first describe different kinds of situations in which coaching may be valuable. These are not programs, but illustrations of how a coaching mindset shapes many kinds of conversations needed for vibrant organizational cultures. We will call these practical expressions of coaching culture.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
In our last newsletter we focused on the 12 Challenges First-time Managers Have and ways to support new leaders encountering these challenges. Expanding on this theme, we want to look at the small warning signs that could lead to bigger trouble down the line.
Gil could fix any problem you put in front of him. Need a report by noon? They gave it to Gil. Need to find something in the data that no one else could? Gil could find it, write about it and present it in a way that made sense. His technical expertise was sought after throughout the entire organization. You didn’t need to tell Gil what to do; he would just do it, and go above and beyond what was needed. As productive as he was, he thought he was a shoe-in to be the next manager of the department. All he had to do was pass the interview.
But he didn’t. Despite all that he knew, the organization didn’t think he had the skills or the experience to make that all-important transition from stand-out producer to leader. Gil felt humiliated and, eventually, left the organization.
Does Gil sound like someone (or a lot of people) in your organization: that “golden child” or “rock star” or ever-growing list of high-potentials who are so good that you think they should be promoted from individual contributors to leaders, but whose career later derailed when you realized it was a mistake?
How do you know if you have employees like Gil? Here are five warning signs, based on decades of research, that your current or soon-to-be new leaders may be on the verge of derailing:
- Problems with interpersonal relationships: Do your new leaders have trouble developing good working relationships? Are they “lone wolves” who are often seen as cold, arrogant and insensitive?
- Difficulty building and leading a team: Do your new leaders struggle to transition from being a team member to being a team leader? Can they staff and form their teams effectively? Can they handle differences and conflicts among team members?
- Difficulty changing and adapting: Do your new leaders have difficulty changing their mindsets? Are they resistant to changing, learning from mistakes, and growing and developing as leaders? Can they adapt to people with different work styles? Can they adapt to the strategic approach necessary in their new leadership position?
- Failure to meet business objectives: Are your new leaders actually performing well? Or do they over-promise and under-deliver? Do they lack follow-through?
- Overly narrow functional orientation: In research on derailment, this warning sign is the one that tends to stick out the most for new leaders. Think of it as the classic salesperson who was so good at sales that she was promoted to lead the sales staff. In this leadership role, however, she could not stop being a salesperson and switch to being a leader, with all the added responsibility and understanding of others outside the sales function.
If a lot of your new leaders (or those who are groomed to be leaders) are showing these signs, there are ways to help—and there’s no time to waste. Based on my research on almost 300 new leaders, I encourage new leaders, and those who develop them, to concentrate on six key areas. If we can make it clear how new leaders must change (or, as I like to call it, flip) their (1) mindset, (2) skill set, (3) relationships, (4) do-it-all attitude, (5) perspective and (6) focus, we can prevent potential derailment.
We need to do it sooner rather than later. When research participants are asked, “How long does it take to know if a person promoted into his or her first leadership position failed in making that transition?”, the average response is just a little over 140 days. That means we in the training and development field have about 20 weeks to make sure our newest leaders don’t derail. That’s not a lot of time!
I will admit, in a “former life,” I was Gil. I didn’t even make it past the interview, and my career derailed. That’s probably why I’ve become so passionate in helping new leaders; I don’t want them to end up like Gil … I mean me.
Both new leaders and those who want to be leaders need—and, frankly, deserve—more of our time and attention. We should make it a priority to alleviate potential derailment by supporting people who are making one of the most difficult transitions in their careers: the one from rock-star individual contributors to superstar leaders.
William A. (Bill) Gentry, Ph.D., is director of leadership insights and analytics and a senior research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in Greensboro, NC. He is the author of the book “Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For: A Guide for New Leaders.”
“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” —Warren Bennis
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:
- Presenting the 12 challenges first-time managers have, as found by researchers from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) and Davidson College.
- Specifically providing detail with the three most-often mentioned challenges:
- Adjustment To People Management/ Displaying Authority
- Developing Managerial & Personal Effectiveness
- Leading Team Achievement
- 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.
“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.
“Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.”- Reed Markham
We’ve all heard the phrase “Pay it forward”, haven’t we?
We’re all busy with jobs and families therefore sometimes we don’t have time to “pay it forward” in a big way.
But paying it forward doesn’t have to be something big! As leaders in the workplace and in our communities, it’s the little things in our days that we can do to take the initiative to encourage those we interact with on a daily basis to make a difference. Our acts of encouragement, big or small, can have a profound impact on the people in our lives.
Our actions often speak louder than our words so thinking about how you can encourage someone else, such as offering someone your place in line or simply opening the door for someone, are small acts that not only make others you encounter feel better but make YOU feel better also.
Five easy ways how we can encourage others:
- Be specific when praising someone to make it credible, such as “You really did an awesome job organizing the recent XYZ Project.
- Mail a handwritten note with words of encouragement or send flowers to show you are thinking of someone even when they’re not around.
- If someone is discouraged, offer specific, practical help, such as “Would it help if I….”
- Take time to learn the things – words and actions – that make those you care about feel appreciated.
- Challenge and encourage someone specifically. For example, tell them, “You should go after that new position, I think you would be really good at it.”
Seems pretty simple, right? Try “Paying it forward” at least once a day for the next week. And then notice how others return the encouragement to you. What a great “Pay it Forward” cycle you’ve now created!
Courtesy of Printer’s Press
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams
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!
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
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:
- Work attitude
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
Have you made your New Year’s resolutions?
Are diligently sticking to them? (Or do you already need a nudge…)
We do encourage you to seriously consider the “new year, new me” mindset to all aspects of your life.
“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of inner growth and empowerment.” – Robert E. Quinn
It’s important to have goals for your personal life, fitness, family, and finances and it’s also important to rededicate yourself professionally in the New Year.
2. Set Goals
3. Ask for Feedback
4. Evaluate on a Regular Basis
This is the time to audit yourself and make steps to become your personal best this year. Take this seriously, follow these 4 key steps and you will be off to a great new start!
- Reflect on Your Habits
Be your own critic and go through your typical schedule, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, and identify areas of strength and weakness. Maybe you come in Monday mornings feeling ready for the week, but by Thursday you’ve hit a slump. Try to brainstorm ideas on how to help yourself when you’re feeling unproductive, such as treating yourself to a latte, taking a break and stretching, or creating a small, but manageable to-do list to get yourself pumped up for other tasks.
Read through your emails. Are you getting lazy about replying, not reading the whole way through a message, or replying with vague or easily-misinterpreted wording? Commit to better communication this year.
Be kind to yourself and take note of things you do well. If keeping Post-it reminders on the wall helps you stay organized, commit to continuing that habit this year. Maybe you see yourself as the motivator of your team. Give yourself a pat on the back for being such a good team player and keep it up. Although self-criticism is necessary for improvement, so is self-kindness.
- Set Goals
Realistic, measurable goals are essential to making a change in the workplace. The formula for writing a goal should include what you want to achieve, a quantification, and a time period. For example, if you want to contribute to your company blog more often, your goal might be to write one entry for the company blog every other week.
After you’ve solidified your goals, save a list of them on your computer for safekeeping; also write them down and display them in a visible place so you can reflect on them daily. Identify small steps you can take each day to achieve your goals so you are always moving forward.
- Ask for Feedback
When you have identified your strengths and weaknesses and set goals, ask your supervisor if you can meet to discuss your objectives for the coming year. Talk about your strengths and weaknesses, and explain how your goals will help you focus on the kind of worker you want to be.
Your supervisor may have comments and suggestions, so be sure to keep those thoughts in mind. Remember though–these are your personal goals, not anyone else’s.
- Evaluate on a Regular Basis
Once you have set your focus for the new year, you need to periodically evaluate yourself to see if you are on the right path. Every other month, carefully read through your goals as a reminder. Maybe you’re doing really well with one and need to make it a little harder, but another goal needs some adjusting because it is too far out of reach.
It’s okay to edit your goals as long as you leave yourself something realistic to strive for. Evaluation is essential because it shows growth and helps you determine a direction for the future.
Courtesy of Emily Moorehead – www.AllBusiness.com
“Success is…knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.” – John Maxwell
The holidays seem to bring an extra layer of stress in the workplace and at home. Holiday parties, year-end deadlines, goal and budget planning for the upcoming year in addition to finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list, all add extra stress to our lives. Read below for some tips to help you avoid the holiday burnout this season.
1. Wake up. The first step gets you about 80% of the way! To reduce stress and become more resilient you need to recognize how much time you spend ruminating. People spend as much as 70% of their daytime hours in a half-awake state, on autopilot or daydream mode. This is where all rumination takes place and all stress is generated.
The alternative is to wake up and focus on where you are and what you are doing in the present. Don’t let your mind drift into worrying about the past or the future.
2. Control your attention. People often feel stressed about their lack of control. The one thing you always have control over is your attention. Once you have woken up, you can use and direct your attention. Practice consciously putting your attention where you want it to be and holding it there.
3. Detach. Detachment is the ability to maintain perspective. A lack of detachment and the tendency to ruminate are intertwined in a spiral of stress: When you ruminate, things balloon out of proportion, and when things are out of proportion, you’re more likely to ruminate.
If you can detach from the situations you are facing, you can distinguish between care and worry. It allows you to reflect and plan rather than ruminate.
4. Let go. To maintain perspective, you need to let go. But that doesn’t mean doing nothing or letting go of the work or tasks or effort. What you let go of is the negative emotions that have become entangled with your situation or issue.
Of course, because of the strength of habit, negative and worrying thoughts will return. When they do, instead of blocking them out or fixating on them, observe and acknowledge them as just thoughts, and let go of them by not continuing to feed them with attention.
Stress-Reducing Tactics to Try
How do you put these ideas into practice, especially at work? Here are a few tactics to try on your own and as you lead others:
-Interrupt a pattern. Stand up. Clap your hands once. Stretch in your chair. Do something to get back into your body and out of your head. If you are in a meeting or other space where you are constrained, just move in a small way and focus on the movement for a moment. Rub your finger and thumb together, or wiggle your toes in your shoes, or move your tongue around your mouth.
-Re-focus on something you can control. People who don’t ruminate do this naturally, saying, why worry about things I can do nothing about? Think about what is in your circle of control.
-Put things in perspective. Play with scale or time. What is the problem or challenge that is happening now? Shrink it down relative to other things you have experienced or stretch out in time: how much will this matter in 12 months?
-Ask direct reports questions about right now. Many people in workplaces suffer over things that are not actually happening. They are imagining the worst possible outcomes. They’re ruminating.
When you see people caught up in the future like this, you can help short-circuit their thinking. Don’t dismiss their feelings, but bring the conversation to the question, “What problem are you experiencing, right now?” This offers something actual and practical you and they can work on directly.
-Start doing walk-and-talk meetings. People often get stuck talking about the same problem over and over, without moving to a solution.
One of the most effective ways to break your direct reports from this pattern is to get them to stand up and go for a walk and talk. Just 5 to 10 minutes walking inside or out breaks people out of a physical pattern. When the body moves, the mind will follow and cognitive patterns will shift, too.
Courtesy of Center for Creative Leadership
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” – William James
Gratitude does more than make us feel good, it does us good. What’s more, it’s good for other people too. So, thanking the people we’re grateful for increases happiness all round.
Research has shown that thanking others and explaining why we’re grateful, is one of the most powerful ways of spreading happiness. In fact, the study showed that if you write one letter of gratitude to just one key person in your life, you will experience a month’s worth of happiness.
In spirit of “Happy” Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of you…thank you for your business, sharing yourselves, and being open to new ideas and ways of leading others. We learn as much from you with your passionate stories, challenges and opportunities as you learn from us!
Okay, now it’s your turn – whom are you going to thank? Go ahead, see how this is the gift that gives back. You will make their day…and yours.
Robyn Marcotte, Founder and CEO, Aha! Leadership LLC
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.
As a team member or leader, you may find yourself asking the question: “How can I make the biggest impact on my client and achieve faster results?”. Answer: change people’s limited thinking, help them adjust their standards, or even change their habits, in order to support their goals. This may begin by encouraging clients to pursue thought-provoking relationships and opportunities, resulting in more thought-provoking results – Big results come from smart thinking.
Below is a simple self-assessment that will trigger thought and action. Think about each question and rate yourself 1 to 10 (1 being low; 10 is high). Next, brainstorm actions you will take to improve yourself in response to your answers. By changing your own habits and mindset, you may also begin to impact those of your clients. This will help you achieve better and faster results.
- How is my life working out?
- How is my daily attitude; how happy am I?
- How are my relationships with my family, friends, co-workers, coaches, and mentors?
- How is my health? (weight, overall wellness, self esteem, stress levels, etc.)
- How effectively am I feeding my mind? (How many books have I read in the last six months? What do I wish to become? Am I studying productively?)
- How do I rate my lifestyle (my satisfaction with activities such as travel, exploring, attending fun events, etc.)?
- Where is my income in comparison to where I want it to be?
- How often to I give back to others?
- How is my goal setting? How satisfied am I with how many goals I have manifested in my life?
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Tony Jeary- Success December 2015
Many of us begin our day feeling rushed and stressed- feelings that persist throughout our busy days. Being better organized, prioritizing, and just taking care of yourself can lead to a more successful and focused day. Here are nine easy steps to reducing stress, improving your mood, and feel more organized:
- Prepare your things the night before: Decide what you are going to wear, make your lunch, and pack a snack. By taking a few minutes to plan ahead, you can start your day less rushed and stressed. Having a routine for basic tasks, leaves margin for more creative thinking in other areas.
- Make a list of things you need to do and prioritize them. Do your most important tasks first every day and get them over with. “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy is an excellent book on this subject.
- Learn to say “no”. Acknowledge that you can’t do everything. When you say yes to everyone, you will leave yourself trapped with little time. By saying no, you will have more time to focus on your top priorities and obligations.
- Make your bed every morning. Not only can making your bed create a calm environment, it can help you start the day feeling productive and organized.
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier. Give yourself time to make a good breakfast or take a longer shower, reflect, etc.
- Listen to music that makes you happy. Music can not only boost your mood, but also reduce stress and help lower your blood pressure.
- Turn off your electronics for at least an hour or two a day in the evenings. You may also consider using the “Do Not Disturb” setting so you can check emails and texts at your leisure, rather than feeling as if you must address every notification that comes through your devices.
- Organize and declutter your desk- at least the surface. Clear random papers cluttering your work space to help increase focus and concentration.
- Do something nice for others. Whether you hold the door for someone or offer a sincere compliment, you can boost you own mood by boosting the mood of others.
“What you do today can improve all your tomorrows” –Anonymous
Leaders are defined by their ability to achieve breakthroughs. They can quickly adapt to changing conditions, spot new opportunities, and create innovative solutions to overcome whatever obstacles they face. Here are some best practices of a leader:
- Identify your make or break. Go through your objectives and strategies to identify the critical factors that will lead to success. Next, clarify the actions required. Make sure your team knows not only what is required, but why its vitally important.
- Look through your customers’ eyes. Identify their expectations at each phase and the key actions both you and your client must take.
- Connect with employees. Engage energetic and passionate employees with questions such as, “What do you think?”, “How do you think we could solve this problem?” or “What would you do?”.
- Learn from dissatisfied clients. Always begin by acknowledging their point of view. This is not the time to fix or explain but simply to listen. Engage with them to gain their perspective. Identify new ways to pursue client feedback.
- Know when to recharge and re-energize. Encouragement, optimism and confidence are hallmarks of energized employees. Monitor your energy and that of your team.
Source: Amy Fox, Success Magazine
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” –Ronald Reagan
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.