Leadership Tip of the Month: Choosing the Right Leadership Style

October 30th, 2018

Consider these questions when choosing the right style for you, your team and your entire organization:

  1. How do I like to help people?
  2. What leadership style will best suit my direct reports? (Consider experience, demographic factors, team size, member interdependence, nature of work and individual personalities)
  3. What did I like best about my favorite manager / least about my worst manager?
  4. How important are social relationships to team and organizational success?
  5. What leadership style aligns best with the organization’s mission, long-term goals and overall culture?

Leadership Tip of the Month: Systematically Evaluating Alternatives

September 6th, 2018
To make a complex decision, ask questions to determine where you are now – and the best path to follow. Customize and expand upon questions like these to systematically weigh your options:
1) Who must weigh in? What are their perspectives, issues, pain points and motivations?
2) What are the limiting factors (e.g., time, money, technology, process bottlenecks, expertise)?
3) Whom will this decision impact?
4) What’s at stake (i.e., what if you make the wrong decision – or do nothing)?
5) What will likely happen if you do “A,” “B” or “C”?
6) How will you define and measure the success of this decision?

Leadership Tip of the Month: Attitude Is Everything

February 15th, 2018
Leadership Tip of the Month
When you’re working, pay attention to how you view your responsibilities, not merely what you’re doing. As a leader, the attitude you choose (yes, it’s a choice!) to bring to your activities is as important as what you actually do; it influences employees’ behavior, shapes your culture and ultimately, affects your bottom line.

Leadership Tip of the Month

January 20th, 2018
As a leader, you must never view a problem as a distraction, but rather as a strategic enabler for continuously improving and identifying new opportunities. To effectively overcome challenges, use this four-step process:

  1. Communicate transparently, facilitating dialogue among all parties affected.
  2. Break down management silos to facilitate cross-functional collaboration and problem solving.
  3. Hire and develop open-minded people who see beyond obvious details and are comfortable with calculated risk-taking.
  4. Develop a solid strategy for solving problems by gathering the right people, resources, budget and experiential knowledge to work on it.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/11/04/the-4-most-effective-ways-leaders-solve-problems/#419f85904f97

Power Principle: How to Amp up Your Influence at Work

March 23rd, 2017
Power Principle: How to Amp up Your Influence at Work<

In today’s flatter, team-based and dynamic organizations, influence matters more than ever. Here’s how to drive performance and build loyalty — without cracking the proverbial whip:

Truly effective leadership is all about getting people to follow willingly, rather than forcing them to follow you through your authority alone. Today, more and more workers — specifically millennials — prefer1 an egalitarian structure over hierarchy, and influential leadership is often the most effective way to get everyone pulling in the same direction.

Influential leadership is far more art than science, and it can be difficult to know how to develop the skills needed to wield influence rather than power. Let’s examine some of the ways you can begin to build influence and have it work to your advantage — and the advantage of your entire team.

Understand the Personality Styles of Your Team

No two people are the same, but we can generally classify people into four personality styles. The way in which they receive and process information is influenced heavily by that style. To become an influential leader, you must adjust your own approach to the individual, not the other way around. The most common personality styles are2:

  1. Drivers: These are results-oriented people. They can become frustrated with long-winded discussions and respond to direct, results-oriented communication.
  2. Expressives: Typically your social butterflies, they are outgoing and creative. They can be influenced through inclusion in the decision-making process and respond best when they feel their input is valued.
  3. Amiables: Easygoing and dependable, they rarely make waves. They are best influenced when you consider their feelings and can demonstrate how an action will impact both them and those around them.
  4. Analyticals: These folks are systematic and structured in the way they approach work. They are influenced by facts and data, and are not easily moved by feelings and emotions.

Understanding the personality styles you are working with will help you tailor your message when trying to influence people towards action or change. This understanding will also help build stronger relationships with your team, and once you’ve established a strong relationship, it is much easier to have influence.

Focus on the Benefits of Change

People naturally resist change, and when you receive pushback on a new process or initiative, it’s easy to default to the old mantra, “Do it because I said so.” You can influence, however, even in the face of resistance. The key is to tailor your message to the personality styles of your group and to focus on communicating the ways in which the change will benefit them.

If a change will eliminate redundancies in their jobs, for example, show them how. Illustrate how it will make their workday easier or less stressful. Determine the true benefits they will experience through the change, and communicate them clearly. If they have questions, let them ask. It will help you determine the benefits to highlight, and the more information the group has about a change, the more receptive they will be.

Take a Class or Workshop

There are many seminars, classes (both online and offline), mastermind groups and workshops that focus on building an influential leadership style. A formal class environment can benefit you by giving you a plan of action and providing you with a safe space in which to role-play and get familiar with the strategies involved with influencing. If possible, grab a colleague to participate with you. This gives you an in-house accountability partner to practice with when the class is over, and to debrief with as you build your influential leadership style.

Don’t Give Up

Don’t be afraid to talk to your team about the fact you are in the process of trying to better yourself as a leader. This can help them ease into the transition and be more receptive to a new approach. As with any new skill, persistence is the key to amping up your influence as a leader. It will take you time to develop your influential muscles, and you’ll probably fail more than a few times in the early stages.

It can be a useful exercise to keep track of the situations in which you sought to influence rather than impose authority. Make a list of the things that went well, and the things that could have gone a lot better. Look for patterns to help you more clearly identify the areas in which you need to focus in future situations, as well as the actions you should repeat. Positive results will follow with persistence, practice and a bit of patience.

1 http://www.chicagotribune.com/dp-millennials-want-an-end-to-hierarchies-in-the-workplace-20150622-story.html/

2 http://crestcomleadership.com/2015/11/24/4-personality-types-that-all-leaders-should-learn-to-recognize/

Leadership TIP of the Month

November 11th, 2016

Leadership Tip of the Month

“Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining — it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems.”

–Zig Ziglar

Leadership Tip of the Month: Great Leaders Always Do These Things

September 30th, 2016
Put Your Weirdness into Your Work
  • Set worthy — and clear — objectives
  • Gather intelligence, including market research and competitive analysis
  • Create sound tactical plans for achieving goals
  • Use every available asset when pursuing objectives
  • Remain highly visible, especially when things become difficult

Source: http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/23-things-great-leaders-always-do.html

Pedal to the Metal — Or Stuck in Neutral?

July 16th, 2016

Pedal to the Metal -- Or Stuck in Neutral?

By Patrick Lencioni

My mom and dad would have made excellent CEOs. At least, that’s how I reflect back on their leadership capabilities now (believe me, I wasn’t nerding out on their “leadership capabilities” when I was seven). They were excellent decision makers because they knew how to bring my two siblings and me along in any decision-making process, yet always made it very clear that it was their decision to make.

Take summer vacations, for example. If it had been up to us three kids, I’m pretty sure we would have ended up with a trip that involved buying a pony, riding it to Disneyland, then flying it to space camp. On the other hand, my parents could have just forced a decision on us, which I’m fairly certain would have involved us being shipped off to our grandparents for the entire summer. Instead, my parents actually listened to us, took our input into account, and made a decision to go to a beach that we all loved.

Many leaders struggle with finding this balance, and thus have the tendency to either drive too hard to a decision, or are afraid to drive at all. A client recently described the challenge within her organization like this:

“It feels like on one side we have leaders who will force themselves into the driver’s seat of the car, slam the gas pedal down as far as it can go, and get about 10 miles down the road before turning to realize no one actually got in the car with them.”

“But, just as bad…on the other side, we have leaders who will end up in the driver’s seat, pack everybody in, and once the car starts moving they forget that the steering wheel is in their hands.”

Clearly, if we’re all trying to get to the same destination together, these are both significant challenges.

Gas Pedal Leaders

The positive side that I’ve seen of the Gas Pedal Leader is the clarity of their position on any issue and their urgency in moving forward. However, leaders who drive too hard will end up losing their teams along the way. Without actually engaging their teams in a discussion, there’s a high likelihood they won’t get the best ideas on the table. At worst, members feel like their opinions and expertise don’t really matter to these Gas Pedal Leaders. This can erode the level of openness and vulnerability-based trust so much that team members decide it’s not worth speaking up even about important issues.

Stuck in Neutral Leaders

On the other side, the Stuck in Neutral Leader will likely prefer harmony and will strive to “get it right” by letting the team talk through a decision. However, on the down side, these leaders will often end up with a lack of crisp, clear decisions. Without a real sense of urgency, decisions get pushed out, windows of opportunity close, and meetings end up boring and with a lack of clarity. The ultimate frustration is the “deja vu meeting,” where team members will rehash the same discussion that happened last week. And the week before. And the week before that. The result is a lack of clear decisions and commitments leading to a lack of accountability.

If you suffer from either one of these challenges as a leader, here are some suggestions:

Watch the clock. Not literally of course. If you tend to drive too hard, allow more time than you would naturally. If you tend to be stuck in neutral, tighten up the conversation and create more urgency around the decision. In general, the amount of time spent working through a decision should be directly proportional to the weight of the decision itself. A decision about a new product launch should not take the same amount of time as what type of pizza to order for lunch.

Be clear about discussion vs. decision. All too often, team members will walk out of a meeting thinking a discussion is still open for debate, but the leader has already decided. Or vice versa. Most meetings should end with some sort of action, and great leaders will make it clear from the beginning what the team should be driving toward throughout the meeting.

Ask the room. Your people have good thoughts. You should listen to them. Before you make a decision, particularly a big decision, direct your attention to each team member and ask their opinion. Remember, in order to get true commitment from the full team, everyone’s opinion needs to be heard.

Ask your team for help. Your team likely knows better than you do if you’re a Gas Pedal or Stuck in Neutral Leader. If you want to be a better leader, ask for feedback regularly. Encourage your team to speak up when you’re either driving too hard, or not driving hard enough. Feedback can be one of the greatest gifts a team can give. I’ve found that the best leaders are those who can be vulnerable enough to invite that feedback regularly.

While no team is perfect at this, the leaders who are able to master the art of driving a discussion toward a decision while bringing their teams along for the ride will end up with better decisions and greater buy-in.

Leadership Tip of the Month Leadership Tip of the Month: Stare Down the (Ugly) Truth

July 16th, 2016

Leadership Tip of the Month

“Rose-colored glasses undermine your ability to lead effectively. When things get tough, be willing to look at cold, hard truths — about yourself, your team, your products/services and your competition — no matter how uncomfortable they make you. Only by acknowledging reality can you begin to change it for the better.”
–Tryon Edwards, American theologian

Change and the Power of Habits

June 20th, 2016

Change and the Power of Habits

By Kevin Eikenberry

Better Leadership Habits are 3 Cs Away

In my work coaching leaders and members of my team, I am often reminded of the tremendous role that habits play in our lives and work. Of course that impact can be for positive or not — the purpose of this article is to help you use habits more effectively to create the results you want as a leader.

Two Kinds of Habits

While all habits are automatic responses, they fall into two basic types: considered and not considered.

Considered habits are probably what you thought about when you read the title of this article — when (or whether) you exercise, what (or when) you read, if you eat dinner with (or without) your family. “Not considered” habits are the millions of other things that are, well, habitual (for example, how we respond in certain situations, our gestures, how we greet people on the phone, etc.).

Recognizing that habits, by their nature, are largely subconscious is an important part of this article. More important though, is knowing that any individual habit can become conscious, considered and therefore changed.

You wake up and your body moves into motion. How you stretch, what you do before you shower, how you soap up, shampoo and more — all done in habit. And this isn’t just about what happens when you might still be (partly) asleep. A whole myriad of things at work are done habitually too. Let’s take a meeting. Where you sit, how you sit, how you greet people, when, how and how often you speak, whether you ask questions or not (and lots more) are all habit.

Habits Are Necessary

Overall, habits are an exceedingly good thing — without them, we couldn’t survive life, let alone create the types of positive outcomes we are able to with them. It might be frightening to think about how much of your life, conversations and decisions run on the autopilot of habit. Frightening perhaps, but completely necessary. Our subconscious mind is so powerful that it can just take care of all this stuff for us. Our relatively feeble conscious mind wouldn’t be able to handle all of the input. Our challenge is to know that it all exists (even if we aren’t aware of it all as it is happening), and move to our conscious mind those things that are most important to us or may be getting in the way of our potential success.

Habits Are at the Heart of our Results

Author Robert Collier wrote, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Habits. He could have also written, while less inspirational just as accurately, “Failure is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Habits are at the heart of our results. If you aren’t getting the results you want in any area of life, a big key is to figure out which habits (considered or not) are getting in your way, then adjust them to create new results.

Moving the change from conscious (a considered habit), which you likely call discipline — to subconscious (a “not considered” habit), which makes it effortless — is where the real acceleration will come.

Our Habits Teach Others How to Work With Us

Here is a quick exercise for you. Think about something that someone does (or people in general do) in response to you that bothers, frustrates or upsets you.

Then look in the mirror and ask yourself, what you are doing (consciously or not) that is influencing their actions. Something we are doing is informing and allowing or permitting people to respond or work with us in that way. Rather than focusing on changing them, why not focus on what is more in your control anyway; changing yourself (first)?

Coaching is Really About Habits

When we are coaching others, whether to stretch them to higher levels of performance or to provide correction, we are dealing with people’s habits. Everything we’ve talked about so far has been about our personal habits. Yet all of that insight applies to our understanding of the habits of others, as well.

Perhaps the step you’ve missed in coaching others has been to help them become aware of a “not considered” habit, because as we have already seen, if we aren’t aware of that automatic habit, it will be very difficult to change.

Habits are Change Reminders

Coaching is of course also about change. Once people are aware of their habits, then they can begin to change them.

What has been your personal experience in changing habits? Was it easy or difficult? Since I can safely assume that you likely answered “difficult,” that provides a window into our challenges with change.

The next time you are trying to influence change, whether encouraging an employee to turn in their reports on time, explain the virtues of the new work process, or outlining the big organizational change, remember that part of the influencing effort is about these necessary, often hidden, and powerful things called habits.

Remembering and using that insight will make you more influential and more patient.

Remember that when we realize and utilize the power of habits, we are more personally effective, but we can also help others be more effective too.