Recipe for Success: ASK for What You Need

In a recent team building session, the participants said they really enjoyed learning more about their colleagues, but they also appreciated understanding themselves better and they really valued the opportunity to practice what I call the recipe for success – asking for what you need.

Accept Responsibility for Getting What You Need

Whether coaching an executive or working with a team, my message is the same:  learn what you need and ask for it.  It can be really hard for high achievers to admit that they need something from someone else, but no one succeeds in a vacuum and we can’t expect others to read our minds.

Specifics Help You Tell Others What You Need

Most people are willing to help their colleagues, and being specific makes that easier.  If you need more time to reflect on a complex issue and you are being pressured to make a decision quickly, you could explain, “I can give you an answer now or I can give you a better answer at noon tomorrow.”

Know What Contributes to Your Success

You may be a very team-oriented person who also needs to have your individual efforts recognized.  Your colleagues are probably not aware of this need because your usual behavior doesn’t give them a clue.  This makes it especially important for you to let your boss and key colleagues know that you are a lot more productive when you are able to measure and receive feedback on your performance.

Now that you have the recipe for success – whip up something good!

Don’t Push Me!

My trainer kept saying, “Come on, you can do this!” even though I told him my foot wasn’t rehabbed enough for jumping.  The more he insisted, the more resistant I became.  I will push myself pretty hard, but not to the point of potentially doing damage.

How Much is Too Much?

Because he wasn’t getting it I questioned my own approach to pushing my coaching clients beyond their comfort zone. It is one of the toughest things I have to do, but discomfort is sometimes necessary to stimulate behavior change.

Stretch Without Breaking

Leaders also have to find the right balance when pushing their team members.  The best way to provide challenges that will stretch people without breaking them is to invest the time to learn:

  • What motivates the person
  • What de-motivates them

Where to Start?

A personality assessment like the Birkman is a great starting point, so let me know if you would like to explore how to add this to your leadership toolkit.

That is So Stupid!

I’m Right, You’re Wrong

How many times a day do we think or say, “That is so stupid!”? The statement infers that we are smarter than someone else, that we are right and they are wrong.  That attitude makes it impossible to find common ground in conflict resolution.

 

Where is that Getting Us?

This issue came up with two of my clients recently so I challenged them to come up with a non-judgmental word to substitute for “stupid.”  It wasn’t easy letting go of that powerful feeling of being right, but they were each frustrated enough with the lack of progress in resolving their differences with colleagues that they agreed to work on it.

 

This is Smart!

The exercise enabled my clients to see things from the other person’s perspective, and that helped them move forward.  How about you?  Are you ready to try a new approach to achieving your objectives?  If so, I invite you to consider an issue from the perspective of someone with whom you disagree.  That’s not stupid; it’s smart!

How do You Slice an Apple?

Have you ever stopped to consider how many things do you do without thinking?  I have always sliced an apple with the small end down, even though it tends to wobble.  Recently, my apple rolled over and I realized how much easier it is to slice it with the large end down.

Who Taught You?

I suppose my mother taught me to slice it that way and I never considered doing it differently.  When you think about the people who taught you about being a leader, who comes to mind?  What made the good ones effective and the bad ones hard to forget?  How did they shape your leadership style?

Is There a Better Way?

In What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith reminds us to ask, “How am I doing?” on a regular basis.  The answers tell us what we need to continue doing and what we need to reconsider.  Are there some things you have been doing so long that you no longer pay attention to whether they are effective?

Adding Too Much Value

Of the 20 habits Goldsmith lists in his book, one of the most common I see in my executive coaching clients is adding their two cents to every discussion.  Your team isn’t very likely to be motivated by a leader who says, “That’s a good idea but…”  If you wonder whether this is an issue for you, ask someone you trust.

Like the apple, I invite you to turn your leadership style upside down and see if you need to slice it differently.

Are You Talking to ME?

What do you consider the most effective way of communicating?  Like most of my executive coaching clients, you are probably buried by email since it is often our primary method of conveying information.

Building Relationships

Many of my clients have been telling me recently that their colleagues want them to reach out for face-to-face communication more often.  Building relationships is much easier when we go to someone’s office or connect via Skype or videoconference.  Reading body language and facial expressions helps us understand what isn’t being said better than emoticons ever will.

Value of Small Talk

While texting, instant messaging and other forms of communicating via technology are useful, even a phone call can go a long way toward creating a personal connection.  I know it sounds old school, but Facebook can’t take the place of hearing someone’s voice.  The tone of the typical “I’m fine” answer to “How are you?” can tell a lot about whether we need to accept that at face value or ask, “How are you really?”

Impact on Leadership

One thing I often hear when conducting 360 feedback interviews is that people appreciate a leader who cares about them.  They want someone to ask them questions and then really listen to the answers.  They want the kind of relationship that doesn’t exist only in cyberspace.

I encourage you to ask your colleagues how you could be a more effective communicator.  If they want to see more of you, that’s a good thing!

 

Can You Reframe Conflict?

I suppose there are some people who enjoy conflict, but most of us prefer to avoid it. In several client meetings recently, we discussed reasons for avoiding difficult situations such as telling a subordinate that their performance is unacceptable or standing up to a bullying boss. People typically put off those conversations because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or because they are afraid of possible repercussions.

I asked my clients to evaluate the cost of avoiding the conversation versus the benefit of having it. Being honest with a subordinate who isn’t performing up to expectations means we are supporting the rest of the team in meeting deliverable commitments. What is the cost to our credibility and our health when we allow our boss to treat us unfairly?

We then explored what might happen if we reframed the concept of conflict as an opportunity for collaboration:
• Disagreements could be addressed in a timely manner
• Colleagues could know their strengths and areas for development
• We could establish healthy boundaries for how we expect to be treated

Reframing conflict isn’t easy. It requires:
• Understanding what makes us uncomfortable
• Considering the cost and benefit of each possible reaction
• Choosing how we will respond

I invite you to think about a recent conflict you experienced and how the outcome might have changed if you had approached it with a different mindset. Share your story with me cheryl@csbryan.com