Catch Them Doing it Right

Reinforcing the Right Thing

If you have ever read a book on parenting, you may remember this advice, “Catch them doing it right.”  It was a great reminder that we shouldn’t spend all of our time correcting our children when they make mistakes or misbehave.  We also need to focus on reinforcing the behavior that we want.

Motivational Tool

This is also great advice for leaders.  When I meet with a new coachee’s boss to discuss their 360 feedback and development plan, we talk about how to help the coachee change behavior.  Holding them accountable is the first key to success.  The second is letting them know when they demonstrate the desired behavior.  Unsolicited positive feedback can be a great motivator when the coachee isn’t  sure whether she is making any progress.

Gratitude

At this time of year when we take a moment to remember our blessings, I am grateful for the opportunity to know and learn from so many wonderful people.  I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is filled with all the things you enjoy.

Stay in Your Lane

I had a conversation recently with a woman who was chastised by her boss for venturing too far outside her job description. Since she thrives on creativity, she was very discouraged and demotivated.   As she talked more about it, she realized that this attitude is pervasive in her company.  It didn’t take long before she was questioning whether this was the right place for her.

Rules Are Necessary Too

What message are you sending to your team members about staying in their lane?  Of course, in some functions following the rules is required and valued.  Does that mean you don’t want people thinking creatively and trying to come up with better ways of doing things?

It’s a Judgement Call

It could be that you are more comfortable staying in your lane, so it might feel a little threatening for someone on your team to get too far from the norm.  It might be more challenging to motivate people who don’t like to stay in their lane.  At the end of the day, you have to decide what is most valuable to your organization.

Unpopularity

People who stray outside their lane often challenge the status quo, which isn’t always a popular position.  Politics aside, think of the impact of those who did:  Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, Gloria Steinem, and more recently, Ted Cruz.  Can you afford not to have some nonconformists in your company?

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.

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!

 

Watch your Head!

If you’ve ever been on a ranch, you’ve probably seen a cattle panel (check out the picture above). Not something you want to run into, especially head first.  That’s what I did recently when there were several panels in the bed of my husband’s truck, at just my height.  I jumped out of my side of the truck and was headed around the back when, bam!  A sharp corner of the panel banged my forehead and jammed into my sunglasses.  I was lucky that I only ended up with a few scrapes and bruises.

Although you may assume that I’m generally clumsy (no comment), I would tell you that this happened because:

  • I was looking at the ground
  • I forgot the panel was there
  • I was in a hurry

After I had some time to reflect on my good fortune, I asked myself if there were any lessons to be learned that might apply to my work with leaders and teams, such as:

  • Are we missing a signal that we aren’t communicating effectively with someone because we aren’t looking for it?
  • Are we failing to change a non-productive behavior because we forget about the negative impact it has?
  • Have we overlooked an opportunity to create an effective team environment because we are in a hurry to get results?

Amid this busy holiday season and year-end planning, I invite you to raise your head and look around at the things you may be missing that could derail your professional relationships.  If you need someone to help you figure out how to avoid the bumps and bruises, give me a call.  In the meantime, enjoy the holidays.