Posts

Are You Leading Like an Alligator?

It’s not every day I meet an alligator in a building lobby – that gets your attention!  I recently had an opportunity to facilitate a team building session at a client site in alligator country.   This alligator was stuffed and buffed so you could see every bony plate.  My Google search told me these plates are what make the alligator’s skin very hard to penetrate.

We humans have a similar armor. In Dare to Lead Brene’ Brown lists 16 examples of armored leadership and 16 daring leadership responses.  One of those armored leadership examples is hiding behind cynicism.  We see this in people who aren’t brave enough to say what they really mean or those who need to put someone else down so they can feel better about themselves.

Effective leaders don’t tolerate this behavior on their teams and they model the appropriate response — being clear and kind.  The challenge for the cynic is identifying and dealing with their underlying anger or fear of inadequacy so they can say what they mean and mean what they say.

How Does EQ Impact the Bottom Line?

The CEO was fed up – if she got one more complaint about the VP Operations she was going to have to fire him.  It was obvious when he was in a bad mood because he yelled at people and slammed doors.  Then they were upset and distracted which affected their productivity and how they dealt with customers.  The ripple effect of his bad moods was negatively impacting the bottom line.

Human behavior is like an iceberg.  We see how people behave but we don’t always understand what drives behavior.  Using Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is like putting on your scuba gear to check out what is hidden beneath the surface.  Once you know which emotions are influencing your behavior, you can use those emotions more effectively.

In his book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman cites research indicating that leaders whose styles had a positive emotional impact on their teams generated measurably better financial results.  Teams with higher engagement have lower turnover, above average productivity, higher customer loyalty and higher profitability.

If you want to positively impact your bottom line, contact cheryl@csbryan.com today for an assessment and suggestions for improving EQ for yourself or someone on your team.

Swimming Upstream

What if we train them and they leave?  What if we don’t and they stay?

This nugget of wisdom was passed down to a seasoned leader from one of his mentors as a lesson in the importance of investing in people development.

As a leadership development professional it’s always encouraging to hear a commitment to the long view.  How do you maintain that view when the pressure is on to achieve quick results in the short term?

You have to be willing to swim upstream and persuade other leaders to do the same.  Consider these techniques:

  • Highlight the ROI of development efforts – retention, promotion and increased productivity
  • Have leaders nominate high potential participants for development programs and identify measureable goals for each person, then tie those goals to ROI
  • Conduct exit interviews to understand perceptions of the company’s investment in people and how that affects recruitment and retention
  • Ensure that your development programs don’t assume a “one and done” approach — build on a foundation over time

If you train them and they leave you would ask them what they’re gaining.  If you don’t and they stay – ask yourself what you’re gaining.

Don’t Burn Your Fingers!

Last month I described the results of a session on creating a “Secret Sauce for Successful Leaders”:  vision, communication, confidence, positive role modeling, reliability, trustworthiness and transparency with generous dashes of encouragement, motivation, appreciation, fun, coaching, caring and steadiness.

In our “How to Avoid Burning Your Fingers” exercise, the group identified the following potential distractions to implementing that Secret Sauce recipe:

  • External market factors
  • Loss of business
  • Morale / Negativity
  • Resistance
  • Communication
  • Safety or other incidents
  • Talent
  • Resource management
  • Personal distractions

Could you choose the perfect dessert for each member of your team without asking them what they want?  Our last item on the menu for this session, “Why We Shouldn’t Skip Dessert,” explored the importance of celebrating successes in ways that motivate each individual.  Here are some of the techniques that were mentioned:

  • Listening
  • Trust
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Support
  • Involvement in decision-making
  • Meaningful work
  • Autonomy
  • Training & development
  • Career advancement
  • Money

I invite you to create your own secret sauce recipe, develop a plan to put the lid on potentially painful distractions, and serve each of your team members a dessert that will motivate them to succeed even in a challenging market.

Leading Through a Downturn

I recently facilitated a session for leaders in the energy industry. Those of us who have worked in and around this industry for many years know that it is cyclical but that doesn’t make it any less painful when we’re in a downturn. We also know that leadership can have a huge impact on whether companies and people survive or thrive. Warren Bennis, an organizational consultant and author of many books on leadership, said, “A leader doesn’t just get the message across. A leader is the message.”

These were some of the ingredients the group identified in our exercise to create a “Secret Sauce for Successful Leaders” recipe: vision, communication, confidence, positive role modeling, reliability, trustworthiness and transparency. They also suggested adding generous dashes of encouragement, motivation, appreciation, fun, coaching, caring and steadiness.

Next steps included “How to Avoid Burning Your Fingers” – developing a plan for dealing with potential distractions that might prevent them from using their secret sauce — and “Why We Shouldn’t Skip Dessert” — celebrating successes in ways that motivate people. I will share more on these two topics next month but I welcome your questions or comments in the meantime.

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.