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Suspending Judgment

In a recent presentation, Avoiding Potholes on the Road to Career Success, I mentioned one of the 20 habits in Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There — Passing Judgment. Goldsmith defines that as rating people according to our standards, which is different from stating an opinion.

This is a hard habit to break in a world focused on celebrities and reality TV. I admit to the guilty pleasure of watching the “pre-game show” on Academy Awards night, which is all about rating what the stars are wearing and judging how they look. When we pass judgment on someone’s appearance, actions or ideas, we assume we know better. No one wants to be judged.

If you need to break this habit, here is a celebrity challenge for you: try to avoid judging any ideas for one week. Stay neutral and just say, “Thanks.” That doesn’t mean you agree or disagree with the idea, only that you heard it. Notice how people react. If you find that suspending judgment leads to more open discussion, keep it up!

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Celebrating with Gratitude

I am celebrating the fifth anniversary of founding my executive coaching and team development practice. The time has really flown by because I love what I do. I have had the privilege of working with and learning from amazing clients. It has been incredibly rewarding to hear clients say, “My colleagues and my family can tell I have been working hard to improve.” That means they are getting it — and applying it in all aspects of their lives.

In the process of completing my certification in Organizational Dynamics, I was reminded of the importance of recognizing people who have had an impact on my career. Thank you to those who encouraged and supported me, those who challenged me, and those who tried to hold me back. I wouldn’t be here without all of you.

Have you acknowledged the people who have helped you along the way? It’s never too late …

 

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Listening Has Value

Do You Hear What I Hear?

As the Christmas carol says, “Do you hear what I hear?”  If we’re honest, mostly what we hear is ourselves talking.  Telling others what we think they should do or how they should feel or what we have accomplished since our last holiday letter.

What Am I Doing?

In our results-oriented world, it is easy to focus on delivering value by doing something.  Although we think we’re helping by offering solutions, our spouse, colleague or friend may just want a sympathetic ear or a brainstorming partner.

Giving a Gift

This holiday season is a great time to give the gift of listening.  That means:

  • Keeping our mouths shut and holding our advice until we’re asked
  • Emulating Nelson Mandela and focusing on the person who is talking as if there were no one else in the room
  • Restating what was said so the other party feels heard
  • Expressing empathy

I invite you to give this gift generously and often and reap the benefits of improved relationships.

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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.

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It’s Like Riding a Bike

Holding Onto the Seat

Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  Your mom or dad probably held onto the back of the seat and ran alongside you a few times.  Then they encouraged you to try it on your own.  You wobbled a little before falling and skinning your knee.  Depending on their approach, you either kept trying or you gave up until someone pushed you back outside and made you do it again.

But Not Too Long

In my coaching practice, I see a lot of leaders who are discouraging their teams by holding onto the bicycle seat too long and micromanaging.  Understandably, they don’t want anyone to fail but they don’t realize the importance of encouraging people to learn from falling down.  In these situations, I work with my clients to become effective leaders who equip people with the tools and support they need and then let them do their jobs.

Micromanagement or Motivation?

In the book What Leaders Really Do, John Kotter points out that, “Motivation and inspiration energize people, not by pushing them in the right direction as control mechanisms do but by satisfying basic human needs for achievement, a sense of belonging, recognition, self-esteem, a feeling of control over one’s life, and the ability to live up to one’s ideals.”

I invite you to envision what you and your team could achieve if you trade micromanagement for motivation.

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How Can You Help Others Handle Loss?

What is My Role?

Recently, I have been very aware of the impact of loss on family members, clients and friends who have lost loved ones or learned of a terminal illness.  While I knew this was an inevitable part of life, I struggled to understand my role in these situations.  In some cases, it was to provide comfort in a very personal way.  In others, it was to offer a prayer that comfort would be provided by someone else.

 

Five Stages of Grief

Have you wondered how to help a friend or colleague who has suffered a loss and is dealing with profound sadness, confusion and fear of what lies ahead? You may be familiar with the five stages of grief as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

They point out that not everyone goes through all five stages and may not experience them in this order, but it can be useful to have some idea of what to expect.  The website grief.com has good suggestions for what to say and do.

 

It’s Not About Me

One thing I have learned is that focusing on the other person rather than myself helps us both.  I invite you to keep that in mind when someone you know is grieving.