Posts

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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.

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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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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?

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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.