What will you do with that time?
10 dangers of inexperienced leaders:
- Needing to be liked.
- Emotional decisions.
- Trying too hard.
- Neglecting the long term.
- Focusing on symptoms rather than causes.
- Aiming without pulling the trigger.
- Forget to say thank you.
10 questions every inexperienced leader must keep asking:
- What type of world are my behaviors building around me?
- How many questions did I ask today?
- What am I learning?
- Am I acting or reacting?
- When was the last time I spent an hour in self-reflection?
- What’s the most fun?
- Am I soliciting input from experienced leaders and staff?
- Do I welcome ideas from everyone?
- How are we leveraging everyone’s strengths?
- Who do I feel threatened by? Why?
12 powerful suggestions for inexperienced leaders:
- You matter in ways you can’t imagine. Watch your tone, body language, and attitude, everyone else is.
- Be optimistic about the future and realistic about the present. Optimism frustrates others if you don’t acknowledge present realities and problems first.
- Challenges aren’t your biggest opportunity, people are.
- Be tender when you’re being tough.
- Remove manipulators and backstabbers. They may quickly deliver results but everyone around them slows down.
- Courageously ask dumb questions.
- Protect your team from political fallout and organizational interference.
- Believe your perspective matters. Listen to yourself as well as others.
- Avoid extreme reactions.
- Recruit mentors, advisors, and, coaches. Get support.
- Take responsibility.
- Make the best interests of your organization and others your priority. Always.
Bonus: Stick with it. The reason it’s called experience is it takes time.
When you are trying to get things done, when you are trying to reach your goals, take a hard look at the things you are telling yourself.
Many times, we are self-limiting based on statements that are simply not true.
Here are the Top 12 Time management Lies That We Tell Ourselves:
- I don’t have time. - Yes, you do have time. The same in the day as everyone else. You have just chosen to spend it elsewhere.
- I have to do this. - The next time you say this, ask yourself, “What would happen if I didn’t do this?” Many of the things we take for granted as “must do” are only required because we let them be.
- I am going to exercise more. - I want to get into shape, but I don’t have time. (See #1) You do have time to workout, you don’t have the will.
- I am going to do it… - Stop saying. Start doing. There is a big difference between saying you are going to do something, and actually doing it. Action always beats empty words.
- When I have more time… - You have all the time you are going to have. You are not going to “have more” later. Truth be told, you don’t even know how much you have left. Just do it now.
- When things settle down… - There is no normal life. Just life. Life is not going to suddenly calm down in the future so that you can do something new. Some of the best work is done under pressure and while things are busiest.
- I’ll do it tomorrow… - Today is the day. Not tomorrow. Or the day after that. Stop putting off things until tomorrow. Let today be the day.
- I am not lucky… – If that is what you believe, then it will be so. However, you make your own luck. And the secret is, that the harder you work, the luckier you get. (True.) Don’t wait for luck to come your way, go out and find it.
- I can’t do that… - If you haven’t tried, then how do you know? We are all stronger than we think. Only by stretching yourself will you find that your boundaries are much larger you think.
- I am going to change… – Most people don’t change. They get older, maybe a little bigger. But, most do not change. Change is hard. So, don’t take it lightly when you “say” you are going to change. It takes concentrated effort and much discipline.
- I can get this done in an hour… – We often underestimate the time that tasks take. Have you ever pulled an all-nighter on a project that you thought we only take a few hours?
- That deadline isn’t important… – Many of us are numb to deadlines, thinking that they are not important. However, even if there is not an apparent consequence, there is always lost time and missed opportunities.
Telling the Truth
The next time you hear some of these statements, question their accuracy.
Instead, be straightforward about what you will do and what you can accomplish.
Be truthful about your actions.
And of course, be honest with yourself.
There is a cartoon I recall seeing: “If you are lonely, call a meeting.” Given the meeting madness of many organizations, there appears to be a lot of lonely people in companies.
People estimate they spend approximately 2-3 days of their work week in meetings. Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, and using salary data from Glassdoor.com, the weekly cost of meetings for a 10-person team is approximately $23,760.
The question is… given the resource impact and cost, how can you quickly improve the probability of having a successful, productive meeting?
A successful meeting ensures the right people are invited and the material is presented as effectively and judiciously as possible. It is respectful of your time and enables you to contribute in a meaningful way or makes you smarter. Too often this is the exception than the norm, which put me on a quest to identify a quick process to improve the odds.
I read an article a few years ago that had four questions to ask before a meeting is called:
- What is the purpose — decision, information sharing or brainstorming?
- What is the issue…in five words or less?
- Who has already weighed in and what did they have to say about it?
- What will surprise me in this meeting?
1. What is the purpose of the meeting?
Defining the type of meeting is a critical but often missed first step. It guides the organizer—regarding the format, information needed, and who should be invited — and sets expectations for the participants. Typically, meetings can be classified into one of three types:
- Decision-making meeting: The goal is to produce a final decision. It is not the time for new information or to request additional analysis. In this meeting, you will finalize the path forward—i.e., yes or no, and if yes, how. Prepare: Brief deck or memo for pre-reading (e.g. less than 10 slides).
- Information sharing meeting: Here the meeting host means to share new, interesting, relevant facts and figures. There is no call to action and no preparation on the part of attendees required. Initially everyone but the presenter is in listening mode; once the presentation is complete, the presenter asks for questions of clarification. Prepare: Short deck or memo (11- 25 pages).
- Brainstorming meeting: Perhaps the most anticipated but difficult meeting where you expect to generate ideas via a working session. At this phase, data synthesis is incomplete and report content is a work in progress. Ideally, everyone should be involved in the back-and-forth. Prepare: Varies depending on lifecycle of the project.
2. What is the issue…in five words or less?
To quote William Shakespeare, “Put your discourse into some frame.” One of the biggest skill gaps is the ability to conceptualize the problem or frame the issue. Start your next meeting with a quick exercise, have each person articulate in five words or less what you are trying to solve. If you get inconsistent answers or long replies there is lack of clarity on why you are meeting. By clearly articulating the issue, you will get a good idea of the information you need, the people you should talk to and will ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
3. Who has already weighed in and what did they have to say about it?
This gives your meeting request credibility. Assuming you talked to the right people and perhaps secured stakeholder feedback and support in the process, it makes it easier for those attending the meeting to engage in the dialogue. It also exposes if you missed inviting a key person or if there are interim steps you need to take before meeting. It reduces revisiting existing conversation and moves the dialogue forward.
4. What will surprise me in this meeting?
Surprises are wake-up calls to your brain. Surprises are bias killers. People want meaningful dialogue and want to hear new information. Asking “‘what is surprising” in a meeting will spur new discussion and uncover fresh learning. The secret to uncovering these answers is to apply a prism to the discussion in a meeting. Just as a prism separates a light into parts, the question “What surprised you?”’ serves as a prism to separate meaningless information to expose new learning from relevant numbers. The reason is simple: The question exposes outliers in the data, draws connections between seemingly unrelated conclusions and opens new avenues of discussion with your colleagues.
Finally, a word about meeting duration. Today’s e-mail and calendar applications usually set meetings to a :60 min default. Think about what that means. One hour is roughly 10% percent of the average businessperson’s workday. So, the question becomes: Is the meeting truly important enough for you to ask everyone to give up such a large chunk of their workday? Furthermore, one-hour meetings are harder to schedule. So, think it over carefully, to determine if an entire hour really needed, or could if you achieve the objective in :30 minutes or via e-mail.
The ideal meeting begins before anyone sits down at the table. The next time you receive a meeting request ask the four questions, it will save you time and help you manage the fire hose of requests.
“When necessary, how do I lower the volume of my leadership presence?” Interesting question isn't it. I came across this topic a few years ago.
Most members of a team know when they’re doing their work well. For leaders, it’s a bit different. How do you show that you’re leading?
Here are five competencies that good leaders demonstrate.
We know that leaders need to be seen by followers—from formal presentations and announcements, to a crisis, to simple “managing by walking around.” The less-obvious occasions, however, are easily overlooked. They can be lost opportunities, or powerful expressions of leadership.
As a leader, when do you feel out of your comfort zone? Maybe it’s when you have to deliver bad or unpopular news, or mediate a conflict between direct reports, or perform a necessary task that you just don’t like. One CEO client told me that he found it hard to celebrate the “small to medium wins” that his team wanted acknowledged. He considered these victories just part of doing business. His solution was to ask his executives to publicize accomplishments up to a certain level, allowing him to save his praise for the really big achievements.
Ask yourself, “How am I visible to others when I don’t want to be?” The answer is not to pretend to like being visible—far from it. Instead, ask yourself this question prior to an uncomfortable event, and use it to help you prepare. Consider some behavioral options, and put yourself in a different mental space. Then you’ll be able to be visible in a more productive, less stressful manner.
Many leaders are great at preparing the logistics of leadership (the facts and figures in a plan, or the pitch for a presentation). Too many leaders, however, don’t prepare regularly for the deeper daily requirements of leadership. A bit of regular preparation goes a long way.
Just as athletic activities involve physical, mental, and emotional energies, leadership is a “whole-body practice” and requires preparation of the whole person. The next time you are running through your checklist prior to a leadership event, ask yourself, “How have I prepared my whole self for this?”
This is closely related to preparation, because leadership discomfort is greatly enhanced by a lack of preparation. In order to be more comfortable as a leader and to appear that way to other people, you need to practice. By “comfortable,” I don’t mean perpetually happy or even relaxed—I mean grounded in your complete embodiment of leadership.
Ask yourself, “How do I display that I am comfortable with the responsibilities and demands of leadership?” Look for nagging doubts in the back of your mind; or instincts that need to be surfaced around what you feel should be happening instead of what is happening, or that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach about an issue not faced. This is valuable data, and if you do not address your lack of grounding and comfort, others will certainly sense it for you.
One reason that modern leadership is hard is because an effective modern leader must listen to others. Though few people manage to do it, this may be one of the easiest competencies to demonstrate—provided you can resist the urge to talk.
Ask yourself, “What one thing can I tell myself as a reminder to listen more?” It’s vitally important that you think up an effective cue. If you can’t come up with one, that in itself could indicate a deeper internal misalignment.
This list started with visibility. When the opposite is required, a leader must blend in. Otherwise, he or she risks drawing attention away from the people and issues at hand. When you pull back, it makes it easier for other people to bring you hard problems, bad news, and perspectives that challenge the status quo.
As a leader, it’s not all about you. The clearest way to demonstrate this is to find the right moments to step out of the spotlight so that other people get the attention they need. Ask yourself, “When necessary, how do I lower the volume of my leadership presence?”
Top Ten Differences
- Insecure leaders selectively divulge and withhold information. Secure leaders freely share information.
- Insecure leaders teach employees what they need to know. Secure leaders nurture employees to help them figure out what they need to know.
- Insecure leaders discourage risk taking. Secure leaders encourage calculated risk taking.
- Insecure leaders give instructions and expect them to be followed. Secure leaders give guidance and expect results.
- Insecure leaders demand respect. Secure leaders earn respect.
- Insecure leaders may acknowledge great performance but ensure they also get credit. Secure leaders spotlight great performance and don’t worry about getting credit.
- Insecure leaders hire and promote others who think like they do. Secure leaders hire and promote others who think differently than they do.
- Insecure leaders deflect failure. Secure leaders accept responsibility for failure.
- Insecure leaders promote those they can control. Secure leaders promote those they don’t have to control.
- Insecure leaders grow good doers. Secure leaders grow great leaders.
Over the years, I’ve observed just about every type of leadership development program on the planet. And the sad thing is, most of them don’t even come close to accomplishing what they were designed to do – build better leaders. In today’s column I’ll share the #1 reason leadership development programs fail, and give you 20 things to focus on to ensure yours doesn’t become another casualty.
According to the American Society of Training and Development, U.S. businesses spend more than $170 Billion dollars on leadership-based curriculum, with the majority of those dollars being spent on “LeadershipTraining.” Here’s the thing – when it comes to leadership, the training industry has been broken for years. You don’t train leaders you develop them – a subtle yet important distinction lost on many. Leadership training is alive and well, but it should have died long, long ago.
This may be heresy to some – but training is indeed the #1 reason leadership development fails. While training is often accepted as productive, it rarely is. The terms training and development have somehow become synonymous when they are clearly not. This is more than an argument based on semantics – it’s painfully real. I’ll likely take some heat over my allegations against the training industry’s negative impact on the development of leaders, and while this column works off some broad generalizations, in my experience having worked with literally thousands of leaders, they are largely true.
An Overview of The Problem
My problem with training is it presumes the need for indoctrination on systems, processes and techniques. Moreover, training assumes that said systems, processes and techniques are the right way to do things. When a trainer refers to something as “best practices” you can with great certitude rest assured that’s not the case. Training focuses on best practices, while development focuses on next practices. Training is often a rote, one directional, one dimensional, one size fits all, authoritarian process that imposes static, outdated information on people. The majority of training takes place within a monologue (lecture/presentation) rather than a dialog. Perhaps worst of all, training usually occurs within a vacuum driven by past experience, not by future needs.
The solution to the leadership training problem is to scrap it in favor of development. Don’t train leaders, coach them, mentor them, disciple them, and develop them, but please don’t attempt to train them. Where training attempts to standardize by blending to a norm and acclimating to the status quo, development strives to call out the unique and differentiate by shattering the status quo. Training is something leaders dread and will try and avoid, whereas they will embrace and look forward to development. Development is nuanced, contextual, collaborative, fluid, and above all else, actionable.
The following 20 items point out some of the main differences between training and development:
1. Training blends to a norm – Development occurs beyond the norm.
2. Training focuses on technique/content/curriculum – Development focuses on people.
3. Training tests patience – Development tests courage.
4. Training focuses on the present – Development focuses on the future.
5. Training adheres to standards – Development focuses on maximizing potential.
6. Training is transactional – Development is transformational.
7. Training focuses on maintenance – Development focuses on growth.
8. Training focuses on the role – Development focuses on the person.
9. Training indoctrinates – Development educates.
10. Training maintains status quo – Development catalyzes innovation.
11. Training stifles culture – Development enriches culture.
12. Training encourages compliance – Development emphasizes performance.
13. Training focuses on efficiency – Development focuses on effectiveness.
14. Training focuses on problems - Development focuses on solutions.
15. Training focuses on reporting lines – Development expands influence.
16. Training places people in a box – Development frees them from the box.
17. Training is mechanical – Development is intellectual.
18. Training focuses on the knowns – Development explores the unknowns.
19. Training places people in a comfort zone – Development moves people beyond their comfort zones.
20. Training is finite – Development is infinite.
If what you desire is a robotic, static thinker – train them. If you’re seeking innovative, critical thinkers – develop them. I have always said it is impossible to have an enterprise which is growing and evolving if leadership is not.
"Readers are leaders and leaders are readers.” I’m reading all these books and they all seem to blend together in my mind. Now what.
I came across this method from Dwayne Morris. He is a writer, speaker and consultant.
- Read good books. This may be a no-brainer, but I don’t read arbitrary books. If someone hasn’t recommended a title or author, I don’t touch it. This is where crowd-sourcing is a key component to my leadership development.
- Never read without a pen and/or highlighter. If you are reading good books and your intent for reading is to learn, then you need to be ready to mark those nuggets when you find them. Not to mention that studies have revealed that you tend to read faster when you use a pen to help pace your eyes along the text.
- Finish the book and rewind. When I complete a book, I’m only halfway to the finish line. My next step is to go back to the beginning and revisit the principles, illustrations, and examples that caught my attention the first time through.
- But wait, there’s one more step. As I began this process, it occurred to me that I needed a Master Index of the books I complete. This allows me to see all of the books I have read that mention a particular topic. So if I need material on crucial conversation, I can see which books and authors reference crucial conversation.
The bottom line here is that you must have a means to retrieve what you read. It helps you stay sharp and it elevates your value to others who know you are a disciplined reader and can share what you learn.
(Excerpts from Steven Berglas article)
What should you do if you think you want to change and, like so many of your peers, put your faith (and a huge financial commitment) in a coach? Is it possible to develop an authentic commitment to executive coaching through sheer willpower alone? No. But what you can do is develop a mindset — i.e. new “automatic” cognitive messages — that will help you counter your own resistance to change.
What follows are the exercises I use most often to help new clients initiate coaching with the best mindset possible. If, prior to the onset of coaching you experience the attitude adjustments they are designed to foster, the change process should be profoundly less anxiety- and resistance-provoking for you than it is for those who dive in unprepared.
1. Ask yourself, “Cui bono?”
The best way to reduce the possibility of being stung by an executive coach’s constructive critical feedback is to remind yourself that it is (a) not ad hominem and as such, (b) comparable to the club pro’s efforts to correct your slice. To do this with ease, learn to employ the Latin phrase “Cui bono?” — literally, “as a benefit to whom?” — after each critique you receive. The rational portion of your brain knows that no competent coach would gratuitously put you down. Now you need to train the more primitive, more reactionary parts of your brain to think that way too. By making “Cui bono?” the mantra you bring to assessment sessions with your coach, you can learn to accept that any and all feedback from him or her is intended to be helpful, not hurtful.
2. Be sure you wouldn’t rather hire a cheerleader than a coach.
Many consultants and coaches know that they can build lucrative client bases by treating protégés the way Little League coaches deal with their pre-teen charges: Everything the kid does evokes a “good job” or “atta boy!”
The problem with an automatic “good job” reaction is that it is useless and often — even by pre-teens — seen for what it is: Balm for under-developed egos. An 11-year-old with burgeoning self-esteem would much rather hear “keep your eye on the ball” after striking out than “good job,” but if you want to hear cheering regardless of how you perform, caveat emptor. An ethical coach doesn’t bring pom-poms to meetings with clients, so hire to your needs.
3. Learn the difference between participation and commitment.
Having spent 30 years as a psychotherapist and coach, I can assure you that acting the role of a “participant in a change process” is not nearly the same as being committed to actually changing yourself. Many people claim to be involved in a change process when, in fact, they are holding their true selves in abeyance.
Coaching cannot change you one iota unless or until you’re really committed — until you have skin in the game. Before I work with a client who needs to make major changes, I share the aphorism my baseball coach once told me to drive home the distinction between authentic commitment vs. going through the motions: “There’s a huge difference between participating in baseball and being committed to it; it’s like a bacon and egg breakfast. The chicken participates in the breakfast. The pig, on the other hand, was fully committed.”
Since you won’t change unless you really want to, and nothing — not the highest-priced coach or public declarations about your intention to change (which, presumably, will humiliate you if you fail) — will help you to succeed, it behooves you to learn how to thwart your worst tendencies in advance of tackling change. This is what cartoonist/philosopher Walt Kelly, in his possum persona,Pogo, was referring to when he said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” If you accept this fact of life, coaching — and every other change process you initiate — will become surprisingly simple.
These were the words used by General Electric President and CEO Jeffrey Immelt at the 2014 Global Leadership Summit to describe one reason GE spends upwards of $1 Billion Dollars (Yes…with a “B” as in “Bravo”) each year to train and develop leaders.
Wow. Just…wow. Less than 15 countries have a GDP more than $1Billion Dollars (in case you were wondering.)
Immelt went on to clarify that he was not talking about leadership principles…”Principles are timeless but leadership is not static.”
Leadership is not static…it has a shelf life. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that everything is in a constant state of deterioration.
The moment we are born we begin to die. What goes up….must come down. And leaders, even the best of us…leak.
If unchecked, we will find ourselves running “flat” and the impact on the organization can be described as “rough” at best.
So what are we to do? While you can’t account for every “nail” in the road…there are a few things we can do to guard against leadership leakage.
1. Check Your Gauges. Ignore that “Low Air” gauge too long and you may find yourself riding on nothing but rim. Failure to be mindful of how you are doing as a leader puts your whole organization at risk. So take a moment and ask yourself, “How am I doing?” and “Whats life like for the people I lead?”. Your answer may surprise you.
2. Get a Second Opinion. Leaders often fail to think about how they are doing but employees track your leadership performance in real-time. They know how you are doing and your performance as a leader is part of their daily conversation. Have the courage to ask others, “How am I doing?”and join the conversation.
3. Do Regular Maintenance. Remember that no know matter how educated and experienced we are as leaders…we leak. What got you here won’t necessarily get you there. So put yourself in a position to learn new thing…to be reminded of old things.
Leadership has a shelf life. Left alone…it will expire and become irrelevant. But when leaders get better…everybody wins.
By Lance LeBlanc
Over the years, our coaching team has facilitated hundreds of workshops with thousands of leaders around the world. In nearly every workshop we ask a simple question. “What makes a great team?” We get lots of answers, but the most common answer might be a bit surprising. Communication. Good communication, to be specific. When asked, it’s as if they’ve been waiting for years to get this answer off their chest. The word “communication!” comes flying out as though this is the last opportunity they’ll ever have to voice their opinion on the matter.
Why the passion? Why the urgency? We have found, it’s not because they read the concept in a book, or because they are seeing it demonstrated well in the workplace. As we press a little harder on the issue, we find that people are passionate about good communication because it so rarely exists. Most people we talk to feel uninformed or simply unheard. And when people feel unheard, they begin to disengage. Here are just 4 things your people wish you knew.
1. “I’m better at my job than you think”
Seriously. One of the fastest ways to de-motivate your team is to micromanage them. I understand that some people really like it when their leader is actively engaged with their work, but others just want some space to do what they love and are great at. The leader’s job is to make the call on how much space to give. The leader assesses their competency level and the leadership requirements of each employee. If they are qualified for their job, let them do it.If they aren’t, either train them or replace them. When you micromanage, it’s as though you are telling them, “I don’t trust you to do it right”. This erodes trust, frustrates the employee and wears you out.
2. “I really want to make you happy”
It may not seem like it all the time, but it’s true. Your people want to do the right thing and they want to know where to improve. Everyone makes mistakes, but deep down, most people know when they’ve messed up and really desire to get it right and please you. They hate it when you are disappointed in them. Don’t take their mistakes personally. Seek to understand what really happened, and then together, discover what to do differently next time. You set the tone. How do you handle failure? Do you huff and moan or explode when things don’t go right? Or do you calmly engage the issue or person and look for the solution?
3. “I wish you listened to my ideas”
Four simple words: “what do you think?”. Your people have great ideas. Ask them. I once heard a story about a hospital that was having a sudden problem with a rise in cases of staph infections in their patients. It was serious. No one could figure out the root of the problem. They tried everything. One day as they were meeting to discuss possible solutions, a custodian passed by and was asked to join the meeting and weigh in. When he learned what was happening he had a surprising idea. He informed them that several months ago, in order to save money, the hospital started using a cheaper cleaning product. Right about the time they saw the rise in cases of staph infections. The hospital immediately went back to the superior cleaning product and the issue cleared up. Thankfully, that leader had the courage to ask for help. When leaders ask their people, “what do you think?” it creates buy in. People feel valued when their ideas are heard. When the best ideas are exchanged and chosen based on merit…. your people will believe in the idea and engage with it.
4. “There are things I’m not telling you”
It’s the leaders job to know what’s going on. Unfortunately, leaders at the top can often be oblivious to the most critical weaknesses in themselves, their decisions and in their organization. They sometimes live in what I call “The CEO Bubble”. It works like this: The higher you are in the organization, the more you become removed from “common” people. (I put common in quotes because your people are anything but “common”.) Because your responsibilities are huge, you only have time to spend with the most important people. As those people rise in the organization around you, they have more to lose. There’s more at stake. If you’re not careful, you end up creating a bubble for you and your closest team. Those inside the bubble can become blind to your challenges because they are too close or become too afraid of speaking up for fear of what they might lose. Those outside the bubble feel they have no access to you and even if they did, their voice has no impact. This is a problem.
We always urge our clients and leaders to break out of the bubble, have critical conversations and ask their people for feedback. There are amazing ideas at every level of your organization, but don’t assume they are telling you everything. Your people are a wealth of information but often hold back because they are afraid. Joseph Grenny, author of Crucial Conversations, says “You can measure the health of a team or organization by measuring the number of undiscussables”. That’s a sobering thought.
What’s off the table for you? What’s the topic that everyone talks about at the water cooler, but no one would dare tell you? What are people afraid to bring up in front of you?