Don’t fall into these leadership traps!!

 

I have been a proponent of the importance of leaders developing strengths as a means to improve toward excellence. After all, the best leaders are characterized by the presence of strengths, not the absence of weakness. That concept is illustrated in the article I coauthored for Harvard Business Review, called Making Yourself Indispensable. While it is clearly the path to developing the traits that allow a leader to stand out as remarkable, there are times when leaders need to address their areas of weakness. Some call these “derailleurs”, others call them “fatal flaws”, and still others, euphemistically, refer to them as “opportunities.” By any name, when those weaknesses overshadow a person’s strength, they have to be dealt with.

In my experience reviewing the data in thousands of 360-degree feedback instruments and consulting with senior leaders, these are the biggest traps that render them ineffective.

1. They are lousy role models. Leaders must be the exemplars of behaviors that are valued by any organization. They need to walk their talk and need to talk their walk. That is, they need to behave consistently with the standards set forth and actively support those standards verbally, combining actions and expressions to reinforce the desired actions.

2. They have poor interpersonal skills. We have all experienced leaders that are brilliant technically, or who possess incredible strategic thinking ability but who are abrasive, rude, and harsh to work with. As a result, they create a negative environment that stifles creativity. In other cases, a leader may simply lack any emotional engagement with others, and have simply transactional relationships. In my executive coaching work, this is by far the most common reason I get called.

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3. They neglect the development of bench strength. Coaching, mentoring and developing others are the key areas of competence, when it comes to battling the inevitable attrition that occurs in a majority of organizations. When leaders fail to prioritize staff development, it not only hurts the future of the organization, it creates disengagement among individuals as they feel they are not being invested in.

4. They are closed-minded. These leaders have their way of doing things, (most often the way things have always been done,) and they are not interested in new ideas. In fact, they actively shut down suggestions from others and smother innovation. They reject even exploring new ideas on the basis that they know best.

5. They lack positive energy. Not to mention the harmful influence of negative energy. Even in a neutral state, a leader who is too often phlegmatic can come across as apathetic. No leader can be expected to hold elevated levels of enthusiasm at all times, but at least part of the time, people expect to see passion and even a little fire. The implication of this lack of positive energy is low levels of engagement for those who are lead.

6. They build silos. Collaboration, teamwork, and shared goals are more and more required for success in organizations. One of my clients is fond of saying that the profit dollars for the business “falls through the cracks between the silos.” Leaders who don’t take into account their influence on others, and think only of what their team needs, are too often, not acting in the best interest of the whole organization.

7. They fail to paint a compelling picture of the future. Few employees are motivated by the completion of tasks alone. Most want to understand their part in making the vision of the organization come to life. Providing clear strategy and direction for employees, is one of the critical success factors for leaders. Without it, individuals become mired in tasks and adrift from the mission.

At the end of the day, the saddest part about leaders who routinely exhibit these characteristics is that they are often unaware of them and the impact they are having. These leaders tend to have a very different view of themselves that others do and that gap creates problems for them. I have had to have very direct conversations with clients about the implications of their behaviors and the consequences of not changing. Frequently, that feedback can be a self-correcting mechanism as few leaders show up each day wanting to do a poor job.

Each of us needs to excel by leveraging our natural strengths and abilities. Peter Drucker pointed this out in The Effective Executive over 40 years ago, and that body of work continues to evolve today. But we also need to be mindful of avoiding these leadership traps. Your success will be determined by it!

Do you make this mistake with praise??

Phillips makes a compelling case that saying things like “good job” (which I do all the time with our son) actually sends the message to kids that they are only good when it is stated by a parent. She argues this sets up a situation where children resist challenges when things get difficult, since they get too focused on results instead of persisting through challenges.

As I’m changing my ways at home, I’m struck by how often this shows up in the workplace too. I’ve made the case many times that positive recognition is an important discipline for leaders when people do things right. However, I’ve missed emphasis on a critical component:

Recognition of effort, in addition to results.

And yes, I know that giving too much attention to effort is akin to heresy in organizations where bottom-line results are always top of mind. Virtually every client I’ve worked with puts emphasis on endgame results through formal events, awards ceremonies, and recognition programs…as they should.

Unfortunately, leaders often miss the connection between praise for effort and its influence on future results. Some managers communicate little or nothing as people work diligently, sometimes for years, to get to a rewarded result.

Here’s why praising effort also matters:

With few exceptions, there is almost always a clear connection with appropriate effort and end results. Salespeople sell more if they make more connections. Customer service people get higher ratings if they listen well. If you know an activity the will lead to a later result, you have the chance to influence the result before it happens.

Of course we should continue to recognize the results when the happen…as long as we also recognize that once the results are in, we can’t influence them. However, encouraging people who are putting in the right effort today keeps people engaged now and working towards future results.

If asked, most of us would much rather work for a manager who praised both effort and results. So, let’s be the manager we’d want for ourselves. Find an opportunity this week to give praise where today’s efforts will lead to the right outcomes, long-term.

http://coachingforleaders.com

Mind tools:Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing Helping New Teams Perform Effectively, Quickly

Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing
Helping New Teams Perform Effectively, Quickly

© iStockphoto

Effective teamwork is essential in today’s world, but as you’ll know from the teams you have led or belonged to, you can’t expect a new team to perform exceptionally from the very outset. Team formation takes time, and usually follows some easily recognizable stages, as the team journeys from being a group of strangers to becoming a united team with a common goal.

Whether your team is a temporary working group or a newly-formed, permanent team, by understanding these stages you will be able to help it quickly become productive.

Understanding the Theory

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the memorable phrase “forming, storming, norming and performing” back in 1965. He used it to describe the path to high-performance that most teams follow. Later, he added a fifth stage that he called “adjourning” (and others often call “mourning” – it rhymes better!)

Teams initially go through a “forming” stage in which members are positive and polite. Some members are anxious, as they haven’t yet worked out exactly what work the team will involve. Others are simply excited about the task ahead. As leader, you play a dominant role at this stage: other members’ roles and responsibilities are less clear.

This stage is usually fairly short, and may only last for the single meeting at which people are introduced to one-another. At this stage there may be discussions about how the team will work, which can be frustrating for some members who simply want to get on with the team task.

Soon, reality sets in and your team moves into a “storming” phase. Your authority may be challenged as others jockey for position and their roles are clarified. The ways of working start to be defined and, as leader, you must be aware that some members may feel overwhelmed by how much there is to do, or uncomfortable with the approach being used. Some may react by questioning how worthwhile the goal of the team is, and by resisting taking on tasks. This is the stage when many teams fail, and even those that stick with the task may feel that they are on an emotional roller coaster, as they try to focus on the job in hand without the support of established processes or relationships with their colleagues.

Gradually, the team moves into a “norming” stage, as a hierarchy is established. Team members come to respect your authority as a leader, and others show leadership in specific areas.

Now that the team members know each other better, they may be socializing together, and they are able to ask each other for help and provide constructive criticism. The team develops a stronger commitment to the team goal, and you start to see good progress towards it.

There is often a prolonged overlap between storming and norming behavior: As new tasks come up, the team may lapse back into typical storming stage behavior, but this eventually dies out.

When the team reaches the “performing” stage, hard work leads directly to progress towards the shared vision of their goal, supported by the structures and processes that have been set up. Individual team members may join or leave the team without affecting the performing culture.

As leader, you are able to delegate much of the work and can concentrate on developing team members. Being part of the team at this stage feels “easy” compared with earlier on.

Project teams exist only for a fixed period, and even permanent teams may be disbanded through organizational restructuring. As team leader, your concern is both for the team’s goal and the team members. Breaking up a team can be stressful for all concerned and the “adjourning” or “mourning” stage is important in reaching both team goal and personal conclusions.

The break up of the team can be hard for members who like routine or who have developed close working relationships with other team members, particularly if their future roles or even jobs look uncertain.

Using the Tool

As a team leader, your aim is to help your team reach and sustain high performance as soon as possible. To do this, you will need to change your approach at each stage. The steps below will help ensure you are doing the right thing at the right time.

Identify which stage of the team development your team is at from the descriptions above.
Now consider what needs to be done to move towards the Performing stage, and what you can do to help the team do that effectively. The table below (Figure 1) helps you understand your role at each stage, and think about how to move the team forward.
Schedule regular reviews of where your teams are, and adjust your
behavior and leadership approach to suit the stage your team has
reached.
Figure 1: Leadership Activities at Different Group Formation Stages

Stage Activity
Forming Direct the team and establish objectives clearly. (A good way of doing this is to negotiate a team charter.)
Storming Establish process and structure, and work to smooth conflict and build good relationships between team members. Generally provide support, especially to those team members who are less secure. Remain positive and firm in the face of challenges to your leadership or the team’s goal. Perhaps explain the “forming, storming, norming and performing” idea so that people understand why conflict’s occurring, and understand that things will get better in the future. And consider teaching assertiveness and conflict resolution skills where these are necessary.
Norming Step back and help the team take responsibility for progress towards the goal. This is a good time to arrange a social, or a team-building event
Performing Delegate as far as you sensibly can. Once the team has achieved high performance, you should aim to have as “light a touch” as possible. You will now be able to start focusing on other goals and areas of work
Adjourning When breaking up a team, take the time to celebrate its achievements. After all, you may well work with some of your people again, and this will be much easier if people view past experiences positively.

Tip 1:
Make sure that you leave plenty of time in your schedule to coach team members through the “Forming”, “Storming” and “Norming” stages.

Tip 2:
Think about how much progress you should expect towards the goal and by when, and measure success against that. Remember that you’ve got to go through the “Forming”, “Storming” and “Norming” stages before the team starts “Performing”, and that there may not be much progress during this time. Communicating progress against appropriate targets is important if your team’s members are to feel that what they’re going through is worth while. Without such targets, they can feel that, “Three weeks have gone by and we’ve still not got anywhere”.

Tip 3:
Not all teams and situations will behave in this way, however many will – use this approach, but don’t try to force situations to fit it. And make sure that people don’t use knowledge of the “storming” stage as a license for boorish behavior.

Key Points:

Teams are formed because they can achieve far more than their individual members can on their own, and while being part of a high-performing team can be fun, it can take patience and professionalism to get to that stage.

Effective team leaders can accelerate that process and reduce the difficulties that team members experience by understanding what they need to do as their team moves through the stages from forming to storming, norming and, finally, performing.

 

Words to avoid

As Mark Twain famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” His point? Strong writing is lean writing.
When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don’t need–such as the 10 included in this post:
1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.
2. Really: Using the word “really” is an example of writing the way you talk. It’s a verbal emphasis that doesn’t translate perfectly into text. In conversation, people use the word frequently, but in written content it’s unnecessary. Think about the difference between saying a rock is “hard” and “really hard,” for example. What does the word add? Better to cut it out to make your message stronger.
3. Very: Everything that applies to “really” applies to “very.” It’s a weak word. Cut it.
4. Perhaps/maybe: Do you want your audience to think you’re uncertain about what you’re saying? When you use words like “maybe” and “perhaps,” uncertainty is exactly what you’re communicating.
5. Quite: When someone uses “quite,” he or she either means “a bit” or “completely” or “almost.” Sometimes the word adds meaning; sometimes it’s fluff. Learn to tell the difference–but, when in doubt, cut it out.

6. Amazing: The meaning of “amazing” is causing great wonder or surprise–but some writers use the word so often that the meaning gets lost. How can something be amazing if everything is? Ditch this diluted word.
7. Literally: When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t have to add the word “literally.” The only reason it makes sense to use the word is when it clarifies meaning (i.e., to explain you aren’t joking when it seems you are).
8. Stuff: Unless you are aiming at informality, don’t use the word “stuff.” It’s casual, it’s generic, and it usually stands in for something better.
9. Things: Writers use the word “things” to avoid using a clearer, more specific word that would communicate more meaning. Be specific. Don’t tell us about the “10 things,” tell us about the “10 books” or “10 strategies.” Specificity makes for better writing.
10. Got: Think of all the ways we use the vague word “got” in conversation: “I’ve got to go,” “I got a ball,” or “I got up this morning.” Though it’s fine for conversation, in writing, “got” misses valuable opportunities. Rather than writing a lazy word, look for clearer, more descriptive language: “I promised I’d leave by 9,” “I picked up a ball,” or “I woke up today,” for example.
Whether you’ve been writing for a few days or for many years, you’ll benefit from evaluating the words you use. Cut the filler to make your writing stronger.

#nojudgment 8 Things You Should Never Be Ashamed Of

I read this post this morning and is true and funny.
We should always be ourselves and not live our lives by others.
The point being is to live your life for you.
Not to impress others.

Typical Blogger

By May June

Our society is full of artificial norms and fake standards. Whatever is attractive is whatever you’re not. Whatever is normal is whatever you’re not. Whatever is popular is whatever you’re not.  Whatever is ideal is whatever is impossible.

Despite this, people are going to judge. You can’t stop them. But you can stop caring. Instead of worrying what others are going to think, embrace your quirks and guilty pleasures.

Surround yourself with people who love you for who you are and screw the haters. You should never have to start a sentence with, “No judgment, but…”

Be unique. Be spontaneous. Be free. If you’re not going to be you, then who will?

To get you started, here are 8 things you should embrace and never have to hide. Enjoy!

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Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Mornings

20140226-063627 am.jpg
by Stephanie Vozz, m.entrepreneur.com

Image credit: WasabiDoobie
Photo by: Image WasabiDoobie
If you’ve ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed or been frustrated in rush hour traffic, you know that mornings can set the tone for the rest of the day. While the morning is comprised of several hours, Hillary Rettig, a productivity coach for entrepreneurs and author of The 7 Secrets of the Prolific (Infinite Art, 2011) says the way you spend the first 15 minutes could make or break you.

“For many people, the morning holds our freshest, most energetic hours,” Rettig says. “Good time managers value ever smaller amounts of time. Those first few minutes of your day – both at home and when you get to the office – are vital.”

Doing low-value work during this precious time can put your day off course. Here are five things you may be doing in the morning that will sabotage your productivity:

1. Going online. Checking email or social media when you wake up is a common way to start the day, but those few minutes you think you’ll spend online often turn into an hour or more. Rettig suggests staying offline until 10 a.m.

“It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of the Internet,” Rettig says. “Protect the morning for the work that’s important to you, then be available for others later in the day.”

2. Turning on the television. For many people, the morning routine looks like this: Take a shower. Watch some TV. Eat breakfast. Watch some TV. Walk the dog. Watch some TV.

“The television stretches out our morning ritual and distracts us from our mission,” Rettig says. “Don’t get anesthetized by the TV – leave it off.”

If you need background noise, she says music on the radio is better. Save talk radio for your morning commute.

3. Skipping a workout. Procrastination begins in the body, says Rettig, and deskwork helps foster it. Morning exercise gets the blood flowing and makes you more alert. If you don’t like to sweat or can’t fit in a long routine, simply start your day by stretching, twisting or dancing.

“It’s important to work out the stiffness in the body, especially if you sit all day,” she says.

4. Answering the phone. With caller ID, most of us have some idea who is calling when the phone rings. Unless you’re someone who handles crisis work or makes sales calls for a living, get the most out of your morning by turning off the phone, suggests Rettig.

“The phone can be highly interruptive,” she says, adding that even short calls can distract you and take you off track.

5. Tackling busy or dreaded work first. While it can be tempting to “warm up” your day with busy work or your least favorite tasks, Rettig says it’s a better idea to start with something important that’s likely to yield a positive outcome.

“For example, make the one or two sales calls you think are the most promising,” she says. “Accomplishments motivate you for the rest of the day.”

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