Leadership development helps you grow.

Leadership Development is a Priority for Great Leaders

The most stressful time for a leader is when things go wrong. And it is inevitable that something will go wrong. 

That’s why the great leader knows that he needs to become more to add more value. And he knows that all his other leaders need to become more as well. 

Sometimes those, the decision to develop the leader in us and the leaders around us comes too late. 

Here are the first five signs that you urgently need to invest in leadership development.

Your HR Office is a Revolving Door

Life rhythm

How do you know that you have a retention problem? The generally accepted benchmark is a turnover rate of 10%. Even if you give a variable of about 5% based on industry, it’s safe to say that if you have a turnover rate of 25% you have a problem

If you have a turnover rate above that, you have a revolving door. It is costing you tons of money in direct costs and productivity.

To say that high turnover is just a consequence of your industry or part of the cost of doing business is not only wrong, it’s bad business.

Why People Leave

You have probably heard the cliche that people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. You know why something becomes cliche? Because it has a strong factual basis. 

It is probably more accurate to say that effective leadership has a very high influence on employee retention. It’s not the only factor by far. So really making the statement that people quit bosses is a gross generalization. 

However, it’s not a generalization to say that leadership not only directly influences retention but also indirectly influences it. If you clicked the link above you discovered that other factors impacting employee retention include

  • alignment
  • learning and development
  • feedback and recognition
  • enablement
  • teamwork

Every single one of those factors, including the ones I didn’t list, are leadership influenced.

So if we draw the lines, when there is high turnover it is almost always due to one of those factors. All of them are primarily influenced by leadership. So if you have a revolving door in HR, you have a leadership problem.

Customer Satisfaction is Suffering

Let me throw a couple of numbers at you.

First, consider 70%. That’s the percentage of customers lost due to a perception of poor service. Not price, not location. Quality of service.

Who provides that service to your customers? Most likely it’s your employees. Their attitude and behavior directly impact the customer. It’s kind of like the old country saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Employee engagement directly drives customer satisfaction. In fact, a Gallup Survey showed that companies with high employee engagement experienced 10% higher customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction directly drives financial performance. For example, research reveals that 80% of U.S. consumers will actually pay more for a superior customer experience.

So we see a link between employee engagement and customer satisfaction and financial performance. What impacts employee engagement? 

The leaders.

Employees Just Don’t Seem to Get It

girl bangs her head against the blackboard. Just doesnt get it.

As a leader you have a vision of how you want to see your organization move forward. How things work. Maybe even things working without you having to be there every minute. Without your fingers in every pie. 

You hired what you thought were good people, yet they just aren’t getting the work done. And when they are, it usually is not the way you would have liked it to be done. What’s wrong with them? Do they not get it? Are they lazy? Or do they just not care?

The latter seems to be the opinion of many managers who have experienced this. They may blame it on culture or generation. “It’s these Millenials! So self-focused!

Yet based on census results and research from the Pew Research Centerit’s just not so. There are myriad of reasons why employees may not be getting the job done. Almost all of them start with the leader.

Departments or Team Members Aren’t Communicating

Have you heard anyone in your organization complain that the right hand doesn’t seem to know what the left hand is doing?

Breakdown’s in communication happen most frequently in the midst of conflict.

Fear triggers guarding of information. Unmet expectations never expressed. Poor listening skills. Confusion. Insecurity either for the future of the organization or for their own job. 

It’s up to the leader to spur the change. Communication begins from the top.

And before you say, “but I’m a great communicator!” you need to know that we all have something more to learn about it. This is my calling and I still have a lot to learn.

A General Air of Discontent

You can feel it. It’s a very palpable climate in the office. A heaviness. People are silent. Something is very wrong. 

Productivity is down. But sarcasm, cynicism, and complaining are up. Perhaps even open hostility.

These are strong signs of low morale. It requires quick, decisive action from a knowledgeable and experienced leader. The wrong choices here may simply accelerate the downward spiral into total office dysfunction.

Without knowing how to identify the issues and address them, it may continue until it is no longer fixable. Everyone loses. The organization, the employee, and YOU the leader.


As I said at the beginning, if you see any of these signs you are overdue to act. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost. 

Next week we will look at five more signs that you need to invest in leadership development. We’ll also talk about some next steps.

Can’t wait? Are you ready to take action NOW to move your organization to the next level? Schedule a free Discovery Strategy Session with me today! You will come away knowing the actions you need to take to go forward.
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Leaders Learn to be agile

Businessman in education and learning. leaders learn

There’s no doubt about it, we live in a complex world.  And in this global economy it is important to be agile; to be able to quickly respond to the changing demands of our society and our economy.  Adapt to change or else.  It’s the reality of the new economy. 

Grow or die.

There is nothing in between.

Leaders Learn to Promote The Learning Organization

The best way we grow is through continual learning.

 Peter Senge, in his book The Fifth Discipline, advanced the principal of the Learning Organization. Basically, a learning organization is one that engages all the members of the organization in continual learning. They recognize that as everyone learns, the opportunities grow through greater knowledge and capability.   These companies invest in their people to move them and the organization forward.

 

Leaders Know This Personally

The most influential leaders learn this lesson through their own experience. Warren Bennis said, “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from followers.” 

Leaders know this because they live it. In their desire to truly serve the people they lead, leaders discover that they must constantly expand their capacity. That doesn’t mean expanding it in terms of time or even effort. Great leaders expand their capacity to think, which can only happen through learning and growth. As we mentioned above, staying agile is critical. Agility is only possible through growth. Grow or die.

Benefits of the Learning Organization

Never stop learning written on a memo stick. Lifelong learning concept.

The result is a more empowered organization, one that is flexible enough to adapt, They develop a mindset of creative solutions. It’s been proven that the more we learn the more creative we become. Employees collaborate more. There is improved employee morale. Productivity rises. And you create an ongoing legacy so that when the inevitable happens and someone moves on to another role, there is someone ready to step up into that role. Real sustained success as a leader and an organization comes from intentional continual learning. There is no substitute or shortcut.

How to get started on becoming A learning organization

Just think DIME

The basic tenets that get a leader or organization on the road to becoming a vibrant learning organization are contained in the acronym DIME.
DAILY
Growth has to occur on a daily basis.  I often talk about being a 1%er and this is what it is all about. Focus on growing yourself by just 1% a day.  That doesn’t sound like much, but over time it compounds and at the end of a year you have grown yourself over 365%.  As the saying goes, by the mile its a trial but by the inch its a cinch.  This does not necessarily have to be formal learning every time.  It could be something as simple as having the team reflect back on the day and talk about lessons learned.
INTENTIONAL
Too many times we chase the next SHINY OBJECT. Being a high “I” personality on the DiSC profile, this is one of my biggest struggles. I am very attracted to THE NEXT BIG THING. The seminar postcard that came in the mail. The book someone recommended we get. The video on LinkedIn or Facebook. And we pursue these without really knowing whether it meets our needs or the needs of the organization. Chasing the shiny object is not a growth plan, it’s a random series of events.  We must be more intentional about choosing the growth path that best meets our immediate and future needs.
MISTAKES
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Leaders learn their best lessons from making mistakes. Success doesn’t occur with big time screw ups. Give yourself permission to take risks and make mistakes.
Give your employees that same permission to go out and make mistakes without fear of punishment. It is from our mistakes where we are going to learn some of our best lessons about how to move forward.
One of the best stories I have heard on this is about an engineer who discovers a design flaw he made. He calculated it was going to cost the company over $150,000 to fix it. He knew he had to tell the CEO. He fully expects to be fired for this grievous mistake. Late in the day, he reluctantly makes his way into the CEO’s office and slowly unfolds the tale of this costly disaster. When he finishes he says, “Well, I’m sorry. I’ll go clear out my desk.” The CEO says, “No you won’t! I just paid $150,000 for you to learn a lesson! I’m not letting you go now! But you better learn it!
ENGAGED
Leaders learn by engaging in this learning process.  Encourage your employees to engage with one another so that not only do they learn from their mistakes but also from the mistakes of others.  This can significantly shorten the learning curve and allows us to move forward at a much quicker pace to become the dynamic learning organization that is prepared for the future.

How do your leaders learning?  How do you learn?  Share your comments below.

Walking the path of a learning leader and learning organization is challenging. Never do it alone! Let me walk along with you and help you succeed. Schedule your free Discovery Strategy Sessiontoday!
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Handling Essential Conversations by How Leaders Respond

Negative facial emotions expression. Young blonde expressive angry furious nervous woman. Emotional girl full of anger and bad feelings at work.

It’s the stuff comedy legend is made of. During a movie or television program, a situation presents itself and then a character in the show classically overreacts. They might rant or rave. Or cry. or wave their arms. More often than not they make something bad even worse by their action or reaction. It makes for great comedy but not great relationships. Certainly not great leadership. Instead of reacting, we find success when leaders respond.

Why We React

Marshall Goldsmith calls them Triggers. In his book by the same name, he describes them as any stimulus that reshapes our thoughts and actions. So some triggers can be good. If we program in our minds a trigger than stimulates the desired behavior then we can build a positive habit. Where things go wrong are the triggers that are automatic. That’s where we tend to react. Some of the things that can cause automatic triggers are

Our Emotions

Negative triggers tend to set off negative emotions. Those negative emotions, left unchecked, will set off reactions.

Let’s say, for example, that an employee comes to you with a problem. There is a major problem with a phase of your pet project. The employee says, “I don’t see any way we can proceed. I think we are just going to have to cut our losses!” What?! This was YOUR BABY!

What happens? Your face screws up and turns red. Arms and body assume an aggressive stance. The words come. “What is wrong with you people! Can’t you do anything right! You’re incompetent!”

The result is we cause a reaction in the other person. They get defensive or aggressive. Communication shuts down. Nothing gets solved.

The unconscious mind is in control

Have you ever talked with someone or watched someone who tends to let everything come out of their mouths? I refer to it as “stream of consciousness speech“. It hits the mind and it comes out the mouth. There’s no governor there. No filters. Whatever occurs to them just gets blurted out.

This occurs because left to its own, our subconscious mind has no limitations. Societal norms. Consequences. Considering the feelings of others. None of that exists there. It’s all about me. So the things we would really like to say and do in our perfect world can just come out when the unconscious mind is in control.

Mindset

Indoor portrait of funny bald european man making crazy face while standing over gray background. Actor performes on stage in play for children. Guy acts weird to avoid conversation with policeAccording to psychologists, a mindset is a belief that affects how we think about something. That belief drives the way we handle particular situations related to that something.

If we believe that all of our employees are inherently lazy and will slack off given the first opportunity, how will that affect our interactions with them? Especially if we see one of them stop to rest even for a moment?

Having a negative mindset about a subject will cause us to react instead of respond. Just having the mindset itself wells up negative emotions. Add another trigger and things explode. 

Overwhelm

While we actually have a huge capacity for information and stimuli, that capacity is affected by flow rate. What I mean by that is how fast and how much information and stimuli come at us impacts capacity. Too much too fast doesn’t allow our mind to make room for more. 

Think of it like making a water balloon. You attach the balloon to the faucet and then turn on the water. If you turn on the water to full immediately the balloon will fill fast and likely blow up from the overwhelming volume of water. On the other hand, if you control the flow of water you allow time for the balloon to expand and not explode.

Sense of Entitlement

This one doesn’t require a lot of explanation, does it? I am sure we have all encountered people who feel they are entitled to something. Especially if you have teenagers living in your home. And when we feel entitled, as if it is inherently ours, we feel the unfairness and injustice of it all when we don’t get it. The feelings of unfairness and injustice trigger emotions that cause us to react instead of respond. 

How to Change from Reaction to Response

When leaders respond instead of reacting, it’s a game changer. By choosing to respond, you permit yourself to take potentially negative outcomes and turn them into positive results. It impacts you and it impacts the people to whom to respond. You put yourself back in control – of both the situation and yourself.

Business cartoon showing a leader pulling his hair out in response to declining sales as the team tries to remain calm.As dire as the consequences are when we allow ourselves to react, choosing to respond can go 180 degrees in the other direction. Outstanding positive results are possible when leaders respond instead of react.

So how do we turn the tables? How do we choose to respond instead of react? Try starting with these simple steps.

Breathe

Always, I mean always, take a breath. The simple act of taking a breath exerts control over the reaction reflex. It doesn’t have to be a deep breath, although that helps. Just breathe in and breathe out. 

CHECK THE EMOTIONS

After that breath, identify what emotions you are feeling. When a situation triggers emotions, that’s when dangerous reactions can occur. Name the emotions. When we name them, it helps us to control them. It’s okay to have emotions; in fact, it’s unavoidable. However, when negative emotions are in control there is almost never a positive outcome.

Determine your mindset

What preconceived ideas do you have that driving your emotions? Is it true? Does it apply in this particular situation? It may be similar to something you experienced in the past but is it the same? Usually, something is different. A different circumstance. A whole other person than the one involved before. How do the differences change what we do?

Consider your words

What we say when we respond sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. It affects us and it affects the person(s) on the other end. Consider these two sentences.

“That was the stupidest thing you have ever done!”

“Do you think that was the best choice?”

The first is a reaction that will consequently trigger a reaction in the other person. They will get defensive or hurt. Their reaction will be to fight or flight. Either way, you will not get what you want out of this. The second is a response that is non-threatening and actually has the other person respond instead of react. It leads to a discussion that finds solutions.

Question Everything – the Right Way

As in the example above, asking questions is usually a great way to avoid reacting and to disarm a potentially explosive situation. It has the added benefit of allowing you to gather more facts so that your decision making can be more informed. Let’s look at follow-up questions to the one above.

Why do you think that was the best choice?”

“What do you think you could have done differently?”

“What do you think we should do now? Why?”

If, in fact, the person’s choice was not a good one then both of you will discover it this way. And by using this method you not only are more likely to find a resolution but you will have also helped the other person learn a valuable lesson. Perhaps next time their decision will be better. Certainly, their trust in you will increase.

Leaders don’t react. Leaders respond. Because responding is how leaders are able to get the best out of themselves and others.

How can communication improve your team? RESPOND NOW and schedule a free Discovery Strategy Session to see how I walk alongside you on this journey!

 

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Having It All Together … Right!

You probably know someone who seems to always have it together.  They are everywhere and in everything. To the naked eye they always seem to excel at everything they do.  

There is no slowing down! Is there a committee? They’re on it. Have an event that needs organizing? Ready to go! They are raising 55 children and spent quality time with each of them. Working two full-time jobs. Volunteer at the local shelter. Raising money to fight some disease. Writing a book. And have the happiest spouse in the world.

Social media amplifies this picture. Not only do we get descriptions but also vivid pictures of their perfect life, perfect children, perfect job, and idyllic state of mind.

In reality, there are parts of their lives that are neglected. That’s not a maybe, it’s a certainty. The picture we see, often filled in with our own perceptions, is a flawed photo.  I exaggerated the description above intentionally because that’s what we often do when we think about those high achieving types. We make them bigger than they are. Then we compare ourselves to them, imagining that they have everything in their perfect life while our lives are hollow shells full of meaningless events and a cesspool of problems.  It’s unfair!

The law of sacrifice cannot be violated

It’s also unreal.  The truth is that people who seem to have it together are not living perfect lives.  They may be accomplishing more than we are right now, but that’s not because they have it all together.  It’s not because they are necessarily more talented than we are; in fact, often they may be less talented.  And they have problems too, they just don’t share them around as much as some others do. THEY KNOW THAT EVERY THOUGHT THAT HITS THEIR HEAD DOESN’T HAVE TO HIT SOCIAL MEDIA!

Applying the Law

But what they really have that helps them succeed is an good understanding and effective application of the Law of Sacrifice.  As one of my mentors John Maxwell says, “You must give up to go up“.  You have to let go of some things in order to have other better things.

That’s a scary prospect for many of us and perhaps even a little depressing.  When we think about the Law of Sacrifice or giving up, we picture big things.  We can become a CEO but our family life is non-existent. If we want to make a lot of money we have to get rid of our moral compass.

Again, it’s that penchant for exaggeration.  And it’s also good old resistance helping us find reasons to not make any changes.

Simplicity in the law of Sacrifice

Even a time turner can't save you from the Law of SacrificeIn truth, the Law of Sacrifice is actually pretty simple. It’s all about priorities. Every single one of us has the same 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. Barring Hermione Granger passing down her Time Turner to us (which you can actually buy) we cannot change that restriction on our lives.

That being the case, we change what we can. If we can’t change time, we change how we invest our time. Most of what takes up our time aren’t major things, they are trivial things. Therefore, most of the sacrifices we have to make are not between two high priorities, but between a high priority and a low priority.

Giving Up Good for Better

You actually look at giving up lesser things in order to get greater things.  You sacrifice an hour of television time every day in order to read a personal growth book.  Give up a couple of free evenings each week to work on a master’s degree.  When you learn to really apply the Law of Sacrifice, what you are really doing is simply learning to

Say No to the Good So You Can Say Yes to the Best

My father excelled in the credit union business during his career.  He was President and CEO of several credit unions over the span of many years and also was a high demand consultant to credit unions nationwide for many years after that.  He was a pioneer in the industry. We have the largest ATM network in the country due to his efforts.

To get there, he had to spend long hours working. He gave up some evenings of watching TV to earn a GED and then a degree.  Yet, he was never an absentee husband or father.  He coached Drum Corps and Little League.  He was a Scoutmaster. We went on trips.  Dad was at dance recitals for my sister.  While there were sacrifices to reach the level he achieved the sacrifices were giving up lesser things to get those greater things.  He did not give up one great thing to achieve another. Was he perfect? Did he mess up the choices sometimes? Certainly. Yet he made the decision and honored the commitment.

Obey the Law and Love It

Know that you have to give up to go up. The Law of Sacrifice is alive and well and it is immutable.

Embrace that. While it sounds like you are being deprived you are actually being set free. When you apply the Law of Sacrifice and set your priorities it frees you from what isn’t a priority. When you shape your schedule around those things that are priorities, it frees you up to say no to scheduling lesser priorities.

Some laws are intended to provide liberty instead of tyranny. When you apply the Law of Sacrifice there will be hard choices to make. But the good news is that the choice is always yours.

do you have trouble finding clarity on your priorities? Not sure where to start? contact me today for a free discovery strategy session.

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If you have visited here before you may have noticed the change in the name of the blog from Discover Leadership! to Boldly Lead!

There were two good reasons for this:

  1. There is a training company called Discover Leadership and I did not want people getting us confused.
  2. Boldly Lead is more in line with the brand and the attitude of this blog.

Of course, you can also visit our website: BoldlyLead.com and check us out on Facebook (Ahhamoments), Twitter (BoldlyLead), and LinkedIn (Paul Simkins).

Since I have your attention here, can I ask a favor from you?

Can you drop me a line at psimkins@BoldlyLead.com and let me know what kinds of topics on employee engagement and leadership you would like me to address here? It is very important to me that this blog remain relevant to your needs.

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