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.

Continue reading “10 Signs You Should Invest in Leadership Development – Part I”

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Pleasant call. Low angle of friendly young positive team is sitting around table in office and discussing business project. Caring leaders create engaged culture.

Caring Leaders Connect and Influence

Leaders face a variety of challenges in the workplace. And most of those challenges center around people. The caring leader recognizes how people impact the organization. What are some of your people challenges?

Watercooler Wally.

Long Break Lilly. 

Perpetually Late Pete.

Social Media Sally.

Have you seen any of these people around your office?

Young businesswoman yawning while working on laptop in office. Sleepy female entrepreneur looking on wristwatch. Tired office worker feels lack of sleep because of hard and long work with documentsYou know the pattern. They show up just barely on time for work or even a few minutes late. The first thing they do is take a coffee break. They chat around with their friends for a while. They complain about their job, the workplace, the company, and life in general.

They finally (allegedly) start to work. They mess around with a few things until the eagerly anticipated lunch hour. No matter what’s going on, no matter how urgent, lunchtime is lunchtime.

When they finally return from lunch (likely a few minutes late) it takes a while for them to get back into the groove to actually get work done. They may even spend more time chatting around.

They quit at four. They go home at five. Another semi-productive or unproductive day.

Continue reading “Why the Caring Leader Succeeds (And How You Can Too!)”

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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.

[tweetthis]Sustained success comes from intentional continual learning. #leaderslearn[/tweetthis]

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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Trust is the Key Element

Young man in formal clothing and eyeglasses swearing in being trustworthy while looking at camera.

Have you ever been in a situation with other people where something just seems to be missing? There is an uneasiness in conversations. This really stands out among teams. Discussions about work and assignments just seem to have this “air” about them. Something just doesn’t feel quite right.

Then it hits you. There is a lack of trust. Either you don’t trust them or you get the eerie feeling that they don’t trust you. It may even be both. As a result, things are not flowing. Work is not nearly as productive as it could be. You may even be missing deadlines. Communication suffers. The team just does not mesh together. And until that is resolved, it will only get worse.

Trust is Character

Some years back UCLA did a survey of 1300 executives around the country and they asked for five traits that were keys to advancement for employees. All 1300 of them included INTEGRITY somewhere in the list.

Here’s the real kicker.
71% of executives rated INTEGRITY AS NUMBER ONE TRAIT!
Integrity comes from trust. You can’t have integrity with others unless they trust you. So, obviously, being trustworthy is a critical character trait if you want to move up the corporate ladder, keep your employees, or build your customer base.

 

  • Bob Burgwill tell you that “all things being equal people will do business with people they know, like, and TRUST”.
  • The first law of the Boy Scout Law   , which defines how a Boy Scout is supposed to live their life, is A Scout is Trustworthy.  Here’s the explanation: “A Scout always tells the truth. He is honest and keeps his promises.  People can depend on him.”

The Key to Any Relationship

Trust is critical to any relationship or team

Our trustworthiness is also quite obviously a key to our relationships with others.  

  • If your spouse or significant other can’t trust you, the relationship is destroyed.  
  • Once your friends learn not to trust you and count on you, then they will simply no longer expect anything from you and eventually will simply stop being around you or having your around.
  • When your co-workers can’t trust you, then you will not be able to function as a team.  
  • If your employees can’t trust you, they will become disengaged and productivity suffers; not to mention the bottom line.

We know this, yet somehow the focus on trust seems to be lost somewhere in the desire to “close the deal” or secure what we want.

When we focus on trust, however, we find that acquiring those things and closing that deal becomes easier because of who we are and what we stand for.
When we are trustworthy, we are the goto person that everyone counts on to make it happen.  That has value in so many ways, including financially.

The Kiss of Trust

Trust brings opportunity. Many years ago I was part of a training development company that had just made the INC 500 list.

Our development team was small – I was the third member. Despite being the junior member of the team, I was given a prime opportunity to be trustworthy.
The company focused primarily on software training. For a particular course, we would typically produce a disk and a manual to accompany it.

Opportunity to Build Trust

A new software, something called

Windows

, was coming out. The president, a man of great vision, saw that it would become big. We needed to produce a premier training product for this. At the same time, he wanted a total redesign of the product. He came to me. “I’m putting you in charge of this,” he said. “I’ve seen your work and I think you are the man to give us something totally new. Raise the bar! No limits!”

“Oh, you have one week to give me a prototype!”
One week! To give something totally new and evolutionary. I didn’t know how I could possibly deliver something like that. Yet I knew that I was being counted on to deliver. Mess this up and we are behind.
I delivered. On time. I turned it in to him for review and thought nothing more of it. Just doing my job.
The next day this company president sternly walked into our office space. “Paul, come here a minute,” he ordered as he placed a chair in the middle of the room. I was confused. Had I failed? Was he going to publicly embarrass me for my failure?
He ordered me to stand on the chair. Now I was really bewildered. Was I going to change a lightbulb? “What in the world is going on,” I thought!
“I’m doing this because my back can’t take my getting on the ground,” he explained. 

Then he leaned over and KISSED MY SHOE! 

“I absolutely LOVE the new product! I knew you would come through and you did! I felt I needed to make sure you knew it!”
He had placed his trust in me for this new product. As a result, I was determined not to let him down and I put in the long hours to get in done. I did my best to go above and beyond to exceed his expectations. I did not want his trust to go unfounded.
And because he made himself vulnerable I learned I could trust him. Because he showed me respect I knew I could count on him. I trusted him. And from that moment on until the end of my time at that company I was prepared to do whatever he asked me to do. We are still friends today and I still greatly admire and respect him.
Being trustworthy is the deal-maker…or the deal breaker.

Trust is a Two-Way Street

It’s not enough that we are trustworthy as leaders, it is also critical that we can trust those whom we serve. In fact, the first move is always ours. If you don’t trust them, they will never trust you. You can have a proven track record yet if you make it clear that you don’t have trust in your team they will never fully trust you. They will always think you are holding something back. You may even have their grudging respect but will never have their trust until you first learn to trust them. 

Here are some ways you can build trust on a daily basis:

  1. turning up the dial on trustLEARN TO TRUST – start small by delegating out small tasks you would normally do to individual team members. Give them a deadline. Offer support. And let them have at it. I believe you will be surprised at the results.
  2. PRODUCE RESULTS – when you have a proven track record of accomplishing things people will trust you to do the things you say you are going to do.  Meet the deadline or accomplish the task no matter how challenging it is.
  3. GIVE YOUR WORD ONLY WHEN YOU MEAN IT – Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  4. KEEP YOUR WORD AT ALL COSTS –  This is critical.  When people know that no matter what you are going to do what you say you are going to do, then your trustworthiness grows and builds over time.
  5. BE CONSISTENT – Consistency is a key to both trustworthiness and integrity.  People need to know what they can count on.
  6. RESPECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS – When you show respect for other people and respect yourself, then people will believe and trust that you are who you say you are and you will do what you say you are going to do.
Is that team dynamic not quite there? Don’t let it get away from you! Let’s fix it together! Schedule your free Discovery Strategy Session    and let’s see how I can help you and your team MOVE TO THE NEXT LEVEL!
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Why Employee Happiness May Not Really Be Your Goal

Happy and Unhappy faces. Does emplyee happiness equal engagement?

Are you focusing on the wrong thing with employee engagement? It seems that in many cases we are. Do a Google search    on employee engagement and see how many other words pop up with it. When I do one of the words that comes up most frequently is happiness. The suggestion is that employee happiness and employee engagement are one and the same.

In fact, overall too much time is spent on employee engagement thinking about employee happiness. On the surface there seems to be good reasons for it.

For example, studies have shown again and again that happy employees are more productive. According to a Warwick Study   , happy employees are typically 12 percent more productive than unhappy employees. Many other studies make similar claims that happiness is securely bound to productivity. 

happy employees at work. A Wharton Study    suggests that employee satisfaction results in two to three percent higher returns for shareholders. Another study suggests five times better stock performance over organizations with lower employee satisfaction. This was primarily based on a study of the 100 Best Places to Work compared to organizations that didn’t make the list.

Still    more research    indicates that organizations experience 30 percent higher customer referrals when employees are happy.   

And of course, there is the matter of employee retention. Tons of articles all touting significant increases in retention when job satisfaction is high.

Here is Where It All Goes Wrong

The issue I have with all of these studies (and many others) is that they try to create correlations that aren’t there. Mostly they try to use other words or concepts to mean the same as engagement.

The Warwick study is the exception. There is absolutely no doubt that happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees. Beyond just that one study, the evidence is overwhelming and indisputable. Higher productivity is affected by employee happiness. What you can do about it is another matter, but we’ll get to that in a minute or two.

Employee satisfaction is not the same as happiness. A person can be satisfied with their work conditions and job responsibilities and yet not be happy. Tying happiness to employee satisfaction greatly limits the scope of happiness.

Many other studies, such as the one reporting 30 percent higher customer referrals, mix engagement and happiness. As evidence of that, what the researchers did was administer an employee engagement survey to their subjects. I have written before about what a waste of timemost employee engagement surveys are. Aside from that, when the researchers wrote their conclusions they didn’t talk about engagement. They talked about happiness. Again, making the assumption that engagement and happiness are the same. They’re not. Not even close.

The result of all this is a muddying of the waters. Instead of focusing on things that really make a difference with our team or organization, we focus on making people happy. We fail dismally as a leader when we try to make everyone happy. It just can’t be done. So stop trying.

Six Secrets About Happiness

Happiness is not engagement

It actually is possible for an employee to be engaged at work and not really be happy. There is no research I could find that legitimately ties happiness to engagement. 

Let’s understand exactly what employee engagement is to understand why happiness is not the same thing. Engagement is when an employee at work is functioning with the best interests of the organization in mind. Their attitudes and actions reflect the values and goals of their team or organization. 

Woman working happily in garden. Happiness is affected outside the workplace as well as in.Just the specific scope of being happy at work concerns much more than just whether or not a person is engaged. Do they affect each other? Without a doubt. Happy employees are more likely to be engaged. Being engaged makes it easier to be happy. Yet happiness expands beyond the scope of just engagement. Or the workplace for that matter.

Happiness is Not Job Satisfaction

Again, a person can have job satisfaction and not be happy. Job Satisfaction has to do with whether you like what you do. It is affected by the particular tasks and responsibilities you have. Whether or not you are being challenged and utilizing your best skills. Co-workers, environment, managers all factor in there. You can be satisfied with your job and not necessarily be happy.

You Can’t Control Happiness

Even if all of the above was not true it wouldn’t matter. Employee engagement and happiness and job satisfaction are all one and the same. Employee engagement surveys are excellent indicators of employee happiness. So what?

What you can’t get away from is that no matter how much you know about the level of happiness in our employees you simply cannot control it. YOU CANNOT MAKE SOMEONE ELSE HAPPY, despite what all the love poems and sonnets tell you. And that’s not just in the workplace, that’s everywhere. You can no more make someone happy than you can change the past or predict the future. 

And the fact that happiness is beyond the workplace is another reason we can’t control it. Whether or not someone is happy is not just determined by work but also by their lives outside of work. Relationships, involvement, circumstances. All things that affect happiness that carries over into the workplace.

Ultimately, we cannot control the happiness of others. And here’s why.

It’s a Personal Decision

Happiness is not determined by outside factors. Happiness is a choice each individual makes.

I have known people who seemed to have everything and yet never quite seemed to be happy. By contrast, I know others who have very little and are always happy it seems. What makes them happy or not is that simply they choose to be happy. It’s cliche but that doesn’t make it any less true.

The Apostle Paul said it best when he said,

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I find myself….I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”

What Paul is saying is that he made a conscious choice to be happy no matter what was happening to him or around him. 

Your happiness is entirely up to you. And so is theirs.

It is Not Measureable

Even IF we could control happiness, exactly how would we determine the level of happiness each person feels. Other than asking them I know of no other measurement. Apparently, no one else does either as evidenced by all the research we cited before where happiness is measured by engagement or job satisfaction or productivity. If that is all wrong (and it is) then we have no real measurement of happiness and nor do we want to.

Culture Rules

While we can’t control happiness we can create an environment more conducive to happiness. It’s not so much making them happy as it is removing reasons to be unhappy. It has to do with the culture we create in the workplace.

When you place a high priority on caring and showing employees you care. When a high value is placed on people and that is reflected in the way they are treated. When core values are clear to everyone and reinforced in your own behavior and in the behavior you expect from others.

If you put people in circumstances where their best skills are being used and challenging them to grow. When we value their input and their output. Make it so each person feels like a valuable part of the team, the organization, and it’s goals. 

Control what you can control. Create circumstances where employees are able to have higher job satisfaction and become more engaged. Give them reasons to choose to be happy.

Are you ready to be the boss everyone wants to work for? Do you want to re-engage your employees? Reduce conflict? Contact me TODAY for a free Discovery Strategy Session    and let me show you how to get started right away!
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