invisible man in suit on gray background. Invisible Influence.

Using Invisible Influence to Increase Our Impact

We all like to see the direct results of our work. A farmer likes to see the crops that grow from the seeds he sowed months ago. A salesman likes to see the check from the client she has been cultivating for years. A manufacturing worker likes to see the complete product roll of the line and be flawless. Leaders like to see the people they lead shine. 

It’s somewhat disappointing then when we don’t get to see the results. Maybe you sowed the seeds but someone else harvested the crop. What you cultivated for years another person closed. The end product is so far down the line you never see it from your vantage point. People you positively impact shine somewhere else. Yet those can be our greatest moments. The invisible influence we have is often where we influence most.

Continue reading “Why Invisible Influence is a Leader’s Best Friend”

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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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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.

[tweetthis]Reacting doesn’t make for good relationships. And certainly not for good leadership.[/tweetthis]

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.

[tweetthis]Reactions create chaos. Responses create results![/tweetthis]

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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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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