Everyday Leadership: Making Simple Things Extraordinary

Simplicity

Several years ago, I was responsible for developing an operations manual for our commercial store managers.

Below is an abridged version of it.

These are seven basic, excellent tips for the new (or any) manager to follow in order to become more the leader and less “the boss.”

7 Tips  for New Leaders

1) Be Visible

  • Be present.  Especially if you have a tendency to spend time in your office or out on the road, keep in mind that either way your people don’t see you.  To know you they must see you.
  • Walk around.  Get in the habit of taking some time every day just walking around.  Vary the time each day, and just observe things.  Watch people.  Be friendly and approachable.  Greet people, smile, make small talk.  And don’t always be about work: ask people about their families, about their weekends, about vacations.  Show people that you notice them, and know them.  Doing this will make them feel special and valued.
  • Lighten up.  Show a sense of humor.  This doesn’t mean you have to be a comedian or a clown.  But it does mean being able to laugh at yourself, at mistakes and screw ups.

2) Recognize and Reward the “Good Stuff”

  • Be positive.  Catch people doing things right.  Don’t let an outstanding act or performance (no matter how small) pass without comment.  Wherever possible, make your comment in public.
  • Be specific.  Make your compliment specific, and tell what its significance is to the business.
  • Be understanding.  If someone who is “on the bubble” does something even approximately right, comment on their effort, and show your appreciation.

3) Observe and Correct the “Bad Stuff”

  • Correct now.  If you see something that’s a safety, customer service or policy issue, correct it on the spot.  As privately as you can, go over the mistake, the standard, and the correction.  Gauge their reaction and try to end on a positive note.
  • Key people.  Spend a little extra time with any supervisors you’re empowering to lead their teams.  Make sure they’re demonstrating good leadership and supervisory behaviors, and correct them whenever you see shortcomings.

4) Empower People

  • Delegate.  As any of your people develop a comfort level with their responsibilities, let them begin handling their role with less input, oversight and second-guessing from you.
  • Explain.  Take the time up front to explain and discuss the “what” is expected and “why”, and be sure they’re comfortable with the “how”.  Make sure they understand you’re giving them the authority, and the accountability, to get the results.  Wherever possible, let them determine the means and the details.

5) Get Together

  • Meetings.  Have regular meetings: short, stand-up, face-to-face discussions of priorities, issues, solutions and status.  Daily with your key people, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly with the whole team.  These should be punchy, positive, direct, and not more than fifteen minutes long.
  • Discussions.  Encourage give-and-take.  Good meetings are conversations that don’t degenerate into involved arguments, heated attacks, pointless tangents, or endless details.  Good meetings are managed by the leader, not controlled.

6) Make Things Special

  • Be spontaneous.  Find ways to break the “ordinariness of work”.  Order lunch in, have impromptu ceremonies, buy sodas or sports drinks for the crew from time to time, and barbecue for the store and customers occasionally.  Anything that makes work special will pay big dividends.
  • Be special.  Celebrate special events: babies, anniversaries, graduations, etc.  Don’t let special occasions pass in silence or ignorance.
  • Be unique.  Find out (or invent) something noteworthy about your town, your team, or your people, and play up that image in a big way.  Use it to define your team, build a bond around it, and make it one of the cornerstones of who you are as a unit.

7) Solve Problems

  • Be supportive.  Show your people that you’re in their corner.  If they have issues with the home office, help them to solve it or get a quick answer.  In particular, don’t allow things to fester.  Follow up aggressively and make sure answers are received when promised, or know why not.
  • Be flexible.  If your people are having personal issues, see if you can’t take some of the work burden off their backs.  Give them space to breathe.
  • Two-way street.  Remember that you’ll get a lot more out of your people if they feel like they get a lot out of you.  If you make sure they have what it takes to do the job, they’ll make sure the job gets done.

Is there any doubt that you’ll be a much more effective leader, and a more productive manager,  than ever before if you followed these guidelines?

Think back to when you were starting out: wouldn’t you have loved working in this kind of environment?

There’s no magic here, but there is a lot of common sense, respect for others, and a healthy dose of perspective that you – as the leader – are there to serve your people and make sure you remove obstacles to their getting the job done.

Engagement is all the rage this year, right?

If – as I believe – engagement is a direct referendum on leadership, wouldn’t your team be much more engaged in this environment?

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Scott Crandall
Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

Image Sources: positivityblog.com

Culture Change: Is Failure Self-Fulfilling?

Accountability

Change. Sometimes, it is refreshing, invigoration, and certainly can do you good!

And other times….. well, not so good…

Navigating Rough Waters of Change

Letter

Recently I’ve been speaking with a good client ($1 billion + in revenues) who wanted to reorganize one of their divisions’ sales forces.

Since I’d had some experience with this same client on previous “sub-optimal” attempts to reorganize, I sent the e-mail below to my contact (all names & many details changed), with a warning about the danger I thought they were risking.

While the circumstances are unique to this client and their specific situation, I think the warning is universal:if change doesn’t start at the top, with more buy-in and involvement of the leaders near the top of the food chain, then I say don’t waste your time by trying to implement a major change from middle management down.

The plan will fail.

My Recommendation

What follows is the text of my e-mail:

Because I’m a consultant, let me repeat (in different words) the warning Tim and I discussed back in January: most training (and remember: I’m a training guy, so I don’t like saying this!) fails, and ends up being a waste of everyone’s time, effort and resources.  And not because it’s badly designed, or off the mark, or even poorly delivered.

I believe this plan may fail because it appears it’s being planned as an event, not a process.

And – as an event – people are almost never expected nor held accountable for using what they learned.  You have to stretch people to get them to change; most often the “groove” that our human nature craves for efficiency becomes a “rut” in which our effectiveness dies, which is why the change becomes necessary in the first place.

And people seldom get out of their rut because their managers (who should hold them accountable) don’t know what the specific change details are that their people are learning (I guess we just assume that the manager “already knows this stuff”; are we assuming that here, about the Sales Managers?).

In fact, without adequate exposure, managers seldom know what the “new groove” looks like or consists of, don’t know how to hold their people accountable for using it, and sometimes don’t even know there IS a new groove.

Therefore, please understand the magnitude of the task you’re undertaking to change the sales culture of the division.

And remember that, no less than the sales people, the Sales Managers have been in a similar groove (or a rut?), and some of them (and this is a guarantee) will resist this change.  Plus, most of them have never supervised outside sales people (at least not in your company).

And the fact that the division has always been profitable in the old culture provides them a strong impetus NOT to change, or at least to stay in the rut.

As a result of all these factors, I recommend you train the Sales Managers in at least the “basic outline” of what their new sales people will be getting, with an emphasis on exactly what the sales people are expected to do.  Make it clear to the Sales Managers what their duties and responsibilities are for enforcing sales accountability, and train them thoroughly how to do it.

And the Regional Directors must hold the Sales Managers accountable for effective sales management, so they need to understand “the new groove” as well.

Upon completion of the training, hold the sales people responsible for identifying (in writing) which elements from the training that they will use personally, and specifically how they’ll do that.  Communicate those specific commitments to the Sales Managers so they can enforce accountability.

I have developed a process and a form to do that, and I’ll be glad to share that with you.

That’s how to turn training events into development processes.  I can help you with all of it.  Because most culture change initiatives fail with the leadership, that’s why I am recommending you go with the 5 day leadership course before this project itself gets started. You’ve got to get the leaders on board AS leaders, in their leadership roles.

As good as you might make the sales people (even if the training is wildly successful!) this initiative will rise and fall with the Regional Directors and Sales Managers.

“Business as usual” will automatically be their default, unless you break that cycle.  Breaking that cycle is your first responsibility in this initiative.”

Doing the Right Things

This message, and the subsequent conversation to review and discuss it, may cost me the business, but it has also caused the client to slow down and reconsider the speed and direction they were trying to move this project.

For those of you considering your own “culture change” project, or perhaps are being asked to consult with clients on theirs, I think the thoughts in this e-mail are worth considering.

I’d love to hear from you on what you think.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

Image Sources: senseiwisdom.com, libweb.hawaii.edu

Leaders: How to Build the Perfect Organizational Machine

Money Maker

Strong leaders know one thing above all else: At the end of the day, organizational success is all about, and only about, one thing: Performance.

Without performance, your future is set… Meaning: You are done!

Ask yourself this:

  • When trying to secure the right people in your organization to help produce growth, are you tired of the employee selection “crap shoot?”
  • Would you like to lower the risk of hiring the wrong people?
  • Would you like to feel secure in your hiring practices, processes, and procedures?

Organizational Success

Organizations become successful and stay that way because their people are high performers in their given role, for their assigned manager, and in their unique culture.

But before we go any further, let’s define “organizational success.”

In my experience, sustained organizational success is delivered by people who perform at a high level, who are strongly engaged in what they’re doing, who understand the alignment of their job role with the organization’s mission, and whose productivity is “way beyond the norm.”

Multiplying Production Results

Like most organizations, you probably have some of these “abnormally high producers,” but wouldn’t it be great if ALL your people were this way?

“Impossible!” you say? 

I don’t think so.  And Dr. John Marshall didn’t think so back in the ‘70s.

Marshall (a Canadian) was a hockey player who noticed a very interesting phenomenon:

While seldom the most talented guy on the team, he kept getting elevated to the next level. At the same time, many of the “wizards of stick handling” did not get the promotion to the next level.

After his hockey career was done (he played a year in the NHL, and coached in Italy), Marshall got his PhD in psychometrics, based on a unique and arresting thesis (the elements of high performance (at least the talent aspect of it) could be identified, measured and predicted.)

From that work, he founded the SelfManagement Group in Toronto (which built the world’s first online sales assessment), and 10 million assessments later, he’s still going strong.

Core Premises of High Performance

To fully appreciate where Dr. Marshall is coming from, we need to understand his core premises:

1) High Performance is a combination of three elements:

  • a person’s talent
  • their effort
  • the opportunity they have for making their contribution

2) Talent comes, primarily, from three “hard-wired” constructs – a combination of our DNA and how we were brought up.

They are identified as:

  • Enterprising Potential (or  Initiative)
  • Achievement Potential (or Motivation)
  • Independence Potential (or Need for Structure)

Unlike most others, the assessments based on Dr. Marshall’s work, are both predictive and normative, so their level of reliability and predictability is astonishingly high.

3) Once you assess managers and high performers, you can build a “profile of potential success” that you then match to in your hiring and promotions, succession planning and team building. In other words, no more people in jobs where they are not successful; in fact, you get hires who are “clones” of the profiles of your highest producers.

Pretty soon, you’re raising the bar so that the new “average” begins to approach the “way beyond the norm” production level from before.

4) But hard-wired Talent is only one piece of the equation. Just because people “can do” the job doesn’t mean they “will do” the job. This is where effort comes in.  Effort is so fundamental to high performance that it ALWAYS trumps Talent.

In other words, if you have a choice, ALWAYS choose high-effort people.

Robust, targeted behavioral interviews will uncover “effort history” ; these structured interviews get people to recount (using specific examples) their past history of putting out the effort “required” to achieve a particular kind of success.    Once you have high effort/high talent individuals on board, then you must optimize their Opportunity.
5) Opportunity is the third piece of the performance equation, It consists of an organization’s vision, mission, culture and management.  If you match the profile of the employees to the profile of the organization, you’ll achieve meaningful “line of sight” between their efforts and the aims of the organization.

  • High-initiative people need to work for high-initiative leaders
  • Independent people need to work for managers who delegate well
  • Team-oriented people need to work for team-oriented leaders
  • People with a strong achievement drive must be in roles that feed that drive, etc.

Where there is a solid match between the profiles of the leaders and the people being led, and between the people and the organization, failure simply is NOT an option.

Rolling the Dice, Again?

So how is this state of success achieved?  Those of us who have been in the “hiring game” for a while probably start from this perspective:

“Hiring is ALWAYS going to be a crapshoot.  The best you can ever do is load the dice in the house’s favor.” 

Until I saw Dr. Marshall’s assessment and was introduced to job models and other advanced selection tools, I agreed with that skeptical, experience-based perspective.

As a supplement to the assessments, you need to start the hiring and selection process with a detailed job description (what is called a “High Performance Job Model”.)

This is a detailed, multi-page document that outlines ALL the expectations and deliverables of a given job.

The Job Model

The Job Model refines the expectations of what will be required by the individual(s) whom you’re looking to hire, and all subsequent matching activities are thus enhanced.  The resulting process simplifies recruiting, resume reviews, screening decisions, and all preliminary interviewing.

Not only is this document integral to hiring, but it also becomes the main referential for on-boarding activities, training, appraisals and succession planning.  The assessments and job models are foundational to performance transformation through hiring.

Therefore, the key to hiring for leaders is the realization that knowing what you expect from your people and with using the right tools, you CAN get this right, hire after hire after hire.  Once the inputs are correct and aligned, the outputs begin to accelerate in a big way, and “High Performance” becomes the name of the only song the organization knows how to sing.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

Image Sources:  greensmachine.us

Leadership: The $64,000 “Flame”

Flame in Oven

If someone asked you this: “What is the $64,000 question in leadership?”, how would you answer?  What would you say it is that we are trying to carry out as leaders of our teams? 

The answer, in the simplest terms, is this: “Leaders are trying to get every one of their people to perform at the top end of their potential.”

Ponder This…

Think about what this accomplishment might do for your team!  Then ask yourself just how many of your team members are performing at peak levels. Are 80% of your people contributing 80% (or anywhere close to 80?) of your results?  Probably not.

In fact, from churches and hospitals, to businesses and police departments, organizations report that the percentage of real, vital contributors is well below 30%.

Employee engagement, anyone?

On Motivation…

A leadership fact-of-life says:

“In the end, all motivation is self-motivation.”

Every person chooses their own degree of motivation.  Personal choice, influenced by a considerable number of factors, is the key to motivation.  How we as leaders effect, influence and manage those factors is our most-direct contribution to the personal productivity of our people, and to the collective productivity of our team.

The outcome of motivation is performance, and performance produces results.  And, no surprise, team productivity is how you are (and should be) measured.

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L2L Spotlight on Excellence Specials
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On Performance…

So what is performance? 

Well, let’s represent individual performance as a “flame.”

Let’s think about a typical middle school science project that it takes three things to produce fire:

  • An ignition source (the spark)
  • The fuel
  • And the oxygen

And it all happens in the “oven” of your team.

  • You (the leader) are the spark – the ignition source
  • The atmosphere you create is the oxygen
  • And the fuel is what everyone carries inside

Our Personal Fuel Cells

Fuel MixturePersonal Fuel Tank

The contents of the fuel are among the most personal (and perplexing) things each of us owns.  People (ourselves included) put ingredients in, and take ingredients out, mixing them up in a chaotic “refinery” of events, reactions and circumstances.

Changing constantly, it’s a unique and dynamic blend every day.  We carry this fuel around with us, and the exact mixture of the fuel is a reflection of each individual’s potential, self-image, self-esteem, mood, energy level, and how they feel they fit with others.

Many people have input to the fuel mixture, starting most importantly with the individual.

Others with frequent access are parents, teachers, siblings, schoolmates, bosses, peers, spouses, customers, children and acquaintances – and for the super-sensitive, even total strangers have input.

People add contents to the fuel (and take them out), by making critiques, demands, requests, assignments, or giving compliments, recognition, rewards, and encouragement.

Breathing Life

The “oxygen” is based on the overall atmosphere you’ve built within your team.

Ask yourself these question:

  • Is there room for people to do what they need to do?
  • Is failure tolerated, and recoverable?
  • Do people know where they stand, and would they say they’re treated fairly?
  • Do they think they’re having their unique needs met?
  • Is yours at least an interesting (if not fun) place to work?
  • Do people anticipate coming to work?
  • Do they look forward to getting out of their cars in the parking lot and clocking in?
  • Do your people generally enjoy one another’s company, or at least respect one another or the work they do?
  • Do they cooperate?
  • Is there mutual trust, starting with the fact that your people trust you?
  • Are actions and reactions predictable?

If the answers to these questions are overwhelmingly “yes”, then your “oven” contains a healthy mix of oxygen.  Once started, flames should burn fiercely.

The Explosive Spark

But here’s the rub:

In order for the fuel and oxygen to burn, there has to be a spark. 

This spark is you; People take their cues from their leaders.

If you are  self-motivating and competent in your work, leading by example, pointing the team in a definite direction, trusting them and being trusted yourself, and showing them that your enjoyment is real, then chances are excellent that your spark will ignite their flame.

The best news about all this is that the same leadership beliefs, actions, and behaviors affect both the fuel and the oxygen.

Leaders affect the people as individuals and as a team.

Once the flame within the team member begins to burn, only the individual can control the size of the flame and the heat. This is because they regulate the flow.

This is what we call self-management.

Q&A

The question becomes “Now, how can we affect the desire for people to increase their burn rate?

The answer is Behaviors & Consequences

Leaders need to know that what they can do to increase the burn-rate of their people is to add top-quality ingredients to the oven (the oxygen and the fuel), and to manage the contributions of others so that what’s in the mix is pure (high-octane motivation) and that their is plenty of this recipe in the solution.

Controlling the Atmosphere

As a leader, you affect the atmosphere of your organization or that of your team. You affect it both directly and indirectly. Primarily, this is what leaders get paid to do. It’s how leaders maximize their productivity, develop people, build team synergy, and deliver the objectives.

The key concept is this:

Behavior is most often a function of its consequence.

In other words, the consequences of a given behavior is to either encourage said behavior to either stop or to continue.  And the most effective consequences, in terms of affecting behavior, are those that are immediate and certain. (Keep in mind that positive consequences are longer lasting than negative consequences.)

In fact, how we handle the behavior/consequence connection is a major factor in the level of trust in us felt by our people.

Ken Blanchard once called feedback the “Breakfast of Champions”

Is it possible that your people, like most working Americans, go without that meal most days?  If so, it’s time for YOU to improve their diet.

**********

Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

Image Sources: brickfired.com


Leadership: The 8 Qualities Test


Qualities of a Leader

No matter what you read on the subject of leadership, the question of what qualities a leader should have usually comes up. 

Regardless of source, it seems there’s a consensus that makes most everyone’s cut.

So, here are eight key qualities – in alphabetical order – that good leaders should possess (or develop), and utilize:

  • Attitude
  • Character
  • Charisma
  • Competence
  • Humor
  • Listening
  • Sociability
  • Vision

AttitudeAttitude is always a choice.  You can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your reaction and your outlook.  And because you control your attitude, you can change your attitude.  One of the things an old boss told me (I think he was talking about my bad attitude) was,

 “You know, I can always tell when one of my managers has a bad attitude . . . I can see it in their people.”

Attitude is contagious; whatever yours is, sooner or later it’ll infect your people.  What does your team’s performance and morale say about your personal attitude?

CharacterCharacter has been defined as the moment-by-moment choices of right and wrong; it’s who we really are when no one else is watching.  When our character is trusted by others, following becomes natural.

“Character is critical also because if people buy into the messenger they’re more likely to buy into the message.

Consistency and transparency are two key elements of character that allow people to “buy in”.  What does your character say about who you REALLY are?

CharismaCharisma, rather than simply being an internal magnetism that draws others, is a reflection of the leader’s interest in others.

“It is the ability to make others feel better about themselves.”

Charisma contains perspective, enjoyment, humility, and self-confidence.  It is generated by demonstrating to other people that we care for them, that who they are, and what they do and say is important to us.

One of Bill Clinton’s most formidable skills was the ability to talk to someone, even in the midst of a thousand people, and make them feel as if they were the only other person in the room.

It is “other-directed”, not self-directed.  What is your “Charisma Quotient”?

CompetenceCompetence is the leader’s demonstrated expertise in handling his/her job demands.  If the leader can smoothly manage the people in their charge, the various tasks and stresses inherent to the job, and their complete 360 degree relationships, the people will see that.  If the leader can convincingly say “Follow me!”, and people want to go along because of the leader’s example, that leader possesses perhaps the key quality among these eight.

People want to, they need to, and they’ll only, follow demonstrated expertise.

HumorHumor, in this context, is not about being entertaining, or witty, or a performer.  Humor means seeing the lighter side of situations, to laugh at ourselves (especially our mistakes or weaknesses), to share a joke – as either teller or hearer – and not be a wet blanket around others.

A sense of humor helps the leader cope with mistakes, tolerate unpleasant people, accept surprises of every kind, and still smile and be encouraging amidst terrible circumstances.  How about you?  Are you ever an object of or a participant in the fun?

ListeningListening is perhaps the hardest and most important communications skill.  The best way to do this is to focus on the person first, the message second.  Therefore, listening should be done first with the eyes and emotions, and last with the ears.

“More followers are drawn by ear than by mouth, because a good listener is more treasured by most people than a great speaker.”

The key to good listening is to remember that it is about the other person first, which is why it’s hard for so many managers, and why it’s necessary for a good leader.  If your people had to take a test, what would they say?  Are you a good listener?

SocialabilitySociability is simply good people skills: the ability to get along smoothly and comfortably with other people.  Because it’s not necessary for the leader to be an extrovert, these are skills that are learned, practiced, and sometimes faked, until developed.

Answer these questions:

  • How to tell whether your “sociability skills” are up to par?
  • Are your people comfortable when you’re around (or is the tension like having a cobra in a basket when you’re in their presence)?
  • Can you hold a conversation without talking down, or lecturing, or correcting?
  • Do you have the ability to be “in charge” without that fact overwhelming all?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then your “sociability rating” is well above average.

Vision, the last quality, is the ability to see possibilities before they become obvious; problems before they become crises; connections before they become tangible; opportunities before they occur to others; and direction while the compass needle is still gyrating.

One aspect of Vision is focus, and recalls an old Chinese proverb,

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”

Focus

Focus contains two elements: internal and external.  Internal focus is the leader seeing what he/she must do to become better, more effective personally.

External focus is similar, but outer-directed:

  • What is the market saying?
  • What are the customers telling us?
  • Where are we strong?
  • Where does the team need to improve?

Most good managers know about external focus, and realize that to ignore what’s “really” happening out there is to proceed at their own peril.  But internal focus – for the leader – is just as necessary, and much less common.

There are many qualities that would help us to be good leaders. Author and speaker John Maxwell lists 21.  Other writers have different lists, but these eight, by various names and descriptions, seem to be as close to a consensus as I can find.

However, what’s more important is where you stand.

——————–
Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

Image Sources: leadingict.wikispaces.com

Leadership in 6 Key Words

Influence

As I read the many great posts on this blogazine (and elsewhere), it seems we often take for granted a key question:

What exactly is leadership? 

I want to propose a working definition, and get your feedback on what you think.

I propose this definition:

“Leadership is the ability to influence people so they willingly accomplish the goals you are accountable for achieving.”

L2L Reader Survey 2014

6 Key Words

There are 6 key words that I want to analyze in this definition, as they hold the definition in a matrix for all to see, understand and execute (or not).

Ability

The word “ability” (as opposed to “talent” or “traits”) implies that leadership is a learned skill.  Certainly some people are born with more natural talent or reared in a more nurturing environment so that leadership comes easier for them.  But leadership – the attitudes, skills and behaviors that make one a successful leader – can be learned.

If this weren’t true, this entire blogazine – and others like it, and much of what we do as professionals – would be worse than unnecessary.

Just as some people have the physical gifts to be a great athlete, most of us at least have the ability to throw a ball, ride a bike, or ice skate in such a way that we can progress from novice to participant through work and persistence. Leadership is similar; we can’t all be Alexander the Great, but we can all learn to be a competent leader.  And developing leadership skills is somewhat like becoming a better parent: it happens from trial and error and by applying what you “know” (the learning) to what “works” (the practical).

Influence

All motivation is self-motivation.  Leadership is about getting people to do what you want them to do, what they should do, and what they must do.  Short of doing their jobs yourself, your responsibility is to “influence” them to do it on their own.  And influence is primarily an emotional transaction.  It’s not telling and demanding, it’s explaining and convincing.

There are many types of influence:

  • Example
  • Mentoring
  • Shaming
  • Asking
  • Demanding
  • Showing
  • Explaining
  • Directing
  • or Coercing – among others.

There’s a broad gamut of styles and modes of influence available to the leader, and most have their place, based on the task at hand, the urgency of completion, and the situation you’re facing.

Willingly

Because of self-motivation, people have to “want” to do something.  That “want” may come from loyalty, duty, embarrassment, conscience, friendship, or a number of other motivators, but – regardless of the source – it causes them to act in a way that gets the job done.

The best leaders understand that motivation is most effective when it’s long-term and internally generated, rather than temporary, external or task dependent.  It’s not real useful if the follower will do Task A cheerfully, but absolutely refuses to even attempt Task B.  The best followers are those who self-manage to do whatever’s required of them because it’s required of them, and because they understand the mission and the necessity of the task.

The best leaders are those who can get their people to see, understand, internalize and act on this knowledge.

Accomplish

The significance of the word “accomplish” in our definition lies in the fact that leadership is about getting specific things done.  It’s about doing the work in a specific way, for a given reason, and with a definite end in mind.

Leaders train their people to do the work, supervising and making sure they do it, and then put the work of individuals together to optimize the contributions of the team.

“Accomplish” means the work gets done: on time, under budget, and beyond the quality standard.

Goals

Just as leadership is about getting specific things done, those things are most often measurable.  And just as you (the leader) have your goals to meet, it’s a foolish leader who doesn’t give specific goals to his or her people, the accomplishment of which achieves your team goal.

It’s fundamental that people have goals to focus their efforts, measure their achievements, and set the bar for next time.

There’s a certain magic inherent in goals that causes people – once they get close to the bar – to stretch their reach enough to make goals that, in the beginning, they had doubts about reaching.  And just as goals are measurable, wise goal-setters (and effective leaders) make sure there are consequences to reaching, or not reaching, prescribed goals.

Accountable

Accountability is one of those “dirty little facts” that make leadership necessary.  There is no need for leadership if there’s no destination in mind, when any destination is as good as any other.  Real life doesn’t work that way; work is about doing certain things in specific ways to achieve a particular goal.

Leaders understand that and don’t fear being measured and held accountable.

In fact, because “Real Life ain’t T-ball,” good leaders can’t stand those fuzzy, flaccid organizations where practically anything is acceptable, and real accomplishments don’t set achievers apart from “participants.”  Just as leaders know they’re accountable – if only to themselves – for goal accomplishment, they teach their people that missing established goals is not an option.

Goal-achievement is the name of the only game in town.

What do you think?  Do these 6 key words and the definition make sense to you?

——————–
Scott Crandall
 is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-1087

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Leading From the Dark Side: 4 Dangerous Leadership Styles

Darth Vader

“Luke, Stay Away from the Dark Side . . .”

Have you heard of these leaders:

Adolph Hitler,  Jim Jones,  Thomas Jefferson,  Donald Rumsfeld, or  Robert E. Lee?

Some list, right?  The common denominator is something basic: it’s what happens when some of the qualities necessary to good leadership harden, or morph into something else: the “Dark Side” of leadership.

If we can find these tendencies in ourselves, we may be able to avoid them; if we see them in others, perhaps we can coach them away from the cliff’s edge.

4 Dangerous Leadership Styles

The EGO Danger

Thomas JeffersonThis is the most common danger that strong leaders wrestle with.  First, it’s primarily the ego that makes strong leaders “strong”.  By their nature, these leaders have vision, drive, ambition and competitiveness in abundance.

And as a result, these leaders are more naturally lured by the siren call of pride and “self-ness.”

Because they usually see the outline of issues early, many strong leaders believe they’re the smartest guy in the room, and feel the need to demonstrate that superiority.  The demonstration may come in the form of talking down to people, snapping at subordinates, scornfully dismissing arguments or suggestions, or going after their perceived “smart guy” competitors.

I believe this was the main personal component – on each side – in the bitter (and ultimately fatal) Thomas Jefferson/Alexander Hamilton feud.

This is the most dangerous threat to any strong leader’s success.

Ego can drive leaders into isolation, where the timing and the information delivered is ruthlessly controlled and filtered.  It’s where free thinkers and blunt speakers quickly feel (and become) out of place.

The organization itself runs the risk of percolating into self-deluded paranoia at the top, accompanied by sycophantic striving to please at all costs in the middle, while a toxic tsunami of apathy, angst, and anger threatens to crumble the structure from below.

The MANIPULATION Danger

Adolf HitlerHave you ever been around someone who must always have their own way?  And until they get it they keep grinding, and shifting the discussion back until others are tired of hearing about it.  It becomes far easier to do it their way, even when you suspect it’s wrong.

Plus, you feel you’re in the middle of a hidden agenda that you can’t seem to grasp, let alone understand.

Does this leader make demands that regular people wouldn’t: demands on your time, attention, independence, family or integrity?  And do they make these demands without a flinch, like you somehow owe it to them?

Often these leaders will tell themselves – and others – that their demands are strictly “for the good of the organization”, but in reality they’re more often about feeding the leader’s personal demons.

  • What is happening to the organization?
  • Are cracks starting to appear?
  • Don’t believe it?
  • It can’t be happening where you are?

Really? Well ask the people at Enron, or Germany circa 1933-35, or Jonestown in 1978.

The EXCLUSIVITY Danger

Donald RumsfeldThis is the one that says “If you’re not with me 100%, then you’re against me.”  This danger produces a sort of “echo chamber” affect.  There’s only one approach, one philosophy, and one answer that’s approved and acceptable.

I believe this was Donald Rumsfeld’s Achilles Heel at the Pentagon.

From comments made by a friend of mine who was a major general at the time Rumsfeld came in, the Secretary was there to “revolutionize the military” (an admirable goal), but he would brook no debate.

He had done immense preparation, enlisted the best minds in developing this strategy, and he knew – going in – exactly the direction he was taking.  The civilian side was going to force the military’s “old bulls” to line up.  It was damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead . . . and sink any ships that get in the way!

The biggest danger here?  Real experts withhold insightful, contrary opinions.  The highest profile, most accomplished people see that it’s becoming impossible to stay, so they get out prematurely.

  • Perspective is lost.
  • Debate is stilted, stunted, and finally killed.
  • “Yes, sir,” becomes the only acceptable response.

Reactions may include leaking information to the press, the authorities, or the boss’s influential enemies.

You name it, and it’s likely to happen in “Exclusivity” organizations undergoing purges.

The MONO-STYLE Danger

Robert E. LeeThis is the danger that comes when a leader has been immensely successful, and has so refined his or her dominant style that it becomes their exclusive modus operandi.  Robert E. Lee is our example here.   Lee was the picture of good manners, audacity, integrity, and trust.

And because his character was so strong, and so positive, he naturally ascribed his abilities and values to other people.

This is why he was so comfortable working with Stonewall Jackson, who was equally driven, fanatically honest and strategically gifted.  It was less successful with some of Lee’s other lieutenants, notably James Longstreet and A.P. Hill.

However, with someone so fundamentally different from Lee, as Jeb Stuart was, this approach brought disaster, particularly during the approach march to Gettysburg in June, 1863.

The simple fact was that Lee was uncomfortable giving blunt, direct orders to his top deputies.

His failure to do so – especially as less able commanders took the place of fallen predecessors – resulted in a dramatically less agile Army of Northern Virginia.  Finely crafted victories, like those at Second Manassas and Chancellorsville, gave way to brutal slugfests like Cold Harbor and the Wilderness.

Human nature being what it is, we don’t change until we must.

Before It’s Too Late

For a leader who has moved from success to success, it’s often too late, with thousands of careers (or lives) or perhaps billions of dollars riding on the failure, before they realize that the behavior which first brought them to the dance is no longer paying the band.

At that point pride, habit and momentum make it nearly impossible to make the necessary adjustments.  Unfortunately, everyone in the organization – often thousands, if not tens of thousands of people, or more – suffers the consequences of the leader’s failures.

So, before it is too late, leaders and people within organizations need to periodically take inventory of their personal leadership styles and those around and open up lines of healthy communication to correct poor behaviors. They need to do this becasue the very health of the organization is at stake.

So, what side of the leadership spectrum are you on? Are you, your boss, or someone you know leading from the “Dark Side,” suffering from one of the four dangerous styles? If so, what can you do to adjust your style and learn to be a better leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Bookmark Leading From the Dark Side: 4 Dangerous Leadership Styles

——————-
Scott Crandall
is Principal of Trinity-Lincoln Consulting
He specializes in Leadership, Coaching, Training and Project Consulting
EmailLinkedInWeb | Skype: scrandall31 | (864) 787-108
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