When Personal and Organizational Leadership Values Aren’t Aligned

We’ve all faced this moment in our personal or work life. You’re in a work culture where your priorities and values are being challenged, and you have to make a decision. If you didn’t have the external pressure to get results in your work, your internal answer would be simple; but it’s not that easy is it?

So what do you do?

Leadership Lesson Learned

In his book, From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership, Harry Kraemer addresses the need for self-reflection to keep one on course. This former CEO/Chairman of Baxter International, a multi-billion dollar international healthcare company, tells a story that taught him an important lesson in making decisions as well as living intentionally in personal leadership development.

Here’s His Story…

He accompanied his parents on a trip to a retirement home where they led the residents in a time of singing familiar songs. Kraemer’s mom played the piano while his dad led the music and often sang memorable songs from Broadway musicals. Kraemer sat in the audience with the residents enjoying meeting the people and learning about their life stories.

On this particular occasion, he noticed a distinguished elderly man dressed in a tweed sport jacket and a bow tie who looked very professional. During one of the breaks, Kraemer approached this man and discovered that he was a retired senior executive from Pillsbury.

Always the student of learning, Kramer asked this man questions about his career and life. He specifically wanted to know what this former high-level executive would have done things differently now that his career was over. 

Kraemer’s Answer

This 89-hear old man pondered Kraemer’s question and then shared this golden nugget:

“You know, back in my early forties, I wanted to leave corporate America. I was on that ladder climb and doing well, but I wanted to leave corporate America and become a teacher. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of high school kids.”

But he said, “I never did it because I was worried about what ‘they’ would say. I’m 89 now. I’ve had a lot of time to sit and reflect about the ‘they’ that kept me from pursuing my dream. And I think, who were the ‘they’ that was driving so much of my decision-making?”

Like a wise sage, the man continued:

“Here’s what I want to tell you: People can be divided into two groups. The first group is composed of people who genuinely care about you. I mean, they want to celebrate with you, they want to encourage you, they want to be with you on your life journey, they want you to succeed and have the highest of times.

But they’re also going to follow that up with a question such as, ‘How are you doing? How is this promotion going to help you take care of yourself? What are you going to do to maintain your balance?’  These people will ask you the difficult questions because they’re concerned about you.” He said, ‘for most of us, we’re really lucky if we have five to eight people who fit that category. That’s it.’”

Then this former Pillsbury executive said:

“That other group, that’s the ‘they.’ These folks are good folks, and they may ask about you every once in a while; but for the most part they’re busy living their lives. What I came to find out is they really weren’t thinking about me anyway.

I gave them too much weight because I was worried about what they were going to say, and they weren’t saying anything because they weren’t thinking about me; they were busy living.” He said, “If you don’t pull aside to self-reflect and assess, you allow the invisible ‘they’ to determine your life course.”

Where Are You?

You may be in a very critical situation in your work where your values and desires aren’t aligned with your organization, and it’s not easy to make the difficult decision to either affect positive change for better alignment or make the decision to leave. 

Core Values Cards

Find Your Core Values with Recalibrate Cards!

As an executive coach, one way that I help my clients is to establish a PQM: a personal quarterly meeting. This practice of self-reflection assists you in focus and to remain aligned with your values.  Through the coaching process, we drive down to the core of what you desire to define you as a leader.

On a quarterly basis, set aside an hour or more to focus on where you are on your leadership journey.  Here a few questions to answer during your reflection –

  • What are your top leadership priorities?
  • What are your top three values?
  • Where are you driving change based on your core values? 
  • Where have you allowed the pace of business to move you off course? 
  • How am I letting the “they” influence my decision-making?
  • What is it that matters beyond anything else in your life right now?

As Harry Kramer reminds us, you must take the initiative to map out time for personal reflection and evaluation because no one is going to map it out for you.


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Mike Day

Mike Day PhD is a President of MorningStar Leadership Group
He’s a Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach & Trainer on Values-Based Leadership
Email | LinkedIn |  WebBlog

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I’m a Leader Now But No One Likes Me


What too many people fail to grasp is that one doesn’t become a leader overnight.  You may have the title, but that’s not all it takes to be successful.  To become a good leader takes some planning and experience.

Have you ever felt like this:

“I was “one of them” on Friday, but since I’m their supervisor now, no one likes me.  Why?”

You probably made the jump too suddenly.

Learning Leadership

When people tell me they want to be a leader in their organization or I hear that someone is being looked at to fill an upcoming position, the first thing I tell them is to start the transition NOW.  Plan and learn.

Don’t wait to make a sudden change over a weekend, because you’ll set yourself up for disaster.

Two Lessons on Leadership

Here are a couple of stories to illustrate what I’m talking about.

Story One

Mike has been one of the guys since he started at ABC Company.  He knows his job well, and that of the department, but really only does what’s required.  He watches the clock, is always yucking it up with everyone, and hits the bars every Friday afternoon having drinks with the best of them.

But behind all of that, Mike does think about moving up and his managers believe he has some good leadership potential.  A supervisor position is getting ready to open up in 2 weeks and Mike is offered the job.  That means more money, control and responsibility.  He says he’s up for the challenge.

Mike does nothing to prepare, thinking he’ll learn what he needs to know once he starts.  He continues his ways and on Friday Mike goes out with the gang and pounds shots.  On Monday morning, Mike is a straight-laced, all business, suit, barking orders around every corner.  What do you think the reaction of his staff is to this new look?  “What the h*ll happened to you?”  Is his staff ready to work for/with him?  I don’t think so Tim.

From then on, Mike is in an uphill battle to get respect and support.

Story Two

Patty, on the hand, knew she wanted to be a leader within the ABC Company someday.  Everyone likes her and although she’s also one of the guys, she never goes overboard.

She has fun, but within limits.

Patty, like Mike, knows her job and the department well.  But unlike Mike, she asks questions and tries to understand the business as much as she can.  She also reads leadership blogs online (i.e., Linked2Leadership) and participates in leadership type webinars.  The people she works with know where she’s headed some day.  So it comes as no surprise that when a leadership position opens in her department, she’s offered the job and accepts.

She immediately asks for time during the next two weeks to meet with experienced leaders to discuss her new position and to ask questions.  At the same time Patty discusses how this new position is going to alter her relationships with her,

  • old peers/new team,
  • new peers/other leaders,
  • old/new boss, and
  • . . . family.

How do you think Patty’s transition goes, compared to Mike’s?  I see much success in Patty’s future.

Leadership and Family

When I talk to people about changing relationships, many don’t immediately understand how there’s a change with family.  After all, work and family are two separate things.  Well, not exactly.  Even though we like to keep the two separate, they’re pretty well intertwined.  The added responsibility of being a leader is going to cause more stress, working more hours, and possibly travel, among other things.

Your future is also your family’s future.

Don’t get caught up just looking at the job itself.  It’s going to affect other people besides you.  The better prepared they are, the less stress it will cause.

It’s never too late to learn and plan for the future.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an up and comer, or you’re a director, or even a CEO.  Learning should be a lifelong endeavor.

When we stop learning, we stop growing.

The two books I always recommend to people when they’re starting out in their first leadership role are:

These books are not only good for new leaders but also serve as great reminders and inspiration – and some new info – for the seasoned leader.

It takes little effort, or time, to read a couple of blogs or books here and there.  Then be sure to share that new found information with the people coming up underneath you.  Remember, some of those people are going to be in your position some day.

Have you planned your future?  Do you discuss your future with your family?  Are you investing in continued learning?  Are you helping others succeed?


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Andy Uskavitch

Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development and Customer Service Specialist
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
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Leaders: Incorporating Family in Your Culture is Good for Business

Working With Family

New technologies, like smartphones and digital communication, have blurred the line between work and home. Employees can get work emails on their phones at any time of day (or night.)

The downside to this is that this can be highly distracting and can take away from family time.

And flex hours and work-from-home arrangements make the distinction between work and family even more confusing.

Finding Life Balance

The best way to help your employees find overarching life balance is not to reject technology, but to welcome employees’ loved ones into your company culture.

You will blur those lines even further, letting family life bleed into work life, developing a business that can help families, rather than strain them. This is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business.

How Families Improve the Bottom-Line

For many people, relationships built in the office represent not only their work life, but their social life as well. As adults, we meet people through work the same way we met friends through school as kids.

Nurturing this sense of community engages employees and builds loyalty, both of which help the bottom-line.

1. Build Loyalty

When employees enjoy a positive work environment (feel valued, develop friendships with co-workers, etc.), they want to keep working for that company. If family members are also happy with an employee’s work situation, that employee is even more likely to stay.

Higher employee retention saves companies and organizations a lot of money.

  • The cost of losing someone in the first 90 days can be about $5,000.
  • For those who stay longer, the cost of losing an hourly employee is around 50% of his annual salary.
  • The cost of losing a salaried employee can be 100 to 150 percent of his salary.
  • Some estimates show that losing an executive can cost a company up to 213 percent of the executive’s salary.

These losses include the cost to terminate, cost to rehire, training costs, vacancy costs, etc. It’s estimated that engaged employees are four times less likely to leave their positions than disengaged employees. This can have a major impact on the bottom-line.

2. Enhance the Circle of Growth

This is a simple philosophy that begins with engaged employees.

  • Engaged employees drive customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Happy employees make happy customers.
  • Customer satisfaction then drives profit through greater customer retention.

You can take that profit and invest it back into your people, giving them better tools and resources to do their jobs.

And the cycle continues…

Employee Engagement Reaches the Bottom-Line

There is also increasing evidence that engagement directly impacts the bottom-line. At Stericycle, a study of nearly 50 small call centers showed that those with the highest level of engagement had a gross profit margin 10% higher than those with low engagement.

How do you increase employee engagement and get the cycle going? Reach out to families.

Expanding the Circle to Families

There are countless ways to expand your culture to include employees’ family members, but here are some ideas to get you started.


Hold company events that include families. You can have a carnival in the parking lot, a cookout with games and contests for all ages, or holiday parties (Halloween is great for involving kids).

Personal Cards:

Send notes to the homes of employees, both for them and their family members. Simply acknowledging life events like births, deaths, injuries, or major accomplishments can help everyone feel more connected.

Fun Mailings:

Send a magazine that’s mailed to employees’ homes quarterly. It should have pictures and articles that allow families to see what their loved ones are doing while they’re away at work, and it includes a coloring section for young kids.

Contests and Scholarships:

If you make company or event T-shirts, create a contest for employees’ kids to design them. It’s also a wonderful idea to create a scholarship program to help even one employee’s child each year with college tuition.

Programs like this don’t affect employees directly, but caring about their kids can mean even more to parents than rewarding them in the office.

Leading with True Influence

When you hire someone, you affect his entire life, including his loved ones. That means that you, as a leader, have the ability to impact not only your immediate circle of employees, but entire families and communities.

If you use that power to do good, your business will certainly grow.

More importantly, you’ll help people and even change lives.


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Paul Spiegelman

Paul Spiegelman is the Chief Culture Officer at Stericycle
He is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for Office Depot’s SmallBizClub.com
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Leading Success in 2014: Your 11-Step Checklist

New Year's Resolutions

The New Year 2014 is here. Now is the time that many leaders take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and to plan for the upcoming one.

But with a new year come new stresses and potentially frantic times for many.

A Less Stressful New Year

A great way to set yourself up for a less-stressful, less-frantic 2014 is to create a screening process to help you figure out which new projects make the most sense to go ahead with.

As enthusiastic, visionary people it is very easy to just jump into new projects and hope that everything works out along the way.

Unfortunately, this approach often wastes a lot of time and money.

This year, take the time to walk yourself through this eleven point checklist to make sure that you’re balancing your passion with the practical management responsibilities required to lead the project to success.

11 Resolutions to Make before you Make any Resolutions

11 Step Checklist To Set Your 2014 Projects Up For Success

1. Assess how much time your new project is going to take.

For me this is the big one. I always under-estimate how long something is going to take and then I end up stressing myself out because I have too much to do.

This is the rule-of-thumb that I use: get out a piece of paper and write out your best guess of how much time this new initiative is going to require and then gross it up by 50%. If you can still manage the time, go to item #2 on the list.

2. Assess how much money your new project is going to take.

This item is about the literal counting of the cost. It may be that your project doesn’t take a lot of money to run, but it is important to count the costs that you might not see.

  • For example, is this going to take more of your time (that you won’t necessarily be getting paid for) equalling lost earning potential?
  • Are there going to be an increased amount of personal expenses: gas in your car, long-distance phone charges, technological tools that you’ll need?

It might not add up to a lot but having a budget mapped out will help you manage expectations and not be so surprised when there are dollars going out of your (or your organization’s) pocket.

3.    Establish a realistic time line.

Different than item #1, setting a realistic time line is about how long you take the project to take. It’s one thing to have an ambitious goal; it’s another to be naive about how much work will be involved in seeing your project go to completion.

A great idea here is to gather your team around you and roll out the idea and see how long they think it will take.

Give yourself lots of time – under promise and over deliver is a great motto for setting a project completion date.

4.    Identify how many people and which skills you need on the team.

As a leader, we have a responsibility to look at all the variables that can and will affect our ability to lead our projects to success – the capacity of your team is probably one of the biggest pieces we need to consider when charting our course.

  • It is one thing to set a goal, but have you carefully looked at the people you have on your team to see whether they have the capacity to be a part of seeing this goal fulfilled?
  • If not, are you willing to adjust your goal to accommodate your team or get a new team to support your goal?

This is my biggest weak spot for sure. I’m notoriously one of those do-it-myself people (even if it kills me) even though I know that this is a terrible strategy. As I’ve grown in leadership I’m become a lot more intentional about making time to map out an organizational strategy i.e.) what people and talent do I need on the team who have skills that I don’t have and then I set out to recruit them.

I love the expression; scout out those who “play at” what you “work at.”

5.    Consider the potential challenges you will need to overcome.

Not to be a hater, but this one is really important. No project runs perfectly and it is critical on the front end to consider the challenges you may be facing: both personal and professional.

For example: whenever I start a project I consider first my family obligations. Being a mom of three kids, I have to factor in how much time doing child related tasks will take before I make any professional commitments.

In my case, to not factor in all pre-existing responsibilities that comes with having kids could potentially derail my project’s success and would be incredibly short-sighted on my part.

6. Get clear about “why” you’re doing it. Check your agenda against the agenda of your stakeholders. 

This one is harder than it sounds and a little bit tricky to discern. Before beginning any new project, take some time to yourself and really ask yourself why you want to go ahead with this project and outline how saying “yes” will not only help you but also help your stakeholders.

Maybe there is a great media opportunity that you want to commit to because it will allow you the chance to speak and make a name for yourself in your community (which is fine.) However, the return on investment in terms of how much it will increase your ability to serve your clients will be negligible.

Consider the needs of the huge range of stakeholders you have to please before you agree to anything: your donors, your board, your community, your clients etc. If the project is primarily self-serving, maybe “pass” on the idea or go ahead with it on your own time.

7.    Write up a tentative, simplified strategic plan.

I’m not really a fan of the elaborate 5 year strategic plan. Too much changed too quickly to really be able to commit to something that structured.

My ideal scenario when starting any new venture is to boil down all the big ideas onto one page so that any one on the team can know exactly what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it…you get the idea.

8.    Do your market research. Is there a real need for this project or are you hoping it will work-out?

This item really takes the fun out of launching a new project. I’m the queen of beginning something (that I think is a great idea) before really knowing whether anyone really wants it. Do you have an idea for a program that you think would be great? Before you commit resources to it, do some research and find out whether or not your idea is sustainable. 

Poll your client, members in your community, your competitors…Maybe a similar program was offered by a similar organization just last year and it totally bombed. That would be great to know before you try to do something like that too.

Get a few members of your core-team to form a mini-committee and being to ask around and gather some “intel” about the needs and wants are of those you serve and adjust your plan accordingly. 

9. Establish an advisory team to help you get to your goal (with a lot less headaches.)

The easiest way to save time and money when launching a new project is to develop a team of advisors who have walked this road already and can help you navigate the way to the finish line. I know I’m biased but the most effective support resource I’ve ever invested in is executive coaching.

Like you, I hate wasting time. I want to get to my goal in the most efficient way possible and I know that me trying to re-invent the wheel is a terrible use of my time and donor dollars.

Before you begin anything new, check out your operational budget and allocate a portion to hiring an executive coach who can stay with you every step of the way providing ongoing support and skills coaching.

If coaching is not a realistic option, check out your local community resource center, local networking groups or an online LinkedIn group.

10.    Establish your ideal outcome for the project.

This is one that I know is difficult in the nonprofit sector. Determine which “measurables” you’re going to use to see if your project is actually accomplishing what it set out to accomplish. Set a fixed goal.

For example: instead of shooting at a loose target “we want to help feed more people in our community this year, say “our goal is to feed 100 more families this year.”

In the nonprofit world, more and more donors are looking for a quantifiable return on the money they have given to your organization. Right from the get-go, get a target that you can track. It might not be as romantic and may feel a lot more mechanical but it will be easier for people to latch-onto your vision and support your work as they understand the outcome you’re working towards.

11.   If your project is going to cost money, research which (if any) grants may available to help fund your specific project idea.

Wouldn’t it be great to know where the money could potentially be coming from before you even started your project? Before you even being working on your project, start building relationships with the granting bodies you know you’ll be going to when it comes time to apply for a grant.

Take the time to figure out which specific projects they’re looking to support and begin networking to see if there are any foundations you could connect with that you may not have even heard of yet. Really take the time to short-list potential sources of grant money and identify ways you can help them hit their goals by them helping you hit their goals.

 Got a question about any of these ideas? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts.


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Natasha Golinsky

Natasha Golinsky is the Founder of Next Level Nonprofits
She helps nonprofit CEO’s take their leadership skills to the next level
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Why Parenting Is the Best Leadership Training


Being a dad is way harder than being an effective leader at work.

After all, you don’t get to pick your kids from a pool of candidates, and you certainly can’t fire them.

My four children, who are 14, 12, 8, and 5 years old, have done more to influence my approach to management than my Harvard MBA or any theory from a book ever has.

3 Huge Leadership Lessons from Parenting

Here are three lessons parenting has taught me that have made me a better team leader:

1. Inspire Greatness

Being a dad helps me see my staff not as production units, but as people who will make important contributions with the right support, challenges, and environment. Just like with my kids, I encourage my team to express themselves, take initiative, and even fail in order to discover their strengths and become great.

2. Encourage Unity

When my kids bicker, it creates a headache of disharmony. One screaming match over a Wii controller can affect the mood of everyone in the house. In my consulting career, I’ve seen politicking, praise-seeking, gossip, and “us-versus-them” mindsets create waste and squander productivity in hundreds of corporations.

With this in mind, I seek to build a culture of tolerance, integrity, respect, innovation, and playfulness at Glimpulse. We train employees in effective communication, and we hire people who are self-aware, teachable, and willing to take personal responsibility.

3. Demonstrate Care

When I hang out with my kids one-on-one, it builds our friendship and helps them engage productively with our family as a whole. This same need applies to my team. As CEO, it’s important to have one-on-one time with my staff members without a huge agenda.

The aim is to be present, listen, appreciate them, and leave room for employees to raise issues or ask questions. It helps make the work environment another type of family — except you don’t have to tell the staff to stop hitting each other in the backseat of the minivan!

Family-Inspired Policies

Many of the things I tell my kids can be applied directly to my staff. Not that my employees are like my kids, but the principles of respect, encouragement, and motivation have clear parallels between both worlds.

Here’s how these at-home conversations can be applied to the office environment:


What I tell my kids: Once you have your snack and do your homework, you can watch TV.”

How this affects my team: Employees need to see the beginning, middle, and end of a project to feel rewarded. Setting achievable goals and rewarding completion builds feelings of accomplishment that spur people to take on more responsibilities and work more productively.


Kids: Tell me what you’re thinking.” Nothing is worse than when I ask my kids how their day was and don’t get much more than “OK.” If you genuinely listen, they eventually open up and tell you about the game they played at recess and what’s on their mind.

Team: I actively listen to my employees’ ideas and solutions, knowing that any fear associated with my response to new thoughts will discourage innovation and squash creativity.


Kids: “Work it out on your own.” Allowing my kids to resolve their own conflicts and hurt feelings helps them build trust and maturity. It’s tempting to step in and play Solomon over the Uno game, but I’ve learned they often overcome their disputes better when I don’t step in.

Team: There are a million opportunities for me to intervene in people’s problems at work, but I’ve learned my staff often achieves better results when I leave them alone. Being an effective leader means sometimes removing yourself from the situation.


Kids: Lay off the electronics.”

Team: Creative, innovative work requires taking a reflective approach. Just like electronics and too much TV or computer can make my kids dull, stupefied, and unimaginative, I encourage my team to unplug from work frequently, take breaks, and recognize the signs of burnout.

Fresh air, walking, listening to some music, meditating, or even dancing are encouraged. It gets the energy moving in the right direction for performance and contentment.


Responsibility on Another Level

Raising kids has made me a better problem solver and a stronger leader. The relationships you have with your kids and your employees both hinge on your ability to listen, provide gentle encouragement, and let them work things out on their own. My kids also make me hold myself to a higher standard, both at home and at work.

When we have a tough decision to make, we ask ourselves, “If our children learned their values from how we conduct ourselves and our business, what would they learn?”

Ask yourself, “What would Dad do?”

Then, do what makes you a great parent — it also makes you a great leader.


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Paresh Shah
Paresh Shah is an experienced entrepreneur, executive, & innovation consultant
He is the founder and CEO of Glimpulse, the Human Expression Company
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Results vs. Relationships – Finding Your Balance on the Leadership Seesaw

Leadership Seesaw

As a child, riding a seesaw was fun, wasn’t it? Well, except when you didn’t have equal weight on both sides—then it was just out of balance and someone got stuck in mid-air.

This bears the question—is your leadership out of balance? 

Most likely it is because statistically, more than 85% of the population tilts toward being strong at either Results or Relationships and weak at the other.

What’s Wrong With Being Out of Balance?

The idea of balancing results and relationships is nothing new, but if we assume that character is the foundation of leadership, then there should be an inner motivation to accomplish the mission (get results) and take care of the people (build relationships).

If you don’t get results, you can’t be truly successful in your work or justify your purpose and if you don’t take care of your people, some will quit and leave and some will quit and stay.  In either case, it’s not a viable situation.

“So in the long run, balancing a concern for people with accomplishing the mission is crucial to success.”

Identify Your Natural Bent

How can you know and what can you do about it?  Begin by examining the two sets of attributes below and deciding which list of behaviors best describes your “natural” talents.

This indicates your natural leadership style and predicts the direction of your tilt as well as the area in which you need to work to improve your balance. If you can’t determine your natural bent, then ask someone who knows you well.

Which one are you?

Results Oriented                                                           

  • Take charge, decisive
  • Introverted, focused
  • High standards, task oriented
  • Challenging, speaks directly
  • Logical, organized
  • Skeptical

Relationship Oriented

  • Encouraging, supportive
  • Trusting
  • Good listener
  • Gives positive feedback
  • Concerned and caring
  • Develops others

Now, How Do You Gain a Better Balance? 

First, accept the fact that most of your strengths are natural—we are born with them and naturally out of balance. To get better, we have to change by learning some new personality talents (behaviors).

You don’t need to give up who you are, what you have and you don’t need to reinvent yourself.  Rather, you augment your strengths by adapting new behaviors that will make you more effective.

The way you do this is to intentionally learn a few behaviors in your weaker area that bring you more in balance. The reason this is so hard is that it’s not natural, and therefore often feels very awkward, sometimes hokey and even phony.

Results-Oriented Leaders Need to Soften Up

If this is your style, just the idea of softening seems anathema; but developing good interpersonal skills is what’s needed to make you a better leader. You know it—you just don’t want to go there. For example, learning to patiently listen, really understand, and then affirm the ideas of others can feel very scary.

For some, the needed skill might be learning to give specific, positive feedback. These “soft” skills would be as easy as breathing for many relationship-oriented leaders; but for the tough rational results group, it can be terrifying—they feel out of control and way out of their comfort zone.

It takes intentional courage for a thick-skinned, results-oriented person to be a good leader and do these “people” things that are so important.

Relationship-Oriented Leaders Need to Toughen Up

If you’re someone whose style is naturally, highly relational you will need to identify a couple of behaviors on the results-oriented chart to work on.

Quite often this is learning to be more decisive and more direct in giving guidance and setting standards.

Casting a stretch vision and conducting difficult conversations is essential to keep the organization and individual team members moving ahead toward successful execution. It may be intimidating, so plan out what you are going to say and then courageously deliver your message; it’s the only way for you to gain a better balance and be the leader you want to be.

Small Changes Pay Big Returns

No matter which side of the balance scales you’re on, adapting new behaviors on your weak side even at small levels will lead to significant improvements.  Over time they will become easier thus facilitating even further change for the leader.

“You cannot become a better leader by reading books and going to workshops. These are great ways to learn but when it comes down to actual growth, you have to change your behaviors; there is no other way.”

It also takes courage to change. You cannot become a better leader by reading books and going to workshops. These are great ways to learn but when it comes down to actual growth, you have to change your behaviors; there is no other way.

You have to give up some of your old habits like dominating or withdrawing and engage others with a more balanced leadership style, and you have to do it under the daily pressures of life and work.  That’s what it means to lead with honor—having the courage to do what you know you should do.

Take the first step.

Well now that you’ve read this, you likely already know what you need to do to gain a better leadership balance and be the leader you want to be.  What are you going to do differently?  Who will you engage as your support team to encourage and support you in your growth?  As you make progress balancing on the leadership seesaw, help others to gain a better balance, too.


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

Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources: 3pmobile.com

On Leaders and Accountability (Part 6): How to Take Action When Expectations Aren’t Met

Take Action

Here’s the scene. Joe Staff Member is on your team, and you have done all of the right things to develop a healthy relationship of accountability; You have clarified, mentored, coached, checked in, and supported him. But for whatever reason, Joe still isn’t producing the results that match his competency.

So, it’s time to take action!

You should have been giving honest feedback by engaging with Joe along the way, so this should not be a surprise to him.

Taking Action

In the five previous blogs on accountability (see below), we have been following a process to ensure that you—the leader—have done your part to help your team members succeed.

As you deliver the news, make sure that you and Joe have a clear picture that accountability is a win in four directions:

  • A win for the organization
  • A win for you the leader
  • A win for the team 
  • A win for that person

Done right, it’s going to be part of the growth process to help him perform better or find a line of work where his talents and passion are better suited.

Just as important, you grow as a leader as you gain experience and confidence in respectfully and firmly holding people accountable for their performance and behaviors in the workplace.

Have a Mindset About What Needs to Happen

Here are some practical action steps to follow as you move forward.

The leader who is holding someone accountable for poor performance (or bad behavior) must consider the rational and emotional components. Presenting the facts and specifics is essential and should not be difficult if you have made a few performance notes along the way.

Dealing with the emotional/feelings part is often the biggest challenge.

Keep in mind that negative feedback always stings because our egos are often tender. So, think through how you are going to say things. If you are by nature not a “feelings” person (in other words, more focused on results than relationships), then discuss your approach with someone else who is more experienced and more sensitive than you are.

Your critique should be constructive and fact-based dealing with specific issues and not an attack on the person.

Even those of us who don’t acknowledge feelings much can struggle with telling someone what they don’t want to hear. We must have the courage to deliver the unpleasant message and the consequences—some tough love— that go with unmet expectations.

Anything less leads to a dysfunctional relationship and an unhealthy organization.

3 Steps to Take Action When Expectations Aren’t Met

1. Plan Your Approach and Get Counsel

Good execution starts with good planning.  Here are four steps to remember:

a. Consider your options for consequences.

b. Discuss the situation with your manager.

c. Discuss with your HR rep/consultant.

d. Get your mindset right. Your goal is to be factual, logical, reasonable and firm.

2. Meet With the Person

These specific guidelines will help make sure the best meeting possible:

a. Meet privately in your space and on your terms.

b. Demonstrate a respectful and caring attitude toward the person.

c. Explain the problem and show how expectations and agreements were not met.

d. Ask what the person sees as the cause of the problem. Listen carefully, and don’t defend or get into arguments.

- Expect rationalization and don’t fall for it. You’ve done your homework and you don’t want to let them off the hook. Stick to your plan unless there’s some significant problem that you weren’t aware of.

a. Restate your concerns and underscore that performance (or behavior) has not been acceptable.

b. Lay out next steps for moving ahead (consequences, rules, expectations).

In this step, your goal is to get the person’s attention, re-motivate them, and get them back on track—or get them on a path out of your organization.

“In this [difficult meeting], your goal is to get the person’s attention, re-motivate them, and get them back on track—or get them on a path out of your organization.”

3. Follow Through

Unfortunately, some adults can still operate as they did in a dysfunctional childhood; they may assume you weren’t really serious and that you’ll forget and let the matter drop. Here are four follow-through reminders –

a. Stay engaged and walk through the process.

b. Communicate your commitment and firmness

c. Provide encouragement.

d. Be respectful and firm.

Some Closing Thoughts on Accountability

Accountability is really at the heart of leadership, because it’s the best way to insure success for both people and the organization. As a leader, one of the most helpful guidelines I ever learned (and I have to keep coaching myself on it) was:

Don’t procrastinate taking action or let things slide.

Always move toward a problem; things never get better on their own.

Your role is to start action to keep things on track. That’s what accountability is all about. Be courageous in your role as a leader.

So how are you doing with accountability? Is there a Joe Staff Member on your team that needs to be addressed?  What wisdom can you share in this forum on ways that you’ve helped grow your people into a “healthy,” accountable organization? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Previous Articles in This Series:

Part 1 – What is Accountability and Notes from the Cliff

Part 2 – Why Accountability is Crucial to Life and the Superbowl

Part 3 – Shocking Cheating Scandal at Harvard and Clarifying Expectations

Part 4 – How Mentoring and Coaching Builds Trust

Part 5 – Seven Tips to Celebrating the Big Payoff


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

Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Image Sources:  www.rockband.com


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