On Leadership and Your Credibility Assets

1970 Ford Mustang

I recall as a young teenager my father coming home from a trip with my first car, a 1970 Mustang. I was THRILLED!!

But there was a condition to me getting my car. I had to pay the note off at our local bank.

Establishing Credibility

My father had called our banker from Galveston, TX asking for a loan to purchase my first car. The banker told my father,

“Go ahead. Just drop by when you get home to sign the paperwork.”

I went with my father to meet our banker and signed my name on my first loan. For the next year I made monthly payments and hence created credit in my name.  I will never forget how proud I was to make that last payment and have that title placed in my hands.

My credibility was established!

Maintaining Credibility

A few years later I was shopping for a “family” car. From a car lot in another city, I placed a phone call to “my banker” (yes, the same one my father used).

He asked:

How much do you need? You got it! Just stop by the bank next week and sign the papers.”

What has happened to credibility today? Remember when a deal was made on a handshake (or a word over the phone)? When one’s word was all it took to be believed and trusted?

It seems in ,many areas in our society today we are returning to the basics, our values, ethics, integrity. Can a leader be a good leader in his or her professional life if their personal life does not reflect these character traits? I suggest not.

Consider the scandals of the past:

The good they accomplished was forgotten or overshadowed in the aftermath of the values displayed in their personal lives. So in order to have credibility one must have values, ethics, integrity in all aspects of our lives, personal and professional.

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A Credible Foundation

It has been said that credibility is the foundation of all relationships.

The formula is simple:

Good credibility = good relationships

Bad credibility = bad relationships

Now ask your self these questions as they pertain to you at home, at work, and in your community:

  • So, how does one establish credibility?
  • Is it a given? Or, is it built?
  • How does one become credible?

It is safe to say that credibility creates trust and that trust is the foundation of all relationships, personal and professional.

Integrity and Character

In his article “Why Leaders Fail,” Mark Sanborn from Leadership Now states:

“A leaders credibility is the result of two aspects: what he or she does (competency) and who he or she is (character). A discrepancy between these two aspects creates an integrity problem.”

“The highest principle of leadership is integrity. When integrity ceases to be a leader’s top priority, when a compromise of ethics is rationalized away as necessary for the ‘greater good,’ when achieving results becomes more important than the means to their achievement–that is the moment when a leader steps onto the slippery slope of failure.”

It is imperative to your leadership that you constantly subject your life and work to the highest scrutiny. Are there areas of conflict between what you believe and how you behave?

Try this, pull out one of your business cards. On the back write  your primary focus. Stare at this and make it real to yourself. Take the time necessary to get your focus back on what is important.

So, have you sorted through your personal, professional, and practical values to understand who you really are and what is your baseline of credibility? Have you inventoried your credibility assets to see “how much you have in the bank?” What are you doing to increase your personal level of credibility at home, at work, and in your community? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Lori Gilmore is a Training Technician for the State of Missouri.
Her goal is to inspire current and potential leaders on their journey to excellence.
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |

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Leaders: 6 Ways to Find Your Business Happy Place

Happy Place

Where is your business “happy place?” Do you even know if you have one? And if you do, how do you find it and go there?

Imagine this:

You are having a bad day, and it seems like it going to last until you somehow make it home and put your head on your pillow. It looks like the mold is set for the balance of the day and nothing is going to change it. It seems like you are stuck in an unhappy place.

On these days, learning to banish negativity and leading a successful business resembles the fruitless search for the  Holy Grail.

  • But is this gloomy fate really true?
  • Are you really stuck in a bad place, or can you do something to make things different?
  • Is there a way to get out of this unhappy place and get into a better frame of mind?

The Short Answer is Yes

Some will reflect back upon this past year regretting their  unfinished goals in addition to any unexpected losses. Others will remove this year from memory and simply accept it as a loss unworthy of redemption.

Either way, smart folks are looking forward to 2012, excited about a fresh start.

We are all ready to make resolutions that we will surely keep this time around , eager to do better.

Business can be compared to a horse race…it doesn’t matter if you are first out of the gate. The finish line is everything.

6 Ways to Find Your Business Happy Place

ONE: Find Some “Me” Time

Put on a Happy Face

I love my family, I love my friends and I love my work. However, I am very comfortable with being by myself. But to be effective in re-energizing my batteries, I have to be proactive in finding some “Me” time.

My favorite time of day is early morning. Although  I’m the first one up in the morning, I do not mind being alone. During this time, I sit back and reflect on me. “Me” time is important. Some people mediate. Others pray. And some reflect.

Through out the course of the day, I spend time worrying about my clients and their needs. “Me” time is strictly dedicated to me and my needs.

It feels so good to say, “Time just for me.”

I encourage you to consider the one person who matters most…you. And find a  recipe of solitude that works for you.

Always remember this:

  • It is acceptable as well as necessary to dedicate 15-30 minutes a day toward your needs.
  • There are twenty-four hours in a day, if you can’t find a few minutes for you, you should re-evaluate your priorities.
  • You are just as essential as anyone around you.
  • So be sure to always carve out time to invest in you.

TWO: Negative By Character

Take a look around. I am sure that we all can agree that some people are just negative by nature. Think about the guy who has a problem with  everyone in the office or the girl who thinks everyone is lazy except for her.

  • These people are like a viruses
  • Their negative mood spreads like a plague
  • They are not happy until everyone is miserable like them

QUESTION: Does misery love company, or does misery make company equally miserable?

Psychologists have discussed whether couples and close friends are depressed in tandem because one person’s mood poisons the well, or because people gravitate toward significant others with the same traits. Either way, woeful commiserating is a cancer that eats away people and brings everyone down.

“Happy people seek out happy people, and those who are miserable seek the same.”

The bottom line is this: Stay away from negative contagion and you will be on your way finding your business happy place.

THREE: Alter the Forecast

Negative thoughts are like hurricanes. The more you think of them, the more force they have. Attempting to talk yourself out of negativity is no a solution. Such inner debates put the thoughts front and center of your mind.

And by criticizing yourself, you end up feeling like even more of a failure and asking this:

“Why can’t I get over this and be happy?”

Instead, recognize that negative and fearful thoughts are normal. It’s usually best to tune them out. It also helps to consider the context. When you’re overreacting about a situation, try to figure out what’s behind the disconnect.

When you’re exhausted or under stress, your thoughts often default to negative patterns laid down long ago, even though they have no relevance to the current situation.

One of the best ways to keep negativity at bay is to skip the venting. You may think that complaining to friends and family will help relieve the pressure you feel. In fact all you’re doing is digging yourself a deeper trench.

Solution: Focus on the moment. It’s not a coincidence that negative thinking is most common when we allow our minds to wander. Turning your attention toward what you’re doing and staying in the now allows you to stop worrying about the future and obsessing over the past.

It simultaneously reminds you of the genuine beauty and pleasure of life in the middle of the negativity.

FOUR: Blissful Lifestyle

Laugh. This simple act releases endorphins and makes you feel good. Laughing also invites laughter from other people; a social connection that will boost your mood too.

And who doesn’t like to laugh???

FIVE: Count Your Blessings

People who concentrate on the positive aspects of life, rather than the negatives ones (…surprise!!!!) are genuinely happier.

And recognize this:

If you’re in a bad funk, you might have to start with a simple statement to yourself like  “I’m grateful I’m alive today.

Before too long you’ll see how much you really have going for you.

Say thank you. Expressing gratitude improves happiness as well.  In one study, research subjects wrote a thank-you letter to someone who helped them in a significant way.

Their happiness levels increased immediately and, amazingly, remained higher than normal for a month.

SIX: Play to Your Strengths

One measure of happiness is the ability to become absorbed by a task. We are most absorbed by new activities that we’re naturally good at. If your strength is social connection, find a hobby that allows you to interact with others. If your strength is self-expression, consider starting a blog or taking an art class.

Do good. In study after study, any form of generosity, acts of kindness, donations, or volunteer work raised overall happiness.

Following these six steps will be a great start that moves you from your yucky spot in your day and brings you to this happy place. It works at home, at work, and everywhere else.

So leaders, do yourself, your teams, your families, your associates, your peers and even that person at your favorite coffee shop a favor, practice finding your happy place and be there often. In doing so, you will be modeling the kinds of behaviors that will make your spot on the globe a bit brighter, happier, and more productive.

So, are you doing any of the six recommended steps to help yourself find your happy place on any kind of regular basis? If so, how can you expand on them and model them more effectively this year? If not, what small steps can you take to begin burning a hot trail to that happy place so that getting there in the future will be easier? I would love to hear your thoughts! 

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——————–
Dean DeSantis is 
Publisher of Business Philanthropy 101-Helping you, Help Yourself!
He helps to increase market share, outperform competition, and increase profits
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter Blog | 301.685.3130

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6 Steps to Sustainable Teams: Start with Strengths

Leadership Strengths

A great leader does what they can to make themselves and people around them succeed and excel to their fullest potential. If you as a leader aren’t doing this, then it’s time to focus on becoming a “Maximizer.”

Maximizer:  People with the “Maximizer Theme” focus on others’ strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence.  They seek to transform something strong into something superb.

Questions to ask yourself:

Are you a Maximizer? Do you know how many people in your team are Maximizers?

Knowing Thyself

The definition above is one of 34 groundbreaking strength theme definitions from Gallup and the inspiring Marcus Buckingham.

If you are interested in maximizing your own performance and the collective performance of your team members, I highly recommend you identify all the strength themes in your team and start leveraging that information.

I often hear managers and supervisors say “I am playing to the strengths of my team.”

Unfortunately, I usually find that the supervisor has not partnered with the team to identify or define what team members are naturally good at or what they love to do.

It is difficult to play to a team’s strengths if the team members’ strengths are not defined and understood by all.

Be Wise, Maximize

I was facilitating a session when the subject of strengths came up. One of the participants was a business owner and I shared the definition of a Maximizer as a way to get into the topic.

His eyes opened wide when he realized how his business could benefit from this strength theme. When I mentioned that some of his current employees may have that strength theme, he quickly asked how he could find out.

We can all identify with the enthusiasm this man found in the recognition that this potent strength was lying dormant in his team, ready to be leveraged.  Even more exciting, Maximizer is just one of 34 strength themes our teams can benefit from incorporating strengths into the team culture.

The Three Stages to Success

So, how do you this?  How does a supervisor incorporate the strengths of all staff members into the team’s culture?

In my experience,incorporating strengths includes three stages:

Stage 1

Identifying the supervisor’s and the team members’ top 5

Stage 2

Documenting and sharing the top 5 of all team members

Stage 3

Strategically applying strengths through staff performance

Stage 1 – Walking the Walk

The first thing for supervisors to do is to identify their own top 5 strength themes.  Once this is done, the supervisor should identify the strengths of all staff members.

I recommend that supervisors identify their own top 5 themes first because the supervisors have to walk the walk before they can talk the talk. Knowing their own top 5 will help them learn about themselves and how to use their own strengths to start leading others through the process.

Now Discover Your Strengths” by Marcus Buckingham and “Strengthfinder 2.0” by Tom Rath are excellent resources for identifying and defining strength themes.  

Both books provide a good overview of the strengths model and provide codes to online surveys that will give participants their top 5 strengths themes.

Stage 2 – Post the Information

Once all team members’ strengths are identified, the supervisor should capture this information and share it with all team members in an easily accessible format.  The process of incorporating strengths into a team’s culture is a learning process.  Having quick access to the strengths of all team members is critical.

Through the years, my teams have developed websites that contains this information. I call these websites “Strengths Dashboards.”

Strengths Dashboards are  powerful resources for developing strategies and executing tactics based on the team members’ strengths.

Stage 3 – Strengths-Based Performance Reviews

I find that the best way to strategically use the strengths of all team members is to include strengths in the performance review process of every employee.  Adequate performance review documents should include the goals for each employee and the projects or initiatives the employees will be responsible for executing.

The supervisor can work with each staff member to discuss ways in which their strengths can be used specifically to assist the employee achieve the goals outlined in the employee’s performance review documentation.

Leveraging Your Strengths

For example, here are a couple of goals that I could use to leverage my strength themes for common managerial objectives:

- Leverage Al’s strategic strength to finalize and implement the unit’s strategic plan with a cross-functional team from the division.

- Proactively use Al’s empathy and relator strengths to develop an understanding of what the team members are experiencing as we merge two teams together.

Through years of working with my strength themes and those of my staff members, I have learned that while identifying strength themes is an important and critical step, supervisors also need to understand the overall positive and negative personality tendencies of all team members.

The subjects of personality types and team balance are the focus on my next article, “6 Steps to Sustainable Leadership: Team Balance.”

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Al Gonzalez is Founding Partner at GIVE Leadership
He helps clients develop trust and leverage the strengths of all team members
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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.

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——————–
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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Awe (a mindful leadership blog)

Awe

What a great time to start something new—at this time of year. This is the season we look to the past with fondness, the present with awe, and the future with great expectations.  

It’s a rare time for many; a time when we actually stop to reflect, renew, restore, and re-create.

Seeing the World Anew

There’s a potent leadership lesson to be captured now and to be held throughout the year.

It’s the capacity to see the world anew.  And this is something much easier said than done.

Too often we are nothing more than our finely honed set of fixed action patterns—our automatic ways of engaging with our world.

  • When applied to the mundane, those patterns are a godsend that keep our brains from frying.
  • When applied to our relationships, challenges, and work, they can blind us to the obvious, trick us into words and actions that we later regret, hurt those that we care about, and spoil the fruits of our labors.

Mindful Leader

Mindful LeaderMindful leaders have a rare capacity that enables them to see the world anew.  They recognize the dangers of operating on autopilot, being unconsciously driven by emotions, fears, hopes, concerns, and over-reliance on their worldview as the only view.

They have mastered the ability to live in the present.

The good news is that although that capacity is rare, it’s not inaccessible.

Many of us touch upon it at this time of year—when we reconnect with loved ones in ways that touch the very innermost of our being, when we look with wonder upon a child, when we stop to reflect and give thanks for all that is around us.

Time to Imagine

Imagine being touched by a work relationship in the same way…a relationship rekindled and the opportunity to do good and produce something phenomenal once again before you.

Imagine approaching the next hard-to-solve work dilemma with a sense of wonder…eager to untangle it rather than snorting in frustration, looking for a scapegoat, questioning your competence, or otherwise being driven by your own needs.

Imagine ….

The beauty, power, and awe we experience this time of year can be ours year round, if only we learn to live in the present.

Building Skills

Mindful leaders do so by utilizing a few core skills:

Naïve Listening

This is a term coined by Tom Peters.  The capacity to listen as if naïve; to put aside knowledge, bias, beliefs, concerns, hopes and other ego-driven needs and listen intently and openly to what the other is saying.

Naïve Seeing

This is to see the world anew, as it is in all its splendor—without wrapping it (or unwrapping it) with your biases, beliefs, or desire to understand and/or control it.

Pure Action

This is action with the intent of serving the other and looking for nothing in return.  Action based on doing what is right and noble.

My wish for you—for now and always—that those three skills carry you forward.

At a time when people long for the past and dream of the future, may you rejoice in a gift so perfect that it’s called the present.

So, have you taken the time this season to properly reflect on the past? Have you inventoried your results, your feelings, and your actions? Are you preparing for a new season that can take the “awe” and wonderment of a fresh start and make it last a full year? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Rosaria (Ria) Hawkins, PhDis a the president of Take Charge Consultants
She helps leaders & organizations build strategies to ensure long-term success
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Leadership Follies – Teenage Mind In the Heart of Leaders

Teenage Mind in Leaders

Have you noticed that business, politics, entertainment, and the average person have created a culture of abdication and finger-pointing? Do you find yourself or businesses and people around you practicing this adolescent behavior? 

I certainly have!

And a recent letter that a friend showed me from their soon-to-be-adult child cemented this belief for me.

Childish Behaviors

The resounding undertones were:

  • I didn’t make mistakes.
  • Every bad thing I did was a learning experience.
  • My actions weren’t bad, your interpretation of them was.

Everywhere we look, there are examples of this.

“I did this because of them!” Or “my actions were their fault.”

This unbecoming attitude is shown up with Herman Cain, John Edwards, Jeff Skilling, and Bernie Madoff.

Some valuable questions:

  • At what point do we/you/us/me take full responsibility and face the full consequences of our actions?
  • How can we actually learn if we don’t acknowledge there are mistakes?
  • When did we decide that making mistakes, failing and telling the truth were bad ideas and practices?

Unintended Consequences

“Just trying to be nice…”

Positive Psychology, Organization Development, and other bodies of knowledge have developed whole sets of vocabulary to alter the world of work.

The intentions were to shift language, when appropriate, to move from blame and ridicule to support and learning.

It seems like we have taken things too far though:

  • Words are ‘smithed’ and sculpted outside of their original or real intent
  • Messages are softened so as not to offend or create conflict
  • Rhetoric is toned-down so as not to ruffle any feathers

All of this is done in an effort to make things easier to hear. But perhaps, I think we have taken this too far.

We are perpetuating an adolescent mindset that shuns or avoids the best that the maturing process brings and we are creating insufficient sophomoric future leaders.

Truth and Consequences 

How They Shape You

There are two truths about mistakes:

  1. They happen to all of us because we are human.
  2. They shape us and how we approach life.

Here’s a story to “drive” the point home…

When I was a teenager, I took my father’s brand new Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham out for a “joyride”.  I was convinced that my parents were not going to let me drive legally, so I would “show them.” Keep in mind, I was a teenager and my brain was not fully formed.

I crashed the car into…another car. Let’s just say my father was not pleased. I not only had to pay for the damages to his car, but all the other damages I caused. I had to apologize in public.

I was angry, hurt, and most of all remorseful.

My parents did not sugar coat my mistake. Yes, I said mistake. I screwed up! They were very clear that they were upset with what I had done, not with me as their son.

I faced the full financial consequences of my actions, and I was not allowed to get my license until I had fulfilled my punishment.  That whole experience taught me a lesson about life and my responsibility.  It shaped me.

 No Acceptance of Mistake, No Win

If a person does not accept their mistakes, then the person wronged can not move on from it, or forgive them. After making a mistake, the person will not be able to look at what they did and learn from it.

This will ultimately waste time in fabricating mitigations to the mistake and circumstances around it. It causes more stress than it relieves.

Saying a mistake is a “learning experience,” without acknowledging error, abdicates your responsibility in actions taken.  

Time to Learn

The more we sugarcoat a mistake, or try to act like we “don’t make mistakes,” the less likely we are to really change, learn, and grow.

“Learning experiences can come from mistakes, but they can not replace them.”

A learning experience is what you do in class or how you overcome a bad habit.  It is the outcome.  If you interrupt people on a regular basis, that is a fault or mistake.

Your learning experience can be the time you interrupted your wife and she called you out on it.  Once you acknowledge you made a mistake to interrupt her, you are able to learn from it.

Saying you did not make a mistake does not allow you to really learn from it.  It also works to undermine the relationship.

Failing Spectacularly?

It is vital that leaders understand that failure is not only an option, but inevitable.

The magic is not when you fail, but what you do about it.

There is a simple pattern that most great leaders follow:

  1. Make a mistake. Generally speaking, this is the easy part.
  2. Quickly admit that a mistake has been made.
  3. Acknowledge the mistake and what was learned from it.
  4. Implement learning publicly or transparently.
  5. Repeat

How to Fail

Here is a great recent example of this from Amazon after they failed miserably and were blistered in the press:

Amazon

“This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle.

Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we’ve received.

We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission. 


With deep apology to our customers,

Jeff Bezos 
Founder & CEO 
Amazon.com”

 Trying Not to Fail

There are countless examples of leaders that try to do damage control, “mitigate,” and pass the blame on to anyone but themselves or their company.

Here is the path they typically follow:

  1. A mistake is made.
  2. The mistake is covered up or shrouded somehow.
  3. Mistake is made public by a government agency or the process, but blame is deflected by the organization to users, consumers, etc.
  4. A non-apology apology is made, but little action is taken.
  5. No one acknowledges mistakes or someone that really doesn’t have authority is blamed.
  6. Repeat.

Outstanding recent examples of this “failula” (failing formula):

  • Toyota blaming drivers for the brake problems in some of their cars.
  • BP and their vendors not acknowledging blame during the Gulf Oil Spill.
  • Netflix trying to launch a new brand and raise prices at the same time.

All of these showcase that it’s better all the way around to say, “I made a mistake,” “This is what I will do to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” and “Let’s fix what’s broken.”

If we want to survive as an intellectual society, we have to teach the next generation how to accept mistakes and recover from them. Not how to avoid them and push the blame.

Do you find yourself accepting your mistakes and learning from them? Or do you tend to push the blame on others? What areas in your life can you improve on learning from your mistakes, and becoming a better leader by doing do? And how can you help the “teenage” adults around you grow a little more mature this year? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Anil Saxena is a Senior Consultant and Business Partner with Coffman Organization
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | (888) 999-0940 x-730

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EntrepreLeadership Files: Building Confidence in Others

EntrepreLeadership Files

As a leader, it’s your job to become an expert in your industry.  You’re expected to absorb enough knowledge to be able to execute your duties as if they were second nature. 

However, there is a danger in becoming so flawless in your approach as you mature as a leader that you can lose touch with what it is like to be a beginner in business and in leading other people.

You can forget what is is like to wake up every day with very little experience, expertise, and gravitas as you head into your daily routine.

When experienced leaders fail to take the time to build up, feed, and nourish the budding leaders around them, then they are failing in one of their most important areas of stewardship: Developing the next generation of leaders.

And this is especially true when incubating and cultivating the delicate grounds for young entrepreneurs.

Building Confidence is Key

The best way to embolden the aspiring entrepreneurs in your midst is to build their confidence.

Having a lot of knowledge doesn’t translate to results unless your budding entrepreneurs can convince others that they are sure of themselves.

Focusing on just three aspects of confidence-building can make the difference between being a good leader and being a great one!

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Kevin Eikenberry & Marshall Goldsmith
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3 Aspects of Confidence-Building

1) Pick the Right Mentors

Great entrepreneurs should surround themselves with the right people.

A mentor can help brainstorm, help refine an idea or help strengthen a proposal.  Mentors will ask pointed questions in a non-threatening manner. Their goal is to guide and rehearse an entrepreneur, not tear apart his concepts.

Finding someone who is engaged enough to ask these questions and smart enough to recognize good answers is crucial to an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur knowing that he has a supportive team behind him will build the confidence to persistently move forward.

Remember that these experts can come from all walks of life. This is the case because business development requires a variety of skill sets and knowledge bases to be successful.  Consider accountants, lawyers, small business counselors, bankers, and other entrepreneurs when seeking out mentors.

2) Prepare to Think on Your Feet

It’s true that nobody will have faith in an entrepreneur’s ideas if she doesn’t strongly believe in them herself.

Many who are starting out struggle to strike the right tone in their pitches. They end up vacillating between being too overbearing and shrinking back too much.

The key is to help your budding entrepreneurs rehearse a sales or presentation pitch without memorizing it.

Pitches hinge on the give-and-take of asking questions and providing answers.  If a novice doesn’t have the answer, she shouldn’t bluff because the savvy people they are approaching will see right through the blustering.  Instead, she needs to perform an in-depth analysis of the idea, the market, the competition, and the customer prior to making the pitch.

Most people lose confidence in a pitcher when she doesn’t fullyand fails to adequately explain why her venture retains a competitive advantage.

Having this knowledge in advance will make it easy to provide off-the-cuff explanations to even the strangest questions.

3) Learn to Rebound From Rejection

An aspiring entrepreneur shouldn’t get involved in the field without a thorough understanding that everyone gets rejected from time to time.

However, they might not realize that persistence is the difference between success and failure for an entrepreneur.

Remind them that the rejection was focused on the proposal, not on the pitcher themself.  The rejection is one of the best learning tools they’ll ever receive.

As they discusses others’ objections, they will take away vital (and free!) information to use going forward.  These people have just clarified what aspects of the product or service aren’t desirable for them.

Like a great focus group, they’ve told the entrepreneur what they need to tweak in order to develop a more successful proposal.

Whether he appears before them again or makes the pitch to another client in the future, the pitcher should embrace this feedback as a nugget of gold.  He now knows what to do to fine-tune the venture’s competitive advantage.

Sweet Sting of Success: Failure

It’s hard to not feel stung occasionally as an entrepreneur, but a great leader will help a beginner use these situations as learning opportunities.  Being open-minded to feedback, rather than becoming jaded by it, signals the difference between a successful pitcher and a struggling one.

When someone is just starting out, remember how easy it can be to lose confidence.

Demonstrate the depth of your leadership ability by restoring her confidence and showing her how to develop belief in herself.  It will pay you – and your industry – back many times over.

——————–
Greg Bier is a Professor of Management at the University of Missouri

He leads the Entrepreneurship Alliance at Robert J. Trulaske Sr. College of Business
Email | LinkedIn | Website

Image Sources:  takeactionguru.com

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