The Who

Who Are You? Who, Who?

The Who

Who Are You? Who, Who?

You might recognize the following lyrics as the refrain from the 1978 song “Who Are You” by The Who.  This song came to mind as I thought about two books I recently read, both about authenticity.  I invite you to consider if your team members or your customers might wonder these words about you:

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)

Do your team members know who you are? Do they know what you value? Do they know what motivates you? Do they know your weaknesses as well as your strengths?

What about your customers? Have you built an honest relationship with them? Do you share vulnerability with them?  Do they know the real you and what your company really stands for?

On Fig Leaves and Fear

In his 2010 book, “Getting Naked,” Patrick Lencioni uses his storytelling skills to teach the value of building a transparent relationship with customers.  Instead of walking in the door determined to sell the customer on your product, he suggests approaching the customer relationship with a consultant’s approach; get to know your customer first, then work with them on ideas and solutions to challenges.

He also reminds us that it is OK not to have all the answers.  Learn right along with your customer.  Lencioni helps us see – and suggests how to overcome – the three barriers to this type of nakedness:

  1. Fear of losing the business
  2. Fear of being embarrassed
  3. Fear of feeling inferior

These are very strong fears, indeed.  However, if we can get past them, and really open ourselves up to our customers, the loyalty that we are given in return will be invaluable.  Customers will not have to wonder, “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?”

Getting Clear

Mike Robbins helps us see the power of authenticity in all of our relationships.  His book, “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken,” helps readers get in touch with their authentic selves – not an easy task.  However, once we are completely authentic with ourselves, we open up our relationships to new depths of honestytransparency and meaning.  Robbins proposes these five principles as the keys to living authentically:

  1. Know yourself
  2. Transform your fear
  3. Express yourself
  4. Be bold
  5. Celebrate who you are

These are not easy concepts. either.  It is challenging to live in a place of authenticity. As leaders, imagine the possibilities of relationships with our team members that is built on authenticity. What a powerful approach to the workplace!  Robbins lays out a path for cooperative relationships working toward shared goals through mutual understanding!  If we can find our authentic self and then share ourselves without fear, our team members will not wonder, “Who are you? Who, who, who, who?”

What experiences do you have sharing your authentic self with a customer or team member?  How risky did it feel?  What was the outcome?  What can we learn from your experience?


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———————–
Eleanor Biddulph
Eleanor Biddulph
 is the EVP of Client Services at Progressive Medical, Inc.
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Face To Face Leadership

5 Reasons Why Face-to-Face Leadership is Still King

Face To Face Leadership

Despite the convenience of electronic communications like phone calls, conference calls, email, texting, instant messaging, and video conferencing, face-to-face meetings have some unique benefits that are nearly impossible to achieve otherwise.  

And the very best leaders know this and make sure they have the right balance of personal communications.

As for the concern of added costs due to traveling, using tools like Hipmunk to book  flights and hotels can lower the cost of travel and help make more face-to-face meetings happen. This way you can save money while adding value to relationships.

5 Reasons Why Face-to-Face Leadership is Still King

1) Show Them How Important They Are

No matter the level of commitment to building a relationship, it is difficult to give your undivided attention in a virtual meeting. E-mails will pop-up, the phone may ring, and participants end up getting distracted.

Meeting face-to-face sends a clear message that this person is important enough for you to drop everything else and focus on them for the duration.

 2) Leave no room for misinterpretation

Nonverbal communication can often express a lot more than words. Reading and interpreting body language is a key leadership skill that is often lost in virtual communication.

Face-to-face meetings make it easier to combine what is being said with facial expressions and body posture, leaving no room for misinterpretation.

3) Build Better Relationships

One of the most effective ways to quickly build trust is to meet with someone in person; and employees will be a lot more likely to follow someone they trust. It is a lot easier to build an authentic connection, build people up and provide people with clear and concise direction – all behaviours that help cultivate trust – in person.

Building a relationship on trust and mutual respect are hallmarks of great leadership.

4) Receive Real-Time Feedback

There is no room for slouching in the corner during a face-to-face meeting—attendees will not only participate but also fully engage in discussion and provide you with invaluable feedback.

It is an easy way to assess whether your initiatives are working, When meeting in person, there is the opportunity to address any issues that may come up, before they escalate.

5) Address Sensitive Issues

As a leader, you will undoubtedly come across sensitive topics every now and then. No matter how great the work environment is, issues ranging from employee personal hygiene habits to  inappropriate dress will inevitably arise.

Prepare for these types of conversations by going over rulebooks, or any other materials, and keep the conversation professional.

If the issue is personal and has a negative impact on performance or career prospects, they should be dealt with in person, with plenty of sensitivity, and in a way that supports the employee’s dignity.

So how often to you prioritize face-to-face meetings with the people that you lead? Do you depend too much on “virtual relationships” that you are jeopardizing your leading and influence? What can you do to be more proactive in this area? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————–
Fiona Moriarty

Fiona Moriarty is the leading content strategist at Hipmunk
She creates, curates and optimizes web content for the savvy traveler
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Web

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Last Goodbye

On Leadership, Raising 9 Kids and Memories of Dad

Last Goodbye

My father Sylvester A. Schulte died this weekend after just turning 84. It was expected as his health declined over the last few years. My father had 9 kids in 15 years. I was the middle child and loved my father very much. He also had 25 grand kids and 4 great grand kids.

The picture above is the last time I will ever hold his hand.

Below is a tribute I wrote for his 80th birthday. This should give you many great examples of a very good leader.

Memories of Dad

by Tom Schulte

When I think about who I am today and how I got here, I always think back to my formative years and how the lessons and experiences I had with my parent’s help to mold my character, habits, inclinations, personality, and life skills.

When I think of how my wonderful father Sylvester Anthony Schulte impacted me, it bring such dear memories to mind that warm my heart so much. Here is a list of some of the memories that I have that helped shape who I am and what I have become. They have also been passed down a generation to my children.

A Man of Faith

From my earliest memories, dad instilled in me the importance of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Dad was continually practicing his faith through prayer, sacrifice, and dedicated service to his church. Most of my memories from my childhood have some sort of faith component to them and can be attributed to my watching my parents live out their faith in a bold and forthright way.

I have used his example and raised my 5 kids with his faith leadership in mind. I am the spiritual leader in my home and I take that responsibility as my greatest of all I do.

And I learned it from dad!

Hard Work

Growing up the middle of 9 children with a father who ran a tight ship, I certainly learned the disciplines of hard work. From daily, weekly, and seasonal chores, to the household projects that needed to be done, I learned from a very early age how to work hard as well as how to work smart.

For instance, I was changing my sister’s diapers in the 1st grade and already had two years of grass cutting experience under my belt.

A few years later, I had the role of breaking first-ground to create suitable soil for the large backyard vegetable garden in its inaugural year. The ground was as hard as concrete and all I had to use to toil in this hard Georgia clay was an old mattock.

I learned perseverance and longsuffering there. And those lessons have never failed me.

I have passed this work ethic on to all of my children. Much grass-cutting, tree-planting, lawn-edging, bush-trimming and more taught me the valuable lessons that hard work and perseverance pays off.

And I learned it from dad!

Handyman

This actually happened…

“But dad, everyone else is going to the pool now! I want to go with them! Why do I have to stay here and learn how to replace a broken window pane in the downstairs back door when all my friends get to go to the pool???”

“Because Tommy, one day you are going to be the man of the house and you will be responsible for making repairs and fixing things. It’ll be your job. So my job now is to make sure that you are well-equipped to do everything from fixing windows, to fixing leaking faucets, to changing light bulbs, etc before you grow up and leave this house. That is my job.”

So with this attitude, dad prepared me for success and showed me how to build things, repair things, make things, and take personal pride in my handiwork.

  • We built the wall in the downstairs boys room on Viking Drive
  • Did electrical work, plumbing
  • We repaired a million things with epoxy
  • I built the big tree fort (house) in the backyard in between 7th and 8th grade
  • Fixed bikes
  • Made push carts
  • Installed the interior house attic fan and exterior house attic fans
  • Ran a natural gas line to the outdoor grill
  • Built/installed our own custom epoxy-coated basketball backboard
  • And so much more…

And I have done the same with similar projects with my kids.

And I learned of from dad!

Sportsmanlike Conduct

I learned at a very young age to play sports and compete for victory. Dad taught me how to catch a baseball and football, dribble a basketball, throw horseshoes, play cards, and so much more.

Evident in all of these was the theme for sportsmanlike conduct in the way I played, won, or lost.

Although dad had never seen a soccer ball before I started playing, he supported me immensely in this new sport. He got the fever and supported my brother and sisters when they also “got bit by the soccer bug.

He also understood when I broke the family streak and didn’t join chorus or the drama club in high school and didn’t force me to join. I have taken his support for children in sports and continued that will all 5 of my kids for a decade and a half.

And I learned if from dad!

Creativity

I grew up watching my dad in his creative expressions and learned to explore my own. This has been one of the greatest joys I continue to do on a daily basis.

Watching him draw and learning from his technique, I developed a passion for pursuing my creative side and now owe my new business future a great debt of gratitude because it will be in using my creativity that I will succeed to serve others.

Dad enjoyed singing, playing piano, the banjo-ukulele, as well as acting. Watching these has inspired me to use my creativity to enjoy life and to help others. Tapping into my right-side creative brain and having fun with it has been a lifelong joy for me.

And I learned it from dad!

Parenting

Over the last many years, several people have asked me a question similar to this one: “So Tom, you come from a family of nine kids…” “Is that why you have five kids of your own?” (My answer is “No. I have five kids because I really like my wife :O)”

Being raised in a family where I am the middle child of nine, with both three girls and one brother older and younger than me, I think that I have been given a vantage point on life, family, psychology, family dynamics, and so much more that few others on the planet have ever been privileged to witness.

This has really helped me understand my role in parenting. Like most people, I had disagreements with my parents on how we were raised, but I took the best from my upbringing and added what I could. I know how hard raising five kids and getting them out of the house has been, but I cannot imagine doing that with nine.

My hat goes off to my parents! Raised by a strong father who was a teacher at heart, I learned how to pass many lessons on to my kids about parenting. With my daughter about to have my first grandchild, I will soon see if those lessons carry on.

And I learned it from dad!

Business

Before I was old enough to drive a car, I had much experience driving a forklift in an industrial manufacturing setting. I also got much experience in manufacturing process, controls, inventory, purchasing, selling, R&D, employee management, and more because my dad brought me into his work life.

I used this experience later to win over investors to help my dad and me start our own manufacturing company. We worked together for 7 years and it was a great time in my life!

We had fun together and were pals. I learned even more about how to make a business successful, how to sell and market, and how to make a profit. I am who I am today because of this training and experience.

And I learned it from my dad!

Cooking

I learned at a very young age how to cook.

One day I was in the family kitchen preparing dinner for 11 people. I had finished making the gigantic-sized salad. The salad had lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, and who know what else… that I had helped plant, water, grow, mulch, weed, and harvest from the family garden.

I had also cut up two or three whole chickens, seasoned and breaded them, and had two hot black iron skillets frying them on the front stove burners.

Simultaneously, I had green beans on the back of the stove next to the pot of potatoes I had already made. While doing all of this, I also was taking some rolls out of the oven when I had a Eureka-moment.

As my mom and dad walked into the kitchen to watch me, I turned from the oven with the sheet of rolls in my mitted hand and said to them in dismay “Wait a minute! I am 13-years old! I should be outside playing!!

Knowing that they had a well-trained slave-chef on hand and wanting to keep the indentured servitude going, they encouraged me with this ‘motivating’ line coming out of their Cheshire-cat grin: “But Tommy, one day your will be a great cook! Everyone will love it!

I thought “BuLLShiZZ!” at that moment, but now I know that they were right.

I love cooking and grilling and all the preparation has paid off for me, my family, friends, and others for years!

And I learned it from my dad (and mom)!

Beer

Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Schlitz Malt Liquor, Red White & Blue, Black Label, and other low-end brews were a staple in my dad’s basement refrigerator.

Low cost? “Yes!

Unfortunate? “Also Yes!

I did suggest that dad switch to at least Budweiser, and he did. What I learned there is to understand the economics of quantity vs. quality.

And this has taught me to enjoy smaller quantities of very high quality beers and ales.

Enjoying the finer things in life stem from seeing that PBR is not really the way to go. Now my motto is this: “I like my beer like I like my women… Cold, dark, and bitter!

And I learned it from dad!

I love you dad! Thanks for everything! Happy 80th Birthday!

~Tom

Confidential

On Leadership, Transparency and Breaching Confidentiality

Confidentiality

What happens when a seasoned manager doesn’t know the difference between being transparent and breaching confidentiality?

In a nutshell, you get this: Distrust, demotivation, and an epic failure in leadership.

I am an Information Technology Manager at a Fortune 100 firm. We recently made some significant changes in how our teams will get work done in 2015.  I was asked to objectively facilitate the many hours of work needed to get to a new organizational model.

I was thrilled at the opportunity to lead change and impact results!

Organization over Ego

When the work started on our new initiative, I was very impressed on the amount of sharing and openness our managers had toward making a major shift in software development.

Dialogue was open and people were engaged. The goal would to be less hierarchical and become more of a flat management structure.

With this new initiative, the change required moving people to co-located teams. This resulted in 30% of the employees having a new manager. And with this amount of change, you can expect that things didn’t always go smoothly.

Ego Takes Over

Unfortunately, when plans were on the drawing board and people were moved around on paper to new positions and reporting structures, the defensive walls started to build and lines of territory started to be drawn.

The professional maturity of each manager started to become clear. Some showed signs of professional maturity and dealt with things well, even if they felt inside that they had a big (and unfair) challenge ahead of them. While many others acted the opposite.

They were much less willing to work for a bigger picture and took a selfish stance.

 Organizational Nightmare

When the discussion moved to the skills and performance of the managers, senior staff sequestered for confidential discussions. The results from this was that we constructed the first hierarchy for the new organization.

And with the historic attitudes reigning, the new org-chart looked exactly like the current one.

  • We had one manager of managers
  • Several first line managers
  • And half a dozen senior individual contributors reporting to the director

What an OD nightmare!

Many members believed we could not get the change needed if we didn’t change the management structure so a flat, balanced organization model was recommended.

Maintaining the Status Quo

Believing that he was just being transparent, the manager with the majority of the organization under his control gave access of the confidential organizational structure options being considered to his first line managers.

This manager was too busy persuading people that his way was the right way that he failed to hear the recommendation was to flatten the organization; including his team.

He also shared with one of his direct reports a discussion that occurred during a closed meeting whether the manager was ready for the more complex role including the name of the staff member who raised the concern.

This was not being transparent. This was breaching confidentiality!

The Let Down

When it came down to the final staff meeting to finalize the new organization, the leader, in order to minimize thrash and too much change, kept the unbalanced organization model.

When the announcements started to roll out, managers who had seen the flat model and thought they would now be reporting directly to the leader of the organization were blindsided. The manager who was told of the confidential discussion confronted the senior staff member.

This not only destroyed the trust. but it also damaged the trust of the senior staff member with his peer. He believed he could raise a concern in a closed staff meeting and not have his confidence breached.

The Moral of the Story

Leaders are always more successful when they are transparent with the people they lead. When they provide the reason for change whether it be due to cost cutting, greater efficiency or because the industry has shifted and the organization needs to shift to remain successful.

However, breaching confidentiality to be transparent and not understanding the difference is a failure in leadership.

Sharing too much detail, including the details and hard discussions that have to happen for a decision to be made, is just poor judgement.

Leaders need to be aware of all of the conversations happening, not just focused on driving their own agenda. In this case, the miss and the failure resulted in several valuable people leaving the organization.

How important is transparency in your leadership practices and how do you groom your managers to clearly understand being transparent without breaching confidentiality?

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——————–
Cheryl Dilley

Cheryl Dilley is an Information Technology Manager at Intel Corporation
She is a transformation leader, coach, and program strategist
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f0936-yesno2252812529

Hey Leaders: Lighten Up a Little

Walt Disney

One of my favorite Walt Disney quotes is, “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.”

Now think about it a minute. You don’t need to “grow up,” in the common sense of the word, to be “professional” or a “leader,” It’s all about how you embrace yourself – your attitude – and how you present yourself. There’s nothing wrong with having some “kid” left in you. Having that bit of kid makes you more approachable – more likeable – easier to associate with.

The Right Balance

We all know the people who have changed as they’ve been promoted. They become more (too) serious and in the process lose touch with the people they supervise. They lose the kid in themselves – quite often on purpose.

When you lose that part of you it causes you to lose your:

  • flexibility
  • understanding
  • communication
  • ability to retain employee’s
  • ability to empathize.

It may also cause you to destroy your:

  • culture
  • ability to attract talent
  • current relationship’s.

What am I saying here? Act like a child? Not at all. Just keep an open mind. Continue with that ability to relate to your employees – on all levels. You did it as a peer so why lose it as a supervisor. Have some fun. Think about the best work experience you’ve ever had. I bet it had something to do with having fun.

Being An Encourager

A number of years ago I had a manager, a leader, (we’ll call him Bob) that was moving up quickly. Our team worked extremely well together and enjoyed it. We could joke around with Bob – not like a “buddy” – and we could all brainstorm to come up with any off-the-wall idea. In fact, it was encouraged. That’s a big key – no matter how goofy the idea, there may be something to it. You can’t cut ideas down. Bob always smiled, was energetic, and even poked a little fun at himself now and then. Bob’s position was putting him pretty high, but we were always on a first name basis.

But something, we don’t know what, happened in his life that drained the kid out of him. He became that serious “professional”, and it was all downhill from there. There was no more fun, no more lunches together, no more cohesiveness . . . and no more goofy ideas. People started transferring and Bob’s quick climb came to a screeching halt.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Organizations Who Have Fun

What’s one of the most common things that the most successful organizations have with each other? They have fun. People are allowed to hold on to that most precious part of their personal history.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Disney
  • Zappos
  • Flickr
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Cisco

If employees can say that they’re having fun at work, it also means that they’re not as uptight and communication will flourish because people are easier to approach.

Fun, But Serious

Now, they call it work for a reason. So I don’t mean wear a red nose, do magic tricks or a stand-up acts all day long. However, a sense of humor can go a very long way. It’s a great way to bond with people. It instantly lightens the mood and lifts morale.

The office is the office. There has to be some seriousness also. Some of us are in some very serious occupations. Just remember that no matter how serious the work is, it’s still being performed by human beings and we all need a little time to lighten the mood. As a leader, you have to be accessible and able to hear and sense when performance is needing a lift. Better yet is to not even wait that long.

Terminal Seriousness?

Do you know the general tone of your office or work environment?

Take this short quiz from Jody Urquhart to get an idea whether your staff is suffering from terminal seriousness.

Yes or No

Do you regularly catch people laughing or smiling at work?

YES or NO

When something funny happens do people stop and appreciate it?

YES or NO

Does your organization have fun activities at least monthly?

YES or NO

Do you have tools (fun giveaways, drawings) to invite employees to participate in having fun in your environment?

YES or NO

Are managers usually optimistic and smiling at work?

YES or NO

If you answer NO to two or more of these questions, your staff probably suffers from “terminal seriousness,” which is negatively affecting morale and productivity.

The Right Environment

If you need to create a turnaround in your culture, just remember, it’s not your job to MAKE work fun but rather it’s your job to create the conditions where fun and happiness can flourish.

Are your employees relaxed, or uptight? Do you see many smiles at work? Are you projecting a positive attitude? What can you do to create the opportunity for fun?

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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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