A-Z Cheat Sheet for Boosting Team Engagement

Improving engagement is a challenge many leaders face. Imagine working at a company with 200 employees, each working 40 hours a week. Out of 8,000 hours per week, only 1,200 of those hours are coming from employees who are fully engaged. A company is only as good as the people working in it. So, how are you bringing out the best in them? 

Here’s a practical A to Z cheat-sheet for boosting team engagement.

Autonomy – Agree to clear targets and allow team members to choose the route to reach them. There are many ways to reach a destination. When you schedule check-ins ahead of time, the team is better prepared, the meetings are more productive, and you can offer support where needed. Whatever you do, avoid micromanaging.

Behavior – Lead by example. You’re the role model for your team, so be consistent in your words and actions. Also, hold people equally accountable. Showing favoritism negatively impacts employee morale.

Challenge – Provide opportunities for team members to stretch themselves. Even the top performer needs growth opportunities to avoid becoming bored in their role. Achieving something new provides tangible evidence of success.

Disengagement – You may send emails on the weekend without the expectation of team members responding. But, have you ever considered that someone may feel obliged to respond? It’s ok to write your emails over the weekend. Don’t hit the send button until Monday morning. Allowing people to disengage from work gives them a sense of work-life balance.

Empathy – Put yourself in other people’s shoes so you can gain a better understanding of what makes them tick. Then align your leadership style so that it best matches their personality. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone’s view. Just be open to listening because empathy increases trust and lets people know they are valued.

Flow – This is the mental state when we are fully absorbed in what we’re doing, and when enjoyment meets productivity. Don’t let workplace interruptions and fragmentations gain the upper hand. Provide extra space for silent work and reduce the number of meetings to those that are necessary.  

Give – Thoughtful feedback helps the team learn and grow. A rule of thumb: for every negative, give two positives. Build on the positive first (what went well), then provide points for improvement (what can be done differently).

Hello! and How are you? – Don’t skimp on the chit-chat. Talk about non-work-related topics from time to time. Doing so shows you have an interest in people beyond hitting targets. Work should not feel like a boot camp. Humans are emotional beings that want to be seen and heard.

Inspire – Knowing your team members, their interests, and stressors both personally and professionally, can help you meet them where they are to remove barriers and encourage optimal performance.

Jackal language – Trust is lost when you blame, criticize, judge, and demand. Non-violent communication is the best way to overcome conflict and move forward together. Try the language of the giraffe (the language of the heart that includes observing, connecting, feeling, and requesting).

Keep it short and simple – If you are unable to explain what you mean in a simple way, then go back to the drawing board until you get it right. Being vague leads to unproductive employees and creates unnecessary frustration.

Leadership lessons – There are a plethora of books and articles available on leadership. Until you put the insights into action and achieve the desired outcomes, that you become a leader. The same goes for swimming. You don’t become a swimmer until you are in the water applying the techniques learned. If you are not achieving the results you want, consider hiring a coach to help you practice new skills or kick old habits for the benefit of your team.

Meaningful work – We now have five generations in the workplace who are motivated by something different. Meaningful work has become center stage for many – exceeding salary and year-end bonuses in many instances. As a leader, what can you do to create a company culture and workplace environment that supports meaningful work for a multi-generational workforce?

Nonverbal communication – Nonverbal cues (body language, tone of voice, and gestures) are an essential part of effective communication. Make sure your nonverbal communication matches your verbal message.

Opportunities – Both burn-out and bore-out kill employee engagement. Consider opportunities for people to get involved in areas they might otherwise not have the chance to (E.g., new assignments, cross-organizational projects, etc.).

Perfectionism – Do you try to show a positive image of yourself by disguising or concealing negative behaviors? If so, this can be disastrous. People appreciate authentic leaders even if they have a few rough edges. What’s hidden, eventually comes to light. When this happens, it not only leads to poor results but also team frustration.

Questions – Ask open-ended questions to get to the root cause of a problem. Then find a mutually agreed solution to solve it.

Respect – We tend to prefer people who are similar to us. Just because you love the opera and your team member is a fan of heavy metal, does not mean you cannot learn from one another. Appreciate people for their differences.

Storytelling – What better way to help people understand an idea than by engaging both their hearts and minds? Storytelling helps change the way teams think, which is a critical step in shifting the way they act.                                                                  

Thumbs up – A compliment goes a long way. Unfortunately, giving praise does not come naturally to all leaders. People are more engaged when they know they are respected and valued. Tip: Be specific and authentic.

Understand – One size does not fit all. Appreciate the uniqueness of each of your team members. Communicate and reward in ways they are more receptive to understanding.

Values – Team members are more engaged when their values align with the company’s values, and both are working towards a common goal.

What do you propose? – Engage people by asking for their ideas and solutions.

X-factor – How are you helping your team become better? An X-factor in leadership is humility. In its broadest sense, humility is defined as self-awareness, appreciating the strengths and contributions of others, and having an openness to new ideas and feedback.

Yes, and – Instead of adopting a Yes, but approach (E.g., Yes, but how much will it cost?), try to react with a Yes, and attitude (Yes, and how much will it cost?). People tend to focus on the word that comes after Yes. “But” can sound like an objection. Whereas, “And” leaves room for opportunity.

Zig-zag: Ensure you and your team are ready to embrace change.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Your greatest strength is your weakness.

💡 Arguing, debating, and pressuring, rarely produces desired outcomes.

💡 Who does what by when = progress.

💡 Being a leader of people requires a mindset shift.

💡 Sometimes dramatic change requires connections with new people.

💡 Every leader does not have a title. Every person with a title is not a leader.

💡 Angry people are transparent people.

💡 Business always throws us curveballs.

💡 Learn when to say no and let go.

💡 Waiting never gets the job done.

The Story I’m Telling Myself

There is a magic sentence resilient people have in common: “It’s the story I’m telling myself.” 

When something challenging happens to us, our brain, which is wired to protect us above all else, wants a story.

It understands story and narrative pattern and it says, “Give me a story so I can understand how to protect you.” And so….we make up these stories in our minds.

How can we be loved if we can’t let ourselves be seen (vulnerability).

We want it so bad, but we are so afraid to let ourselves be seen, and we’re so afraid to see people.

Vulnerability brings love, belonging, and joy.

The opposite of belonging is fitting in (acclimating). True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are.

Joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions. We are so afraid that if we feel joy, something will come along and rip it away from us, and we will get sucker punched by pain, trauma, and loss. So in the midst of great things, we dress rehearse great tragedy.

Some people use vulnerability as a warning to start dress-rehearsing for bad things. Some of us use it as a reminder to be grateful.

Gratitude is the differentiator for joy. Which one will you choose?

Adapted from Brene Brown.
Graphic: raminnazer

Behaviors

Looking over your professional life, whose names come to mind, matching these behaviors? 

1. The bully who believes fear is the best motivator, and seek to intimidate to assert control.

2. The absentee boss who stays holed up in their office, studying reports, and focusing solely on sucking up to their boss – leaving the team leaderless.

3. The divider who shows favoritism and typically doesn’t care who knows it. If a conflict arises, they may try to play one person against another, causing further disruption.

4. The micromanager who is always observing and controlling the work of the team.

5. The arrogant know-it-all who thinks they are the only ones who can handle the demands of the workplace or solve problems.

6. The poor communicator who has an over-reliance on emails or known for emotional outbursts.

7. The indecisive one who is unable or unwilling to decide on critical matters.

8. The disorganized one who tend to forget meetings or frequently show up late.

9. The complacent one who believes no news is good news.

10. The resister who refuses to change.

11. The rule bender who fails to lead by example and exhibits questionable behavior.

12. The poor performer who never recognizes the contributions of others or takes credit for their work.

Five Generation Workplace

With five generations in the workplace, management models that worked for one generation will have to be adapted to support the motivations and drivers of newer generations.

Challenging the statusquo can be scary because it often requires courage and a willingness to go against the grain. There’s also the possibility of receiving backlash from those who are less open to new ideas.

Rather than wondering if a challenge should be made, think about the person receiving the information and present it in a way that can be heard, understood, and valued. Here are some ideas:

1. Use the receiver’s language and tactics. If they like data, metaphors, etc., use them.

2. Think about the counter-response. Given what you know, how do you think they’ll react? Prepare for it.

3. Toughen up. Don’t let raised voices or criticism deter you. Acknowledge the person and reflect at a later time.

4. Talk to your colleagues. They can play devil’s advocate and provide alternative ideas based on their experience.

5. Play the odds. Timing is not always perfect. Think of when you can revisit the topic.

6. Accept your position. You may not be the most powerful person in the room, which is more reason to speak up.

7. Have a backup plan. Speaking up is a risk. Have a Plan B.

Adapted: jonidaniels

Habit Change

Our brains are hardwired to resist change because change can be difficult. Habits, routines, and learned behaviors make adjusting difficult at the individual level, and hard, if not impossible, at the organizational level.

Many organizations are bogged down by complacency and a lack of awareness of how to change. While change starts with individuals, the companies they work for also need to change to survive. People want to be aligned with purposeful organizations that are collaborative and inclusive, as well as socially and environmentally responsible.

Whether change takes the shape of a new system or process, or a complete overhaul of the way things function at the core level, driving lasting change is easier said than done.

Nearly half of our daily activities are habitual. We don’t think about them, yet we subconsciously do them. For example, waking up and instinctively grabbing our phone to check our email or social media. Think back across the last hour. What have you been doing? What part is habitual?

Understanding the components of habits (trigger, action, reward) helps us understand why behaviors emerge, what reinforces them, and how we can unlearn or replace them.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 If you want to find out what someone thinks, stop telling them what you think first.

💡 Values aren’t negotiable.

💡 Acknowledge good points made by the other side.

💡 Non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal communication.

💡 Tell the truth, tell it yourself, and tell it fast.

💡 Be mindful of your digital footprint.

💡 Owning your mistakes strengthens relationships and builds confidence.

💡 What have you done recently to initiate change?

💡 Bad moods produce self-defeating behaviors.

💡 Know the way, go the way, show the way.

Perspective

I was listening to a podcast by John C. Maxwell where he explained how our perspective of things could change the events of our day. He gave an example of people with road rage. 

If you’ve ever experienced road rage, it is not uncommon to see someone give the middle finger as an expression of their anger. John said he views it as people showing him that they are his number one fan.

We have a choice of how we respond to the events of our day. E.g., I stopped at a grocery store one morning to buy some coffee creamer. The creamer was on a high shelf that I had to tiptoe to reach. When I pulled the creamer off the shelf, white liquid spilled all over my clothes and purse. I guess this was someone’s idea of a practical joke, but there were no TV cameras involved.

At that precise moment, I had to determine if I was going to rant and rave to anyone within earshot, or calmly wipe myself off before alerting a store clerk as to what happened. As challenging as it was, I went with option two because I’ve learned that reacting in anger, only manifests something else to be angry about, which can show up in the form of road rage as I’m leaving the store.

The point of the story is that we can’t control why people do what they do, but we can control our response to it.

Nice Guys Finish Last

There is a saying that nice guys finish last. As it pertains to business, you may picture this individual as someone who is a people pleaser, can be taken advantage of, not aggressive enough, or may never reach significant levels of success. 

While there may be a grain of truth for some, there are lots of ways to be successful in business without being aggressive. Whether we care to admit, we stereotype people to some extent and tend to put people in boxes. Being nice doesn’t mean one cannot say no, be assertive, or make tough decisions. Moreover, not all nice people aspire to climb the corporate ladder.

Let’s be honest, if you had to choose between two individuals with equivalent talent and skills to work with on a project, would you choose the nice guy or the jerk?

In most organizations, success comes down to teamwork. Teamwork requires effective collaboration and cultivating relationships. A jerk’s behavior may work in the short-term, but in the long-term, they end up damaging the team and given enough time, the company.

If someone tells you to have a nice day, does an image of a jerk pop up in your mind? Probably, not. Niceness is a quality that shouldn’t be overlooked or undervalued.

Procrastination

We often hear the phrase work harder, but what’s wrong with working smarter and faster? There’s a perception that the longer something takes to complete, the better it will inherently be. 

Think about the last hour-long meeting you were in that could have taken 30 minutes. Losing 30 minutes of your time with filler conversation didn’t make it better, and you probably didn’t walk away feeling much smarter. Imagine how painstaking an additional 30 minutes is on a virtual call.

Parkinson’s Law is the adage that work expands to fill the time allotted. In other words, the amount of work required increases to the time available for its completion. And, what does that often invite? Procrastination.

Naturally, we don’t want to look like were lazy so, if we have a 2-week project deadline, we may fill that time with other trivial tasks. Even if we didn’t fill the extra time with more work, we could stress over getting it done. Further, beating deadlines isn’t always appreciated.

That’s like the service department telling you it will take 4 hours to repair your car at $150/hr, and the mechanic only takes 2hrs, but want to charge you for 4. The solution is to focus on how much time a task should take rather than how much time is available, without compromising performance.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 The best thinking is not popular thinking.

💡 Ask people what they know about the problem that nobody else knows.

💡 Never stop learning.

💡 If you already know how to reach your goal when you set it, is it stretching you enough?

💡 The higher up you go, the more the little things matter. Analyze the details.

💡 Don’t be afraid to innovate.

💡 Be honest and dependable. Take responsibility.

💡 Are you making the best effort to work well with those you dislike?

💡 What is it like to work for you?

💡 Leadership is an opportunity to serve.

Internal Conflict

Personality-based assessements have given us insights into the unique characteristics of ourselves and our coworkers. When applied, they can help shape organizational cultures that are effective and respectful. Yet, some conflicts seem to be inherent in human interaction. 

The mimetic theory posits that much of human interaction is imitation. In other words, we mimic each other in our desires. Human beings have an innate desire to compete with each other and gain status.

If an entry-level employee imitates the perceived habits, words, and ideas of the company CEO, they won’t run the risk of becoming a mimetic rival because of the distance between the two.

In contrast, a person with a specialized skillset can welcome and enjoy a newly-hired assistant’s imitation of their unique tasks and knowledge, but if the assistant’s duplicate skills start to rival or surpass theirs, friction and toxic work environments can develop.

When we feel like someone is too close to replacing our unique contributions, we may try to prevent them from attaining that power. This often shows up in a lack of teamwork and backstabbing.

Accepting that we are not the equals of people that we see and admire, does not diminish our value.

Source: HR Florida Review

Entrepreneurial Leadership

It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to be viewed as bad managers as they struggle with the transition from doer to leader. 

There are two patterns entrepreneurs fall into during this transition. They either become micromanagers or absent managers. Using the analogy of a server at a restaurant, the micromanager is the server who continually appears in the middle of your dinner conversation, much to your annoyance. The absent manager is the server who leaves you alone for way too long, and you have to search for him/her. Two beliefs contribute to why this happens.

1. I can do it faster/better myself. Since many entrepreneurs have hands-on experience, they can get frustrated at how long it takes new employees to get the job done to their satisfaction. While this behavior may be viable in the short term, the belief that we always know best can lead to micromanaging.

2. Get out of the way and let people do their jobs. Employees left to make decisions without any guidance can get off track, get stuck with unexpected obstacles, and often get out of sync with the rest of the organization.

The key is to find a middle ground between these two extremes. Check-in with and hold direct reports accountable, while giving them enough room to grow and make decisions on their own.

Not every entrepreneur is an effective leader. In this case, it’s important to surround yourself with people who complement you, especially as the business grows.

Multipliers and Diminishers

Talent problems are not solved by swapping in “better” talent at higher salaries. Many top performers are often sitting on a stockpile of ideas, skills, and interests. Part of being a leader is to help people identify and tap into their purpose and value. 

There are two extremes of leaders: Multipliers and Diminishers.

Multipliers believe that everyone is brilliant at something. When they step into a room, ideas flow and problems get solved. They also:

  • Create engaged workforces and unleash collective intelligence.
  • Pay little attention to org charts and see themselves as coaches and teachers.
  • Acknowledge people’s “native genius”.
  • Assume that people are smart and will figure it out, given resources and space.

    Diminishers can be tyrants, know-it-alls, or micromanagers. They believe that high levels of brainpower cannot be found everywhere and in everyone. They often:
  • Create cultural and behavioral barriers.
  • Roll out initiatives revolving around what the leader knows rather than what the group might learn.
  • Make decisions alone or with input from a small group of advisers.
  • Need to be the smartest, most capable person in the room.

Adapted: Harvard Business Review | Managing Yourself: Bringing Out the Best in Your People

Law Of Triviality

How can we stop wasting time on unimportant details? To answer this, we have to identify why we get bogged down in the trivial. 

Parkinson’s Law of Triviality, states that the amount of time spent discussing an issue in an organization is inversely correlated to its actual importance in the scheme of things. Major issues get the least discussion while simpler ones get the most.

To illustrate this, imagine a financial committee meeting to discuss 3 proposals.
1. $10M nuclear power plant
2. $350K bike shed
3. $21K annual coffee budget

What happens? The committee runs through the power plant proposal in little time because it’s too advanced for anyone to dig into the details, and most of the members don’t know much about the topic.

Next, the bike shed. The committee members feel more comfortable voicing their opinions. Several members begin an animated debate over what might enable modest savings. They discuss this longer than the power plant.

Finally, the coffee budget. Here, everyone’s an expert. They discuss the coffee budget longer than the power plant and bike shed combined. The committee runs out of time and decides to meet again to complete their analysis. Everyone walks away feeling satisfied, having contributed to the conversation.

Avoid descending into unproductive triviality by having clear goals for your meeting and getting the best people to the table to have a productive, constructive discussion.

Source: FS Blog – The Bikeshed Effect |Photo: Arjun Rajagopalan – Publish

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Lead with conviction. Respect is more important than always being liked.

💡 Getting out of your perspective is the key to seeing things.

💡 Make inspiring confidence in your team a priority.

💡 When you see team members praising each other, you know your team will be successful.

💡 How you think is everything.

💡 Is your will stronger than your skill?

💡 Lack of forgiveness always impacts you more than others.

💡 Forget the excuses and take action.

💡 Appreciate the differences, and your team will be more creative and productive.

💡 Think of happiness as a way to travel, not as a goal to be reached.

Coaching For Performance

Coaching for reliable performance is not a “salt and pepper” practice. You cannot sprinkle on a little explaining here, and appreciation there, and expect reliability. You must perform these habits consistently. 

1. Explain Expectations – Lack of clear expectations is the most common reason for performance problems. There are 4 fundamental questions employees have regarding expectations: Where are we going? What are we doing to get there? How can I contribute? What’s in it for me?

2. Ask Questions – Ask the right questions and be comfortable with silence. Silence creates accountability for a response. If you’re not comfortable with silence, you’ll fill it with another question that leaves your original question unanswered and stifles engagement.

3. Involve Team – Employees will exchange their involvement, for ownership in the outcomes.

4. Measure Results – Measure what matters most. If you rank your team by performance level, your lowest performer will be a public statement of the performance standard you are willing to tolerate.

5. Appreciate People – While we judge ourselves by our intentions, others judge us by our actions. What is important is not how much you appreciate people, but rather how much you demonstrate that appreciation.

Source: The L Group

Effective Management

Studies show that for every 0.1% improvement in effective management, productivity goes up by 10%. So, how can new managers lead their teams effectively? 

1. People Skills. Emotionally intelligent leaders practice self-awareness and excel at relationship management. This enables them to build a foundation of trust, respect, and positive attitudes among their team.

2. Listen First, Talk Later. On average, it takes new managers 4 to 6 weeks to get acclimated to their new role. Focus outward – paying attention to the team and process before coming up with ideas and changes you’d like implemented.

3. Communicate. Take the lead with introductions during the first few days, speaking to each team member individually and then everyone as a group. Find out what they do, what processes they say work well, and what they’d like to see improved.

4. Delegate. Solve the people, not the problem. Working together to come up with a way forward allows the team to become self-directed and much more engaged in their work.

5. What to Avoid. Being a manager isn’t a popularity contest. New managers tend to lower their standards to make friends with the staff. Manage results and relationships for both short-term and long-term success – keeping respect at the forefront.

Adapted: Kenosha News

Failing Organizational Change

Why Organizational Change Fails – TLNT

Many factors cause organizational change efforts to fail. Here are the top 10 reasons.

1. Asking for Behavior X while rewarding Behavior Y. Align systems and work processes with desired #behaviors.

2. Overplanning. Analysis + paralysis = inaction.

3. Going for the home run. Focus on small, quick wins to build momentum for larger, long-term victories.

4. Uninformed and disengaged team. Early and ongoing communication helps teams make more intelligent decisions and feel more ownership.

5. The devil is in the details. Don’t keep discussions at a conceptual, strategic level. Once you are clear on your plan, execution is about details.

6. Change is good. Be the leader, go first!

7. Sustained #change is driven by people. E.g., Implementing new software is more about the people who will use it, install it, train it, and support it than it is about the system itself.

8. Lack of compelling reason to change. The best plan must be accompanied by a great story to support it.

9. Energy and resources spent on the resistors of change. Support your supporters and let the others choose to follow.

10. Changing everything rather than what needs to be changed to meet new business objectives. Identify what you should start, stop, and keep, then plan changes accordingly.

Source: The L Group

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Focus on making it part of the culture.

💡 If you put forth the effort, help always appears.

💡 Is coaching an integral part of your leadership style?

💡 Schedule time on your calendar weekly to understand what’s on your plate and where your focus should be.

💡 What do your actions speak?

💡 Observe the number of “I’s” and “We’s” in team conversations.

💡 Look for people who love what they do.

💡 Think “people” first, always.

💡 Get comfortable making decisions.

💡 Focus the team on the outcome, not just the activities.

Better Message, Bolder Mindset

Getting others to accept our feedback can prove challenging, especially when it’s critical. Managers often worry that their feedback may lead to hurt feelings or diminished productivity, so they resort to face-saving techniques like the “praise sandwich” that end up doing more harm than good. 

This dynamic can change with a better message and a bolder mindset. Feeback should involve asking hero questions, diagnosing challenges, and shaping a path towards commitment. The following are some examples.

Hero Questions:
~ What have you learned about yourself from working on this project?
~ What strengths have you found most useful on this project?
~ Who have you recently helped, and what difference did it make in their work and yours?

Diagnose Challenges:
~ What outcome are you trying to achieve?
~ What is happening? Why do you think it’s happening?
~ What have you tried so far? How have you handled similar challenges in the past?
~ Have you tried to resolve this challenge? What happened as a result?

Shape the Path:
~ How do you think you’ll act on this?
~ What is holding you back from achieving your goals?
~ What would happen if you tried this?
~ How can I help you recreate the conditions of your success?

Adapted: Harvard Business Review

Psychopath’s At Work

When we hear the word psychopath, a serial killer or mob boss may immediately come to mind. However, many psychopaths do not commit heinous crimes or exhibit criminal behavior. Here are 4 indications of a psychopath at work. 

1. They appear to be responsible, charismatic, friendly, and a hard worker. They have an impressive resume and can talk whatever talk is needed to get the job, excel at the job, and get promoted.

2. They appear to work well within a team environment, but often take advantage of their peers. Their work is frequently at the expense of others and not a result of their efforts. Back-stabbing, gossip, and manipulation are common tactics used to undermine authority, gain dominance, and eliminate competition.

3. They want to gain power and control with the least amount of effort. They present their better side to superiors to gain trust and confidence. They have a magnetic personality, and they can quickly transform themselves to fit into any environment.

4. They present a darker side to their peers. They are often caught stealing new ideas, destabilizing the team atmosphere, and refusing to complete assignments. If someone complains, they’ll become defensive and lash out, sometimes causing that person to get fired.

Adapted: Psych Central

Good To Great

When you think that “good” is good enough, you never become great. The companies that thought they were good enough did not survive the COVID-19 pandemic. So, how do organizations go from good to great? 

1. Find the right people. Get the right people on board and focus them on actions that lead to greatness. Start with “who,” not “where,” since the right people will decide the strategic direction of the enterprise, and when a change in direction is needed, they will decide what that change should be.

2. A mindset of a level 5 leader. These leaders are determined to make the company succeed. They don’t seek success for their glory; rather, success is necessary so that the team and organization can thrive.

3. Face reality. Great organizations do not shy away from facing and accepting brutal truths and the realities of data, numbers, and situations. At the same time, they do not lose hope of a better future.

4. Strive for greatness. Achieving greatness is a lifelong journey built on consistent actions taken daily.

5. Recognize employees. Showing employees that they are valued is imperative. In times of disruption like we’re experiencing today, they are instrumental in helping companies reinvent themselves.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

Level 5 Leadership

What defines a Level 5 Leader? They have the unique capability to develop a company’s greatness through a combination of personal humility and professional will. 

When researcher, Jim Collins, conducted a 5-year study of 1,435 organizations to identify what makes them great, only 11 companies fit the criteria. Great, is defined as companies that generated extraordinary jumps in stock returns over 15 years, independent of their industries. This discovery was based on a hierarchy of capabilities and traits.

Level 1: The Highly Capable Individual – possesses the talent, knowledge, and skills to be effective in the workplace.

Level 2: The Contributing Team Member – is good at working with others and notably proficient at helping their team reach objectives.

Level 3: The Competent Manager – can effectively oversee people and resources, helping to achieve predetermined goals.

Level 4: The Effective Leader – can steer the company toward well-defined, compelling goals, and also keep the organization functioning at high levels of performance.

Level 5: The Executive – builds enduring greatness through a combination of personal humility and professional will.

Source: Lesley / Graph: Verozen

Food For Thought Friday


💡 Managers make it run. Leaders make it better.

💡 How inspired are your followers?

💡 Use your strengths that benefit the team.

💡 Hire for their character.

💡 Set a goal to have fewer meetings.

💡 Develop the skill to communicate, and it will provide power to all that you do.

💡 Some will, some won’t, so what!

💡 Encourage your team to tell you what they think.

💡 See the potential in the team and give them the responsibility to use it.

💡 What should you be doing that you aren’t doing now?

High Performance

An important factor in creating a high-performance workplace is instilling a high-development culture – one that values the growth of individuals. So, where do companies go wrong with employee development?

1. Hiring the wrong person from the start. Systematize how you hire (E.g., Use a validated assessment for key organizational hires such as managers/leaders).

2. Managers hoarding talent on their teams. Build-in strategies to bust talent hoarding (E.g., Establish a program that enables employees who have been in a role for a set period to apply for new assignments).

3. Assigning projects that meet business needs but don’t develop humans. Leverage managers who use project resourcing as a vehicle for development (E.g., Regular conversations with associates help ensure that assignments align with both organizational needs and individual strengths-based development).

4. Promotions that only look upward. Promote value in alternate development paths (E.g., Diagonal growth could mean doing the same tasks with a new division/client).

5. Career arcs that leave tenured associates without a clear path forward. Strategically plan options for tenured associates (E.g., Senior employees become paid consultants/mentors).

Source: Gallup

Remote Leadership

Managing Remotely

Building effective leadership skills is a challenge many managers face. Remote work only compounds the issue, as leaders must now balance their job and home life. A recent survey identifies the top five core competencies managers lack.

1. Team Building – Under enough pressure, even a high-performing team may buckle. What are your team’s natural workplace habits? In times of stress, who likes to take charge? Who prefers to listen and implement? Encouraging behavioral awareness helps everyone play to their strengths and address any weakness.

2. Providing Feedback – Feedback loops are essential to team development and should be timely and specific. Celebrate your teams’ successes while reframing missteps as constructive learning opportunities.

3. Time Management – When leaders are ineffective with their time, it creates blockers for direct reports who need input from above to proceed.

4. Delegation – Holding onto a task creates a bottleneck. Put the right work in the right hands to ensure your team works smarter, not harder.

5. Communication – Make yourself available to answer questions and address concerns. Managers who hold frequent 1-on-1 meetings are often better received.

Source: Inc. | Image: The Enterprisers Project

Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing is crucial for driving improvements in the workplace. Yet, it is often infrequent. If sharing knowledge is an easy and seemingly obvious behavior, why are our well-intentioned team members not practicing it?

When we take the time to ask individuals “the why,” we find that their mindset for adopting these behaviors is inconsistent with their worldview.

Getting “below the iceberg” to understand these beliefs requires asking the right questions to determine why they aren’t behaving a certain way, and developing solutions that address and fundamentally shift the limiting mindsets standing in their way.

Sample questions to uncover limiting mindsets:

  • What are some situations where knowledge sharing should be happening more and it isn’t?
  • What’s in it for you to share knowledge with others?

Common mindsets:

  • I’m too busy to stop and share my knowledge with others (I can’t)
  • My knowledge makes me an asset to the team (I won’t)
  • I don’t have enough expertise to share knowledge (I’m not allowed)

When it comes to changing behaviors in the workplace, the more questions you ask the more action you see.

Source: McKinsey

Human Resilience

The ability of leaders to address people’s physical, mental, and relationship needs is the foundation of trust. While all of these needs have equal importance, there is an order in which they make the biggest difference. Here are 10 things leaders can do now.

1. Gather feedback from all areas of the organization and all types of workers.

2. Relieve people from unnecessary work and activities.

3. Educate and coach leaders on five elements: stakeholder inclusion, emotion and intuition, mission and purpose, technology and innovation, and intellect and insight.

4. If you aren’t used to working in cross-functional, agile teams, now is the time to begin.

5. Elevate your most visible leaders based on compassion and caring.

6. Integrate your company’s purpose and values into every communication and initiative.

7. Tell a story. Don’t spew data. What people want is the larger story, the insights.

8. Rally leaders around consistent communication.

9. Now is the time to accelerate human and machine collaboration and support people as they transition to digital ways of working.

10. Reserve two hours per day for work focused on getting your organization and your workforce to the future.

Source: Accenture

Purposeful Leadership

Direction comes from what we do, but motivation comes from why we do it. Here are some ways to lead teams with purpose.

1. Explore to execute. Look inward. What inspires you to do what you do and how can you clearly articulate it?

2. Inspire to empower. Share your purpose with the company. Use it to motivate your team. Nothing drives people like passion.

3. Permeate to persevere. Infuse your purpose into every aspect of the business (internal messaging, policies, and practices), and align your team.

4. Unite to thrive. A team must work well with one another to be successful. If they believe in the same cause, they’ll better serve it.

5. Communicate to motivate. Go beyond describing the tasks you assign to explaining the meaning behind those tasks.

6. Trust to be trusted. Develop mutual respect through common beliefs and lead the company through respect, not fear.

7. Cultivate culture to curate success. Focus on achieving purposeful results, not the minutiae of strict procedures.

8. Reflect to grow. Every leader should continually reevaluate their words and actions to be as productive and purposeful as possible so that their team will follow.

9. Exemplify to enlighten. Lead by example.

Source: Forbes | Graphic: Thoughtful Leader

Six Leadership Mindsets

There are six key components, or mindsets, that leaders must have for organizational success. Asking questions from these viewpoints uncovers what has happened, what is happening, and what is likely to happen, arming leaders with a comprehensive assessment.

1. Inventing Mindset: What new products or services can we develop? What better methods or approaches can we find?

2. Catalyzing Mindset: What will grow and retain our customer base? How can we beat the competition and seize opportunities to grow rapidly?

3. Developing Mindset: What will deliver seamless infrastructure and operations? How will we manage risks? What systems would be effective in producing consistent high-performance levels?

4. Performing Mindset: What can we do to improve quality, productivity, and ROI? How can we increase results and improve our processes and procedures and fine-tune resource allocations?

5. Protecting Mindset: What will develop and retain our talent and support our culture, engagement, and collaboration? How will we improve competency? What is our succession plan?

6. Challenging Mindset: What needs and opportunities are emerging? Can we discover new niches to ensure our future success?

Source: Training Magazine

Whom Do You Serve?

One of the most revealing questions leaders can ask themselves is “Whom do I serve?” Their answers to that question say more about their style of leadership and field of influence than their personality traits or emotional intelligence.

1. Sociopath – Exhibit a reckless disregard for anyone besides themselves. Typically charming and highly effective at manipulating others and the organization’s systems.

2. Egoist – Driven by their own accumulation of wealth, power, and status. An organization can grow and profit under someone like this, but only if its interests align with the leader’s.

3. Chameleon – Extremely adaptable. Typically characterized by a combination of low self-esteem and a strong need to be liked. As a result, they often lack courage and struggle with tough decisions.

4. Dynamo – Tend to exceed their sales quotas, deliver large projects on time, and generate profits. They excel at mobilizing resources and the efforts of others.

5. Builder – Promote the collective good of the organization. They consider the entire pie – not just their favorite slice – and they manage for the long term rather than getting distracted by short-term profit and stock market valuations.

Source: MIT Sloan

Change

Change can be a difficult pill to swallow, especially in organizations accustomed to systematic routines and practices. However, as society advances, change is the only link to future success. Here are five insights into becoming a catalyst for change.

1. Don’t push harder – Adding more information or more good reasons to do something will not move people into action. Adding more pressure only creates more resistance.

2. Offer a choice – Give people two to three options. This makes them feel more in control of the decision and therefore, more open to change.

3. Point out the costs of the status quo – People tend to ignore small problems, but by shedding new light on these flaws and pointing out how they compound over time, you can make the inconvenience of change look more appealing than the cost of inaction.

4. Ask for less – Start by asking for a small, manageable change, and when that has been made, ask for another. Big shifts do not happen right away, but one step at a time.

5. Lower the barrier – Whether it’s a new product, service, idea, or #behavior, a new way of doing things means uncertainty. Offer a “trial run” to allow people to convince themselves of the value they’re being offered.

Source: The Catalyst – Jonah Berger

Coaching

Coaching is just as essential in the workplace as it is on the field or court. A coach’s job is to encourage, support, and motivate – to bring out the best in their players. And the only way to do that is by providing frequent, in-the-moment performance feedback.

Effective coaching has to be a well-thought-out process and adapted to the skill level of the employee.

Novices are in the “telling” stage of learning. They need a lot of instruction and constructive correction. Be mindful of micro-managing.

Doers haven’t yet mastered the job. There’s still a lot of “tell” coaching going on. Encourage new #behaviors and praise Doers for good results.

Performers carry their full share of the load and they’re doing the task the way it should be done. Much less “tell” coaching. Feedback focused on recognizing good results and points for improvement.

Masters accomplish tasks to standards efficiently and effectively. They have a deep understanding of what should be done that they can train/coach others on the task.

Experts don’t need a lot of direction – they’re highly self-sufficient. They can provide direction to others.

Source: Biz Library

Patterns of Culture

No one wants to work in a toxic culture or with dysfunctional coworkers. But ask them why it happens, and very few can name the root cause. There are four overarching patterns of workplace culture.

1. Conflict-Avoidant Culture: Need approval. Underlying fear is rejection. Excessive need to be nice and to take care of everyone, even when they don’t perform. What’s missing is courage (integrity, confidence, and boldness).

2. Autocratic-Dominant Culture: Need power. Underlying fear is vulnerability. Excessive need to be forceful under the guise of protecting the vulnerable. What’s missing is humanity (trust, likability, and empathy).

3. Elite-Bureaucratic Culture: Need status above others. Underlying fear is inferiority. Excessive need for a hierarchy to overcome feelings of inadequacy. What’s missing is resilience (openness, creativity, and inspiration).

4. Chaotic-Narcissistic Culture: Need freedom and attention that arises from rebellion to authority figures. Underlying fear is being trapped in sadness/boredom that comes from previously feeling neglected. Excessive need for the freedom to pursue lofty ideas and delusions. What’s missing is wisdom (perspective, diligence, and focus).

Source: Training Industry Magazine

Food For Thought Friday


💡 How much have you helped your team members this week?

💡 What have you learned about yourself that you are committed to improving?

💡 Thank You – two words with magical power.

💡 Selective ignoring is the key to productivity.

💡 How do you practice whatever it is that you do?

💡 Choose opportunities that you will learn the most from.

💡 You are constantly starting at zero.

💡 When you help others, you also help yourself.

💡 Have the attitude that others would want to catch.

💡 Imagine what you would do and accomplish if there was only “Today”.

Photo: workiq

Imposter Syndrome

Studies show that 85% of working adults feel inadequate or incompetent at work and 70% of people experience ‘imposter syndrome’ at some point in their career.

Imposter syndrome is the name given to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their success and accomplishments despite strong evidence to the contrary. Impostor syndrome often begins with an accomplishment, like a new job, completion of a degree or another competency or milestone.

One or more of these workplace indicators suggest that team members are prone to imposter syndrome:

1. Being a workaholic – working longer hours than everyone else, not taking time off, struggling to relax.

2. Being a perfectionist – never satisfied with anything less than perfection, struggling to delegate or micromanaging.

3. Being strong – never asking for help, being independent, not fully working with the team.

4. Being the expert – needing to know everything yet never knowing enough, constantly seeking more knowledge and facts.

Source: Training Journal

Trained or Transformed

There is a difference between trained leaders and leaders who are transformational. Here are five characteristics all transformational leaders possess:

1. They See Things Others Do Not See – While many leaders ask “Why?” they ask, “Why not?” because they’re always thinking about how they can create a better future.

2. They Say Things Others Do Not Say – Transformational leaders speak up. They leverage their influence by speaking bold words about a better future.

3. They Believe Things Others Do Not Believe – Adopting the belief that you can make a difference changes everything. When transformational leaders believe their cause can change things for the better, they bring conviction to their leadership

4. They Feel Things Others Do Not Feel – Passion is a leader’s energy. It creates momentum and tenacity for the challenges that all leaders face. Passion fires up leaders and the people they lead, and that fire carries them forward and helps them endure.

5. They Do Things Others Do Not Do – Transformational leaders know they exist for a reason, and they tap into that sense of purpose whenever fear arises.

Source: John C. Maxwell

Dare to be Different

Top Challenges for Future Leaders | by Jacob Morgan | Jacob Morgan | Medium

What makes a great leader in the 21st Century? The answer lies within these questions:

1. Where are you looking to anticipate change in your business and your life? Who are you spending your time with? What are you reading? What topics? How are you distilling this to understand potential discontinuities, and then doing something right now so that you are prepared and ready?

2. What is the diversity measure of your personal and professional stakeholder network? What is your capacity to develop relationships with people that are very different than you? Do they connect with you and trust you enough to cooperate with you in achieving a shared goal?

3. Are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has made you successful in the past? The “go along to get along” attitude doesn’t work here. Great leaders dare to be different!

What makes a great leader today are the men and women who are preparing themselves not for the comfortable predictabilities of yesterday, but also for the realities of today, and all of the unknown possibilities of tomorrow.

Source: Roselinde Torres Ted.com

Managing or Leading

The distinction between leader and manager has been the subject of much debate and research. In an era of rapid change, new ways of working have emerged and are impacting every aspect of our lives. As a result, leadership and management have become complementary systems of action and necessary for success in today’s business environment. The key is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.

Food For Thought Friday

💡 Help others.

💡 Believe in something that brings you peace and joy.

💡 How do you show others you believe in them?

💡 When was the last time you challenged your beliefs?

💡 Your attitude and mindset make a significant difference.

💡 When was the last time you checked your ego?

💡 The success of any company depends on the people it employs and develops.

💡 Appreciation has significant value.

💡 What do you love about your life?

💡 Why not (what’s holding you back from making a decision)?

Mentorship

Diversity is instrumental to a company’s growth. Studies show minority representation in leadership drives innovation, greater returns to shareholders, higher profitability, and an uptick in financial performance.

Gartner asserts 75% of companies with frontline decision-making teams that embrace diversity and inclusivity surpass their targeted business goals. Another study found a formal mentoring program boosts minority and female representation in management by 9 – 24%.

In developing or evaluating a mentorship program, consider these questions:

1. Does our program advisory board or planning committee include diverse representatives?

2. Is our program information accessible and widely available to all employees?

3. Are employees invited to self-nominate or apply for mentoring opportunities?

4. In training, do we provide opportunities for participants to discuss cultural differences and how they may impact mentoring relationships?

Reference: HR Technologist

Leading Through Tension

Leading through tension isn’t fun. It requires us to challenge our team’s way of thinking, their attitudes, and their emotional responses. There is a relational shift from pleasing people to challenging people, and we have to manage people through this process.

One way is by using the 25-50-25 Principle of Change. Whenever we cast vision and challenge people to become part of achieving an endeavor, they tend to fall into one of three groups. Typically, 25% of the people will be all in, 50% will be undecided, and 25% will resist change. Our job as a leader is to help the middle 50 percent join the first 25 percent.

Here are some tips for doing that:

1. Understand that the resistant bottom 25 percent is not going to change no matter what we do.

2. Don’t waste effort trying to make the resistant 25 percent happy.

3. Don’t give the bottom 25 percent a platform or credibility.

4. Create opportunities for the middle 50 percent to spend time with the top 25 percent.

5. Ask the 25 percent who are all in, to help positively influence the 50 percent who are undecided.

6. Give the supportive 25 percent credibility and a platform to speak.

Reference: John C. Maxwell, Leadershift

Ongoing Learning

If you’re not learning, you’re standing still. But how do we get feedback on what we’re learning? And how do we go about learning new subjects and identifying gaps in our existing knowledge?

Often, we don’t realize we lack an understanding of something until it’s too late. We tend to focus on knowing the name of something versus actually knowing something.

The Feynman Technique is a 4-step process for learning that you can use to understand just about anything.

Step 1: Helps you embrace what you don’t know, it requires you to be specific, and you have to start small (a page or two).

Step 2: Makes it harder for you to trick yourself and others, as well as helps you build confidence.

Step 3: Learning becomes an iterative process, you’re actively engaged, and you expand your knowledge base.

Step 4: Simplicity provides greater understanding, and using analogies makes it easier to recall and explain.

Reference: Ambition and Balance

Pay Attention

Many of us plan our days around managing minutes and hours in an attempt to extract the most from each day. Focusing on time, however, is a flawed approach to productivity and won’t deliver the best results. To practice attention management, we need to understand our four brain states and how they impact our productivity.

Source: Fast Company

Food For Thought Friday

💡 If the world was blind, how would that influence what you buy, what you say, and what you do?

💡 Allowing people the creative freedom to reach the desired goal may surprise you with the end result.

💡 Monkey see monkey do. Garbage in, garbage out.

💡 Leadership is a product of inspiration, not manipulation.

💡 A negative mind does not produce a positive life.

💡 Positive and negative energy is contagious. Choose wisely.

💡 What will your eulogy say?

💡 Don’t be afraid to live a colorful life.

💡 There is purpose in each day. Be grateful for what the day brings.

💡 The only competition is you.

Influential or Dysfunctional

The difference between influential leaders and dysfunctional leaders is rooted in their mindset. Our mindset consists of general attitudes that shape the way we think about things and how we make sense of the world. Here are some damaging mindsets to have as a leader.

1. They need to change. I am just fine (fixed mindset).

2. I am going to ignore this feedback because they just don’t understand me (closed mindset).

3. I am not going to change because that’s just the way I am (victim mindset).

4. I want and need everyone to like me (people pleaser mindset).

5. I am going to wait for an opportunity to come to me (fear-driven mindset).

Reference: Moberly Monitor – Tony Richards

What We See, What We Say, What We Believe

Culture is made up of three layers, represented here by an iceberg:

  • Behaviors, systems, policies and processes surrounding the way things are done
  • Ideals, goals, values, and aspirations set by leadership
  • Underlying assumptions that guide behavior

A leader’s influence on an organization and its culture can be subdivided into three general #culture types:

1. Constructive – encourage the attainment of organizational goals through people development; promote teamwork and synergy; and enhance individual, group, and organizational adaptability and effectiveness.

2. Aggressive/Defensive – lead people to focus on their own needs at the expense of those of their group and organization and lead to stress, turnover, and inconsistent performance.

3. Passive/Defensive – lead people to subordinate themselves to the organization, stifle creativity and initiative, and allow the organization to stagnate.

Sources: CultureIQ, HumanSynergisticsCircumplex

Active Listening

Listening is difficult because it involves suppressing our #ego long enough to consider what is being said before we respond. When someone starts talking, our minds listen for:

1. Reasonably guess what they are going to say. (E.g., “I know what you are going to say.”)

2. Identify a pattern. (E.g., “I know where you are going with this.”)

3. Something we disagree with (E.g., That’s wrong.”)

When that happens, we stop #listening and our mind starts preparing for a response. At that moment, the conversation becomes about us. A conversation is not a race to make a point, but rather an exploration of someone’s mind. You don’t have to agree and you don’t have an obligation to understand. Just listen.

FS BrainFoodNo.356