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