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3 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Your Leadership Influence

I remember my first leadership position like it was yesterday. Especially, the frustration of not being able to influence those I led positively. Luckily, a mentor shared a statement that changed the way I thought about the situation and ultimately leadership development. She said, “Have you ever considered that you are part of the problem, and part of the solution?”

solution to your problem

 

After reflecting on how I was the problem it became clear my leadership style was about being in control. Not only did I do my job, I tried to do everyone else’s too. If I couldn’t I told them how to do their work. When problems occurred, I blamed them for the mistakes. Over time, I reverted to my office behind closed doors wondering what to do.

That’s right, I was an ogre that led by command and control. Moreover, those I was responsible for serving simply showed up for work and left on time. And why shouldn’t they. After all, I was treating them like a thing vs. allowing them to use their talents to make a difference.

Armed with a new mindset, I was able to focus on how to change my leadership style to build trust with my followers. Here’s three ways to avoid sabotaging your ability to lead. I call these my leadership don’ts.

1. Don’t be the Lone Ranger! Your job is to get results through others, not to do everything yourself. Trying to take on every task yourself will lead to burnout and destroy trust among subordinates. The key to achieving greater results is through delegation. Delegation has many benefits. First, you will increase your trustworthiness as a leader and have extra time for more important tasks. Additionally, delegating tasks to team members develops their ability, improves their self-esteem and leads to better ideas to problems.

2. Don’t Jump to Solutions! When you jump to solutions and react on impulse, you waste time and frustrate others, especially when the solution is wrong. The next time a problem occurs unexpectedly, stop and think instead of pointing fingers or flying off the handle. Instead of trying to solve the problems on your own, propose solutions as a whole team. First, share how you define the problem and allow others to share their thoughts. Next, gather data to determine possible causes. With the possible causes identified, allow others to share their ideas to solve the issue. In most cases, they will provide ideas you have not thought of before. Additionally, the team will embrace the change because they were involved in the problem solving process.

3. Don’t Suffer in Silence! When things go wrong (and it will happen!), don’t become withdrawn and quiet. Even if it is your nature to deal with problems on your own, the silent route will only eat you alive. Problems kept internally can cause you to lose sleep and destroy relationships with your employees. Now is the perfect time to rally the troops and share the reality of the situation, rather than trying to deal with all of the issues on your own. Whether it is a personal issue or work-related problem, other people are willing and love to help, if only they know what you are going through. By talking openly, you give them the opportunity to make a difference.

The leadership don’ts can be very easy to fall into, especially when you fail to realize it is happening to you. Therefore, the biggest realization in all of this is learning to be accountable to oneself. Unfortunately, people rarely like to admit their faults; it is a natural inherent desire to be founded and grounded to your belief system. But those leaders who are the most successful grab hold of the concept, admit their mistakes and embrace the need for change.

There will always be relationship or communication issues in the workplace. The goal is to not sabotage your leadership by allowing erosion of trust and respect. So start by ditching the leadership don’ts and accept that you DO need others. Also, remember employees WANT to help. They are not at work just to receive a steady paycheck. Instead, they want to work in an environment in which they can contribute their full creative powers to make a difference in the lives of others.

Questions: In your experience how have you been the problem and how can you become the solution?

About John

I speak, train, and write about mastering self-leadership for better thinking, better behavior and better results especially during difficult times. I am also a contributing author of the book ‘Speaking of Success’ along with Ken Blanchard, Jack Canfield and Stephen Covey and 1 0f 51 contributors to the ’17 Biblical Principles of Success’ audio CD program.

Feel free to contact by email: john@power2transform.com. You can follow me on Twitter @power2transform.

Free Downloads:

Visit www.power2transform.com to download

  • My book chapter ‘The 5 Enables of Success and
  • Biblical Principle #11: Self-Control MP3

Cam Newton Provides Valuable Leadership Lesson

Let me be clear about my intentions. I will not bash Cam Newton for his behavior on the field or during his interview after the Super Bowl. If I am honest with myself, I too have behaved poorly when my performance was not up to par.

Cam Newton

My purpose is to share with you a leadership lesson I was reminded of while reflecting on the situation.

Don’t allow emotions to hijack your ability to lead yourself appropriately.

During the game, the pressure from the Bronco’s defense impacted Cam’s performance. Several times he threw the football out of bounds to prevent a sack or overthrew his receivers. Cam shared that he hated losing and sacrificed so much for the game not to go as planned. He admitted his emotions took over which led to his behavior (Associate Press, 2016).

When you become emotionally hijacked, the blood leaves your brain, and either renders you helpless or causes you to lash out if not managed. When I first became a leader, this was true of me. I remember making mistakes and verbally criticizing myself. Those I was responsible for leading would scatter. They did not want to be around me because I was acting like a helpless child. On other occasions when under pressure I would become demanding and would not listen to the ideas of others. Again, the people I was responsible for leading would leave the work area. Why, because I was acting like a critical parent and treating them like children. In both cases, my ability to influence others to achieve results was severely reduced.

To prevent emotional hijacks, you must understand how your thinking about a given situation creates emotions that influence your behavior. Cam’s behavior was influenced because he hates to lose; my behavior was affected because I needed to be perfect or get immediate results. Therefore, you can manage your emotions by changing the way we think about a given situation.

In my case, I changed my thinking by accepting my imperfections and realizing people will fully invest their talents when they are allowed to share their ideas about how to achieve the best results.

I do believe Cam will learn to better manage his emotions and achieve his goal of leading the Caroling Panthers to a Super Bowl victory.

Question: How has your thinking created emotions that influence poor behavior?

Leadership Team Development Articles – November 14

Leadership Team Development Articles

During my research on leadership and team development this week I came across three articles you may find beneficial in your continued growth. Please let me know what your thoughts and how you plan to apply what you learned. Thank you for considering my request.

1. Here’s the leadership strategy Nike’s CEO uses to make employees smarter – by Shana Lebowitz – Fortune quoted Andy Campion, Nike’s chief financial officer: “What’s fascinating about [Parker’s] use of questions is that it leaves other leaders empowered to find the answers themselves and act on them.”

My Comment: Mark Parker, Nike’s CEO gets leadership. He understands employees do not respond to command and control bosses. Instead he asks questions that allow employees to determine the answers because they no what to do. The outcome is more productive and smarter employees.

2. How Much Has Our Perception of Great Leadership Shifted Over the Past Decade and What has Change – by Kathy Caprino – How has our society’s perception and conceptualization of outstanding, positive leadership changed over the past decade? Do we as a society think about leadership differently now, and is leadership defined by a different set of traits and standards now than it was in the past?

My Comment: Bill Howard a senior fellow at Harvard Business School shares why and how leadership has changed. A good read to understand why command and control leadership is a thing of the past.

3. 5 Leadership Blind Spots (and How to Overcome Them) – by Elizabeth Palermo – Even the most effective leaders have flaws. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t know what those flaws are or how to fix them.

My Comment: Some leaders get stuck in their own thinking and rarely take to ask for feedback. This article will challenge you to look inside and determine if a blind spot or two may exist. I recommend if you identify a blind spot that you ask your followers for feedback and help eliminating the problem.


 

John Bentley is a leadership team development coach, speaker and trainer. He is known for simplifying the art of human interaction in the workplace. To contact John call 256.612.0015 or email john@power2transform.com. To learn more about John’s program or services visit www.power2transform.comFollow John on Twitter: @power2transform.

How to Overcome Why Leaders Won’t Delegate

In an early post, I shared that delegation is a fundamental process that makes everything flow, creating a streamlined environment that produces the best outcomes for the leader, employees, the organization and customers. If this principle is true, then why don’t more leaders practice delegation? Here are the top three reasons that continue to surface during my coaching sessions with leaders.

Delegate worker employee work being passed down people subordina

 

Why Leaders Won’t Delegate

1. Some leaders choose not to delegate because they just don’t know where to begin. Uncertainty of how to transition the workload causes the leader to try and accomplish more work than possible. Next, they justify the additional workload by assuming their followers workload won’t allow for additional tasks.

2. Others choose not to delegate because they are unsure of their employee’s capability. Leaders that think their followers are inadequate or incompetent do not believe others can perform the work adequately. Therefore, high expectations cause leaders to believe only they can produce the results demanded by customers.

3. Leaders also fail to delegate because they don’t have time to train employees to do the task. Constantly busy managers are a prime example of those who fit into this stereotype. They are pulled in many directions and lack the time needed to devote to proper training. Everyone suffers from this attitude, the employees, customers, and the leader. If that leader is absent, everything falls apart because no one knows how to complete the tasks needed for the organization to be part of a streamlined process.

The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels. ~Eli Broad

The good news is leaders can learn to delegate effectively? The key is to recognize the need for delegation and commit to investing the time and effort to help others develop.

7 Steps to Effective Delegation

1. Create a plan: First determine which tasks you should not be doing. Then identify how you will implement the process so that everybody has a thorough understanding of his or her new duties?

2. Think Shared Responsibility: People want to help and know that they make a difference. By sharing responsibility for success, people realize they are not alone and strive to not let the leader down. It also gives them new direction and purpose, which can create better results and increased customer service.

3. Choose the Right Person: Get to know your people. Pay attention to their abilities and willingness. When they are ready, choose someone and delegate a task that would aligns with the persons stengths. For example, you may wish to delegate tasks requiring accuracy to someone who is very detail oriented and thorough; whereas you may distribute tasks requiring support of others to an employee who is accepting and agreeable. When you match the task to the employee’s personality, the best outcome is achieved.

4. Give Authority: Ensure you delegate enough authority to enable the follower to make the decisions required to accomplish the intended results. For example, you may only want the employee to gather facts so you can make the decision all the way up to complete the task and report the outcome.

5. Checkpoints: Creating milestones gives measures to gauge success. When employees meet or surpass your set of expectations, it could be a good time to add more responsibilities or give that person a promotion. Checkpoints give the staff a chance to prove their abilities to you, as their leader.

6. Motivating Environment: There is something to be said for employees who fully invest their talents in the workplace. Reward those who go above and beyond your expectations. Recognition is a key to creating an atmosphere of teamwork. Beyond just a simple pat on the back, create tangible rewards, such as bonuses, time off, trophies or gift cards that your employees can work to earn, and that will foster an ambitious work atmosphere.

7. Accountability: Make people accountable for certain tasks. If they fail to do them, you can reassign them to the right people who are more capable of handling the tasks you choose to delegate. Accountability also spurs people to take action, rather than to leave the work for someone else. You can do this by following up with the employee to discuss lesson learned. Ensure you identify what went well and not so well so adjustments can be made if necessary.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.            ~Ronald Reagan

For some leaders, the thought of delegating a task cause a dilemma. They don’t know where to begin, are unsure of who is competent or can’t identify who should do the task. When faced with this quandary apply the seven steps to effective delegation to get unstuck.

Questions: Which of the three reasons listed prevent you from delegating tasks you should not be performing? How will you apply the seven steps to delegate effectively and achieve better outcomes for your employees, the organization and customers?

Why Leaders Must Delegate

While barking orders from busy managers may come to mind as your perception of delegation, there is much more to be understood about why it is such an essential skill of successful leadership. From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, delegation is a fundamental process that makes everything fluid, creating a streamlined environment that works.

Business man pointing to transparent board with text: Delegate

Early on in my leadership journey I did not understand or appreciate the importance of delegation. As a result, I found myself trying to do everything and became exhausted. Fortunately, a mentor noticed my frustration. Based on her comments listed in the quote that follows I changed my view of delegation.

When leaders delegate they have more time to focus on the key tasks required of their position. The key is for leaders to delegate the tasks they should not be doing to those that are capable of accomplishing the work. ~Melissa Bellinger

During my time as a leader, I have discovered five additional benefits derived from delegating tasks to others.

  1. Multiply yourself: Ever wish you had more than two hands? Or “two of you?” Delegate by training certain people to perform duties that meet your expectations.
  2. Create a motivated team: Giving others small tasks make people feel part of a team. The team environment becomes a tight-knit unit that can perform duties to maximize time, enhance customer service and streamline workflow processes.
  3. Develop followers: Becoming known as a people developer means that you are giving employees valuable knowledge, skills and information that will empower them to be able to become self-sufficient.
  4. Master stress & time management: Those who try to take on too much often feel burned out and spend less time with their families or relaxing. If all you do is work, work, work… it may be time to seek help.
  5. Create opportunities for yourself and others: Why hoard all of your talents and knowledge? By investing your time and relinquishing skills to subordinates, you can develop them and grow the organization, as well.

Ultimately, effective delegation positively impacts the customer, employees and your organization. First, frustrations along with being exhausted is minimized because you no longer believe everything is your responsibility. Second, as your team becomes more self-reliant they strive for optimum performance by fully investing their talents to achieve organizational goals. Third, the customers experience quality products and services leading to more profits.

The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

In my next post I will share with you the seven steps for effectively delegation.

Question: What benefits have you gained from effectively delegating tasks to others?

 

3 Leadership Team Development Articles for the Week of Jan 16, 2015

Every week I read a number of leadership team development articles from several online resources. Here are my top three choices for this week. I have added my comment about each article and would like to hear what you think too.

1. How Do You Motivate Your Team After an Unexpected Setback? – by The Young Entrepreneurial Council – Motivation matters after your company stumbles, and 15 young entrepreneurs offer their advice on keeping morale up. One option: Counter bad news with more positive surprises, such as a group outing. “Not only will this lift their spirits, it will give you all a low-stress environment to regroup and respond to whatever the problem is,” says Brian Honigman.

My Comment: 15 entrepreneurs provided a different method to overcome team setbacks. I encourage you to share the article with your team and facilitate a discussion by asking the following questions:

  • Which methods have we applied that helped us overcome setbacks?
  • How should we use these methods to overcome future setbacks?

The response to these questions helps your team learn that setbacks are going to occur. More importantly, they now know there is a mechanism for learning from the setbacks to improve performance and profitability.

2. 7 Tips for Developing a Leadership Mindset – by Jane Perdue – Professor and author Michael D. Watkins offers seven topics for leaders to take into account as they assess their leadership practices. These methods require maintaining equilibrium between analytical thinking and conceptual mindsets—a fundamental necessity for leading as well as managing effectively. If your career growth and influence are stalled out, reflect on your answers to these seven questions.

My Comment: The #1 problem, new leaders face, is learning how to transition from performing the day-to-day tasks and stepping into the role of getting results through others. The article provides you with a roadmap for embracing new ways of thinking that includes influencing followers to achieve collective results.

3. 5 Ways to Make Meetings Work for You and Your Team – by David M. Dye – Good leaders make sure that every meeting is the most productive possible use of time for everyone who attends, writes David M. Dye. Start by having clarity on what is being decided and who will decide. “If people could be doing something else to advance the mission better, why on earth would you take them away from that and into a meeting?” Dye asks.

My Comment: At least once a month I am asked how do you ensure meetings are productive? I respond by asking the following: Approximately how many people attend the meeting and what is the average hourly rate for those in at the meeting? How long do the meetings normally last? You are probably thinking, why do you ask these questions? The answer, in most cases the people attending the meetings is unaware of how much money they are wasting in unproductive meetings. I also recommend posting in plain view the cost of the meeting, so everyone is more apt to focus on the key activities for a successfully meeting. With the right mindset, you can apply the five ways to make meetings work because those in attendance now understand the real cost of unproductive meetings.

 

John Bentley speaks, trains, and writes about leadership team development. He is a contributing author of the book ‘Speaking of Success’ along with Ken Blanchard, Jack Canfield and Stephen Covey. You may download John’s chapter ‘The 5 Enablers of Success’ at www.power2transform.com. To learn more or ask John a question email john@power2transform.com. Follow on Twitter: @power2transform 

3 Leadership Team Development Articles – Resilience

This week I focused on reading articles about leadership resilience. Here are the three choices for this week along with my comments.  Please let me know your thoughts too.

1. Resilience Through Mindful Leadershipby Bill George – What’s causing this dramatic shift in our consciousness about what it takes today to be an effective leader? It starts with the changes taking place in the world. We live in an era of globalization and rapid technological change that is creating volatility, uncertainty, chaos and ambiguity.

My Comment: While the article focuses on world changes, it offered me a way to become more mindful. Mindful leaders are self-aware and remain calm in the face of adversity. By doing so, they are able to concentrate their effort better and rally employees to take immediate action. Therefore, their teams outperform the competition.

2. The Paradoxical Traits of Resilient Peopleby Faisal Hoque – At the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself–yet also a belief in something larger than oneself. Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs.

My Comment: The key to my resilience is to master the stories I tell myself when problems or setbacks occur. When I tell myself the issue cannot be solved or spend time blaming others valuable resources are wasted. Also, I become a victim of the circumstance and my leadership is ineffective. Therefore, it is important to face reality, change my story and determine what action I can take to solve the problem.

3. How Resilient Leaders Manage Anxiety – by Keith McFarland – What determines a company’s bounce—its resilience in times of adversity? Last month I pointed out that a leader’s attitude going into adversity is crucial. Effective leaders “embrace the bounce”—they understand that difficult times present an opportunity for a company to focus its vision and learn about itself and its customers.

My Comment: The natural tendency of an anxious leader or team is to operate from a security and control mindset. When this occurs they seek control and become frozen by fear and doubt. The outcome is unclear thinking that leads to poor decision-making. As a leader your role is to establish a sense of normal. Talk to the employees, understand how they feel and create a learning and discovery mindset. The goal is to reduce the stress caused by the problem or setback so employees will seek solutions

Developing Leadership and Team Resilience

The intensity for leaders and teams to produce results faster along with constant changes can seem insurmountable. Fortunately, leaders and teams can successfully cope with the pressures and setbacks by developing resilience.

Developing Leadership and Team Resilience

I lead a regional human resources development team responsible for training 500 HR personnel. Recently, our training budget was eliminated due to financial constraints. Therefore, students could not travel to attend required training. As you might imagine, we panicked. Our overarching thought was, “how will this impact our jobs?”

Our situation may be different than yours. However, the emotions experienced during adversity are similar. Luckily, we recognized the importance of moving past our current mindset. Just as we did, you can apply the following four practices to develop resilience and overcome adversity.

See the opportunity in adversity. In our case, I asked the question, “What if we could provide training at no cost that simulated job requirements?” The initial response was it couldn’t be done. Instead of debating, I encouraged dialogue that reframed the problem into an opportunity for us to add value. With a new mindset, the problem became smaller while at the same time reducing everyone’s anxiety.

Adopt a get it done now attitude. Armed with a learning and discovery mindset, we brainstormed ideas, selected a solution and developed an implementation plan. With a plan in place, we made great strides in small steps to achieve the desired outcome. Furthermore, procrastination and emotions were minimized because we took action instead of simply wishing the problem did not exist.

Create collaborative relationships. Achieving the desired outcome meant enlisting the support of 15 HR Directors. First, it was important they understood how the new method would benefit them and their employees. Second, for the plan to succeed we needed the input from HR subject matter experts to develop simulated training scenarios. By involving the people impacted, we gained the necessary assistance for success.

Anticipate and manage setbacks. Since our idea was a new concept, we expected problems to occur. To manage the issues we established follow-up methods to address problems immediately, allowing the team to communicate the improvements. Furthermore, everyone continued to support and benefit from the training. As a result, managing setbacks minimizes finger pointing and blame.

Daily pressure and adversity are the norms in today’s work environment. How leaders and teams respond to problems is a choice. Choose to apply the four practices to become more resilient. The payoff is worth the effort.

Question: What other practices do you recommend for building resilience?

3 Leadership Team Development Articles – October 10th

Leadership Team Development Articles

This week I focused on reading articles that described the importance of humility to leadership and team performance. Here are the three choices for this week along with my comments.  Please let me know your thoughts too.

1. The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaders – by Jeanine Prime and Elizabeth Salib Harvard Business Review Blog – A recent Catalyst study backs this up, showing that humility is one of four critical leadership factors for creating an environment where employees from different demographic backgrounds feel included.

My Comment: The four practices outlined in the article, (1) Share your mistakes as teachable moments, (2) Engage in dialogue, not debates, (3) Embrace uncertainty and (4) Role model being a follower all provide leaders with opportunities to show they are human. Furthermore, showing your human side is a display of self-confidence and indicates you need the support of your followers to be successful.


2. John C. Maxwell: Humble Pie by John C. Maxwell Success – Once, early in my career, my friends gave me an unexpected gift, a T-shirt that read, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.” They laughed as they presented it to me, but I suspected they were trying to tell me something. Later, I approached one of the presenters and asked if I really was that way.

My Comment: I can relate to John’s comments about pride when I became a leader. PRIDE for me meant I was Personally Responsible In Doing Everything. That’s right I had all the answers and not open to input from others. As you might imagine I was miserable and took no ownership when mistake were made or something went wrong. Thanks to a great mentor, I learned to give credit to the team for the successes and owned failure when mistakes were made.


3. Study Finds Humble Bosses Are Bestby Laurie Merrill USA Today – Bosses who yell, threaten and micromanage their way to the top, often at the expense of miserable underlings are all too common in today’s workplaces. But the Tony Sopranos and Darth Vaders of popular culture are not the most effective CEOs in the real world, according to a new study from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

My Comment: Leaders that practice humility recognize how much they need others. Therefore, they create an environment where the followers fully invest their talents to achieve organizational goals. The outcome is clear – more money on the bottom line, higher employee retention and increased customer loyalty. As Mia Angelou shares, “…people will always remember how you made them feel.” Moreover, the better they feel about themselves the more success everyone experiences.


John Bentley is a leadership team development coach, speaker and trainer. He is known as the Catalyst for Courage and an Inspiration for Change. To contact John call 256.612.0015 or email john@power2transform.com. To learn more about John’s program or services visit www.power2transform.comFollow John on Twitter: @power2transform