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Are You a ‘Sheeple?’

The priest at my church yesterday told a funny story from his life prior to entering religious life. He started out his sermon by relating that he loved animals but that the dumbest of them are sheep, as they just graze and walk and not care about where they are going; sheep need someone to lead them. His story was from his life before entering the priesthood where he worked at Disney World; a long line had formed, with people waiting 45 minutes, not really knowing what they were in line for – turns out the line was for the bathroom!

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We are a nation of followers, or sheeple, just doing what others do just because. Some call it the ‘herd effect,’ ‘crowd psychology,’ or ‘conforming’ all of which means that one goes along with a crowd, irregardless of the reason. The concept of group-think also comes into play, where one may not want to go against the thoughts of the group they are in out of some fear of reprisal; the Challenger shuttle disaster was the result of  group-think.

Why is that people are so willing to go along with the crowd and not stand out on their own beliefs? It comes down to a fear of some kind – not wanting to be the ‘odd man out;’ not wanting to make someone mad; not wanting to let others see how vulnerable we are; not wanting to look weak or less than; wanting to (overly) please someone else for their love or something they will give (such as money).

There can be a myriad of reasons why someone will follow the crowd but it does not lead to their happiness – only frustration and, sometimes, steep consequences. Knowing your value and beliefs, and sticking to them – even if it goes against what others think – is scary but is truly the way to inner peace. As scary as it sounds, being a ‘disruptor’ (I love this word) will truly put you out front of the pack and can lead to a life-fulfilled.

Think of many people who went against the crowd and the advances they made, such as: Walt Disney, the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and even Mother Teresa, to name a few. These individuals had dreams and were brave enough to step away from what others were doing, even though they were laughed at, ostracized or shunned. They weren’t willing to be a ‘sheeple’ – they disrupted the status quo and to make their dreams a reality, which we now are reaping the rewards of flying on airplanes, all of the technological devices we use to make our work and life easier, and to visit the happiest place on earth.

So what will you do to not be a crowd-follower? You must follow your own path and believe in yourself in following your heart. It will be scary and can tap into some insecurities you’ve been carrying around. You can be the leader of your own path, being firm in what you know; it’s also about taking risks. You can either go along with the crowd or not; but wouldn’t you want to be a pioneer and start a movement, living in your own path versus doing what everyone else is doing?

If you’re tired of following others, and not living in your path, let’s talk – contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com.

For Leaders: The Importance of a Monthly Review

This week, for me, ends another graduate class, of which I’m now spending time finishing up grading. One of my favorite questions for the last discussion board is their take-away’s from the course. It is very uplifting and heartfelt when you see that the material covered has ‘sunk in’ and made a difference.

For leaders, doing the same type of review is important to see what their ‘lessons-learned’ have been, and to see results the team has made and how the leader has impacted these results. These reviews can be done daily, weekly or monthly (preferable) to keep on-track with goals and results earned. It also ensures that problems have been handled well and assesses the status of relationships with their workers.

So what goes into such as review? Here are questions to use and adapt in a leader’s assessment:

  • What worked well – what were the ‘wins’?
  • What can I do more of to build on?
  • What did not work well?
  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • What has gotten in the way of being effective in my role?
  • Did I access appropriate resources to get the work done, whether in people, outside resources, or tools?
  • Have I addressed any employee issues or conflicts that have occurred? Have I met with the employee in a 1:1 meeting to get to the root of the problem and coached them for a positive resolution?
  • Have I met regularly with the team? Have I encouraged and supported them?
  • Have I maintained good relationships with my upline and other partners in the organization? Have I encouraged this with my employees?
  • How has my attitude and outlook been? Have I worked on this?
  • Have I communicated effectively, ensuring that my message is heard the same by all?
  • Have I worked on my personal development and self-care? What actions did I take?
  • What are my ‘next’ goals?

These are just a few questions to assess and reflect on, all with the intent to build off current successes and move on to the new day/week/month’s goals. We can’t go forward if we don’t know where we’ve been; self-awareness and assessment is the way to start.

If you need help or would like support/accountability in completing your self-assessment and making plans to lead more effectively, let’s talk; contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Hiring in a Leader’s Image

In looking at Trait theories of leadership, it is said that there are certain innate traits that leaders  possess, such as charisma, self-motivation, having high intelligence, being responsible and having confidence. According to Stogdill (1974) identified eight traits that leaders possess:

  • intelligence
  • alertness
  • insight
  • responsibility
  • initiative
  • persistence
  • self-confidence
  • sociability (as cited in Northouse, 2010, pg. 17)

When hiring, do those in leadership positions hire in their image, meaning do they hire people who they see in themselves? Is this advantageous, or can it be detrimental, not just to the organization but to a job seeker?

I think there are both pros and cons when a leader hires in their image. IF they are a good leader and have insights into their own behaviors and ways of leading, it can be very beneficial to having team members who are confident, responsible and intelligent; who wouldn’t want an individual who possesses these qualities?

While this seems good, if all team members were like their boss, there is a dark side: limited diversity is one – too alike gives nothing but the same; another can be one-up man-ship – egos will tend to get in the way as to who is more responsible, who is smarter, etc. One other is the leader could start to feel threatened and then wield their higher power to the detriment of their reports.

From a job seekers perspective, it could take many out of contention as the hirer, or recruiter, would discount applicants who don’t seem like an image ‘fit.’ Or, it could attract individuals who match. The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong in hiring in a leader’s image – it means that there needs to be a balance. It can make for a more robust, higher performing team.

Coaching Through “I Don’t Know”

We live in current times of “I don’t know” –

  • I don’t know what I want to do with my life
  • I don’t know what I want to do with my career
  • I don’t know how to start my own business
  • I don’t know how to deal with my relationship (or any other area)
  • I don’t know how to ____________ (fill in the blank)

What keeps coaches in business is helping individuals to answer this question; leaders also need to help their workers to best answer this question when giving work tasks or when looking at their results of the work.

But do individuals really ‘not know’? Do we think we know the answer when asking this question, essentially setting someone up to be unclear? Does this question frustrate others in your circle when this statement is made (ex: I don’t know,, what do you want to do? I don’t know, I don’t know what I want to eat? et cetera).

From my experience, we do know; we’re just afraid to say it due to a fear of some kind:

  • fear of disappointing someone
  • fear of looking poorly in another person’s eye
  • fear of getting yelled at
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of failing
  • fear of looking inadequate in some way

How questions are phrased can lead to the “I don’t know” response; when someone feels caught ‘off-guard’ or is unsure how to respond, they are more likely to answer with that statement. When emotions come into play, which they do, this answer is more likely to be said. In remembering that it all comes down to perspectives and how each party sees the situation, this will determine a positive or a vague response.

One question to never ask someone is ‘why;’ it is vague and will elicit a vague response. A better question to ask is ‘what led you to do/say/not do, etc. ….. We can make the connections to our actions, or inaction’s, but why can lead to becoming defensive and striking back, or to either being silent or agreeing to something, when you really don’t want to. The end-result is never good as, over time, defenses build and silence leads to withdrawal and other emotional issues.

Here are three questions to ‘coach’ someone through the ‘I don’t know’s”

  1. What do you need right now?:  our actions are driven by our needs – the need to be recognized, the need to feel important, the need to feel accomplished, to name a few; we are often not so good with naming these, however. If we were to probe what the person needs, it can uncover the true source of what they really need/want, which can then be discussed for meeting that need
  2. If there were a solution, what would it (they) be?: helping the person to come up with possible solutions will help their brain to go into this mode, lessening the fight-or-flight area in the brain to not activate, allowing more ideas to arise. The ‘how’s’ will start to get answered, leading to feeling more positive about the situation which then leads to taking action
  3. If this situation can be amicably resolved, what choice would you make that would lead to it?: if we knew we would have a positive outcome to any situation we face, our brain would become more idea-oriented and come up with a host of ways to deal with both our work and our life. It also leads to feeling more confident that we can deal with them, which we most likely have in the past. Another win is helping the person to create a new reality and attracting more positive thinking for any area of their life

An added benefit to coaching through this question is that it creates more positive feelings between the two parties, lessening any defensive or negative encounters. Now, one will feel they can approach others and will get a win-win result. Isn’t that what we all want?

If you struggle with coaching through this question, or other patterns, let’s talk! contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

The Importance of Communication May Not Be the Same to All

There is not a day goes by that I don’t hear issues with workplace situations, or even with interpersonal relationships. We all know that communication is not the same to everyone, and much as been written and trained on this topic. But, honestly, how often do we truly pay attention to this topic?

I recently had a client whose organization is planning to undergo some changes, at least that’s what the rumor mill says. This person’s manager admits that there is ‘something’ going on but they have not been forthcoming with exactly what ‘something’ is. I admit that when I was in a leadership role, I was not at liberty to divulge a lot of information but being vague and withholding is not doing your workers, or the work environment, any good.

Communication, especially in layered organizations, will stop somewhere; typically, this is dependent on the manager and his or her determination of the importance and necessity for their workers to know. The importance for one is not as important for another. Why might this be?

There can many reasons to speculate but some I’ve identified include (taken from real situations):

  • they are not at liberty to divulge any information
  • the plans for change are not clear yet
  • they don’t want to upset their workers until the change happens (so short-sighted)
  • they don’t know how to deliver the news
  • they don’t know how/lack the confidence to lead the change\
  • they are waiting for someone else to deliver the news

Do any of these sound familiar? Dealing with change is not easy, if we perceive the change in a negative manner; there will be reactions to change, some which may be positive, but if a leader is anticipating negative responses then they will stop that flow of communicating with those who deserve to know. What a leader needs to know is that by not giving workers any information, it creates an environment that opens the door to anxiety, worry, gossip, irritability, and overall, a very negative workplace.

As a coachable moment, work on being more open and transparent, as well as observant and empathetic, with those who report to you; while you may not be at liberty to give them details until given the ‘okay,’ you can let your workers know that. Talk to your workers individually to assess how they feel about potential changes and how you will be leading them through this – walking with them. Have meetings as a group to bring out and, hopefully, dispel any rumors so that everyone is hearing the same thing; have teambuilding exercises to relieve any stress or negativity and to bring members together – afterall, they are going through this together.

The biggest take-away is to be in a higher awareness that we all hear things differently; when we keep this in mind, then it helps in looking at our own communication patterns and to make any changes necessary; we can become more empathetic and try to look at situations from another’s perspective which can lead to less conflict, more understanding, more bonding, and better interactions.

If you’re looking to be a better leader, or improve your communication patterns and interactions, let’s talk! Contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Making the Case for Leaders to Focus on the Strengths of their Workers

A new study out by Gallop (Rigoni & Asplund, 2016) makes the case for managers to focus on their employees strengths that will get the work done and achieve organizational goals. According to the study, 67% of workers are engaged when their managers use a strength-based approach by recognizing and honoring their strengths. Workers value being recognized for what they’ve brought into the organization and being allowed to use their skills and talents – this is what keeps them involved in the work they do, as well as the organization overall.

A strength-based approach focuses on what an employee is doing well, versus only tending to them when something goes wrong. This reminds me of how a Transformational Leader works, as well as the practice of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) (Cooperrider, 2005). When focusing on what is going well, it creates a positive feeling that makes one want to keep doing the positive actions they’ve been doing. The negatives tend to come out but not in a confrontive way; they will come naturally, becoming less threatening which can allow the worker to feel less fearful or defensive, and more open to any suggestions for improvement. Also, when positives are recognized it leads to a worker wanting to do more, ala self-empowerment and self-efficacy.

If focusing on strengths will increase not only engagement levels but also openness and positivity towards the leader and the organization, why aren’t more using these practices? I am not sure how many in leadership role, or potential role, really think about the types of leadership models they can adopt, nor am I sure if the average person actually takes to determine the type of leader they want to be. Knowing the various options available will make for a better leader and a better organization. Focusing on strengths is one to model after.

Should Leaders Listen to Current Trends and/or Follow What They Say?

As one who trends current practices, tendencies and even fads that impact the world of work, I am often amazed at not just how these trends get started but how they catch on and followed by the masses. The recent Pokeman craze is a bit beyond me – I never played it when I was younger; however, it does have its pros and cons as we can see the downsides, such as accidents and even a few deaths. But it certainly has its pros as it is helping bring people together as well as bringing in business for those who capitalize on this craze.

I often wonder, though, as I’m following workplace trends, if leaders within an organization are listening to them and doing something about them. I hear daily in my work with clients and in my graduate classes of problems that are continuing to occur within organizations and leading to a continuing unhappy workforce. Recent Gallop numbers (July, 2016) indicate that disengagement levels are back up around 70%, and are even higher for governmental workers. Is this a trend that is paid attention to in order to turn this around and create a new trend of happier workplaces?

If newer leadership studies and practices are indicating that heartfelt and transformational leadership is needed to increase more engagement, why is it that the old traditional ways of leading people are still going on, which is based on production and output? This is not to say that these are not needed or should not be the focus of an organization; but when the focus is only on them it can lead to decreased performance, dissatisfaction, and even burnout.

Effective leaders know this – they are aware of what is trending in their field as well as in their organizations. They survey and test these trends to determine their validity and applicability and get to the needs of their workers. Good leaders read, study, and look at how they can apply positive trends, while reducing those that are negative. For instance, boredom is becoming common among workers and reasons can vary from routine tasks to no skill variety; if a leader was aware that boredom can cost organizations money in term of lost productivity and work not being produced, they can look at job redesign to increase knowledge and skill use, or get workers involved in creative problem-solving activities for how they would make their work more appealing.

Good leaders are not afraid to release the reigns to their workers as newer trends show that worker engagement goes up 71% when leaders recognize strengths and give empowerment to workers (Gallop, July 2016). So, my advice to those of you in a leader position, or if you are aspiring to be, is to research and follow current trends in your industry and become more involved in your organization to determine if these are occurring and how you can either overturn them or capitalize on them. Don’t be afraid to take some risks and talk to your employees to get their opinions, or just get to know them – when workers know you care about them they will follow you anywhere, which is one of the biggest trends today.

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