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

Hope for Mid-Career Workers

If you’re a mid-career worker, I’m telling you to not give up hope regarding your career. It has seemed that this generation is being overlooked, discarded and forgotten. But that’s only if you read ‘the news’ that’s out there.

Mid-career workers have an abundance of knowledge and experience to offer an employer that is lacking with newer ones, just by virtue of the years they’ve spent in the workforce. This is just a fact-of-life. Younger workers have years ahead of them to hone their knowledge and skills; it’s the path of evolution.

I was very heartened at a recent panel discussion I served on, where the topic of older workers being ‘viable’ came up. The consensus across the board is that mid-career workers are still valued and needed. It was also encouraging that one organization in the audience asked for the best way to recruit them – yeah!

Some advice that came from the panel:

  • the language to recruit mid-career workers needs to change and be more appealing in addressing their knowledge and skills, which is what they value most
  • go where they ‘hang out’ – meetings, alumni associations and the like to market your organization
  • hold open-house hiring events to encourage them to come to you
  • be open to allowing them to apply in person (the old way) and have a designated person who can speak to them, which can expedite long hiring processes that often discourage them
  • change the overall view that seems to only focus on hiring younger workers, which will encourage mid-careers to apply; this also will create more diversity within your organization
  • change the perception that mid-career workers are not technology-focused – highlight those skills you do have to change this perception with employers by highlighting skills you do have (if not, go take a class to learn more). This seemed to be one of the biggest detriments to hiring/keeping them.

Mid-career workers are, and will continue to be, vital to the work force. Their success is contingent on both sides – employer and worker. Changing perceptions and focus won’t be easy but is desperately needed as new generations enter the workforce. The viability and success of your organization is dependent on this.

If you’re a mid-career workers and need help entering or continuing successfully in the workforce, let’s talk. Contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Dealing With a Chronic Complainer

There is nothing worse than having to listen to someone who constantly complains, whether your spouse, a relative, or friend. But, to me, it’s worse when you encounter someone in the workplace who can’t seem to find anything good in …. anything.

Workplace complainers can be dangerous as their negativity can pervade all spaces in the walls of the organization and they will suck the emotional breath out of those they work with daily. Their greatest pleasure is to get others on their side and be as miserable as they are, even though they may not be as unhappy as they say they are (ironic, isn’t it).

These types of people see themselves good workers and nice people, but feel shocked when their negativity is pointed out. They’re good at deflecting their part, blaming it on an extraneous factor – the boss not being clear, the coworker, who was slow in getting them needed info, the process was too slow for me to access the data I needed, the dog ate my homework – oh, not that one but it seems as if they’ll place the blame on everyone or everything else.

These individuals don’t take responsibility for their part in what happened – they are victims. And you can’t argue with one as they will get angry, pout, and deflect back to you with the hope that you will now feel as bad as they do. Misery loves company, as they say.

How do you deal with a complainer/victim? Here are some tips to help you navigate these choppy waters:

  • listen – try to really ‘hear’ what the other person is saying; they will say words that can indicate where their hurt comes from.  To illustrate, say that John is negative about the boss and the work, making the comment that he wasn’t asked to help, and then going on with a litany of reasons why the workplace is terrible; if you listen to his words, he feels left-out and insignificant, hence his complaining nature
  • use empathy – try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, but don’t wear them, meaning don’t take their pain on which is when we can go down the negative slope. Empathy is a skill that can be honed and helps to soften the other person when they feel understood
  • erect your boundaries, and ensure they are firmly in the ground – boundaries set the limit for behaviors or words you will and will not accept from others, as well as how far we will go. If ‘Negative John’ starts to go on complaining, then you must stop them from going on but in an assertive manner (using “I” statements). Not allowing these conversations to go on will redirect a complainer and you will feel free
  • be inclusive – complainers often feel left out or that their voice doesn’t matter, so by including them in conversations or with work tasks to be completed, this often elevates their mood and stops complaints that go beyond normal
  • put on your shield – just like a Power Ranger puts on their suit, you have to put your shield and determine you will not allow the negativity of others to affect you. It will be hard at first but, with consistency, it will become second nature. Smiling and being positive does have the opposite affect so it can spread and squelch any complaints or negativity
  • focus on solutions – when Negative John starts with a complaint, redirect by asking him how the issue can be resolved as this will create a new way of thinking  lessening further negative views; a bonus is that this will bring up some new ideas that can make a difference in the work being done

Of course, if none of these work (and they won’t with everyone), then you must decide to not interact with them, or on an ‘as needed’ basis (after all, they are coworkers); it might mean asking to sit at another work station or, worst case scenario, speaking with the boss. It certainly is no fun to listen to someone who seems to love to complain (do they love it?) but dealing with it is within your control. Keep ‘in your own lane’ and focus on your own work – you will be happier (and can lead John to want some of the water you’re drinking).

If you’re having trouble dealing with negativity, or it has invaded your workplace, let’s talk; contact us today to create happier and more productive workers at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Be of Service To Others To Enhance Your Career

This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking to members of my local Kiwanis Club; for those not familiar, Kiwanis is focused on helping children. Their motto is: “Serving the children of the world, one child and one community at a time.” I was very impressed with their mission, as well as recognition they give, philanthropy they provide, and attendees.

There were business owners, individuals who work in organizations, and college students; I did no realize that they have a chapter for them. I could not help think of the connections that each of the attendees had with each other, not to mention the good they do. This is one of the best ways to advance your career, not to mention giving back and helping to advance others, who will be our future leaders one day.

By being of service, it feeds off of your values, ethics and integrity, all of which enhance your self-esteem and confidence. There is the opportunity to serve in a leader capacity, which further develops your skills and abilities. They have guest speakers so you can learn more about your community resources or to get some education to enhance your personal/professional development (my talk gave strategies to up one’s performance). And it provides networking opportunities with those who are in a position to help you with your career (a great place to find a mentor or get with a hiring manager).

It’s also good karma. If you want to do good, and enhance your career, I urge you to join a community organization and get involved. It is impressive to see philanthropical activities on a resume – it says alot about your brand and who you are as a person. You will be better because of this.

If you’d like help with your career or leadership development, let’s talk. Contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Time to Go Do Your Best Work – Start Off the Week ‘Right’

Here we are at another new month – time is  really flying by. Being that this is the first Monday of the new month, and new week, decide that it’s time to do your best work. You’re probably thinking, ‘I always do my best work,’ but do you? There are very few who really are at a 100% level, and on a daily basis. There are ‘those days’ where things might feel ‘off’ and you’re not as engaged in your work as you would like to be.

We all feel this way, at times; for some, this feeling is a daily occurrence. How can you change this pattern, if you’re stuck in one? How can you keep at your highest level, which can bring you more satisfaction, more recognition, and more money (eventually)? Here are three quick tips to set the tone for your day and get you motivated to perform at your best:

  1. Set the tone for your day – I recommend doing this the night before your workday and workweek; this involves a review of the prior day/week and what your wins were, what goals you reached, as well as what you did not get done. Exploring the positives and negatives can uncover actions you should continue doing, as well as those you should stop. This will lead into the next step…..
  2. Set new goals for each day of the week – write down all job tasks and deadlines you need to achieve for the week, as well as listing any meetings or appointments you must attend, phone calls you need to make, people you need to follow-up with, as well as resources you may need to get all tasks accomplished. By writing your goals, you’ll sleep better by knowing exactly what you need to do the next day – you won’t worry about them.
  3. Set your mind – don’t start your week with any negative thoughts, i.e. ‘ugh, I hate Mondays.’ This will only reinforce bad attitudes and actions. Write and say a positive affirmation about your week, such as “This week will be amazing;” “I look forward to accomplishing my goals and tasks;” “I will do my best work to ensure our customers are satisfied.”

Go out and do your best work – remember why you are working and who for. It will make a great start to the week and you’ll soon look forward to each day of the job. Have a great day/week!

If you’re struggling with setting goals or being happy on the job – let’s talk. Contact us today to love the work you do: http://www.cyscoaching.com

If You Don’t Believe in You, Who Will?

There is have a trend that I see when coaching clients, and that is the belief that they are not a good person, that they have good managerial skills, or that they can achieve the very things they say they want. They don’t have self-efficacy, which is the fundamental belief that you can.

It breaks my heart when I see someone who has wonderful traits and skills but they don’t see it themselves. Some look for external validation from others to ‘let’ them know they are a good person. While others, even if hearing good comments, dismiss them – they don’t believe them.

Why does this occur? Somewhere along the way of growing up, there was an event where a comment was made that seemed critical; we also often compare ourselves to others, seeing their achievements greater than ours. Over time, these thoughts get reinforced as we ruminate over them, which then become our beliefs – ‘it must be true.’ These beliefs lead to our future thoughts and actions, which then lead to frustration and, eventually, declining emotional health.

But the good news is, you don’t have to stay in this state. Although difficult to master, it is doable to rewire brain patters and change negative thoughts to positives:

  1. Be aware when negative, self-deprecating thoughts arise – only in self-awareness can you do something about them. When do you hold yourself back, say from speaking up or taking action on something you want; when do you negate a compliment someone gives you – these are negatives arising. A great way to be more self-aware is to mark off on a piece of paper every time you have a negative or self-critical thought (you’ll get tired soon)
  2. STOP – you need to find a way to not allow negative thoughts to continue once aware; it will take some training but silently (or loudly) saying STOP, is one way to alter them; another is to put a rubber band on your wrist and flick it when negatives arise
  3. Replace- you must replace a negative thought with a positive; it’s not enough to just stop them. Mark Waldman, a neuroscience expert, says we need three positive thoughts to override one negative; reframe the negatives to a more motivating, positive one (“I have skills and abilities that make my work more appealing)
  4. Affirm – document daily your achievements, any compliments you’ve heard, or acts of kindness someone shows you (let’s you out in traffic or holds the door open for you); these will validate your skills and strengths and ‘show’ you the totality of you

Doing these steps daily will soon have you believing in yourself, which will lead to taking more risks and bolder actions. Soon, you’ll have more confidence to do anything you say you want. To paraphrase, “walk boldly in the direction of your dreams.”

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