Is Leadership a Genetic or Learned Behavior?

Is Leadership a Genetic and Learned Behavior

The question of whether we are born with leadership skills or learned them has always troubled me. When I was nine years old, I remember taking the hands of younger 4-H members and teaching them the sewing skills I learned the year before. My father told me I was bossy. I thought I just cared about people, but as I matured, I found myself increasingly in leadership roles. Was genetic make-up to blame? Perhaps it was simply the fact that I was the youngest of five children and had to fight my way to the top.

Who are the relevant teachers in our lives that teach us leadership abilities? Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and school teachers help us understand society rules, ethical behaviors. They drive us to learn and speak-up for ourselves. Most leaders have a role model in their life who believes in us no matter what we do. At some point, if we turned out to be a leader, we committed to constructive behavior. We developed ethical values and beliefs that help us think as a leader would and behave as a leader would behave. We are aware of these thoughts and feelings, and we make a conscious decision on how to address situations that require our leadership commitment.

Successful leaders are often successful because they choose to believe they will succeed. They have a positive self-image, which manifests itself into self-confidence and is contagious to those around them. They courageously apply their abilities and strengths, and others see them as winners in the game of life. However, they can sometimes reflect arrogance and overate their performance as compared to their peers. They also have difficulty accepting feedback from their peers and supervisors because the opinions expressed are inconsistent with their image of success.

Successful people walk the talk and consistently reflect the behaviors they preach. They are self-determined and possess a sense of ownership and personal commitment to the projects or activities they accept. They require consistency that unfortunately leads them to resist change. They feel like the real “me” cannot make these changes to the business. They hold that feeling to themselves and move forward as a leader would by supporting the company plan. Successful people. Communicate success to their co-workers. They are persistent in the face of adversity and have a high internal focus of control. They often have a hard time letting go of failures and easily over-commit their time. They like to win!

Can anyone be a winner, or do they have to possess the genetic make-up to be one?. Leaders can be developed through exceptional role models, self-confidence, and a positive coaching environment. However, being an excellent leader takes courage, humility, and discipline. If you believe you can be a better leader, contact me at mary@goldenprofessionalcoaching.com to discuss a coaching engagement.

What Creates An Organizations Culture?

Leaders are facing enormous business challenges, and need to make changes in their organizations. Gain insight on how best to effectively make these changes and form a new culture.

Leaders at all levels are facing enormous challenges in achieving and sustaining planned operating results. Challenges are emerging from every business arena. Executives need to be cognizant about globalization, political opportunities, economic change, tariff negotiations, additional costs due to enforced regulations, and tightened accounting governance so that incidents such as Enron, World Com and the banking crises never occur again.  The CEO and his/her staff have one primary responsibility and that is providing shareholder value, yet this obligation has become even more difficult than in the past. CEOs are typically driving an organization’s culture and its associate’s sense of trust and well-being.

The way things are done in a company from recruitment, rewards, punishments, team building, achievement of goals and objectives, meeting management, handling conflict, dealing with competition and more are all a reflection of the organization’s culture. Yet, one wonders how does a corporation change the establishment’s culture when the business has become so challenging even for the best leaders.

Culture is the framework within which businesses operate and the binoculars through which others view an organization. If we view a business as a system of interacting and interrelated parts, then culture simply creates, defines and supports that philosophy. However, it is extremely unwise to consider that culture is only defined by what companies do today. This can lead to costly and painful problems for the company later. Cultural change efforts that focus only on the what are doomed to failure before the change ever begins. The greater question is why do organizations do things the way they do? One has to ask the question, is there a particular benefit of doing things in a certain way. Are we doing things this way because we have always done them that way and now the technology has changed to offer a better way? Culture can sometimes be described as an anxiety-reducing agent. Because of this phenomena, company cultures are extremely resistant to change.

Consider businesses that failed due to their inability to change their culture. IBM is a great example from the 1980s when the company ran into serious financial difficulties. Up to that point the company was unwilling to change the ways in which it was approaching the market even though the market was rapidly changing around it. Consider your own business. Are you willing to change even if it means breaking tradition?

To determine your readiness for change, take a few minutes and evaluate the organization’s characteristics. Consider each characteristic and how deeply rooted the current business practices are in the organization. Ask yourself, why do we do things the way we do on a particular trait. Then rate the need to change from one to ten. One should be an urgent need to change, while ten would represent no reason to change. Next, rate the ease of change from one to ten – one being the most difficult and ten being the easiest.

 

Organizational Cultural Characteristics

Characteristic Need to change Ease of change
Associate development
Leadership development
Team accomplishments
Innovation
Risk Taking
Stability
Trust in management
Attention to Detail
Meeting management
Project implementations
Managing and achieving goals
Total

Now compare the total score on the need to change to the total score on the ease of change. If the two scores are close together, your company’s ability to change should not be difficult. However, if you honestly evaluate each characteristic you will often find a behavior that needs to be addressed.  Unfortunately, what we often see is that there is a perception of cause and effect and that is enough to cause a behavior to become a cultural value. Assuming that the behavior and the result occur together often enough, the behavior will be taken for granted. Team members will no longer question the behavior because it is the culture and that is how their world works. Other cultural values will arise to support and enable the behavior and in the end, a simple behavior leads to an interlocking network of beliefs, assumptions, and values. Attempting to change any piece is extremely difficult because every other piece attempts to pull it back into place. Suffice it to say that cultures do not change easily.

Making a company cultural change takes hard work on everyone’s part but starts at the top. Initially, leadership needs to gain awareness across the company about the need for change. Doing so requires a solid communication plan and a management team that is locked arm-in-arm. The communication should be designed to create a desire in the enterprise for change. Many times this means educating the employee community about why change is needed and ideas that can help improve business but require acceptance. Once acceptance begins, workers need to be supported with training and education on policies, procedures, and systems changes. Knowledge of what is new must be tested regularly for the first year or more until change becomes the new culture.

Is your organization facing change? Contact Mary Kuniski at mkuniski@me.comor log on to http://www.goldenprofessionalcoaching.com to make an appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

Attributes That Make A Great Leader

Have you ever wondered what you could do to be a better leader? Try Marshall Goldsmith’s Global Leader of the Future 360 assessment and compare your results to this article on attributes that make a great leader!

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Attributes That Make a Great Leader

Building leadership skills take humility, courage, and discipline. When I think about the attributes of the best leader I have ever worked with, I realize he used a servant leadership philosophy to manage his team. Traditional leaders exercise power to achieve results. By comparison, the servant-leader shares power,  puts the needs of others first, and helps his/her people develop and perform as executives. Servant leaders use their power to benefit the people they lead.

The foundation of a servant leader is integrity, which inspires trust. If a leader trusts his/her team, their team will believe in them. Successful leaders show stamina and are tactical, strategic and maintain a positive attitude. These managers empower their team to make decisions, set expectations and evaluate performance. They listen to their staff and serve them. As a result, their teams follow them.

The best leader I ever worked for was not perfect, but he was consistent in his approach and allowed me to do my job. Below is a list of competencies that he possessed that I believe were the most valuable in making him successful.

  1. Leaders remain focused and control their emotions

We face a million distractions in the office each day. If we allow ourselves to lose focus on the priorities, we will become overwhelmed and fail. If we plan our goals, define how we will achieve them, and follow up on the progress regularly, we will stay focused on the targets and be successful. Controlling our emotions plays a significant role in remaining focused. When we lose our temper, we lose focus.

2. Let go of the past

So often in business, we believe we have tried something once and if what we tried failed we think we should never try it again. The industry needs change, and they are cyclical. What did not work ten years ago may easily be what is needed today. One example of this was the demise of Montgomery Ward. In 1872, the retailer opened as the first catalog retailer in the world. The company served the needs of the rural customer and quickly became the largest mail-order company in the world. They never changed their approach and ultimately closed the mail order business rather than take the leap that Amazon made to put all their merchandise online. This may be an extreme example, yet we all have examples where we have said, “we tried that once, and it did not work.” I say time to try it again using a different approach. 

  1. Take ownership

Leaders are only as effective as how much they put on their plate. That does not mean doing the work but does mean owning the results good or bad. If something goes wrong the leader steps in and helps fix the problem. If the team or team member makes a mistake, the leader is responsible and must take ownership, and then ensure the team or team member learns from his/her mistake.

  1. Stay out of your own way (Build a mature ego)

When we first begin as leaders, our egos are immature and we often try to show off our success to our superiors. In some ways doing so works because the acclaim we receive is part of what motivates us to succeed.  However, showing off can also be a problem for us as we take our eye off the ball and start worrying about winning and losing our status. Rather than worrying about the commendations you might receive for doing something special, just do the work and your reward will come later as your ego matures.

  1. Communicate and praise

I can’t say enough about how important it is to communicate to your team. Communicate your goals and strategy. Recite the company’s mission and vision at every opportunity. Meet with your staff members one-on-one on a regular weekly or bi-weekly schedule. Provide your employees with feedback and praise.  Walk the floor and say good morning or afternoon. Learn about your employees likes and dislikes and any personal info they want to share. Talk with them about what makes them happy and they will be happy employees and know that you care about them as a person as well as an employee.

  1. Support your team

The team is the whole game and everyone on the team needs to feel as important as the other guy. The moment the leader or others are out for themselves and their own win, the leader and the team loses. Make sure the work is spread around to all team members and not just to your favorite team member. The only way employees learn effectively is by doing. They can’t do if you play favorites and give the work to only one person.

  1. Simplify – Business can be simple.

We deliver something people want and charge them for the service. But how we do that can get complicated in a hurry. Here’s the catch: A complicated plan is hard to communicate with our teams, and that makes it hard for them and us to win. Look at your business processes and see what you can eliminate. Get rid of checking the checkers – people who check to see if other people did their jobs. Hold people accountable for what they should be doing and streamline the processes. You will find the improved execution of the processes and reduced cost by eliminating the labor used for complicated processes.

  1. Empower your people.

Leaders delegate. That’s a fact. However, they don’t just delegate, they train, empower and communicate in clear effective language employees responsibilities and expectations. Empowerment allows leaders to take on more tasks than one person can do. When leaders do not empower their people they will fail or get frustrated and quit.

  1. Listen to your stakeholders

We all have stakeholders. Stakeholders could be our boss, customers, direct reports, peers or anyone that we work with on a regular basis. Completing an annual 360 evaluation with your stakeholders would provide you with some outstanding feedback that you could use to improve your skills. This 360 can be as simple as sending out a note to ask for feedback or a little more professional by contacting a certified coach to prepare and send out an anonymous request for feedback. The most important step is to provide a response to your stakeholders after receiving the feedback as to steps you will take to correct any deficiencies that were pointed out to you.

  1. Admit when you are wrong

When you are wrong admit to your team that you have made an error and want to correct it. This shows you are human and provides some confidence to your team that they too can try something new and will not get chastised if they make a mistake. They will see that you have humility and courage and will value you more as their leader for admitting you made a mistake.

Final Thoughts

My favorite boss was a class act guy who was a leader with courage, humility, and discipline. He displayed all the competencies I have listed about, yet it is important to note that there were still a few actions he took where he could have had a greater sense of awareness about what his stakeholders needed. This is an important distinction because we learn to be better leaders every day by the actions we take. The next time your leader does something that you think is not right, remember that he/she too is still maturing his/her ego and method of leadership.

 To find out more about Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching for leaders on the rise, contact mkuniski@me.comor go to http://www.goldenprofessionalcoaching.com.

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 Presented by Golden Professional Coaching LLC

A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

We Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

 

Unrecognized Ineffective Habits of Successful Leaders – Part Four

Did you ever think upholding boundaries as a leader could hinder your leadership effectiveness? No, well think again. Read this blog to surface boundaries that may hurt instead of help!

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Four weeks ago, I began this series with a list of 20 ineffective (unrecognized) habits of successful leaders. This issue is the last installment of those 20 habits. This series is intended to provide, even the best leader, one or two ideas of areas in which he or she can improve his/her leadership style. To read the previous three blogs on this topic, log on to MaryKuniski.com and enter your email address to follow my blog. This week’s blog covers the problems that occur when leaders withhold the necessary information from their teams.

Upholding Boundaries

According to Z. Hereford in essential life skills, personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we establish to protect ourselves from being manipulated, used, or violated by others. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others. The presence of personal boundaries helps us express ourselves as the individuals we are, while we acknowledge the same in others. (Herefore, Z, www.essentiallifeskills.net)

In business, we see the strong need for boundaries, so employees understand his/her limit, which in turn helps them maintain focus on their tasks. Unfortunately, these boundaries sometimes get in the way of a supervisor in providing the employee with the best workplace they can have. For example, supervisors are often required to maintain certain secret information, and it is up to the manager to determine what that might be. Some leaders go so far as to stop communicating with their employees for fear they are crossing boundaries. Listed below are five common areas where supervisors should break through the barriers and recognize their employees.

Withholding Information

Leadership often assigns special projects or reports to their staff to develop the talent of the associate to move them to the next level. There is a delicate balance between giving the associate enough information to complete the task or project and not giving enough information so the employee cannot complete the project.

I once worked for a leader who refused to communicate with me. He had a picture in his mind as to what he was looking for as an output for a project he assigned to me but refused to share his thoughts with me. I spent many hours reformatting the same data over and over again and never did “get it right.”  The refusal to share information with me appeared to be intended to maintain an advantage over me. What was meant to be a learning experience became an immense frustration and all I learned was not to trust this manager when he assigned projects in the future.  What I should have asked him to do was sketch what he thought the output should look like so I had a starting point. Because I did not ask those questions, we both failed in our communication.

Failing to give proper recognition or express gratitude

Many managers cannot praise or express gratitude to their employees because they fear doing so will take away their power and break boundaries with the associate. This behavior is the most basic form of rude behavior, yet we see it all the time with leaders. According to Gallup, employee engagement has been static for the last three decades. Gallup also claims that one of the most common areas of employee dissatisfaction is the inability of their leadership to praise and reward them for a job well done. In our interactions with others, we often miss opportunities to show genuine appreciation and recognition. So often, the only time employees hear our praise is during their performance review. Recognizing the strength of others requires a conscious effort, and it does not take much time. If we commit to doing so regularly, we will find it becomes a positive habit, increases morale and creates a confident culture.

The best formula I have found for giving positive recognition is by using the acronym TAPE, written by Dale Carnegie. T stands for THINGS. Perhaps the individual is particularly proud of something they own – could be their baseball collection, jewelry or clothes. Leaders should be aware of their associate’s pride and joy activities and things and talk with them about their interests in day-to-day conversations.

A stands for ACHIEVEMENTS, which can be research, projects, or anything that takes a focused and concerted effort. These achievements are the most often the areas of praise given in the business world. Achievements should always be recognized publicly and promptly.

stands for PERSONAL TRAITS and are the favorable characteristics individuals possess that make them valuable to you and your organization. When leaders recognize their employees for these characteristics, they are providing the most potent praise of all. When giving praise to employees, one needs to be careful to include evidence of the reason for recognition. For example, if the leader walks up behind his/her employee and says you did a great job today, the employee may wonder whom he/she is talking to and what they did to deserve the praise.

Therefore, the final letter is and stands for EVIDENCE.  When offering praise or recognition to one’s employees, the conversation should go something like this: Look the employee in the eyes and state his/her name. Tell him/her what they did well and provide evidence that what you say is true. Close by thanking the employee one more time.

Example

Jane, you offered the executives an excellent presentation today on your project. I was pleased that you included facts, figures, and projections. When presenting to executives, it is vital that you always back up your theories with numbers. Thank you, Jane, for your hard work.

Punishing the messenger:

Have you ever gone to your leader, presented bad news and felt the lash of his/her tongue. This situation occurs much more often than we think. The poorly misguided manager feels like he/she needs to lash out to someone and attacks the innocent person who is usually only trying to help. The result is that the employee will most likely never present lousy news or offer a suggestion to that supervisor again.

A more appropriate response to this type of news is a simple thank you, and according to Marshall Goldsmith, is the only appropriate answer. Although I agree with Marshall that the response should be simple thank you, I believe asking additional questions, in this case, would be appropriate if asked in a respectful manner.

Not Listening

Not listening is likely the most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues. Why don’t leaders listen to their teams? The leader may be embarrassed by what he/she might hear. Alternatively, his or her ego is so immature that they think they know best. In Marshall Goldsmith’s stakeholder centered coaching program we show leaders how to listen and respond to their teams. Doing so is not easy. It takes hard work, humility, and discipline. If you are interested in experiencing Stakeholder Centered Coaching, contact me at mkuniski@me.com.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”   Brene Brown

Final Thoughts

Firm boundaries, such as prohibiting the use of inappropriate language or verbal abuse in the workplace are entirely appropriate. However, associates should be encouraged to speak in a respectful manner that is not condescending or abusive. With clearly defined boundaries regarding communication, associates use the appropriate tone and language with one another, which improves workplace interactions.

Boundaries discourage inappropriate behavior by setting rules of conduct within the workplace. Codes of conduct define what behavior is appropriate on the job and what behavior is unacceptable. It is a leader responsibility to set boundaries for all and then enforce them for all. However, leaders need to ensure their limitations do not take away from the ability of their workforce from receiving the required information and recognition to complete their jobs.

To find out more about Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching for leaders on the rise, contact mkuniski@me.comor go to http://www.goldenprofessionalcoaching.com.

 Presented by Golden Professional Coaching LLC

A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

cropped-Golden-with-plain-C-2.pngWe Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

Reference: “What Got You There Won’t Get You There.” Marshall Goldsmith, pg. 40

 

 

 

UNRECOGNIZED INEFFECTIVE HABITS OF SUCCESSFUL LEADERS – PART THREE

Having a bit ego is not necessarily a bad habit as long as the ego has matured. A leadership coach gives examples of how leaders can be more effective when working to mature his/her ego.

Empowering the Ego

Most leaders I have worked with have their egos in check, but we know they are proud of their accomplishments. Their behavior surrounding their ego is somewhat expected and helps drive their self-confidence. Conversely, when their ego gets in the way of humility, great leaders can fall very quickly. Last week we reviewed the behaviors of leaders who use anger, negativity, clinging to the past, excuses and playing favorites to rule their organization. This week we will study the effects of empowering the ego. To read last’s Part Two, click here https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/75996734

An excessive need to be “me”

Have you ever worked with someone who appears to know it all? To them, admitting they made a mistake is a significant challenge because they want to avoid “losing face”. However, in the eyes of other people, a person who can admit to mistakes and move on from them is more likely to garner respect than someone who blusters and pretends they weren’t responsible. Ultimately, continued refusal to face up to being wrong or causing a problem can take a toll on one’s reputation, relationships, work, or professional life. If a person is not already used to admitting their own mistakes this new skill can liberate them and allow them to move on to better relationships and outcomes.

Get ready to own your errors!

 Looking at many leaders, we have to ask ourselves, can his/her ego honestly think, feel, say, and act that way? They may think they can run the company by themselves and do any job in this organization that their team is doing today, but is that reality or just ego. Believing they are good enough to do it all is not necessarily a position of arrogance or superiority. Instead, assuming they can do anything can be representative of a mature ego. The ego needs to mature to build a leaders’ self-confidence. When a leader heals and develops their ego, their career begins to transform, and the way they view the world lifts to a higher octave.

A leader with a mature ego is done pretending they are not good enough, and he/she discovers something shocking. They have grown to the point that they are secure, creative, connected, confident, intuitive, and wise enough to do anything they want to do. They realize if they try and fail at something they do not lose face by admitting their mistake and moving on to the next idea. They only have developed a new habit that says I have the self-confidence to be a leader, make decisions, make mistakes and move on.

Passing the buck

“The most important mark of a leader other leaders can trust is never passing the buck.”

MICHAEL HYATT

 Blaming others for their own mistakes is the antonym of leadership and a mature ego. How often do we face employees who are afraid to admit to their errors for fear of the punishment? I once talked with a CEO who was frustrated because her team was afraid to use their critical thinking skills and make logical decisions. The employee’s lack of self-confidence put a significant burden on the CEO because her employees would ask her advice on every single decision, which wasted a tremendous amount of her time. They feared deciding on their own because her punishments were harsh.

As leaders, we need to evaluate the method in which we communicate the action we asked our employees to take and reframe the communication in our mind to determine if someone less experienced than we are would perceive the conversation in a different way. Real leaders need to take complete ownership when things go wrong. That’s what a leader does even if it means getting fired. If a leader throws someone under the bus, they lose the trust of his/her team making it impossible to lead them.

Refusing to express regret

 The inability to take responsibility for our actions and admit we are wrong eliminates our ability to recognize how our actions affect others. Leaders often fear to show regret thinking falsely that a regret is a form of weakness.

Often as leaders, we are required to take actions we don’t necessarily want to make, but it is our job to do what is expected of us. I can think of many occasions over the years when I had to lay employees off due to a change in the business. When I was young and had an immature ego, I was able to complete those lay-offs without any thought to the individual.  I realized how important it was to consider the reaction that would come from the employee and allow them to save face as my ego became more mature.

 Winning too much

 

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Can you think of any sports professionals that need to win at all costs and in all situations? They go after a win when it matters when it doesn’t matter, and when it’s entirely beside the point. Have you experienced any leaders that will take the opposite view of any discussion point and fight to win it even if they don’t care about the solution? I have difficulty thinking about my college football coach, who was a revered faculty member. I worked in the dining hall during college, and we were not allowed to enter the room when the football team was eating for fear we would overhear strategy and pass it on to the competition. At one point, the milk ran out in the dining area, and no one would go out and fix it for fear of the coach. Since I didn’t care much about football at the time, I took the initiative to go milk the cow. Such meritocracy was just uncalled for but was a regular occurrence during that time.

Now, years later we find out that the assistant coach was molesting boys in the football locker room and the coach knew all about it. Rather than go to the police with the information, the coach chose to force the retirement of the assistant coach and continued to coach his precious team to protect them from the scandal. The evidence is clear that many individuals were aware of what was going on and gave no thought to the young boys who had their lives ruined.  Where was the coaches’ ethical values and where were the rest of the coaches and players? Think about Lance Armstrong and Tonya Harding; where were their values when they decided to do whatever they had to do to win.

The challenge is not with the desire to win. We all should want to win and increase the visibility of our business due to our success. The challenge is winning while maintaining our ethical values and validating that our winners are doing so honestly. Leaders have to own the integrity of their business and win but not at any cost.

Telling the world how smart you are

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Do you remember the international game show called,  “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” This was a show where contestants were asked trivia questions and had the opportunity to call a friend or use the audience’ response to win the million dollars. The show aired for months before the first winner was announced. The first winner, who happened to be an IRS agent,  was a true expert on all facts. His answers seemed to come out of nowhere. On the final question, he used his lifeline to call his Dad and rather than ask him a question he said, “ hey Dad I am going to win a million dollars, the answer to the question is x.” Confetti flowed from the ceiling and it was an exciting moment.

We often face individuals who appear to be self-proclaimed experts and talking with them can be extremely irritating. However, let’s be clear that there are true experts in every field. As a leader, we are much better served to show off our listening skills than our expert skills. However, if you really want to be an expert on anything simply google “how to be an expert on anything” and you will come up with over a million hits telling you how to do so.

Final Thoughts

This week’s’ blog has everything to do with our ego. As leaders, it is important that we build a mature ego.  Some individuals take offense to leaders who have egos. However, it is my contention that natural leaders start with an immature ego that allows poor behaviors like winning at all costs, controlling every conversation, acting like they are an expert at everything, or refusing to express regret. If a leader will allow their ego to mature as described in this blog, they will be rewarded with faster and larger success as an executive.

Are you looking forward to Part Four? Next week will review upholding boundaries. Be sure to click follow to be notified of a new posting.

 Presented by Golden Professional Coaching LLC

A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

We Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

Reference: “What Got You There Won’t Get You There.” Marshall Goldsmith, pg. 40

Unrecognized Ineffective Habits of Successful Leaders – Part Two

Showing visible emotions have no place in business. Leaders who use emotional volatility as a management tool will only survive a short time as an executive. They use scare tactics to get the job done and use and abuse those around them.

“Last week we talked about great leaders who attempt to add too much value by taking over every meeting and every situation and promoting themselves to all who will listen. This week we will explore the deterioration of management respect when overusing emotions. To read last’s Part One, click here https://marykuniski.com/2018/06/27/unrecognized-ineffective-leadership-habits/.

“I realize there is something incredibly honest about trees in the winter, how they are experts at letting things go.” 

Jeffrey McDaniel

Overusing Emotions

Speaking when angry

Showing visible emotions have no place in business. Unfortunately, we are all human and no matter how hard we try our feelings will come out from time-to-time when we are facing stressful situations.  Our response to these unexpected emotions often separates the good from the great leaders. Alternatively, leaders who use emotional volatility as a management tool will only survive a short time as an executive. They use scare tactics to get the job done and use and abuse those around them.

I once worked for a Regional Vice President who believed in using emotional volatility as a scare tactic to engage his store managers across the region. One can only guess how he rose up the ladder to that level. For nine months he drove the staff crazy with his ridiculous demands. Store managers and their crews were working around the clock to meet his requirements. The stores did improve in appearance, but after a time the regional management team had enough of his needs and together made serious complaints to the corporate office. Not only did this leader have to apologize to his team of District and Store Managers, but he was demoted to a store manager and never had a chance again to rise to a leadership level. His career virtually ended after the complaints rolled in.

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” Ambrose Bierce

How does one control his or her emotions?

Here’s a simple formula. Think Ctrl, Alt, Del. Ctrl stands for controlling your emotions. Alt stands for altering your attitude, and Del stands for delete negative thoughts. The next time you feel ready to explode, hit ctrl, alt, del on your emotions and smile and reboot!

 Negativity

 According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics negativity costs business $3 billion a year due to its harmful effects. No matter what the cause, negativity is damaging to the workplace. Gossiping, poor attitude, communication, and even external investors can breed negativity. Unless a leader quickly and directly addresses the situation, the consequences will tangibly affect the business. For instance, negativity can lead to distrust within a team, a decrease in employee engagement, or even liability issues if it evolves into harassment. Negativity in the workplace saps energy and diverts attention from productivity and performance, and because of this, leaders need to be proactive in maintaining a positive culture.

How to convert to a positive culture?

Leaders need to model the behavior they want to see. For example, if a leader spends his/her entire management meeting verbally acosting his/her staff when business is down, business will likely get worse. The best leaders I have experienced  communicate in a positive way that they understand why they did not make the plan during the previous period, but identify all the ways the team can overcome the problems they had in the last period. All they need to be successful is a positive approach and extra elbow grease. Using this method provides an encouraging positive environment that discourages negative gossip and improves morale.

Leaders who provide rewards and recognition to their team will see an increase in morale and productivity. Negativity is harmful to the workplace and can be eliminated through positive communication and individual recognition.

Clinging to the past

I once had a district manager who loved to say, “shoot while the ducks are flying.” One day during a district visit my store manager got out a pop gun and put a plastic duck in a Ficus tree. When the DM walked into his office, the store manager came out from behind his door and shot the duck. While it was not a good idea to be holding a gun when his DM showed up, the store manager made his point that we cannot live in the past. Our customers and we struggle with change. How many times have we heard or said, “but we have always done it this way or if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” The point both parties were making was going after the business while its happening. Do whatever you need to do to keep it going.

Today, we are experiencing change more rapidly than at any time in history. In 1984, my husband and I  purchased the a board game called Dark Tower. It was the first game with some technology. The game had a tower that spun around for each player. It was pretty exciting, and we spent three days playing it before realizing we were obsessed with the game. Think about what we are obsessed with today. We are in an age of virtual distraction, and our electronics are changing faster than we can absorb. The ideals, beliefs, and perspectives of the past are exploding to reveal a wildly different future, which is why we are perplexed when we see businesses frantically clinging to the past and relying on old approaches rather than shaping new ones. Consider the retailers that failed or are failing due to their inability to change. Montgomery Ward – the original eCommerce retailer failed because they could not adapt to match the Amazon fulfillment approach. They merely operated themselves out of business. Radio Shack, a key retailer of electronics could not keep up with the changing marketplace. Toys R Us – the number one retailer of toys going out of business now. How does this happen? Undoubtedly, the failure of leadership to accept and make a dramatic change to keep up with the changing landscape made a massive contribution to the failure of these retailers.

Too often, we fall into the trap of thinking that our past successes will enable future ones. Events occur, and we overestimate the risks of attempting a new approach to driving business and underestimate the risk of standing still. For example, would we ever have thought that 9/11 would happen and reinforce the need for us to accelerate our rate of change, innovation, and creativity?

How do we make change happen?

Use the acronym ADKAR to remember the steps. First, make sure all employees are aware of the need for change. Outstanding communication that identifies the business problem and provides the financial implication of the problem is required. If the message is on point, it will generate a DESIRE for change. Escalating the desire for change is crucial to final acceptance. Next, an evaluation needs to be completed to determine if each workgroup has the KNOWLEDGE and ABILITY to make change occur and be successful. Most important of all is REINFORCEMENT of the change. Leaders who do not identify a methodology to ensure the change sticks are immediately subject to failure.

Making excuses

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ouerselves. The process never ends until we die. Moreover, the choices we make are our responsibility.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Why is it that we believe we need excuses for not getting work done. We are all busy so making explanations look legitimate has gotten a lot harder. How many times have you had an employee arrive late for work and say traffic was horrible when you were in the same traffic. Perhaps you have someone that is known for not answering his/her emails. Their excuse – it went to my spam email. These plausible excuses become more and more deniable as time goes on.

As a leader, do you accept responsibility for your actions? Accepting responsibility has two primary components. First, one has to take responsibility for his/her actions or failures. Leaders who fail to do this will immediately lose the respect of his/her staff. All human beings make mistakes and/or poor choices – some mistakes being worse than others. Errors include occasions when we fail to act when we know we should.  The second component is accepting responsibility when you have indirect responsibility for those that report to you. When you take responsibility for your direct reports mistakes your character is revealed.

Accepting responsibility, both personal and indirect responsibility is one of the most important factors in defining a person’s character.  When that responsible moment comes, what you do or don’t do is an indication of the type of person you are.

How to change?

Accepting responsibility requires you to own your behavior and that of your team. Admit your misconduct or failure-to-act when you should have done so. Next, offer a sincere apology to those you have wronged. If possible, make amends or do what is needed to correct what you have done. Finally, accept whatever punishment is handed out for the choice you made. These steps may sound simple, but they can be tough to take. Accepting responsibility is part of being a great leader. Start early in your career with this process and accepting responsibility becomes more natural as time goes on.

Playing Favorites

Who doesn’t like to be the boss’s favorite? Unfortunately, for all its management inappropriateness, favoritism is rampant in the business world.  Georgetown University’s business school surveyed senior executives at companies with over 1,000 employees and found that 84% admitted bias is alive and well in their organizations. There is an apparent reason for this behavior. Managers want to give work assignments to those employees whom they can trust. Typically, the favorites are the trusted employees. Trusted employees are most often given the favored assignment due to their competency in completing the task, but this behavior does not allow other employees to be trained or show their skills. They too might be supported if allowed to show their skills and abilities.

How to stop showing favoritism?

Leaders need first to be aware that they are showing favoritism. One of the best ways to ensure they are not favoring certain employees is to make a conscious effort to divvy up the work assignments in a fair and equitable way. Next, managers need to hold themselves and others accountable for getting the work done. If one of the employees fails to do the job, don’t let them off the hook. Instead, challenge them to get back on track and only give them help when they have made the effort to complete the work themselves.

Executives can be successful leaders by receiving stakeholder-centered feedback and addressing areas of opportunity like those discussed in today’s blog.  With courage, humility, and discipline good leaders can become great leaders. The business world could use a lot more great leaders! For more information about improving your leadership skills, contact Executive Coach, Mary Kuniski at mkuniski@me.com.

Published by GoldenProfessionalCoaching.com

A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

We Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

Reference:

“What Got You There Won’t Get You There.” Marshall Goldsmith, pg. 40

“The Golden Book” Dale Carnegie

“https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2018/01/16/a-common-but-overlooked-   howmanagement-problem-playing-favorites/#7f7771f635dd

https://appliedpsychologydegree.usc.edu/resources/articles/discouraging-negativity-in-the-workplace