Courage, Humility and Discipline – Building On The Foundation

Looking for the most important competencies when selecting leaders to move up in the organization? Look no further. This blog outlines exactly what you are looking for in an upcoming executive.

Over the last several weeks, we have been reviewing the keys to leadership development. As a certified Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coach, I look for three leadership traits in individuals before selecting a client for a coaching program and selecting the coaching program I will use.

First, the leader must have humility. Although he or she may be the highest rank leader in the organization, they need to be willing to accept suggestions and recommendations from their team to maximize their success.

Courage is essential for all leaders because all must have the willingness to change. Nelson Mandela once said, ” I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” As we make a change, we will have success, or we will fail. Either outcome will require courage.

Lastly, leaders need to have discipline. The difference between good and great leaders often comes down to control. So my question is this – how disciplined are you as a leader? While subjecting yourself to the rigor of discipline is not easy, it is essential if one wants to maximize their effectiveness as a leader.

Let’s now consider that we have selected Jane to be part of the executive coaching program. She is a high potential leader in the organization and is projected to move a least two levels in management over the next three years. Jane has a couple habits that are holding her back. The administration wants to help her eliminate those habits but is not quite sure how to address them. She completes a tremendous amount of work, but her team feels that her communication with them is weak and are frustrated with never knowing when they will have to work overtime. Jane does not understand this because she works hard to provide a clear expectation of what needs to be done, when it should be done, and how it should be done. In fact, Jane is so clear about her demands she easily could be classified as an autocratic leader.

Autocratic leaders are firmly focused on command by the leader and control of the followers. There is also a clear division between the leader and the members. Authoritarian leaders make decisions independently with little or no input from the rest of the group. Jane’s team resents the fact that they are not working together to create a shared vision on how to get the work done, They have ideas on how to reduce the time it takes to get the assignments completed, but Jane does not encourage any constructive dialog on these assignments. She just accepts the work and assigns it out. Some question Jane’s integrity and believe she is merely trying to make a name for herself.

Communication

Jane is failing in the communication competency. She needs to develop a shared vision with her team on what they stand for and what type of service they will provide. Her integrity is being questioned so it would be helpful if Jane would switch her leadership style to a participative manner, which would be much more effective. Team members would be encouraged to engage in constructive dialog and their opinions respected. Participative leaders encourage group members to participate in discussions, but the leader retains the final say in the decision-making process. Group members feel part of the process and are more motivated and creative.

Associate Engagement

Moving to a participative leadership style will encourage associate engagement as well – another of Jane’s weaknesses. One of the concerns of moving Jane up the ladder is there is no one on her team to replace her. As a leader in the organization, one of Jane’s responsibilities is to develop people to fill leadership roles.  Since Jane does not talk with her team much, she really has no idea who might fill her position when she is promoted. Jane could experience multiple benefits by identifying a team member that could be trained to fill-in when she is not available. Jane would benefit from having someone to whom she could delegate some of her work. Her employees would see that if they worked hard, there is an opportunity for advancement. She would begin building partnerships with her team and peers by sharing leadership of her department and provide better service.

Continuous Change

Jane is one of the few leaders in the organization who loves change. She sees continuous change as an opportunity to generate new business. Jane is always anticipating new opportunities in the global organization and works hard to bring these opportunities to the engineers. The challenge that Jane has is throwing the unique opportunity over the wall to the engineer and failing to follow-up. Jane feels like she is way too busy to help the engineer develop the market availability for the opportunity, but building a backup supervisor on her team might open some time for her to do that work. As Jane moves up the ladder, she will need to find new business opportunities and build them by developing the ROI on the project. She needs to learn how to lead change.

Boundary-less Inclusion

As a global organization, Jane may benefit from moving to an expatriate assignment to improve her ability to think globally. She currently works with an offshore team to manage her customer’s EDI processing but has never lived in a foreign country. Jane will need to empower her team in her new country as she needed to do in the U.S. Jane will need to understand and value diversity. She needs to understand and live the culture to ensure she is not rude to her peers and employees. Building the mentality of boundary-less inclusion can be challenging for Jane. A good attitude and foreign experience will be invaluable to her long-term success as a leader.

Assuring Success

Jane’s success is an indicator of our success as an Executive Coach. She is part of the millennial generation and seems to have a natural ability to understand and recommend technology advances to help the organization. Jane would benefit by acting as a business lead for an upcoming systems project. Doing so would require her to count on her team and empower them to make decisions. Leading a project would strengthen her interpersonal relationships and improve her ability to influence change through collaboration rather than control and command. Since most of the developers are offshore, Jane would need to value diversity to ensure the developers understood the requirements of the project.

Final Thoughts

Is Jane the right individual for this company to encourage growth through leadership training and development? Should she go on the list as a high-potential for a future executive position? Jane has the three foundational attributes – Courage, Humility, and Discipline, but are her five competencies strong enough? Can she 1) assure success through 2) communication, and 3) engaging people? Can she manage 4) continuous change and willingly accept 5) boundary-less inclusion. You decide!  Comment on your thoughts as to whether Jane can be a successful executive.

Looking for help coaching your high-potential leaders. Visit goldenprofessionalcoaching.com for information on how to get started or contact mkuniski@me.com.

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Overcome the Holiday Blues

Do we find ourselves frowning most of the day? This time of year holiday pressures seem to leave us in a foul mood. We find ourselves losing control of our day because there is so much to do. We have shopping, cooking, cleaning, getting ready for the family, holiday cards to mail out, school and office parties to get ready for, white elephant gifts to purchase and on and on. We have little time to catch our breath, let alone find some quiet time where we can plan and organize. Everyone around us seems just as miserable as we look.

What would happen if we took five minutes out of our day to go around the office with a big smile on our face and say good morning to our team? As it turns out the simple act of smiling sends a message to our brain that we are happy and relaxed. When we are happy our brains send out feel-good endorphins to our body. Research also shows that smiling can make other people happy as well.  When is the last time that you let your team know that you are happy and they should be too simply by smiling? If you are smiling your team will too. Smiling is contagious behavior.

So stop worrying about all your holiday chores. The best gift you could give to your team today is a great big smile and a cheerful good morning.

“Your smile is a messenger of your goodwill. Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl or turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds.”  Dale CarnegieBlog

 

Show Appreciation – Please!

I recently started a new job and found there were a lot of people that went out of their way to help me. Even during my first interview, the receptionist went out of her way to show me the restroom and bring me a bottle of water. I asked myself what I could do to show my appreciation without looking insincere. I decided the best approach was to send a handwritten thank you note. Two days later I had a job offer. Don’t underestimate the power of showing sincere appreciation.

I read an article in Forbes recently about appreciation. The article stated that as adults, we are much more likely to receive criticism than appreciation. Our bosses, spouses and the others in our lives expect a great deal from us and recognize little when we deliver. Yet let us go above and beyond and we often hear nothing.

Appreciation is perhaps the greatest gift we can give to those around us. In the timeless book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie lists “Give Honest and Sincere Appreciation,” as one of his fundamental principles.

We might consider the following ways to express appreciation,

  1. Say, “thank you” as often as we can. We rarely hear that in today’s world when we shop or give gifts.
  1. Send a hand-written note of appreciation. If the sentiment is sincere, the note is never inappropriate and will make someone’s day.
  1. Speak your appreciation directly. Say “I appreciate what you did.”
  1. Express appreciation for the person as well as the deed. “I appreciate YOU. Thank You for being my friend – or co-worker, or…”
  1. Be specific about the appreciation and use the person’s name. Say, thank you Anna, I appreciate you correcting my expense report so processing would not be delayed.

Wouldn’t we love to hear our bosses say I appreciate what you did last week?

 

 

 

Call Me By Name

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics the unemployment rate has reached an all time high at 4.9% as of Jan 2016. What is equally interesting is that over 50% of U.S. workers are thinking about a new job in 2016. In fact, we may be starting a new job next week, and we are wondering how to make a good first impression.

Call your new peers and employees by name. Nothing makes people feel better than having someone remember his or her name. In fact, Dale Carnegie once said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”

If we think we cannot remember people’s names we are not alone. Research headed by Kansas State University suggests that a person’s interest level significantly determines how well we remember names (Business Insider). Most of us are thinking about how we are going to introduce ourselves rather than listening closely to a person’s name. During a Skills for Success Program at Dale Carnegie DFW, we learned several tricks to help remember others names.

  1. Listen when someone is introducing themselves
  2. Repeat their name – say It is so nice to meet you Mary Kuniski
  3. Ask questions or comment about their name – say my Mother’s name is Mary. Are you Irish?
  4. Associate the person’s name with something – A business, rhyme, person’s appearance, the meaning of the name, a mind picture or a similar name.

To learn more about how you too can remember names and many other memory tricks join DFW Dale Carnegie in a Skills For Success program. You will be glad you did!