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 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

 

 

Can Amazon Be Beat With Customer Service?

CEO of Fedex, Frederick Smith responds with customer service. He walks the talk.

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The Impact of Amazon

Every day I am asked what I think the impact of Amazon is on brick and mortar retail. There is no question that Amazon is affecting the assortment, accessibility, and speed of delivery. However, with the company’s growth, the organization appears to be lacking in face-to-face customer service. As their home deliveries grow the final miles become saturated with employees that are untrained in customer service skills. Last week, we received a bicycle camera we never even ordered and for which we were not charged. Try to talk to a human being to resolve the problem – impossible.  Have you felt like home deliveries in the little white van are a bit like a private detective arriving at your front door? Are you afraid to open your entry to the person delivering, and if you have opened your door, have you received a thank you for your purchase? The need for outstanding customer service in today’s business world is growing. Providing outstanding customer service is one way for retailers to overcome the loss of business to  Amazon.

Outstanding Customer Service

Recently, I had a positive experience with FedEx that made me realize that some companies are still out there providing outstanding customer service.  I needed some workbooks printed for a workshop that I was giving 1200 miles away. The associate at my local FedEx spent a great deal of time with me so we could determine the optimal number of pages, the best paper, and the best way to copy the document. At one point I mentioned that I had to carry the copies on the airplane, and the store associate indicated she would be happy to locate a local FedEx office so I would not have to take the prints on the plane. She promised they would be ready on Saturday morning by 9:00 am. When I arrived at the local FedEx, not only were the documents available, but I found out that my local store associate had called that morning to ensure the workbooks were ready. I was so blown away by the experience that I was compelled to write a positive note via email to the CEO, Frederick W. Smith. Below is an excerpt of the letter of response I received two days later.

“We appreciate your kind remarks regarding the service you received from Dollie. There is no doubt that our company’s success is directly attributed to the commitment of our employees to provide the best service offered in this industry, and we also understand the lasting impact that a courteous, professional employee can have on our customers. It is a pleasure to hear firsthand that Dollie’s assistance was helpful to you, and I am confident that both she and her manager appreciate your praise. Your letter serves as another important reminder to all of us at FedEx that our customers always deserve our best efforts. We have an internal process for recognizing such events, and Dollie will be rewarded for her efforts on your behalf.

A letter such as yours is particularly gratifying; a heartfelt note of praise from a person says not only a lot about the intended recipient of the recognition, but it also means a lot about someone who would take time out of their busy day to acknowledge the efforts of another. We thank you for taking the time out of your day to bring this to our attention.”

Upon receipt of this beautifully written response, I was reminded of the many years I spent as a store manager, and asked myself the question, “did I provide this level of service every day?” Outstanding customer service begins at the very top. Regional and District Managers need to walk the talk in every visit and every customer interaction. Store Managers need to talk about customer service and customer follow-up every day to their associates. I can tell you without a doubt that the next time I need copies or something shipped, I will be going back to FedEx. Not only did all the local staff meet the customer service challenge, but there was a CEO walking the talk.  The store associate was recognized and he graciously complimented me for taking the time to acknowledge the outstanding employee. He left me feeling like I had done something spectacular when all I did was send an email. I would love to send more emails like this but unfortunately, I have not found that same level of customer service in the brick and mortar stores, and even if I found it would I find the CEO’s email on the Internet? What this says to me is that retailers are missing the opportunity to offset the impact of Amazon with outstanding customer service. Congratulations FedEx’s CEO, Frederick Smith, for a job well done!

http://www.goldenprofessionalcoaching.com – A Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Company

We Build Tomorrow’s Leaders

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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Effective Succession Planning – The Silver Bullet For Successful Companies

How do I select the next leader in my company. This series reviews the need for succession planning and identifies the key traits and competencies of successful future leaders.

 

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THE SILVER BULLET

In last week’s blog post we pointed out that experienced leaders are retiring at an alarming rate leaving organizations without a pool of leaders from which to choose to fill open roles. Many companies are also ignoring the growth and development of future leaders due to budget shortfalls and lack of commitment to training and development. If a company does not invest in leadership training for its high-potential employees, those individuals are likely to leave and find opportunity and deeper engagement elsewhere. For most people, leadership is a skill that begins in their youth but must be nurtured throughout their career. Companies cannot approach leadership selection and train the same way they approach other opportunities in the company. Leadership selection and training must feel special and be engrained as a core component of the organization’s culture.

This week we will address the characteristics of an optimal leader so that companies have a framework from which to choose the best candidates to fill future roles in your organization. According to Marshall Goldsmith, number one executive coach in the world, successful leaders must maintain the traits of humility, courage, and discipline. These traits coupled with five competencies can build a successful employee into an excellent leader. In this blog, we will review the essential traits and next week we will talk about the core competencies required of a successful leader including solid communication, people engagement, boundary-less inclusion, assuring success, and continuous change.

 “Successful people become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others.”
― Marshall GoldsmithWhat Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

Humility

Holding a position of power may be useful for a person’s ego, but successful leaders ensure that their employees know that their leader is not above his/her shortcomings. Leaders cannot be afraid of their failures. We all fail at some point, but what matters is the way we pick ourselves up and learn from our mistakes. Learning from our mistakes is what helps us grow and be stronger. When employees recognize that failure is natural, even for leaders, they will feel more open-minded and confident. Excellent leaders involve their stakeholders with suggestions to improve their performance and that of their department. They consider all recommendations, accept the ones that make sense and make changes as appropriate. Strong leaders admit they are not perfect and demonstrate leadership growth.

“No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better. ”  Jim Yong Kim

Courage

Leaders need to have the courage to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. They need to be vulnerable, rethink deeply held beliefs, and do what it takes to change. Excellent leaders stand behind their employees and speak up for initiatives in which they believe. New leaders need to learn how to use the power of facts and financials rather than emotion to justify his/her actions. Also, one of the most challenging adjustments a new leader has to make is learning how to handle disagreements or issues. Leaders want to be fair and balanced while avoiding potential conflict, which sometimes can be difficult. In fact, managers often veer away from confrontation and try to avoid it at all costs. New leaders need to create an environment that encourages continuous feedback on both sides. Once they receive feedback, leaders should not criticize or make excuses for the suggestion. Rather they should respond with a simple thank you to the employee for the suggestion.

“Success is not final: Failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

Discipline

Leaders need to be able to implement and hone their behavior, habits, and processes. A key indicator of the success of a future leader is the employees’ ability to recognize undesirable behaviors and change them. The employee should also be able to graciously accept criticism from his/her stakeholders and make positive changes in his/her behavior based on that feedback. Making leadership change stick is all about creating more effective habits and processes, which requires disciplined execution of an action plan developed after receiving input from stakeholders. Accepting and responding to stakeholder feedback can be difficult for some employees. When that is the case, developing a successful leader with this employee could be questionable.

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments!  Jon Rohn

Final Thoughts

Baby boomers are quickly retiring leaving holes in the leadership of many companies. Recognizing the employees that have potential to be outstanding leaders is a natural outcome during a succession planning process. Executive coaching needs to begin as soon as possible once these high-potential employees are identified. Companies who invest in coaching receive a 4% to 8% return on their investment. Golden Professional Coaching is a certified Marshall Goldsmith Executive Coaching firm and certified in the John Mattone Emotional Intelligence leadership development approach. Golden Professional Coaching is ready to take on the challenge of coaching your high-potential employees to be the best leaders on your team. Contact Mary Kuniski at mkuniski@me.comfor more information.

GoldenProfessionalCoaching.com

“One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.”       Anne M. Mulcahy

 

 

The Tin Can

 

A few weeks ago, I was working with a development company on a new business website and was frustrated because the project manager did not seem to understand how important it was for me to have a banner under my logo that would easily be seen by the customer. I explained to him that the banner was the most important part of the website and needed to be enlarged and placed under my company logo. After receiving the revision, I realized I oversold the point. Unfortunately, the project manager took my instruction way out of context and made the banner HUGE! I felt like he and I had the conversation with two tin cans and a string. Once I got over my frustration, I realized good communication is not the message you give that matters. It is truly the message that the receiver hears.

Peter Drucker once said, “the art of communication is the language of leadership.” Remember it is not important what you say – only what your listener hears. If we wish to be great leaders we need to check for understanding!

How then can we ensure the receiver hears what we are saying? First, we need to be a good listener. Use active listening by paying close attention to the speaker, ask appropriate clarifying questions, and rephrase what the presenter said to ensure understanding. Use a phrase such as, “so what I heard you say is.” Using this approach will save us misunderstandings later.

When having a conversation in person consider our non-verbal communication. Monitor facial expressions as often our face and the look in our eyes tell the orator what we are thinking. Use appropriate but minimal hand gestures as they can help us make our point if used minimally.  Maintain a relaxed stance as this will encourage others to speak openly with us. When talking on the phone, it is amazing how easily others can hear our body language. If we are speaking on the phone, stand up and smile while we are talking. Listeners will hear the happiness in our voices and listen more closely

Think about riding in an elevator from the first to the thirty-second floor, and we only have the 20 seconds the elevator takes to reach the top to share our thoughts with the other person. Keeping our message short and to the point will make our message stand out. No one enjoys hearing what happened last night blow-by-blow. Think about what we want our listener to know and then cut our words in half. Brevity and clarity are critical in the business world.

Selecting the right medium for our communication is equally important. In business today, we often shoot off a quick email without thought or hesitation. We often reply to all without even thinking about our response. Yet, if we were in the boardroom with that same group of people, our response would be thoughtful and considerate. The problem with written communication is that the reader does not see our non-verbal communication or hear our tone of voice. Therefore, the reader may come to conclusions that are completely opposite of our original meaning. Before sending an email response, read it out loud putting yourself in the reader’s place and see how you feel after hearing the response.

Personalizing communication helps other relax and respond in a positive way. Calling our co-workers by name and asking about their weekend are effective ways to gain attention before beginning your business communication. When we exhibit confidence in what we are saying the listener is more likely to accept our words and respond.

To summarize use the following techniques to improve communication and leadership.

  1. Be a good listener and check for understanding
  2. Monitor non-verbal communication and be engaged with the speaker
  3. Be clear and brief
  4. Double check written communication for unintended negative emotions and/or words. You can’t take them back.
  5. Personalize your communication by remembering and using people’s names

Published by Mary Kuniski, Executive Coach for Golden Professional Coaching

Check out our new website @www.goldenprofessionalcoaching.com

Join us in Clearwater Florida on May 8, 2018, for a two-hour workshop on Triggers – Being the Leader You Want To Be.   Click here for more information https://www.rvcf.com

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?