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

 

 

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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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

LEADERSHIP – TRUE CAUSE OF ERRORED MISSILE THREAT ANNOUNCEMENT

A synopsis of the false missile alert aimed at Hawaii. Who should take ownership of this significant process failure. Read and decide for yourself.

On Sunday morning about 6:00 am I was reading the news on my cell phone and was shocked to hear that the Hawaii state emergency alert system had sent out the message.

“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

I can’t even imagine what it was like to hear all those cell phones’ audible alarms screaming with this announcement and the panic that must have ensued quickly after that. One of my questions is who wrote the template for this alert? Did anyone read it and assess its impact on the public if sent? Perhaps the announcement was written quickly to give to a developer because he/she needed it in the next hour to hit a milestone. I have to believe that there is no person out there truly believes there is a shelter for this type of catastrophic event. Of course, as we well know now, the alert was false. (CNN, By Zachary Cohen January 9, 2018, 6:06 pm)

What caused this unfortunate panic situation? Unfortunately, we hear the same answer that has been creating terror for us for more than a century. One complacent person made a common computer error by pushing the wrong button during a safety drill. He/she even passed the programmers validation (question: are you sure) by simply pushing yes because he/she had accepted that same validation on a hundred other programs.  State emergency leaders and emergency officials immediately blamed the event on an employee who “pushed the wrong button.” It takes a lot of courage to come out and respond to the terrorized public – sorry we had one person push the wrong button.

The initial response to the tragic event turned into a major embarrassment for the state and its Governor, David Y. Ige. Hawaii officials worked quickly to head off damage to the leading industry in Hawaii, which is tourism, by sending a note out from the Governor to all residents and tourists of Hawaii. My relatives were on vacation in Hawaii during the event and received the letter from the governor under their hotel door. Their response to the dispatch was that the message was a nice gesture. After reading the communication, I believed the notice represented more than a simple apology. The moment of genuine leadership had arrived, and that required someone in power to take responsibility for the crises. Who better than the Governor since the buck will always stop with the top leader?

On Sunday, the Federal Communications Commission said that Hawaii did not have reasonable safeguards or process controls in place in its emergency notification process. What did Hawaii do to respond to that statement? They quickly added a second person to verify the first button pusher was using the correct button, which was a logical and quick solution. My question is why that step was not already in place? It would have been so easy right then to fire the person who made a mistake and assume it would never happen again. Credit goes to Governor Ige, who happens to be up for re-election this year and has been criticized for his lack of leadership for saving the job and life of the button pusher. Colin Moore, Director of Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii, claimed there was no better test of leadership than responding to what happened yesterday.(NY Times, Adam Nagourney, January 14, 2018)

And there it is, not a statement about one person creating terror simply by being complacent. Rather we analyze the leadership style of the top man in the state. Aren’t all leaders analyzed throughout their lives? How would we respond in this terrible situation?

In his letter to the residents and visitors of Hawaii, Governor Ige explained “that the cause for this false alert was an error by a Civil Defense employee at Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency who unknowingly activated this alert to be sent. It is ironic that a person who is dedicated to serving the people of Hawaii and protecting their safety was responsible for causing this situation. You can imagine how badly this person feels. I assure you that steps have already been taken by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to ensure that a situation of this type never happens again.”

Now let’s consider what kind of leader holds the name of the person creating such havoc close to his vest, does not fire him, and tells the public how terrible he feels that he made such a horrific mistake. One might consider Governor Ige’s leadership style is startling in the way he is taking care of his employee, but as the CEO of Hawaii, his approach could easily be considered a Laissez-faire leadership methodology. The French word Laissez-faire formally translated means, “let them do”  or more commonly translated to the phrase “let it be” As such, laissez-faire leaders are characterized by their hands-off approach, allowing employees to get on with tasks as they see fit. This leadership approach can apply to jobs where the employee is producing creative content or workplaces where employees are very experienced. However, when an organization/business is facing life and death decisions, leaders must monitor performance and effectively communicate expectations to prevent work standards slipping.

In any leadership style, operational, well-thought-out business practices need to be planned by the leaders and stakeholders, defined through a flow chart, responsibilities in the process identified, leaders of critical process steps highlighted, and one owner of the entire process (whose throat to choke) established before terror ensues. My conclusion based on public information gathered to date is Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency has process gaps that need to be identified and resolved quickly, and the leadership of the agency must be held accountable for future failures.

Let’s ask ourselves if this were our company, would we find similar process gaps. What type of leader are we and how do we blend our leadership style to bring out the best in our company?

Golden Executive Coaching can help you build your leadership team and establish processes to improve your business! Certified by Marshall Goldsmith in Stakeholder Centered Coaching, we have 25 years experience in process management and are certified in change management. Go to www.Goldenprofessionalcoaching.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

The Butter Is Melting!

My conjecture is that brick and mortar stores need a wakeup call. The major advantage brick and mortar stores still maintain over online shopping is the human-to-human interaction. A dollar investment made in technology should be countered by a dollar investment in a company’s employees. That investment could be improving productivity so the employee had more time to face the customer and less time stocking the shelves, or a company may seek to hire more qualified personnel using better wages and benefits. The most important investment has to be in customer service training. Let’s see what this season’s retail results tell us when the season is done!

The butter running down the inside of the refrigerator was not a pretty sight. I was in a desperate situation. Fourteen people were a coming for a party the next evening and my refrigerator was heating up like an oven instead of cooling.

I snapped into action and quickly measured the space for the refrigerator. I then went to the Internet and researched all the local appliance stores and found a refrigerator (yes, exactly one) that would fit in the space I had available. I called the store and the salesperson told me they had one unit in stock and could deliver the refrigerator the next morning. I told the salesperson I would be right there, grabbed my purse, and my husband, and we drove to the store only to discover that the delivery spot had been filled. After talking to the manager and explaining our situation, he graciously offered to deliver the unit first thing in the morning.

Delivery went fine and we have been happy with the-refrigerator  until recently when the icemaker began to freeze up on a regular basis. My husband got tired of using the hair dryer on the icemaker, so he contacted the service technician who indicated that the part was permanently out of stock. The tech explained that the problem was actually a design flaw of the manufacturer and advised us to call back the service contract company and let them know he could not repair it. Imagine our surprise when the service company offered to reimburse us for the full amount of the refrigerator and the prorated amount of the contract. I call that outstanding customer service.

Inherently, we as consumers believe we desire good customer service. However, with our ability to stay put behind the television and place our order online only to be delivered the next day, or better yet in two hours makes us ask ourselves are we really vying for good customer service or simply speed of delivery. In the case of my refrigerator, the speed of delivery could not have been better. I was a happy customer until the icemaker could not be repaired.

My conjecture is that brick and mortar stores need a wakeup call. The major advantage brick and mortar stores still maintain over online shopping is the human-to-human interaction. A dollar investment made in technology should be countered by a dollar investment in a company’s employees. That investment could be improving productivity so the employee had more time to face the customer and less time stocking the shelves, or a company may seek to hire more qualified personnel using better wages and benefits. The most important investment has to be in customer service training. After shopping today all day for angels for my church angel tree, I can truly see why consumers are abandoning malls. Help was scarce, checkouts were painfully slow, and stock was a mess. Try to ask for special service like tax exempt status and the entire experience falls apart.

I have a tremendous amount of admiration for the retailer who honored their customer service agreement with me.  For the rest, take a bit of advice from this experience, invest in customer service before it is too late!

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