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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CHANGING BEHAVIOR

Will you accept Marshall Goldsmith’s two-week challenge to achieve your goals?

TAKE THE TWO-WEEK CHALLENGE

Published by GoldenProfessionalCoaching.com

Marshall Goldsmith is the master of behavioral change. In his book called “Triggers, Becoming The Person You Want To Be.” Goldsmith suggests, can we increase our motivation, demonstrate commitment, focus on positive action and reinforce the idea that goals are achieved incrementally by asking ourselves daily active questions that help inspire us to work toward our goals.

What is the two-week challenge one might ask?

To understand the challenge, we need to understand the concept of a Trigger. Inside of each of us, there is a leader who always wants to behave appropriately no matter what the environment. Yet certain environments cause us to be followers and inappropriately behave when faced with a Trigger. Consider when you last encountered an unpleasant trigger. An embarrassing moment occurred to me when I called the school and asked to speak my child’s teacher. The secretary informed me that the teacher did not take phone calls. I explained that she had told me I could call at any time. The secretary insisted all she could do was leave a message for her to call me. When I did not receive a return phone call for two days, I was exasperated. I contacted the school secretary again, and instead of calmly thinking of what circumstances may have prevented a return phone call, I  got very irate. That is not my typical behavior and certainly did not win me any favors in the long run.

Thus, we can consider the definition of Triggers to be stimuli that prompt a behavioral reaction. They can be beliefs, behaviors, or environments. Identifying your Triggers is useful in all your interpersonal relationships whether at home or the workplace. Being able to work consciously and proactively with Triggers in today’s ever-changing environment, and knowing how to identify, anticipate and adequately respond to them is critical to career success, strengthened relationships, and becoming the best version of one’s self.

The typical cycle for a Trigger looks like this: Trigger – Impulse – Response

To create behavioral change, we must take a moment and become self-aware of how we are feeling and what a proper response should be to this moment. We make many excuses for ourselves to misbehave. In the end, we are the only ones that can change our behavior. We have to decide to change and be accountable for our results

“Between a TRIGGER and our response, there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response. It is in our response that lies our freedom and growth as leaders.”   Victor Frankl

When we add two additional steps to our Trigger response process, we can find our freedom from circumstances.

Trigger – Impulse – Self-Awareness – Choice – Response

Marshall Goldsmith’s program of accountability requires us to ask ourselves (or have someone ask us), a series of engaging questions that are designed to incite a feeling of personal responsibility and demonstrate effort. Asking oneself a specific set of questions each night reflects a dedication to behavioral change. It also provides a mechanism for receiving feedback on current practices. The real key to the queries’ effectiveness is having another person, such as a friend or loved one, respond to the answers and challenge any trouble spots to determine if there is a causal link between behaviors and an environmental factor.

Marshall Goldsmith recommends that we begin at a minimum with six active questions listed in his book. He also advises us to add specific issues that relate to the critical goals in our life and or career. What is important to note here is the development of these questions. Questions that say, “ I have done my best to listen to my staff” are a passive question and give the leader an out. All inquiries should be formatted in an active voice.  This question should be formatted to read; I set aside one hour each day to listen to my staff’s needs.

The Two-Week Challenge

This week I was fortunate enough to offer a workshop on Triggers to the Retail Value Chain Federation (RVCF.com) at their spring conference. We spent about two hours discussing the topic and then agreed to ask ourselves our own set of eight to ten questions every day for two weeks. We determined we would rate ourselves 0-10 on each question each day for two weeks, and at the end of each week, we would average the questions to see if we had improved. Why two-weeks you might ask? It takes a minimum of two-weeks to form a new habit.

Watch for more feedback on how we did.

Final thoughts

“THE ONLY PERSON YOU ARE DESTINED TO BECOME IS THE PERSON YOU DECIDE TO BE!”

Ralph Waldo Emerson