How do you keep your team focused when a potential crisis looms?

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We are very concerned these days with the risk of the corona virus. It has exposed how interconnected our world really is. People travel at unprecedented levels and the world supply chain is more interconnected than ever.

How do you keep your team focused and on track when a crisis looms – but perhaps is not yet imminent?

There are two ways that leaders tend to approach challenges like these. In this week’s LeaderShift Insight we show you how both are flawed. Instead we offer a 4 step process to engage your team and keep them focused.

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Who Should You Ask For Advice From As A Leader?

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If you are growing and setting aggressive goals as a leader you will almost always have more questions than answers. In the videocast we look at the two most common responses that leaders have when they do not know the answer to a question.

We also give you a litmus test to know if the person you are asking for advice is going to be able to help you grow as a leader.

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What is the Most Important Leadership Lesson You Have Applied This Year?

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Every leader wants to be more successful and effective. In this week’s leadership insight we help you discover your approach to learning and how to ensure that you continue to not only get better results – but how to do it while engaging your team and challenging them to get better as well.

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What is the BEST way to address frustrations you have with your team?

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Have you ever been frustrated with your team, or a member of your team?

If you have been in leadership for any length of time at all – I already know the answer to this question. We hear about the frustrations facing leaders very day as we coach and conduct our leadership programs . Things are not getting any easier either as the pace of change continues to accelerate, and the labor market tightens.

The interesting part of this is that all of these frustrations have the same thing in common. This week we show you a simple method to help you move past those frustrations permanently.

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What is the Best Way to Set Goals to Maximize Team Commitment and Engagement?

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What is the best way to set goals for your team?LeaderShift One Day Intensive

It all starts with a goal. Either you are handed a goal by your manager, or you are asked to set one for your team. Set properly, the goal will establish a GAP between where you are and where you would like the team to be. In fact if there is no GAP there is no need for a leader. And that’s what you are – so how SHOULD leaders set goals?

It turns out that conventional wisdom flies in the face of recent brain science research.

What does the research say?

Modern brain research indicates that we evaluate a ‘status quo goal’ as more difficult to achieve than a ‘modest increase goal’. Yup. Thats right. Respondents were MORE negative about how hard it would be to keep things the same versus a modest increase. (Harvard Business Review  Nov 2018 – ‘Why You Should Stop Setting Easy Goals’)

But it gets even worse…

Not only did lower goals cause more negativity in respondents, when they were asked whether they would rather pursue the status quo goal – or the modest increase goal – they again chose the modest increase goal. And that finding held true across all different kinds of areas we set goals in.

So maybe we need to rethink HOW we set goals with our team. Lower goals are not actually more desirable or easier to get people to rally around. In fact, research has found that lower goals are less likely to be achieved. Now, before you fire off setting super stretch goals, know that those stretch goals rated the lowest of all three types of goals in terms of engagement and commitment. Maybe not verbal commitment – people may still commit verbally. They just don’t follow thru.

So what is the solution?

In order to maximize team commitment and engagement you need to set a modest increase goal while simultaneously decreasing the timeline allowed for the goals achievement. It is also critical that you make sure the team knows that this goal is a milestone on the way to a larger ideal – an ideal future that they have agree is important and desirable for the team to achieve.

So here is this week’s leadership insight: Set modest goals with shorter timelines.

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How to Make Subjective Feedback Objective

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Some years ago an executive coaching client ‘George’ (not his real name) related to me a particularly difficult challenge he was facing. George was struggling because Sam (also not his real name – but you knew that didn’t you?) was failing in his role as a senior leader. When I asked George what the results were like in Sam’s group, he replied that they were exceeding plan. When I asked how that was possible, he replied that the role was so critical that he had been doing Sam’s job for him for some time.

George was faced with a problem: How do you deal with an underperforming leader when their objective results are strong – even if you know that they are not the reason those results are strong. In other words, your feedback is Subjective rather than Objective, and could be viewed as your opinion.

Even Objective Feedback has a Subjective Component:LeaderShift One Day Intensive

In some cases you can show an employee that objective performance metrics are not where they need to be. That is not to say that they will always agree on their performance being the cause of the metric being less than desirable – but at least you have a solid starting point for the conversation. Note: For more information on handling these type of conversations see How to Avoid Defensiveness When Providing Feedback and Can You Really Get Someone to Change.

Even in the case of incontrovertible objective evidence, leaders are often unable, or unwilling, to see the connection between their operational results and their own leadership skills and/or behavior.

The Solution: You Have to Make Your Subjective Feedback Objective

Since so many of our coaching conversations revolve around subjective feedback, we created a process called Making the Subjective Objective™. Let’s use an example to show how it works:

One of your supervisors is having difficulty driving operational results. You can see that he is not engaging in effective coaching behaviors. Instead, he seems to take great pride in solving operational issues himself. This is lowering overall morale and engagement level in the team. Since he can only be in one place at a time, response times have extended and problems seem to pile up. This has caused him to complain about not being able to find skilled and hard working employees. You have tried to broach the subject of improving his coaching skills but he feels that he is already a pretty good coach.

Sound familiar?

In this case there is a mismatch between his perception of his skill level and what you believe his skill level to be. In other words – your feedback is subjective in nature.

Try Making the Subjective Objective

Ask the supervisor to rate their coaching skill from zero to ten. Note: We use zero because no one can confuse that with a good score.

If the supervisor gives himself rates anywhere from zero to eight, they are indicating that there is a possibility that they could improve. The challenge we fall into here is that we get hung up on the rating being correct – at least in our opinion. This desire for a correct score misses the point. What we want is for them to acknowledge there is a GAP between where they are and where they could be. So if they think they are a 7, and you think they are a 2; who cares? They have admitted that there is an opportunity for growth. So don’t get hung up

Once they have admitted there is a GAP and therefore there is an opportunity for growth – ask “What would a 10 look like?”

In some cases they may have some ideas of where they could improve. In other cases you may have to provide some ideas for them. In either case you have an opportunity to ask them to commit to those changes.

But what if they rate themselves a 9 or a 10?

This is the tougher scenario. Even a 9 is a 10 in disguise – they just did not want to seem arrogant. In this case, you have to have a candid conversation with them that you do not believe that their evaluation is correct. In some scenarios the person may never have worked for someone that has been willing to give them candid feedback, and while painful, your feedback could be a critical step in their career development. In other cases it may may a case of a lack of humility. And humility is one of the hardest traits to coach – and that will have to wait for another day!LeaderShift One Day Intensive

 

 

A Litmus Test for Leaders to Learn What They REALLY Expect From Their People

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Are you frustrated with some aspect of your team’s performance? Should you be?

Even if you are leading correctly, there will be times (through no one’s fault) where the team’s performance is less than desired. At this point we have a choice – accept the current performance level from the team or work on improving the individual performance of the team members. After some period of time – since we are all creatures of habit – a pattern will emerge within your team. Some individuals will take to your coaching and make significant improvements. Some individuals will improve for a time but slip back into old behavior patterns. And some individuals will make no significant effort to change at all. Sound familiar?

This is where your leadership skill will be tested. Leaders must always be more committed to the achievement of the change than their team is committed to not making the change. Unfortunately, there are always more of them – and the process of making even a small change can be daunting! And so, the leader is faced with the challenge of working tirelessly to shift the mindset, skill set and behavior of team members that either do not want to change or are struggling with the transition.

The Power of Expectation

This is where the power of expectation comes in. People will alway respond to what we truly EXPECT from them – not what we WANT from them. Unfortunately, leaders often EXPECT what they DO NOT WANT, and WANT what they DO NOT EXPECT. Let me explain.

Take a moment and consider what you really want from your team. Are they meeting that standard of performance – whether it be subjective or objective? Now, do you really expect that they will achieve those standards? Most leaders emphatically say “YES – Of course I do!”. And yet after coaching leaders for over 20 years I can tell you than most leaders DO NOT really expect these individuals to change. Now, before you tune out – I am going to offer you incontrovertible proof of what you REALLY EXPECT from your people.

A Litmus Test For What You Really Expect

Imagine that you have two team members Anna (a super high performer) and John (a historically low performer).

Now imagine that Anna, who ALWAYS hits her numbers every month, misses one month.

Are you upset about her performance – or concerned about Anna?

Of course  you are CONCERNED. Why would you be upset? That is not what you EXPECT from Anna. And so, you inquire what is happening, and work with Anna to correct the situation.

How about John? Suppose John, who always misses his numbers every month, misses his numbers that same month.

Are you upset about his performance – or concerned about John?

If you are totally honest – you are UPSET about John’s performance. But why? Both Anna and John missed their numbers. However, John’s history predicted his performance this past month. The reason you are upset is that you WANTED something you did NOT EXPECT.

How about you? Do you have any employees that frustrate you with their level of performance? Are you truly EXPECTING a change or do you just WANT a change?

While being honest about your level of expectation does not change the performance level of anyone, it is the first step in making sure that you align your expectation with your goals, rather than lowering your expectation to meet their current performance level.

If you would like to learn more about how to radically shift your team’s results, join us for the LeaderShift One Day Intensive Workshop click here.

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Use This 3 Step Process to Determine Leadership Potential

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Leadership is Not Management

Any discussion on leadership needs to start with a simple definition. Let’s start first with what Leadership is not. Leadership is not management. I’m not saying that management is not important. It is incredibly important. Management however deals with static systems. As long as things are not changing then management will suffice. However, as soon as things start to change then leadership is required.

We often use leadership and management interchangeably, and that is a shame because they mean very different things. In most jobs you need both management and leadership skill. These two skillsets can reside in the same individual, but that does not mean that they always do.

So how do you know if a person has the ability to lead as well as manage?LeaderShift One Day Intensive

To answer this question consider the old saw; ‘You must walk the walk not just talk the talk’. In other words, in order to lead others you must first be able to lead yourself.

But what does it mean to able to ‘lead yourself’?

Leadership is about going on a journey.

I have found that leadership is all about going on a journey. If there is not a GAP between where you are and where you want to be, then there is no journey, and management skills are all that is necessary. However, if there is a GAP – then we will need a very specific set of skills to navigate that path.

Normally when we discuss this concept in the context of leadership we are talking about the setting and accomplishment of goals.

Your goal will involve a journey if at least one of the following is true:

  • You have never attempted to accomplish a specific goal before
  • You have attempted to accomplish the goal but have not been successful
  • The goal has been successfully accomplished before however the external environment has changed
  • The goal has been successfully accomplished before however the people on the team are different

There are three elements necessary to successfully complete any journey.

In order to complete a journey you need:

  1. To know where you are starting from.
  2. To know where you are going.
  3. A Plan.

While reams of articles have been written on setting Vision (#2) and on Planning (#3), there seems to be an assumption that it is obvious where the starting point of any journey is (#1). I have found that this is very rarely true. Even when there is universal agreement on the metrics that measure where we are, there is almost never agreement on WHY those metrics are what they are.

A 3 Step Process To Decide if a Manager is also a Leader

Which brings us to a very simple test to see if a manager is also a leader. In essence, what we need to see if if they can ‘walk the walk’ or if they just ‘talk the talk’. This simple process will work whether you are interviewing a new leader from inside or outside your organization. It will also work if the person is already employed as a manager with your firm and you are trying to determine their leadership potential.

  1. Ask the candidate to recall a time recently when they were having difficulty accomplishing a goal – whether they were successful in achieving the goal or not is not important.
  2. Ask them to describe what was happening and what they desired to have happen. What was their plan to achieve the goal?
  3. Where was the locus of control? Were they in control of the outcome or were they focused on how other people had to change in order for the goal to be achieved?

Resist the urge to give too much direction. What are you are attempting to discern is:

  • Can they identify a time when they were having difficulty accomplishing a goal? If they cannot, then they are either not in the practice of setting and achieving goals, they set them too low to ensure success, or they are unwilling to share. If they answer in ‘generalities’ you should redirect them and ask for a specific example.
  • Were they able to accurately ascertain what the true starting point of the ‘journey’ was? Are they focused on the results they desired, or do they delve into the behaviors and skills required to achieve the desired results.
  • When they describe what was happening do they assign blame outside themselves? While there are almost always external factors that hinder our success, leaders focus on what they can control and influence.
  • Did the plan involve what other people needed to do differently, or did it focus primarily on what they needed to do differently? While leaders may not be creative in the ‘artistic’ sense of the word, they are creative in trying new paths and solutions and asking for advice from others.

While no process is perfect, this 3 step process will help you determine if a manager has the ability to also lead.

 

LeaderShift One Day Intensive

We have found that what frustrates leaders the most is not that they have problems. What frustrates leaders the most is having the same problem over and over.

We have a process that helps leaders move past their existing problems and accelerates their ability to achieve the results they always knew their team was capable of.

For more information, click here…

 

 

The Best New Year’s Resolution You Will Ever Set: Stop Setting New Year’s Resolutions

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Stop Setting New Years ResolutionsIt’s the start of a new year. If you are like most people your optimism for positive change is at the highest it will be for the next 365 days. There is something almost magical about a new year. It is a clean slate. A chance to start over. We have visions of changing; of finally getting in shape, of starting to travel, building stronger relationships, and improving our finances and career.

And yet, deep down we know the ugly truth: Most new year’s resolutions fail faster than milk goes bad in the fridge. We know this. That’s why many us don’t even bother to set goals for the new year. We know it is fruitless exercise. We wish it was different, but our experience tells us that new year’s resolutions just don’t work.

Download our complimentary planning template here.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

There is nothing inherently wrong with a desire to improve your life as you enter a new year. Growth is a natural part of the human experience. We are actually happiest when we are growing, even though it may not feel that way when that growth is pushing us to do new and uncomfortable things.

So why do new year’s resolutions fail at such a high rate?

New year’s resolutions are actually based on a false premise: That the reason we have not been doing the things we wish or achieving the goals we desire is that we have lacked commitment. Commitment is indeed a large part of achievement, however it is not enough. If it was then the number of people you find in the gym would not soar over 500% between Jan 2nd and Jan 15th, and then drop down to normal levels by the end of January every year.

So if commitment is not enough, perhaps it is that we lack persistence. Perhaps people who are more successful in achieving their goals are more persistent. However, while goal achievers are indeed more persistent, that is not the cause of their achievement. Saying that we need to persist if we desire to achieve a goal does nothing to address the reasons WHY we struggle with persistence. Saying that persistence is linked to goal achievement is like saying umbrellas are linked to rain. They are often found together, however the umbrellas did not cause the rain.

Give up New Years Resolutions and replace them with this simple strategy:

Download our free planning template here.

So, if new years resolutions do not work then what are we to do? I have found that a very simple strategy works far better.

Instead of focusing on the new year, consider focusing on the next 90 days. This will not be nearly as exciting as dreaming about how your life could be different in a year’s time, however it will be more actionable and more realistic. Ninety days is just not that long of a period of time to achieve big things. It is, however, enough time to achieve important things. You may not be able to get to your ideal weight in the next 90 days, but you could begin a reasonable exercise routine. You may not be able to change your finances in 90 days, but you could set up and monitor your spending.

The beautiful thing about setting goals for the next 90 days is that you CANNOT dream too big. And in 90 days – guess what: You get to evaluate how you did. You have the opportunity to ask what worked and what didn’t and make adjustments for the next 90 days.

As a leader, you MUST get this right. You cannot ask other people to change and grow if they cannot see you changing and growing.

So, let make a new year’s resolution to NEVER again to set a new year’s resolution. Let’s start thinking about what we can do over the next 90 days.

In order to help you get started we have complimentary worksheet for you. Click here to download this resource and get the next 90 days off to an amazing start!

Here’s to an amazing 3 months!

 

If you want to know more about how to help your entire team become goal achievers, then join us for the next LeaderShift One Day Intensive. Click here to learn more about how we can help you bridge the gap between where you are today and where you know your team can be!LeaderShift One Day Intensive

How to Survive Impeachment (and Other Topics You Aren’t Supposed to Talk About)

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It is impossible to avoid the constant barrage of information on Impeachment that is available these days. It is the lead story in the news, and it is often the most discussed item that your friends (and sometimes co-workers) want to share their opinions about.

ImpeachmentHow do you deal with such a divisive topic, where not only do you have the opportunity to offend others, you also may find yourself feeling attacked and offended?

While this is perhaps the most explosive topic to hit the workplace in recent memory, it is not the first topic that has had the opportunity to be divisive – and it will not be the last.

In the interest of promoting a little holiday cheer and civility, I decided to share with you some thoughts about how to deal with subjects that fall into the broad category of ‘stuff you should not talk about’.

First of all, I need to state the obvious; as a leader you should avoid sharing your opinions on controversial topics that have such a possibility to divide and offend. I am not asking you to shy away from defending your values, I am just asking that you avoid characterizing the promotion of your political views under the guise of defending your values.

How should you handle co workers that are arguing ‘impeachment’ at work?

Now, let’s assume that you happen upon a dialogue between two co-workers that obviously disagree on the question of whether President Trump should be impeached. How should you handle this situation? First of all, while we can certainly request that employees NOT discuss politics at work, this does not guarantee that it will not happen.

If you find that employees have (or are) transgressing this request you must first remind them of why you made the request in the first place. If possible, tie the request to your stated company values and show how the conversation transgresses those values.

Second, you could ask them why they felt the need to have the discussion knowing that it was such a divisive topic. In many cases, the two individuals may not be offending each other and they may use that as a defense. However, if they are having the conversation where any other person could be expected to overhear then they are involving other team members whether they meant to or not. It does not matter if those team members claim they were not offended. Many individuals will claim publicly that they were not offended because they do not want to engage in what they feel is hostility or conflict. Conversations that are divisive have the possibility of lowering team trust and rapport, leading to a long term negative impact in productivity and engagement.

What if the two team members are not arguing – they agree?

In many cases, the two individuals may not be offending each other and they may use that as a defense. However, if they are having the conversation where any other person could be expected to overhear then they are involving other team members whether they meant to or not. It does not matter if those team members claim they were not offended. Many individuals will claim publicly that they were not offended because they do not want to engage in what they feel is hostility or conflict.

How to discuss impeachment with family members and friends of differing views.

It is a sad state of affairs that we have become so divided that many people will actively avoid even speaking with people that they disagree with politically. And not just about politics, we often avoiding speaking with them at all. We get our news from different sources, and we tend to only speak with those with whom we agree. In this way our opinions are reinforced, and we never have new information introduced that may challenge our assumptions. It is no wonder that we continue to become more and more politically polarized.

Surveys show that about half of us find political conversations frustrating and stressful. The other half find them interesting and stimulating.

But what if I told you that there was a way to make every political conversation you have with your friends and family interesting and stimulating? Not just for you – for them as well. Impossible you say? Not really, you just have to give up your need to be right.

Here is how you can talk about almost anything with almost anyone without offending them (this is for outside the work environment ONLY):

  1. As a person shares their opinion on a subject with you, actively Listen to what they are saying. Listen to UNDERSTAND what they are saying. Too often we listen first for what we disagree with. Then we ‘pounce’ to show the other person how wrong they are.
  2. Ask really good Questions to draw out their point of view. Do not ask questions to prove they are wrong. Ask questions about things they may have brought up that you were not aware of.
  3. Express Empathy with what they are saying to you. This does not require you agree with them. You merely could say something like “I can see that this is very upsetting to you”.
  4. Clarify what you feel the person’s main points are. Make sure you do not introduce your judgment as you do this.

In many cases, after a conversation like this you will find that the emotional intensity person you are speaking to starts to decrease. They may in turn ask you what you think. If they do, maintain your calm and share ONE differing view that you have and then go back to asking them their thoughts.

Can discussing impeachment make you a better leader?

While maintaining emotional calm in a whirlwind of other people’s emotion is really hard, isn’t that what makes a leader more effective? Isn’t the ability to encourage and hear differing views what makes a leader effective?

Well then yes – discussing impeachment with family and friends CAN make you a better leader. As long as you give up the need to be right. It’s a challenge to be sure.

I have found that reasonable people can disagree on almost everything and maintain a healthy relationship with one another – as long as we don’t start to impugn the moral character and intentions of those we disagree with.

How about you? Are you up to the challenge?