Tag Archives: Leadership

Problems Talking With People

Have you ever had days when it seems impossible to talk to people effectively? Either they are being total jerks or they just don’t get what you are saying. By the end of the conversation you are ready to scream. I know I’ve had plenty of those days in my career, and at home. All my energy is drained by the end of the day and the thought of doing it all again the next day can be depressing.

The only way around that is to find a way to communicate more effectively, even when the other person isn’t cooperating. This can be very hard and at times it will feel like you are climbing a mountain, over and over again. However, if you practice a few simple things it will be easier in the moment and get better over time.

For those who don’t seem to understand the message these three steps will improve your communications:

  1. Meet the person at their level: It’s easy to start from your baseline and expect people to be right there along side of you. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. You need to figure out where that person is and meet them there. Then you can start to get your message across.
  2. Stop and listen intently: Once you’ve shared information take the time to ask if they understand you and then be quiet. Listen closely to what they say without judgment or rushing to correct them. Wait to see what they say.
  3. Acknowledge their response: Take a moment to reflect back what you heard from them. This lets them know you paid attention to them and heard what they said. They might be wrong, but they were heard. Now they will be more open to listening to you.

All too often we get in a hurry to dump information and run to the next person, task or meeting. We aren’t taking the time to make sure we are heard and then we blame the other person for “not getting it”. Is it really their fault? Maybe they didn’t listen or they didn’t care enough to retain what they heard. Maybe we didn’t take the time to be clear and verify we were heard correctly. Sure it takes more time up front, but it saves time, energy and money down the line because things are done right the first time.

The other side of the challenge is talking to jerks. Communicating with problem people is a topic I addressed in Energize Your Leadership, a collaborative book I had the pleasure to create with a group of 15 leaders from around the world. In my chapter I shared stories about some of the problem people I have crossed paths with and how I learned to be a better communicator because of the challenges they presented.

The three key lessons I shared in dealing with problem people are:

  1. Set boundaries to improve relationships
  2. Pause before hitting “Send”
  3. Come from a place of respect

It was a unique opportunity to work with 15 thought leaders from around the world to create a book whose purpose was to help others discover new ways to create energy, ignite/re-ignite their passion for leading, and break through their barriers. I have gotten to know many amazing and inspiring people who were willing to open up about their leadership journey. The stories are real world struggles and shared with the goal of helping others learn.

If you would like to learn more about the book, the authors and our story check it out at http://www.energizeyourleadership.net.

To buy the book you can go to Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Energize-Your-Leadership-Discover-Through-ebook/dp/B00WC5UI1C/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431985874&sr=1-1&keywords=energize+your+leadership.

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The Best of Lead With Giants March 14

wpid-Best-of-LWG-Blog-Posts.jpgToday I’m excited to bring to you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants group.  There are many interesting articles with great insights into leadership topics.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Best of Lead With Giants March 14

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The Best of Lead With Giants February 2014

wpid-Best-of-LWG-Blog-Posts.jpgToday I’m excited to bring to you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants group.  There are many interesting articles with great insights into leadership topics.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Best of Lead With Giants February 14

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How Will Your Integrity be Judged?

JudgingIt’s common for people to say that leaders must have integrity.  We are quick to point out CEO’s or politicians who make ethical mistakes and talk about their lack of integrity.  These are easy to point out.  We also identify public figures who act in ways that demonstrate their honesty and integrity.  Yet how easy is it to fall short of the ideal level of integrity?

There are some very subtle ways in which we may be acting which brings our integrity into question.  We often don’t even realize that our actions are not aligned with our values.  Unfortunately others will be watching what we do and compare it to what we say.  Here are some simple things that can trip up even the most honest people.

  • You say you hate gossip and actively discourage it; however you comment on a person who isn’t there at the time.
  • You encourage and evaluate your team on personal development yet you never find the time to take a class yourself.
  • Your company policy says that you will not accept gifts from vendors over a certain value but you allow a vendor to pay for you to play golf on a course whose fees are higher than the limit.
  • You hold people accountable to deadlines yet you often miss deadlines of your own.
  • You promise to give people honest feedback however you avoid the difficult conversations about performance because people will get upset.
  • You promote teamwork and collaboration but you are normally too busy to pitch in when asked.

Some of these examples are more obvious than others.  However, each one of these is an indication that you are not demonstrating the level of integrity that you may desire.  There may be reasons why you do some of these things but if you are honest with yourself it becomes obvious you are not practicing what you preach.  Even these small things can harm how others view you.  If they see you ‘cheating’ on the small things it can create doubt on how you will behave on the big things.

There is a story about President Abraham Lincoln who is well known for his honesty.  It demonstrates how keeping to your word may be uncomfortable in the moment but powerful over time.

While a member of Congress, Abraham Lincoln was once criticized by a friend for his seeming rudeness in declining to test the rare wines provided by their host.

The friend said to him: “There is certainly no danger of a man of your years and habits becoming addicted to the use of wine.”

“I mean no disrespect, John,” answered Lincoln, “but I promised my precious mother only a few days before she died that I would never use anything intoxicating as a beverage, and I consider that promise as binding today as it was the day I gave it.”

“But,” the friend continued, “there is a great difference between a child surrounded by a rough class of drinkers and a man in a home of refinement.”

“A promise is a promise forever,” answered Lincoln, “and when made to a mother, it is doubly binding.”

As you go about your day think about the choices you are making.  Are your words and your actions perfectly aligned?  Have you made allowances for falling short of keeping a promise or meeting a deadline?  Integrity is something that everyone wants in their leaders and in their teammates.  It can be hard to take the high road all the time and you run the risk of offending someone by sticking to your principles.  Yet over time people will think more of us when we do.  Leaders make hard choices all the time and this is one area that you completely control.  Choose wisely.

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If you would like help developing your key leadership qualities let us help you.  Contact me at carol@delta-group-llc.com or visit http://www.delta-group-llc.com

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How Deep Does Your Courage Go?

16 2009 07 04_0083_edited-1There are times when you need more courage than you think you have in you.  When you enter unknown territory you need to have the courage to move forward.  These situations often appear completely unexpectedly and catch you unaware.  As leader you have to be able to quickly pull on your reserves of courage to get you through the tough times.

You may need courage to:

  • Make a tough decision
  • Take on new responsibilities
  • Share your position on a topic
  • Get out of your comfort zone
  • Be vulnerable
  • Admit a mistake/error
  • Speak in front of a group
  • Delegate an important assignment
  • Ask for help

These are just a sampling of when you might need to find the courage to proceed.  It’s important that you manage your fear so you can step up when needed.  It’s okay to be afraid; in fact if you aren’t ever afraid of failing, or letting someone down, or being wrong about something important then you really aren’t committed.  Healthy fear means the outcome matters to you.  When you have no fear, nothing matters anymore.  So embrace the fear just keep it in perspective.

To keep your fear in its proper place you need to balance it with courage.  Courage comes from confidence.  Build your courage by building your confidence that you can succeed.  Confidence is created from recognizing and acknowledging past success in a related area.  If you have previously negotiated a contract successfully you will be more confident of your ability to do it again.  The real challenge comes when you venture into new territory, one where you have no direct past experience to use as your compass.

Here are several tips to build confidence when you are in a new situation:

  1. Look for similar experiences.  Maybe you are giving a speech in front of 500 people which is 400 more than you’ve ever done before.  However, speaking in front of people can be the same no matter the size of the audience.  If you did well with 100 you can do well with 1000.
  2. Identify transferrable experiences.  If you are good at making decisions in a project based environment you can be successful making decisions in other environments.  Decision making skills transfer across industries and organizations.
  3. Remember past unexpected success.  Think of times when you accomplished more than you believed possible or even met a goal that seemed unachievable.  Once you have done the seemingly impossible you can do it again.
  4. Enlist the input of someone who has succeeded.  When you are going into something totally new and unknown find a mentor or coach or trusted colleague who can share how they succeeded in this kind of situation.  You can use their experience to learn what is needed to succeed.
  5. Take action decisively.  Once you make the decision to brave the unknown act quickly and decisively.  The more time you spend preparing yourself the more time you will have to create doubts by worrying.  As Nike says “Just Do It”.

Use your past success to give you the courage to dare to do something new now.  Be brave and take a stand, do something new or go where others fear to venture.  The more successes you have in new things the more likely you will be to have the courage to go further and do more than you dreamed possible.

If you are a leader, your courage to go out on a limb will inspire your team to do the same and the results will be even greater than imagined.  Create an environment where fear is okay but courage is cherished.  Be brave for yourself and your team.

When did you have to dig deep for courage?

 

If you would like help building your courage to face new situations contact us at carol@delta-group-llc.com

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Responsibility – Do You Pass it On?

Teamwork passing the batonEach of us has responsibilities, to ourselves, to our families, to our jobs, and so on.  It’s one of those facts of adulthood.  With freedom comes responsibility.  The real question is how well we handle all of those responsibilities.  We also have choices on what we take on as a responsibility.  This is very true as leaders.

When we assume a leadership role we are being placed in a role with responsibilities.  We are accountable for our team’s performance as well as our own.  We become responsible for guiding, directing, and correcting the behavior of those around us.  How much we take on ourselves will often determine how well we perform as a leader.

The challenge of being responsible for the performance of others is how much of their success or failure do we really own?  When is their failure ours and when is it theirs?  What is our responsibility as a leader for those who are on our team?  Here are 6 questions to help determine when it’s your responsibility and when it’s not:

  1. Have you given clear direction, and checked for understanding, on what is required?
  2. Have you provided the training and coaching needed for success?
  3. Have you given feedback on their performance, including corrective ideas?
  4. Are you letting them act independently and not micro-managing?
  5. Are you available to them for support and guidance?
  6. Have you created an environment where people can innovate, act on ideas and questioning is welcomed?

If you answer yes to all of these questions then you are doing all that you can reasonably do to help your team succeed.  Some team members will flourish and grow in this kind of environment.  There will be some who aren’t well suited for the tasks at hand.  It could be that they just don’t have the abilities or capacity to meet the demands of the position.  They may not have the right attitude for the role they are in, or they may not want to grow in the direction needed. 

When someone can’t or won’t gain the skills needed to do the job assigned and you as their leader has worked with them to help them get there it becomes your responsibility to help them move to the right position.  This may mean leaving your organization or it may mean transferring to another area.  Your responsibility is to the entire team and the organization so you have to make sure the right people are in place to accomplish your goals and mission.

Responsibility is part of our lives, at home and at work.  When we take our responsibilities seriously and act on them with integrity and compassion we help our teams become the best they can be, together and individually.  Remember while we as leaders are responsible for the team’s results each person is also responsible for their performance and their results.  We must coach, train and guide them towards success but we have to let them succeed or fail on their own.  If they can’t succeed in the given role we must be responsible to the team and make a change.

You have to pass on the responsibility for personal performance to each person on your team.  Along with that you must share the responsibility for the overall team’s success with each member.  Build trust and collaboration by passing the baton of responsibility to your team.  Get them engaged in their individual and joint success.  Everyone wins then. 

Have you ever had issues related to passing responsibility to others?  Share your experiences below in the comments.

 

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If you would like help defining your responsibilities or learning to build your team’s abilities contact us at carol@delta-group-llc.com

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How Flexible are You?

Flexible business woman talk by phone

Leaders need some flexibility so they can reach their goals.  Whether you are leading teams or projects you will have a vision of the results, a plan to get there and the ability to adjust to circumstances that arise along the way.  The secret to being successful is having the right amount of flexibility.  There is a spectrum from very rigid to very pliant and we all fall along it in different places on each aspect of our lives.

A week ago my college aged son had shoulder surgery and he cannot use his left arm at all for the near future.  Many people would sit around, feeling sorry and do nothing because of the limitations.  He takes a different approach to it, he is very careful of his injured should but he looks at each situation in terms of what can he do not what can’t he do.  This is a great mindset for striking the right balance in flexibility.

As leaders there are things we must hold firm to like our vision, our passion and our integrity.  However, we need to be adaptable to new opportunities, new ways to reach our goals, and new resources that can help us move forward.  When we create a plan there must be room for change and adjustments.  Too often a leader builds a plan and will not deviate from it even when it is doomed to fail.  This is blind allegiance and there is no room for that in a leader’s world.

When moving forward towards a dream or vision leaders must be willing to listen and change based on the input of their team.  Others will see opportunities or come up with ideas that will move us forward quicker or more efficiently.  Allowing that change to take place is critical.  What a leader must avoid is giving up all control over the vision.  If the leader becomes too pliant then the group can pull the team in a new and different direction which may not meet the original vision.  Turning everything over without staying in control of the vision can lead to disaster.

Flexibility allows you to accommodate the needs of your team and adjust for obstacles or challenges.  When you are able to adapt your plan to the needs of the team, the team will buy into it because they now have a piece of it.  Obstacles and challenges require a change in approach where flexibility will lead to more innovative solutions.  Flexibility in methods builds buy-in and creates an environment conducive to innovation.

Here are some questions to ask to maintain your flexibility balance:

  • Is this idea/opportunity true to my vision for the results?
  • Could this be a better way to get things done?
  • Will this help us reach our goals while allowing the team to personalize their efforts?
  • Can this meet the goals of the vision as well as meet the needs of the team?
  • What would happen if this adjustment is made?
  • How can we work around this obstacle or challenge?
  • Will this make the end results even better?

SlinkyThink of a slinky, like the one pictured here.  They hold their over all shape yet to move forward they bend, twist and adjust to get to the destination.  As a leader that kind of flexibility will help you succeed.  Hold true to your vision, passion and integrity while adapting to the needs and ideas of those on your team.  Stretch yourself to learn more, do more and go places you never thought possible.

How do you work on your flexibility?  Share your best practices in the comments below.  I would love to learn new techniques.

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The Best of Lead With Giants January 2014

wpid-Best-of-LWG-Blog-Posts.jpgTo start the new year off in a great way I am sharing with you the best blog posts from the Lead With Giants group.  There are many interesting articles with great insights into leadership topics.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Best of Lead With Giants January 2014

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Top 5 Posts of 2013

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by, commented and shared my posts this past year.  Here are the top 5 posts from the year:

  1. 5 People Every Team Needs
  2. Defining Personal Productivity
  3. 10 Tips for Project Success
  4. A Leadership Parable
  5. Making Hard Choices

I’m looking forward to 2014 and sharing more thoughts with you as well as learning from your comments and feedback.

Let’s make 2014 the best year yet!  Have a great New Year!!

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If you would like help developing your project management or leadership skills contact me at carol@delta-group-llc.com.  I can help you create clarity around your goals, develop a strategy to reach them and support your during your efforts.

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Do You Want More From Your Team?

Team MtgAs the year winds down leaders and project managers review the performance and progress of their teams.  If you find that your team is falling short of where you would like or need them to be it’s time to take action to correct it.  By making those plans now you can set the stage for a more successful 2014.

What can you do to get things moving in the right direction?  Here are 4 steps you can take now to build a plan for success.

  1. Assess & analyze:  Where is the root cause of the underperformance?  Is it lack of ability?  Lack of capacity?   Lack of commitment?  Look at the team overall, including yourself and look at each individual.  You may find that some members lack the needed skills while other lacks a commitment to the project/team which is leading to an overall lack of capacity to get everything done.
  2. Develop:  Once you know the cause of the underperformance you can create development plans to address the gaps.  If a particular person doesn’t have the skills they need create a development plan to help them build those skills quickly.    Sometimes a team member needs to develop the ability to do more work by learning time management skills or working more efficiently.  Look at what can be developed in each person to benefit the team.
  3. Trim the deadwood:  After you look at each person you may find that there is someone on the team who just is not the right fit.  They may not have the aptitude for the work to be done or they may not be able to develop the needed skills.  Cut them from the team to make room for someone who can help the team achieve more. 
  4. Encourage:  It’s most likely the team knows they are not hitting their marks and that is very discouraging to people.  Help them see that they can reach the needed performance and that you believe in them.  Taking the first three steps will help them see your commitment to their success and will help them become committed to improving.  A positive outlook will create a positive environment where people want to do better.  Spell out the facts of the situation and build hope for a better tomorrow.

This will take some time to do well and yet it can yield amazing performance improvements that it’s worth the time.  Underperforming teams can be turned around with time and attention.  You need to figure out what can be done to meet your targets and how you can help the team get there.

While looking at the team’s performance you have to take a hard look at your performance relative to the team.  Are you being the leader they need to achieve the project or team goals?  Ask them how you can better support them and then listen to their feedback.  Some of it may be hard to hear so just absorb the information.  Take the time to reflect on what you are told and implement the changes that will help you grow and help your team succeed.  Your willingness to change will help set the stage for them to change as well.  If you want them to change their performance you need to go first, so model what you want from them.  They will like you for it and will respond well.

Learn to be a coach that helps their team achieve more and accomplish great things.  As you develop or refine your coaching skills you will grow as a leader and become capable of leading teams in any situation.  You can become a better coach by working with a coach to grow your skills and abilities.  Again, you will be modeling the behavior you want from your team and developing yourself at the same time.  Win-Win

To get more from your team you must be aware of the gaps and be willing to help close those gaps by developing the team’s skills or getting the right people on the team.  It’s up to you as a leader or project manager to make sure your team is set to deliver as required.

If you are curios on how a coach could help you click here for information on a special offer designed to help you get more out of your team in 2014.  We can help you do more personally and help you prepare your team for a fantastic year.

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