The words you choose as a leader, or in any position of influence, shape the identity of others and as a result their decisions and actions. Successful business owners and senior managers, are able to communicate in a way that is authentic and inspiring, not only shaping positive results, but also creating an environment where employees feel satisfied, happy and excited to come to work each day. This article is written for senior leaders who happen to be women. However, my executive coaching clients who are of the male persuasion tell me they (sometimes secretly) find this advice extraordinarily relevant and helpful when it comes to being a successful, Sustainable Leader.
It’s common knowledge in business what is required in order to be considered a “strong leader” or “respected boss”, however leaders who are women find the ingredients to be a successful leader somewhat, ok extraordinarily, hypocritical.
Do any of these Rules You Need to Follow To Be a Respected Leader sound familiar? If you have ever followed them mindlessly, no worries, because what’s admitted here stays here, okay?
“Leave your feelings at the door when you come to work …”
“Don’t let them see you sweat …”
“Strong men are authoritative. Strong men are respected. You need to act like a man to get respect around here. Oh, and by the way, when you act like a “strong man” you will be called a b***h!”
Wait, keep following these rules and it will get worse, not better …
Did I mention the stress you will feel as a result of pretending or faking it … “acting as if” how you are showing up is who you really are and is in alignment with what you believe you need to be…to be successful?
Unfortunately, when you pretend to feel one way and act another, you will quickly be perceived by others as distant, inauthentic and untrustworthy. Probably not what you are going for … Find out how to break the rules with professionalism and be an authentic woman leader: Read more over at ManagingAmericans.com[sharebox5_no_border] [/sharebox5_no_border]
It was interesting to see the negative, almost painful in some cases, visceral reaction so many people had when remembering their worst boss.
Answer: Two frogs.
Why? The same reason only 3% of the population set and actually achieve their goals or maintain positive, well-intentioned change in the first place. The frog missed three critical steps of Achieving his Goal: Ask, Announce, Act (and Ask again).
The frog understood WHY it was a good idea to jump off, because he was an intelligent, high achieving, upwardly mobile frog. He understood there were more opportunities and freedom if he left the comfort of the log. While the frog understood why, and although he did decide … he didn’t take action.
What about accountability and following up? Perhaps if the first frog told the second frog he was going to jump off, he would have followed through on his promise and lived happily ever after. Does this story sound familiar? Whoops, wrong story. That’s enough about frogs …Now let’s make the story relevant.
Leaders and Learning: Which skills are more critical to your success strategic skills or soft skills?
“Almost 50% of newly hired or newly promoted leaders quit or get fired before their 18 month anniversary …” (Hint: The majority of failure is not a result of lack of business savvy or technical skills, but a lack of interpersonal or communication skills.)
… and another statistic:
“The divorce rate in the US is around 50% …” As a marriage counselor for 14 years, I will also bet the reason is the same … lack of effective communication skills by one or both people.
Question: Which is easier for you to achieve: your company’s strategic goals or your soft skills or interpersonal goals? “What are ‘personal development goals’ and why would I, Mr. or Ms. Super Successful CEO need them?” you ask?
Because you don’t want to be a statistic.
By lack of interpersonal or soft skills I mean the inability to manage your emotions. You, who growl and snap when your assistant forgets an important detail about a meeting. You, the exhausted Senior VP who feels like you start your day in at a jog and feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time 8 pm rolls around. You, the up and coming leader who promised your son you’d get home in time to see him play baseball and you missed it again. Yes, you, the human part of the executive equation.
What difference will it make when you have mastered the higher level communication and relationship skills that prevent these conflicts? You understand why personal skill development is important, may have decided to make a change, but are you ready to take action and jump off of the log?
What if you had a simple, 3 step brain-based learning strategy to make lasting, positive changes in your actions, your communication style or your interpersonal skills as easily as you develop and achieve your strategic company objectives for 2012? I said it was simple, I didn’t say it would be easy …
AAA: The Triple Threat Solution … 3 Simple Steps: Ask, Announce & Act (Repeat)
Step #1: Ask. Ask others what they see you can improve upon. After all, perception is reality and their perception of how you communicate rather than your perception of how you communicate matters most.
Step #2: Announce. Tell people what you are working on. This not only holds you more accountable for change, it also subconsciously invites people to look for and more likely notice the positive change you will be making.
Step #3: Act. Just do it. Look for opportunities to interrupt an old pattern. Try taking a few deep breaths next time you feel tense going into a meeting (holding our breath triggers Lizard Brain). Instead of saying “No” immediately to an idea proposed in a project meeting, take a moment and respond “Interesting, let’s consider that idea.”
Then, repeat #1: Ask. Remind others of what you are working on and then check in and ask “How am I doing?” Where are you inviting them to focus? Right. On what you are changing, because otherwise, people may not notice, allowing the negative things you say or do to stand out more automatically.
So, what are your waiting for? Jump!
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Watch your language!
To eliminate “lizard brain” (the emotional hijack caused by stress) avoid asking questions like “Why did you ..??” “WHY can’t you …?” “WHY don’t you …?” “WHY?” not only results in the listener feeling defensive, but also rarely matters when we are looking for solutions to a problem.
A better question effective leaders ask begins with “what” or “how” and helps people think. One example is asked with genuine curiosity (remember to manage your frustration first) … “What did you hope would happen by doing XYZ?”
Then, if you want people to trust you, shut up and listen.
To get the other 20 Ways to Eliminate Leadership Stress for You AND Your Team, click the link below to register for a free webinar:
Stress causes more than just physical symptoms. Did you know stress in the workplace erodes trust, productivity and creativity of you and your team?
Discover 21 Ways to Eliminate Stress to be able to do your best work, feel happier and more satisfied at the end of the day (and help your team do so, too!)
Scott Mabry posted this article from McKinsey Quarterly on his blog and all I can say is it’s about time the cat’s out of the bag …
Leading through times of exponential change is not for the faint of heart … and requires more character, stamina … and hugs than we ever imagined (or even Donald Trump would admit).
Sustainable leaders will be able to lead through the 21st century … and beyond. Because these leaders will come back to center and know what REALLY matters. And lead from who they are. But first, a reality check …
Read what Josef Ackermann, formerly of Deutsche Bank; Carlos Ghosn of Nissan and Renault; Moya Greene of Royal Mail Group; Ellen Kullman of DuPont; President Shimon Peres of Israel; and Daniel Vasella of Novartis have to say about what it’ll take to be a highly successful CEO who won’t burn up or burn out: Click here to read more in the McKinsey Quarterly journal …
To Your Sustainable Leadership,
Leadership Speaker, Author & Executive Consultant
Powerful Connections … Sustainable Leadership … Extraordinary Peace of Mind.[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Who was your favorite boss, coach or teacher? Your tough situation that turned out to be your greatest inspiration? I’ll bet you could tell some stories … well, here’s mine from a recent post I wrote for Leaders at The LeadChange Group Blog:
Some of the most powerful leadership lessons I’ve experienced have not come from my high school swim coach, my first inspirational boss or any leadership guru at all. One of the first teachers of my most powerful lessons in what makes great leaders great weighed in at just over a thousand pounds, had four legs, a tail and really big teeth, which he never brushed.
His name was Banjo and he was a horse … of course, of course.
Early on, I struggled, often for hours, trying to get Banjo into the horse trailer so we could go somewhere, a trail ride, the vet or moving from California to Colorado. I would start out calmly, then as he got more stubborn, putting two front feet in then flying out backwards as fast as he could run, I would get frustrated, then angry and then … well, let’s just say I tried all the tricks in the book; coercion, threats, intimidation, pressure and yes, pain. Do these old-style management tactics sound familiar?
An old, scruffy, wise cowboy helped me see the writing in the dirt. After working with Banjo for just a few minutes, then loading him easily several times, he politely tipped his hat to me and said, “Excuse me ma’am. If I can say … what you have here is not a loading problem, it’s a leading problem.”
What you have here is not a loading problem, it’s a leading problem.
A brutal a blow to my “know it all” ego, but he was right. Horses are prey animals and herd animals, who follow trustworthy leaders instinctively. I was not a trustworthy leader in Banjo’s eyes. Being a predator, we were already at odds. Trailers are caves. What lives in caves? Bears, cougars and other predators who eat horses. I was an angry predator to Banjo, with unpredictable emotions and not an ounce of empathy to try to see the world through his eyes.
From that moment on, the lesson “You can judge the quality of your communication by the response you get” became crystal clear. It was my responsibility to take 100% ownership in the quality of my communication … and ask for a “do -over.”
Lucky for me horses are very forgiving creatures … and in my eyes, the most powerful teachers I could ever ask for.
Who have been your most unlikely, yet powerful teachers?[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Because most people will work hard to avoid conflict, productive meetings prepare participants for “what we are doing today” and encourage them to think out loud.
Bottom line is the leader must facilitate a psychologically safe environment for people to take risks.
“All ideas are accepted” and we start with only positive statements or strengths will create such an environment.
Brain science research has proven there’s an optimum 5:1 ratio: when we start a conversation with the positive, then our brain will be more open to accepting the “negative” or different opinions.
It’s like merging onto a freeway … start by going with the flow of traffic, then merge lane by lane into the fast lane is a better strategy than getting on the freeway going the wrong direction![sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
If you are a leader in your organization (and anyone who makes a difference can be a leader), what if you were to notice opportunities to make a positive difference in another person’s self-image. What difference could you make today?
Common sense and now recent discoveries in brain science of social intelligence research, proves it: It is within a conversation in a relationship we learn and grow and our minds are shaped (ideally) to become more of who we are supposed to be. However, in many conversations we end up feeling criticized, deflated and unmotivated. Especially if that conversation happens with the boss or where there is an imbalance of power, as in a leader vs. direct report relationship.
Let’s make this practical and now take it a step further. We communicate through language (verbal, non-verbal). Stay with me now … In our conversations we influence and change our minds and subsequently our neural connections. When new neural networks and connections in our brain are made, due to neuroplasticity, our self-identity is constantly shaped and re-shaped and in turn we influence the self-identity of others. Oh, and many of us are in contact with more people and have more conversations with people at work … therefore many opportunities to create positive, constructive neural connections in not only their brain, but our own.
ScienceDaily (2010-08-27) — In the first study of its kind, researchers have found compelling evidence that our best and worst experiences in life are likely to involve not individual accomplishments, but interaction with other people and the fulfillment of an urge for social connection.
What if you were to notice opportunities to make a positive difference in someone else’s brain … what difference could you make today? Go ahead, I dare you.
Do you let the facts get in the way of a good story?
What do you do with people who disagree with you… do you call them names in order to shut them down?
Are you open to multiple points of view or you demand compliance and uniformity? [Bonus: Are you willing to walk away from a project or customer or employee who has values that don’t match yours?]
Is it okay if someone else gets the credit?
How often are you able to change your position?
Do you have a goal that can be reached in multiple ways?
If someone else can get us there faster, are you willing to let them?
No textbook answers… It’s easy to get tripped up by these. In fact, most leaders I know do.
Do you wonder why leadership training programs fail to prepare leaders of today for tomorrow’s challenges? The survey says …. “Avoid 5 Fail Points in Leadership Training” Download or listen now to the webinar on how to avoid wasting time and money on your personal or company’s leadership training and three key strategies to make your coaching or leadership development program truly pay off for the leader, for constituents and for the entire organization.
The bottom line is developing Sustainable Leaders: Developing authentic leaders happens from the inside out and from the outside in … for more information go to Sustainable Leadership, Inc.