Many leaders continue to function primarily as information brokers. They spend an enormous amount of time and effort gathering information, synthesizing it and providing it to others. Unfortunately, people don’t need more information, they need more perspective. They need more meaning. And they need a personal mission. What they really need is more leadership.
When the true leader speaks, things happen. In this video, Gregg Thompson, President of Bluepoint Leadership Development dispels the myths about communication, identifies the difference between leadership communication and management communication, and then shares three dimensions that leaders can use so that their words will make a difference.
The Leader Speaks is a highly experiential workshop, designed to provide participants with the theory, application, practice and feedback necessary to significantly accelerate their communication effectiveness. Through a series of thought-provoking lecturettes, experiential exercises, video case studies, and communication practicums, participants learn how to use their natural leadership and communication talents to immediately have a positive impact on others in their organization and beyond.
Leading organizations like Microsoft and Intel have used The Leader Speaks to enhance the quality and impact of communication from their leaders. As well, Celgene Pharmaceuticals have used The Leader Speaks to improve the communication skills of their Senior Sales Executives.
Click here for more information about The Leader Speaks Workshop.
…the quality of the conversation reflects the quality of the leader
If James Humes was correct when he asserted that "Every time you speak, you are auditioning for leadership,” then every conversation presents an opportunity to either advance or regress your leadership.
What do your conversations say about you as a leader?
There was a time when moving information up and down the organization was one of the biggest parts of a leader’s job. That day has passed. Sure, you still need to make sure that the people in your organization have the accurate and timely information necessary to do their work and your boss needs to know how your business is doing but times have changed. Increasingly, the people in your organization have access to the same information as you, possibly even better access. Information is rapidly and broadly dispersed. Organizations are flattening and losing their boundaries. It’s no longer your job to provide people with high-quality information; it’s your job to get people to think and act differently…and in concert! Unfortunately, many organization leaders continue to function primarily as information brokers. They spend an enormous amount of time and effort gathering information, synthesizing it and providing it to others. People don’t need more information, they need more perspective. They need more meaning. And they need a personal mission. What they really need is more leadership. And the most effective leadership happens one conversation at a time!
It is important to understand that communication is not simply an important leadership competency. It is your leadership. Leadership and communication are synonymous. Virtually everything you do as a leader is a product of your communication. When we think about leadership communication, we usually focus on presentations and formal written material however the real impact comes from the routine conversations we have every day. When asked about a leadership action that dramatically changed their performance or career, the vast majority of people cite a pivotal conversation which changed their view of themselves and their work. Conversations change people and people change organizations. Is this not what leadership is all about?
However, for the leader, being heard, really heard is a daunting task. Most leaders’ voices are simply lost in the din of the meaningless chatter that pervades organizations.
So how can the leader be heard? How can he or she engage in conversations that change the way people think about themselves and their work? There are three, and likely only three, conversations that need to be part of every leader's repertoire.
The Organization’s Story
Leaders don’t tell stories to be engaging or entertaining. They tell stories because it is the only way others can really hear them. Our brains are hard-wired to make sense out of the world by constantly creating and rewriting stories. It’s the leader’s job to remind others of the organization’s story and how their story (the other person’s) connects with and adds to the bigger, organization story. Every conversation presents an opportunity to advance both stories. Are we on a great adventure, out to right a terrible wrong, discover a brave new world or create boundless prosperity for your community? Simply put, great organizations have great stories and great leaders unfold these stories verse by verse, chapter by chapter in every conversation they have. Story injects passion and energy into the work. Story illuminates the path forward. Story brings meaning to the journey. So how do you know if you are having conversations that are advancing the organization’s story? There is only one measure. People are leaving conversations with you with a personal story that is more vivid, more compelling and more alive. People are not simply better informed; they are more aligned, more engaged, more inspired, more committed…and feeling like they have the lead role in the story.
The Constructive Confrontation.
Organizations that are rife with confusion and ambiguity typically have leaders who avoid confrontations like the plague. These leaders keep themselves distracted with all kinds of busy work rather than engaging in the conversations that may matter most: constructive confrontations.
“The weakest link in executive leadership is confrontation”
Authors DiSilvestro and Hoovera.We all tend to avoid these difficult conversations not because we think these are unimportant but rather because we fear the perceived emotional carnage that will result. The only way to effectively counter this fear is to get clear on our intentions. Why are we having the conversation? The problem with most confrontation situations is that the leader comes bearing negative judgments and an agenda directed at fixing the other person rather than an attitude of service. Constructive confrontation is not about criticizing, blaming or making accusations. Successful leaders confront others not to fix them but out of genuine concern for them and a desire to provide information that will ultimately be valuable to them and help them perform at a higher level. It’s hard to go wrong when your intention is to create a free flowing dialogue unencumbered by defensiveness, negative emotions and competing agendas. When well done, confrontation lowers defenses, creates mutual respect and understanding, increasing commitment and engagement. The key here is your intention. You want something changed, likely the mind or behavior of the other person. Be upfront about that. How do you know if you are having constructive confrontations? First and foremost, you know in your heart-of-hearts that you are all in. You are saying everything that needs to be said and you are walking away from all conversations empty. You don’t leave a story half-told, feedback unspoken or a thorny issue not raised. Secondly, people are routinely thanking you for having the courage to have these conversations based on a remarkably raw level of honesty. They understand how difficult it is to initiate these conversations and they appreciate your commitment to do so.
The Coaching Conversation.
The coaching conversation is a very special conversation. Unlike every other conversation you have through the course of your day, the coaching conversation is virtually devoid of self-interest. It is all about the other person….and this is not a natural state for most of us. We all want to learn, relate, laugh and be entertained when we speak to others. Nothing wrong with this. It’s normal to have a healthy dose of self-interest in our conversations. The hallmark of a coaching conversation is unmistakable: the other person leaves the conversation better in some way. They leave with a new idea, a fresh perspective or a renewed personal commitment. They leave affirmed, challenged or energized. You have helped them see exciting new possibilities, uncover unused talents or approach their work with a whole new attitude. So how does one engage in a coach-like conversation? Two leadership practices are imperative: First, you need to be able to get totally present with the other person, really present. Don’t just seek to learn what’s important to the other person; seek to learn what it is like to be the other person. Think what they think. Feel what they feel. Second, have one overriding question in your mind throughout the entire conversation: “At this moment in time, what can I say (or not say) to be most helpful to this person? ” It might be a question, an affirmation, an insight, a challenge or maybe nothing at all. It might be a question, an affirmation, an insight, a challenge or maybe nothing at all. Rely upon your natural intuition and your noble intentions and you will likely end up with the right answer.
Powerful leadership conversations are the lifeblood of high performing teams and organizations. If your number one job is information broker, watch out. You are about to become extinct. Your new job is to have conversations that help people readily connect with the organization’s story, hear things they will hear from no one else and perform at their very best.
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"This is how we do things here, now"
How to effectively change your corporate culture
By Susanne Biro
My mother and father were European, Austrian and Hungarian to be specific. One of the things this meant for me growing up was that if someone came to our house, everyone had to come out from wherever they were, say hello, and immediately we had to offer that person a drink (preferably alcoholic). If the person stayed for more than 30 minutes, it was necessary to offer them food and then, even if they declined (and sometimes especially if they declined), feed them. Providing the basic necessities of life (drink and food) was understood as a sign of abundance and wealth. We had it to give away and my parents took great delight in sharing what we had. If a guest refused our offerings, we (especially my mother), took offense. “What’s wrong with my cooking?” she would demand. “Mom, maybe they just aren’t hungry,” I would try to reason in front of our increasingly uncomfortable guest. She couldn’t conceive of it. The funny thing is that now when I enter someone’s home and they fail to offer me a drink, I find it strange, even a little rude. That’s the thing with culture, it colors how we interpret everything and, for the most part, we are blind to it.
Culture is the mostly unspoken, “this is how we do things here.” And it encompasses the, “This is who we are as a collection of people. These are the values we hold dear. This is how we treat each other, talk to each other, and regard each other. This is how we show respect and disrespect. And, this is how we come together to get stuff done.” Every collection of people has a culture. And we know immediately when we are not in a familiar one.
So once a culture, specifically a corporate culture, is established, how do we go about changing it?
Of course, this is no simple task. However, below are five guiding principles:
- If real estate is location, location, location, then attempting to lead culture change is communicate, communicate, communicate.
- You must first clarify the story for yourself: the company is moving from what to what exactly? You should be able to craft this story using nothing more than three power point slides: a slide that tells the story of the past, a slide that encompasses the realities of today, and a slide that paints a vision for a better tomorrow. It is irrelevant whether or not you actually use the slides to communicate with your audience. The purpose of the exercise is to ensure you are crystal clear on the key elements of the story and you can tell it in an interesting, visual way.
- You might consider your new title as “Chief Marketing Officer” as it would benefit you greatly to think in terms of a logo, tagline, and headline. For example, when Lou Gerstner Jr. took over IBM, he used this simple phrase to communicate the vast and complex change the business would need to undergo in order to survive: “We used to be a computer parts company. We are now going to be a service company that, by the way, just happens to have some computer parts.”
- In your communication, you must clearly name that this is a break from the past: “The past is over and the future will look and feels like ‘this’.” You might consider incorporating a ritual to get people to fully understand that the past is no more. Kenny Moore of KeySpan Corp. held a funeral to say goodbye to the company as it once was.
- You must live the new cultural values and norms impeccably. Not only that, you must be an ambassador for them. You must catch any words or actions that are not in alignment with the new culture and appropriately redirect behavior because everyone is watching to see if this change is going to be real. As the saying goes, “All that is necessary for evil to exist in the world is for good people to stand by and do nothing.” If you do nothing when people continue to behave in the ways of the past, you essentially say to everyone that the change is not real. You might consider how The Broken Window Theory might be useful. This theory states that if a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge, sending a signal to all that anything goes.”
Adults often complicate things more than is necessary, or even helpful. Indeed, there is brilliance in simplicity. Great marketers and advertisers have always known this. It is one of the reasons companies spend millions of dollars to whittle the complexity of their ideas, products and/or services down to a sentence or logo that a five-year-old could understand. Attempting to change your corporate culture is a complex and lengthy task for certain. This is why it is imperative that you can speak about it simply.
Susanne Biro is a senior leadership coach with Bluepoint Leadership Development and co-author of Unleashed! Leader As Coach as well as the corresponding Leader As Coach workshop. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To download a pdf copy of this article, click here.
As a leader, is your mind friend or foe?
Take a look at the leaders around you. Note the ones who work at a feverish pace bouncing from crisis to crisis, constantly complaining about being overworked, and always seemingly on the edge of burnout. Note also the leaders that exude a quiet yet intense confidence, take each challenge in stride and always approach their work with an unwavering sense of purpose. Which are you? Frenzied and disjointed or focused and composed? This is a choice all leaders can and must make. What is your choice?
It’s tempting to think that the calm, focused leader just doesn’t get it, doesn’t see the chaos and confusion in their organization, and lives in a private dream world devoid of the real, difficult issues of the day. Not true. These are ordinary men and women who have chosen to approach their leadership roles in an intentionally thoughtful and composed manner. They have chosen contemplation over frenetic action, mental mastery over mental subjugation…and in doing so have laid claim to extraordinary leadership power. There is a distinct, inverse relationship between a leader’s mental busyness and their leadership effectiveness. It is sad to see so many talented, intelligent leaders become so distracted by the mayhem and pandemonium of today’s organizations that they are unable to bring the full power of their minds to their teams and organizations. Unfortunately, they let their approach to leadership mirror the frenetic world in which we live today. They have allowed their minds to become chock-full of inane conversations, unimportant problems, inordinate needs and fears, unfounded suspicions, other people’s business, personal disappointments and broken promises. Their minds have become veritable quagmires of disorganized thoughts and emotions. And things are getting worse. Our propensity to gorge ourselves on emails, reality TV, small talk, social media and gossip is accelerated by the instantaneous communication provided by smart phones, tablets and computers. Interestingly, it is rare to find an e-reader these days that does not have Internet search capabilities. Perish the thought that one would become so immersed in a work of fiction that they would not need the ability to simultaneously check on their latest Facebook postings.
The uncluttered mind! Is it really possible for today’s leader? How does one become a Contemplative Leader? The literal meaning of contemplation is “to notice something and think deeply about it”. For the leader, contemplation is practicing a unique blend of honesty, presence and personal responsibility. It is a mental discipline from which true leadership power emanates. The secret is to empty your mind of the myriad of inconsequential, immediately gratifying distractions that organization life serves up to you every day and replace these with three powerful leadership practices.
#1 Tell Yourself the Truth About You.
The more we deceive ourselves, the more leadership power we give away. When we are dishonest with ourselves, self-doubt, uncertainty and fear are our constant companions. A leader’s capacity to think clearly, remain calm and focused, and inspire confidence flows directly from an inner foundation of self-honesty. Take a truly honest look at yourself as a leader and accept what you see? What is most important to you? Are you being true to these core values and bringing your best efforts to your work? In what ways are you selling out on yourself? What are the few difficult and courageous things you need to do so you no longer have to do the countless unimportant things? Who sets your agenda and whose approval do you seek? What needs and fears are consuming you? What relationships are needlessly draining your time and energy? The Contemplative Leader considers and answers the tough, personal questions that others avoid.
#2 Get Present with People.
I am a photographer. I shoot using a photographic method known as Miksang.
The word miksang is Tibetan for “good eye” – not a good eye for composing photographs but rather the ability to see with a calm, open, uncluttered mind. When I practice miksang, my world slows down, faces become vividly clear and I see people in ways I would otherwise miss. I took this shot of this young girl with the piercing eyes while on a recent speaking engagement in India.
This little street urchin is actually my grandson, Elliott, who is taking a break while helping me build a tool shed. I like these particular photos because I caught each subject deep in thought, seemingly reflecting on some great dilemmas or philosophical concepts. I was present with them at a special moment and captured the moment in a photograph. Can you be totally present with those you lead? Can you set your own world aside for a time, quiet your mind and concentrate solely on the concerns of another? Can you experience what it must be like to be this person? This is the practice of the Contemplative Leader.
#3 Don’t Please; Don’t Protect.
As a leader, nothing will diminish your mental energy more than trying to gain the approval of your superiors and live the lives of your subordinates. The need for approval is pervasive in organizations and inherent in our reporting structures. Respect authority and the direction you are provided, however, as a leader, you need to be the final arbiter of your performance. Are you all in? Only you will know the answer to this question. While being respectful of the organization’s hierarchy, Contemplative Leaders courageously set out to do great work and let the chips fall where they may. And they assume that others in the organization are capable of doing their own work, managing their own careers and living their own lives. They recognize that it is not their job to make decisions for others, to protect others and to manage their careers. They serve others by challenging them, encouraging them, confronting them, inspiring them…and holding them accountable to bring their very best to their work. This is servant leadership in action. Uninhibited by the need for approval (from others) and responsibility (for others), the Contemplative Leader is able to act with exceptional independence and freedom.
If you are looking for a fresh approach to your leadership, consider seizing the full power of your mind. Ignore the noise that fills your mind with the trivial and, instead, contemplate what’s really important to you and those you lead. Plato believed that deep contemplation was one of the most important things humans could do and that through it we could ascend to higher life forms. Is this the path to your next chapter as a leader?
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Leadership 4.0 ... a brave new approach for a new generation
by Jim Boneau & Gregg Thompson
For leaders, experience is by far the best teacher. It teaches them how to adhere to core values, coach and mentor others, encourage creativity and innovation and inspire diverse populations - all very important leadership competencies and practices. Unfortunately, this same experience is an untrustworthy guide for the world we are about to enter. To continue to have a real impact on their organizations, leaders are well advised to peer into the past to understand the future. We are already in the early stages of a global, digital economy that is completely dismantling and recreating our existing social and financial frameworks. Markets are becoming increasingly volatile, key talent is in short supply, information is rapidly and broadly dispersed, and traditional organizations are flattening, being turned upside down and are losing their boundaries. This frenetic pace of change will likely continue unabated for the foreseeable future. And a new chapter in leadership is about to begin: Leadership 4.0.
In this week's article, Jim Boneau and Gregg Thompson share an overview of past forms of leadership and take a look at the new challenges that future leaders will face. We are pleased to offer you a complimentary copy of the article - Leadership 4.0
. You can download your copy here.
As a business development professional, you routinely meet with prospective customers at all organizational levels. All of these contacts hold some potential for you and your product or service however your real target is the leader of the enterprise. Whether their title is CEO, President, General Manager or Owner, this is the person who is ultimately responsible for the business and this is the person who can, immediately and unilaterally, buy what you are selling. You have made all the right calls, provided all the right information and you have been able to arrange a meeting with him or her. Now what? How can you distinguish yourself from the countless other voices this person is hearing all day and make a real impact? How can you make a significant connection with the leader of the enterprise?
First, it is important to understand what is unique about these particular business leaders. They are distinguished by five traits and characteristics, namely:
1. They are intelligent on several levels - In his ground-breaking book entitled Frames Of Mind (1983), Howard Gardner claims that people have the capacity to have various forms of intelligence beyond what we have typically viewed as IQ. They may have all sorts of mental gifts such as linguistic, spatial or interpersonal intelligence. In Primal Leadership (1995), Daniel Goleman went on to assert that people with high emotional intelligence(EI) tend to rise to the top of organizations. Therefore it's a pretty safe bet to assume that the leader of the enterprise has a level of emotional intelligence that is significantly higher than average. This is good to know.
2. They love to learn – Enterprise leaders tend to be life-long learners and usually have the ability to assimilate large amounts of information and rapidly extract the most important ideas, themes and dilemmas. Conversely, they quickly tune out of any conversation that does not appear to hold some fresh knowledge or insights for them or their business. Good to know.
3. They traffic in superlatives - These leaders live in a world in which good and better are for everyone else. They thrive on extremes. Deep in their DNA is an uncontrollable fascination with the best, the fastest, the slowest, the biggest, the newest and the cheapest. They glaze over when confronted with good or better. They are looking for the “…est” in everything. Good to know.
4. They do not buy to look good - Truth be told, those of us who work inside organizations have a significant degree of self-interest. If we are responsible for a purchase, we want to make a good buying decision but we also want to look good to others, particularly our bosses. There is nothing sinister about this; it's just human nature. Not so for the leader of the enterprise. Most have little regard for what others think about their decision. The best will seriously consider the advice of others but will still make a decision that they believe, in their heart of hearts, is best for the business. Good to know.
5. They are listening for a personal promise - Most of these leaders are in the sales business as well. They know you are doing your best to get them to buy something and they respect that effort. They also know that you have inside information. You know if the product or service is really right for them. They, on the other hand, can only guess. They will listen to your well-articulated description of features and benefits but what they really want to hear is a promise from you, personally, that a buying decision is the best thing they can do. Good to know.
So what can the business development professional do to connect with the leader of the enterprise? First, it is important to recognize that there is no set of nifty interpersonal tricks one can learn to make this connection. There is no provocative question, no engaging smile, no sparkling insight, no sincere compliment, and no witty repartee that will make this happen. The only way is by making a personal investment. Here are three
things that you can do.
1. Build an Emotional Connection. Enterprise leaders not only have above average
emotional intelligence, they readily connect with their equals in this regard. So how
do you increase your emotional intelligence? It is an ongoing process of...
- enhancing your awareness of your unique personal traits, characteristics and emotional reactions,
- learning to master your natural responses to change, stress and adversity,
- developing your ability to understand and truly empathize with others, and
- generating a contagious sense of confidence and optimism in all your endeavors.
2. Create a Compelling Future. Enterprise leaders live much of their lives in the future. They are consumed by the challenge of creating a tomorrow that is bigger and better than today. To connect with them, you need to go there with them and share their passion for possibilities, potential and prospects.
3. Craft a Profound Story. Neuroscientists claim that the only way humans can reason
and remember is through stories. Our brains are hard-wired to generate stories about everything we see, think and experience. If this true, enterprise leaders have a powerful predisposition to create grand epics. To connect with them, you need to listen for their particular story and find ways to add a significant chapter.
Business development professionals seeking to make a real connection with the leader of the enterprise need to look first at their own development, approaches and practices if they wish to be successful in this endeavor.
To download a pdf copy of this article, click here.
LEADING THE ENTERPRISE! ...the six surprising shifts you need to make now
BY GREGG THOMPSON
At some point in our careers most of us have said to ourselves: “I want it all. I want to run the whole business.” Our minds come alive with thoughts of the
freedom, the rewards and the recognition that come with this role. So, you finally do have it all; you are leading the enterprise. Now what?
As much as I believe that leadership is everyone’s business, I also believe that not all leadership is the same. Throughout the course of your management career, you have likely made several significant shifts in your approach to leadership but none as dramatic as that required when you become the leader of the enterprise. You are now not just responsible for a team,a function or even a huge division; you are now responsible for the business itself. And this is no small thing. Shareholders put their precious assets in your hands, employees count on you so they can pay their mortgages, and customers expect amazing products and service.
Enterprise leadership is a very, very difficult, often unrewarding endeavor. Your
job is to create value out of a cluster of diverse, moving pieces while shareholders are demanding extraordinary returns, employees are demanding extraordinary careers, and customers are demanding extraordinary attention. All of this needs to be accomplished in an unforgiving marketplace surrounded by government agents with voracious appetites for taxes, regulations and power. Clarke and Crossland must have been speaking to enterprise leaders in The Leader’s Voice when they said: “Some will judge you unfairly, blaming you for their lack of success. Others will expect resources you cannot give, answers that you do not have, and permission that you cannot grant. You will be misquoted. Your judgment will be questioned. You will certainly stumble. Failure will stalk you like a predator. The toughest problems will be yours alone. You must take responsibility for the failures and give credit for the successes. Lose the fantasy that you will be cherished, immortalized and revered. Expect long hours and few moments of gratitude.”
In short, you now have enormous responsibility for which you will never be fully compensated, you will be blamed for many things that are not your fault, and a big part of your job is to make sure everyone else gets the credit for your best work. Welcome to enterprise leadership!
It is clear that when you step up to lead the enterprise, you need to be on your very best game. Here are the six, somewhat surprising shifts that you absolutely must make to effectively lead the enterprise.
While you won’t read about these in any best-selling leadership books or in
Harvard Business Review, these are the critical differentiators that separate the
winners from the losers. Shift #1: Immediately declare independence.
You were selected for this job because you have the unique ability to pull together a constellation of disparate entities (people, resources, opportunities) and create and execute a winning business model. Sure… take advice, learn from others, but remember that it’s your job alone to create a fresh, winning business model. If your boss had the answers, you wouldn’t be needed. Have the faith and audacity to believe that the very best thinking is going to come from you. A good place to start is to ask yourself the question: “How can we do what’s never been done before?” Be cautious of all those well-meaning folks who will exhort you to “think more strategically.” These are the code words often used by senior executives when they really mean “think more like me.” Ignore your boss. He or she may serve as a good coach and mentor but the job of creating a winning business model is yours alone. Shift #2: Disregard the financials.
Whoa! Before you stop reading, think about all the inane, value-destroying work you used to do to satisfy some executive’s insatiable desire for financial reports. Remember when you swore that, if you ever had the authority, you would allow people to direct all that wasted effort into real work? In any event, if you are really doing your job, you will be consumed by only two activities: marketing and organization development. Marketing is really all about creating value in the marketplace and organization development is about creating the people systems that will extract that value. Spend every ounce of time and effort on marketing and organization development; others can look after the numbers. Sure, you can drive your people to deliver the target EBITDA, revenue or market share…but you will lose tremendous value in the process. Your organization will contort itself, turn itself upside down and burn extraordinary energy to deliver these numbers for you. Month after month. Quarter after quarter. Year after year. Don’t go down that road. Tremendous value will be lost in the journey. Choose the better path. Shift #3: Don’t delegate anything.
For all the years you’ve been a manager, someone has likely been encouraging you to delegate, delegate and delegate some more. It’s time to stop this outdated, paternalistic practice. Think about what it must feel like to do “delegated” work rather than work that is uniquely yours. Even cool delegated work has a paternalistic flavor to it. Stop delegating and start building big jobs, enormous jobs for everyone. Build jobs that are so big the incumbents get dizzy just thinking about them. Your job? Well, you get everything that is left over. Your job description is defined by the work that can’t be done by others; both the crumbs and the excruciatingly complex. Shift #4: Stop making nice.
You likely are completely unaware of the fact that you have been conditioned over the years to get along with others, be predictable, play nice with your colleagues. Don’t rock the boat, don’t confront others and for heaven’s sake, be a team player. Until now, you’ve spent much of your career placating others and trying to be well-liked. Stop it. Treat people with great dignity and respect but, at the same time, challenge them to step up to a bigger game. Set stretch goals for everyone. Look for the best in people and hold them accountable to be just that. Take no prisoners. No one gets a free pass. Be generous in giving others the feedback they really need to hear. Remember, you have spent your entire career successfully taking tension out of the system. Your job has changed. Now you need to inject tension into the system every chance you get. Triple expectations. Reorganize. Name elephants. Rotate jobs. Confront waste. Eliminate products. Bring in customers. Promote weirdos and zealots. Push your organization to the edge; that’s where high performance lives. Shift #5: Play to your weaknesses.
I appreciate that this sounds like heresy in our strengths-based world, but please hear me out. Everyone is telling you to identify your strengths and ignore your weaknesses. The problem is that you have likely maxed out these strengths and you need to find another gear. You now have an enormous job. A bevy of stakeholders is counting on you to do something special. You need more. More skills, more competencies, more talents. I agree with John Gardner when he said that “Most human talent goes undiscovered.” It's time to start claiming your hidden talents because you need to quickly find over-drive. Have a quiet, no-holds-barred conversation with yourself. Many of your so-called weaknesses are likely talents that you have not yet developed. Not very innovative? Get creative. Not very political? Get connected. Not very empathetic? Start listening. Not very visionary? Start dreaming. Find those talents that you have been holding in exile and get them in the game. Now. Shift #6: Assume that you are wrong.
This might be the toughest thing you need to do. You will likely have done the best you could to create a winning business plan, but you are definitely wrong… to some degree. When you recognize this, you will be taking the first big step towards becoming the most prized of all leaders: the learner. You will see market opportunities before they exist, you will see landmines before they are laid. If you assume you are on the right path, you will ignore the small, often subtle signs suggesting an untraveled, more fertile path. It’s human nature to protect our plans. Be strong enough to see these signs. Be strong enough to bend. This will separate you from the pack of also-rans. The enterprise needs leaders who can learn more and faster than others. Sadly, most cannot make this switch, choosing instead the comfort of their well-thought-out assumptions, models and ideas.
At this point you are likely asking yourself two questions: “Am I up to this?” and “Is it worth it?” Most assuredly: yes and yes. Every day I see ordinary people like us (who account for 99% of all leaders) do extraordinary things when they are called upon to lead the enterprise. Without exception, these are leaders who recognize that they have just entered a brave new world and need to make a major shift to a brave new approach to leadership. And it is very much worth it. To know in your heart-of-hearts that you have created a thriving enterprise that profits everyone it touches may be the greatest reward you will ever receive. We will all thank you for making the shift!To download a pdf copy of this article, click here.
Leaders collaborate more effectively, build better connections and develop trust and respect when they show up in an authentic way. The clearer you can be about who you are, the stronger and more valuable your offering, and your brand, will be. At Bluepoint, we know that a powerful personal leadership brand is built on a foundation of integrity, passion and connection.
In this week’s article, Susanne Biro challenges leaders to assess their own level of authenticity and clearly identify their own personal leadership brand.
To download a pdf copy of Susanne's article - A Build On "No" please click here. Feel free to share the article with your colleagues and you may also want to join in the discussion on our LinkedIn Group.
With organizations making talent development a strategic priority these days, senior leaders often ask us how they can be most helpful in this endeavor. Specifically, since coaching is such a critical element of any talent development program, they want to know what they need to do personally to make coaching pervasive throughout their organizations. In short, how can they create a culture of coaching? The good news is that senior leaders are overwhelmingly recognizing the potency of coaching. The difficult part is creating a pervasive culture in which coaching is “just the way we do things around here.”
In this week’s article, Gregg Thompson challenges senior leaders to take the three big steps that will leave an indelible mark on their organizations. Creating a Coaching Culture by Gregg Thompson …an open letter to senior leaders Creating a coaching culture can be one of the most important contributions you will ever make as a senior leader and will likely be the predominant feature of your personal legacy. It can also be some of the most challenging, yet personally rewarding, work that you ever do. Great leaders always leave their marks deep inside their organizations. What do you want your mark to be?
To read more and to download a full pdf copy of the article please click here
. Feel free to share the article with your colleagues (and senior leaders!) and you may also want to join in the discussion on our LinkedIn Group
This week we feature the final list, List #6 in our series of Top 10 Lists for Great Coaching – The Top 10 Principles of Learning, Change and Development. NOTE: If you would like to download a copy of all six Top Ten Lists in one brochure, you can do so here: http://info.bluepointleadership.com/top-10-lists-for-great-leadership-coaching/
The paramount objective of coaches is to help those they coach gain new knowledge about themselves and their world, and use this knowledge to increase their personal effectiveness and career opportunities. In short, coaches are in the learning, change and development business. Here are the Top 10 Principles of Learning, Change and Development:
#1. We are all stuck, to some degree. Often the things that keep us stuck are habits, attitudes, beliefs and relationships that were once very important to us.
#2. We do not resist change; we resist loss. We are naturally wired to adapt to a changing world.
#3. Our past successes often are impediments to moving forward to a new chapter in our work, career or life.
#4. Everyone has the potential and ability to make choices now that will have a significant, positive impact on their future.
#5. It is the willingness to truly learn that distinguishes a person as having high potential.
#6. Most limitations are self-imposed.
#7. Trying to improve or fix others is a futile effort that usually ends up annoying them and frustrating you.
#8. One sincere expression of encouragement can change a life forever.
#9. The most potent step forward usually involves a very difficult conversation.
#10. One never becomes a great leader, doctor or carpenter. Those we recognize as great in their field are ordinary men and women who wake up every morning and choose to get on the road less traveled.
As always we appreciate your feedback. You can share your thoughts below or at our LinkedIn Group here http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1956524&trk=group-image