Archive for the ‘leadership tips’ Category
At every waking moment, multiple concerns run through a leader’s mind. The larger the team, the more numerous those concerns — which then, turn into worries. Defined as a state of uncertainty over actual or potential problems, worrying is not necessarily a bad thing, but letting anxiety take over is never good. So, how do successful leaders manage worry and everyday challenges? They accept that problems will come up. Instead of worrying, they get to solving and preventing. Below are a few of our best tips to help leaders manage worry better and keep a more balanced life.
Sharpen Perception and Get a Big-Picture Perspective
Root out perceived problems from real problems. Focus on the second, forget the first. But how do you know if a problem is not a real problem in the first place?
- A quick cause-and-effect or action-consequence analysis can reveal the true nature of your worries. For instance, a manager reprimanded someone in your team for coming in late. But that same person actually had his shift changed yesterday. It’s all a misunderstanding.
- A broader perspective from colleagues and even clients can reveal if there are actual negative consequences to a situation. You worry that ongoing renovation work on the floor above yours will disrupt your team. But the Engineering and Housekeeping department of the building your company is leasing wisely coordinated to schedule noisy work when the offices and commercial spaces are closed. If you mention renovation work to your clients and employees, they’ll probably say, “What renovation?”
Attend Promptly to REAL and On-Going Problems
Among real problems, prioritize actual problems over potential problems that may or may not happen in a few days. Yes, that includes the presentation you’re dreading tomorrow.
Give actual problems prompt attention so you can get them off your list of concerns. Otherwise, new problems will pile up onto your current problems. That’s when anxiety rears its scary head. Jim Folk, founder of www.anxietycentre.com writes that anxiety also persists when the underlying reasons aren’t properly addressed.
Tackle actual problems by breaking them down into manageable segments. Is it equipment failure, procedure flaw, human error, insufficient time, or a communication lapse? Communication is almost always part of the problem. Strive to continuously improve the quality and flow of information within the team and between departments. Once a problem is solved, put steps in place so it doesn’t recur.
Make Preventive Planning a Habit
Potential problems are a major source of worrying. Preventive planning anticipates possible negative outcomes from current ongoing action. But how do you prevent your brain from making away with unending worst case scenarios?
Base preventive planning measures on past problems and their triggers. For instance, a potential client is supposed to meet you at a golf club a few miles away. Do you have a back-up venue ready if it rains? Will you be prepared to talk business if the winds are too strong for a good game? A preventive mindset allows you to set up a plan B and C to avoid foreseeable problems and mitigate unexpected ones.
Practice Delegation to Mentor Others
Are you worrying over problems that others can handle? Assigning someone else to solve a problem is downright hard for high-performing managers. Do it anyway. It frees you to focus on other tasks that ONLY you can really perform. It’s also a good opportunity to groom potential “understudies.”
Meditate, work out, watch a sitcom, or nap to snuff stress and renew your spirit. You’ve covered your bases and ticked off all checklists. There’s little room for worry. You’re now ready for that final step–letting go. When Murphy ’s Law occurs, as it often does, you’ll accept you can’t control everything, and then laugh about it. No worries.
Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also can conduct a team activity in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.
Want to create a happy and more productive workplace? Leaders who send clear messages to their team create a happy and more productive workplace. Psychologists measure a person’s ability to deal with situations like conflict in the workplace, having a difficult conversation, and being resilient when faced with challenges as a person’s “Emotional Intelligence.” A manager or supervisor who has high Emotional Intelligence will not only be able to resolve conflicts, listen in an empathetic way and manage their own angry feelings better, but they will also be able to attract team members who also have these skills. These EI “soft skills” lead to greater retention of star performers, higher productivity, happier customers, and an overall stronger bottom line.
All of these soft skills start with learning to communicate with clarity. Communication skills start with self-knowledge. Working with Emotional Intelligence exercises can help build our self-knowledge which leads to clearer messages.
Imagine you know that a coworker is angry with you. If he/she says (with an angry tone or look), “I’m not angry,” how do you feel? Do we feel less trust in our colleague?
Most of us would prefer hearing a calm but angry statement instead of an unreal denial. This is because mixed messages cause stress. A mixed message (I am trying to hide my anger but it’s easy to see) often results in conflict.
Do I try to hide my feelings when talking with others? Am I sending mixed messages?
A benefit of emotional intelligence is self-knowledge. When I know how I feel I also know what nonverbal messages I’m probably sending. If I can admit to myself (and others) what I’m feeling, I can send clearer messages and develop trust in my workplace.
I first must communicate with myself before I can communicate with another. Then I’m less prone to fool myself into believing a lie.
An example: A colleague asked for help but I was resistant. As I thought about the situation, I had to admit my selfish motives. Once I understood my fears regarding time and effort, I was able to make a more informed choice. I could choose to be helpful with my eyes open and no resentment. Or I could ask for other options. As long as I don’t give my co-worker a mixed message, we can communicate with less chance of conflict and frustration.
Talking to others or journaling are great ways to uncover our true feelings that are often hidden. Since emotions are a kind of internal GPS, knowing our true emotions will not only help us communicate more clearly but also learn valuable information about our situation. Is there something in the situation that we haven’t yet dealt with but we need to manage? Feelings of anxiety or fear might mean I’ve overlooked some important details. If I’m feeling angry, has someone crossed a boundary that I need to defend or at least acknowledge?
Team reflection: Does my team support honest communication of feelings? Do we discourage gossip and encourage direct, clear messages to each other?
Laura Lewis-Barr is president of Traning4Breakthroughs, and she is an expert presentation skills coach based in Chicago, Illinois. She teaches team building events in Chicago, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, St Louis, and other cities in the Midwest, and works with clients all over the world.
A pessimist can bring down a whole team without trying. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the pessimists in your team completely. In some cases, these people can add a touch of realism into an overly optimistic team. As a leader, you have two options here: Good leadership can change whiners and pessimists into top performers, or a good leader can also use the negativity of these team members as a way to map out possible points of failure. Either way, you’re turning them into top performers who can contribute to your team instead of just complaining. But which route should you take? When is it safe to say you’ve tried your best and the only option is to let go? Below are a few tips that any leader can use to help improve morale in your team — especially if you happen to have a few team members who like to focus on the negative versus the positive.
Identify the Core of the Problem
For starters, you should determine the root cause of their negativity before attempting to advice or change employees like them in any way.
Asking questions will help you identify the likely starting point of their pessimistic and whiny attitude. It’s not likely they’re just born that way, right?
“What’s the first thing that comes to your mind before you complain about (insert the last subject of their complaint here)?”
Asking about what they thought before verbalizing the complaint will reveal clues about where they’re coming from. Is the employee pessimistic because of past failures, the project’s difficulty or potential problems they see that you don’t?
By asking that question every time they complain, you’ll soon see a pattern to their behavior. Is the negative attitude triggered by a specific event, a particular employee or a time? Could it have been caused by too much pressure or over time?
Once you answer these questions, then you can proceed to developing a solution to their behavior.
Turning Pessimists into Better Contributing Employees
After finding the root cause of the employee’s negativity, the next step is to help them channel their pessimism into something useful. This has to be done in a constructive manner; your aim is to help employees see things in a different light and use their negative view of things constructively. The goal isn’t to make them see how whiny and annoying they are.
The goal is not to change your team member’s values and beliefs.
- Listen and Understand: When a pessimist in your team shows doubt about a project’s ROI or timeline, listen to it and confirm that you understand the message. Most pessimists are used to being ignored and disregarded, thus creating more negativity. By paying attention and trying to understand the situation, you are showing the negative individual that you care and that you are including him or her in the team as well. Aside from showing how you care about their opinions, their negative remarks might clue you in on potential disasters to avoid.
- Don’t be So Optimistic to the Point of Stupidity: It is natural to try and put a positive spin on negative remarks. Don’t. This will only annoy the pessimist in your team. When pessimists feel mocked, they won’t open up next time. Instead of being a plain ol’ pessimist, you’ll be dealing with a passive-aggressive employee instead. That’s even more annoying to the whole team.
- Give Credit When It’s Due: Some pessimists are negative because they don’t trust authority figures anymore. They might have been betrayed, forgotten or left hanging by an authority figure who promised a promotion but didn’t deliver. So now, they’re just out there to complain and spread bitterness.
Sometimes, it’s about stolen glory. If an individual in your team has done well, make sure to give credit when it is due. Acknowledge their contribution to the team to encourage them to be positive. Show them there’s still good in the world of corporate politics.
Pessimists tend to concentrate on negative aspects of things. Don’t let that stop you from leading them towards their potential.
Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also can conduct a team activity in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.
Would you rather die than admit you made a mistake?
It’s midnight and three hours have passed but you’re still tossing and turning on your bed. You know your alarm will ring in a few hours, but you don’t want it to. The thought of admitting, in front of your team, that you made a wrong decision is making you weak in the knees. The issue is too big so they’re bound to notice even if you hide it from them. Mistakes are part of our lives, no matter how trivial or challenging it is. The act of admitting your mistakes takes more than just valor and guts. Admitting your mistakes is your key to maturing as a leader. Why? Because it is a man’s natural tendency to point fingers or try to forget what happened. The maturity of a leader is a strong indicator of his ability to lead a team and the challenges that go with it. It also dictates your ability to succeed in client relationships and your personal life.
Why Swallowing the Bitter Pill of Your Mistakes Helps You Grow
1. Admitting Your Mistakes Strengthens Your Integrity
Owning up to your misjudgement builds integrity — your inner truth compass to doing good — even if no one is looking.
People’s inability to admit mistakes is sometimes born out of a defensive measure brought about by anxiety. Because of fear, some people will always be inclined to seek a haven in deception, to preserve their ego.
2. Gain Respect of Your Boss and Team
Due to the competitive nature of office environments, sometimes the fear of making one crucial mistake is overwhelming. You might get fired, the funding for your project might get pulled out, or your fat 30% raise might be cut in half. In any case, you have a lot to lose, not to mention the admiration of your boss and team.
In the long run, however, the truth will come out. Whatever admiration and respect your co-workers had will be replaced by distrust. It’s better to admit your mistakes now, while you have a chance to make amends or at least minimize damage.
3. Forgive Yourself
“To err is human, to forgive is divine,” this is a famous maxim by Alexander Pope. Let this maxim remind you that mistakes are part of life, and that admitting your mistakes is akin to accepting who you are. Don’t hate yourself for your lapse in judgment. It’s normal for you to feel ashamed of your mistakes, but don’t let it affect your life for years.
How can you expect people to treat you fairly, when you’re not being fair to yourself? When you admit to our own faults, you are also accepting your limitations.
Mistakes are not present in humanity just for the heck of it. The tumultuous process of growing as a leader is never complete without the act of admission. Learn to love it and do it as often as necessary until you develop a thick skin that doesn’t shy from mistakes.
Additional Reading: John Wooden Inspirational Leadership Series
Winning a single NCAA Basketball Tournament is one of the most difficult achievements in all of sports, because it is a single-elimination tournament where the top 68 teams in the NCAA have to win every single game, or their season is over. Only one of the 68 teams will be crowned champion at the end of the tournament, and 67 other teams will go back to their respective schools thinking, “Woulda, shoulda, coulda.” So, to win the tournament just one time is quite an accomplishment, and to win a second, consecutive time, is so challenging that only seven schools have ever won back-to-back championships (www.sportlistoftheday.com). So, when UCLA won 10 NCAA tournaments in a 12 year period including a remarkable seven years in a row, the results were stunning! John Wooden was the beloved coach of UCLA during this time period, and, outside of UCLA during the Wooden era, no other team in the 70+ years of the NCAA tournament has won the tournament three times in a row, but John Wooden’s team won it seven times in a row! So, what made Wooden’s teams so different? Many experts believe that Wooden’s Pyramid of Success philosophy was key. (Click the link to the left to access a printable version of Wooden’s Pyramid of Success from his website.)
John Wooden was the coach at UCLA from 1948 to 1975, and in that time, UCLA won over 80% of all of their games. From 1971 to 1973, Wooden’s UCLA team went an amazing 89-1. Wooden coached some of the all-time great basketball stars including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, and his influence on these stars went well beyond the basketball court.
In addition to his success in sports, Wooden is also know for his short inspirational messages that have often been quoted by coaches, writers, motivational speakers, and Successory posters for decades. Below is a list of some of his most famous John Wooden quotes (Woodenisms) in both graphical and textual form.
Inspirational John Wooden Quotes
These inspirational John Wooden quotes (Woodenisms) have been gathered by a number of sources including www.coachwooden.com,
- A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.
- A strong self-confident leader gives credit to others, when deserved, and takes blame. A weak leader takes credit and gives blame.
- Ability is a poor man’s wealth.
- Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.
- Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
- Be persistent. Be determined. Be tenacious. Be unrelenting. The road to achievement is rocky, hard, and long.
- Be prepared and be honest.
- Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible.
- Competitive greatness is having a real love for the hard battle, knowing it offers the opportunity to be at your best when your best is required.
- Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.
- Control yourself so others won’t have to do it for you.
- Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
- Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.
- Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
- Failure to act is often the biggest failure of all.
- I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.
- If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
- If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.
- It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.
- It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.
- It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
- It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.
- Never mistake activity for achievement.
- Sharing ideas, information, responsibilities, creativity and tasks is a priority of good leadership and great teams.
- Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.
- Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.
- Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best you are capable of becoming.
- Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.
- The great successes we all know about are individuals who almost always have greatly outworked their competition.
- The hard battle inspires and motivates a great competitor to dig deep inside.
- The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.
- There is a choice you have to make, In everything you do. So keep in mind that in the end, The choice you make makes you.
- There is no substitute for very hard work when it comes to success.
- Things easily achieved are rarely long-lasting or significant.
- Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.
- True abiding confidence is earned through tenaciously pursuing and attaining those assets that allow you to reach your own level of excellence.
- What you are as a person is far more important that what you are as a basketball player.
- Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.
- You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.
- You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.
- You must train yourself not to fear failure. Fear instead inaction when it is time to act.
- Your energy and enthusiasm stimulates those you work with. It is the ingredient that transforms industriousness into something of great magnitude.
In our inspirational leadership series, we want to highlight leaders throughout history who altered the course of events in a spectacular way, and if you think about specific people who have influenced human history for generations, William Shakespeare is often near the top of the list. When you think of Famous Quotes, there is a good chance that a number of Shakespeare quotes come to mind. In fact my dad once laughingly told me, “Most quotes come from either Shakespeare or the Bible,” and he wasn’t exaggerating a whole lot. Although Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets were written over 400 years ago, his works are still performed world-wide more than any other playwright, and these works have been translated into more languages than any non-religious text. He is also one of the most quoted writers in history and dozens and dozens of famous Shakespeare idioms are very common in the English language. In 1983, Bernard Levin, a journalist in London, wrote a book called Enthusiasms, and a specific paragraph from the book (that has commonly become know by the title “On Quoting Shakespeare”) is a funny rendition of just how idioms from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets have become commonplace in modern dialogue. Many of these idioms are so common that we just quote them without ever wondering where the phrase came from. Below is both a textual and graphic representation of Bernard Levin’s On Quoting Shakespeare:
If you cannot understand my argument and declare, “It’s all Greek to me,” you are quoting Shakespeare. If you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have ever been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle; if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremonies, danced attendance on your lord and master, laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise—why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you clear out, bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that is the long and short of it, if you believe the game is up and that the truth will out, even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low until the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then—to give the devil his due—if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a doornail, if you think I am an eye-sore, a laughing stock, the devil’s incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then—by Jove! it’s all one to me, you are quoting Shakespeare. – Bernard Levin
Famous Shakespeare Idioms
As the boss, it’s important to recognize that your title doesn’t automatically earn you the leadership skills needed to successfully hold on to that position. Quite frankly, tons of leaders are put into position they’re not equipped to occupy. Either they grow into it, or spend a good chunk of their career struggling. In this piece, I want to help you swallow the bitter pill that is bad leadership. If you identify with one or more of these traits, it’s not too late to change.
Which Symptoms of Bad Leadership are You Guilty of?
Automatons Lacking Empathy
Some leaders care about results, nothing else. They don’t care how things are done, or what kind of sacrifices you’ve had to make just to submit your work. What’s important is you finish the task no matter what. This is an example of an extremely results-oriented leader.
Their approach might look good on the surface, but beneath all the on-time submissions and exemplary work is a team of unsatisfied, almost-zombie like employees who wouldn’t dare defy their boss’s expectations. The result is an unhealthy work atmosphere where screw-ups are swept under the rug.
Criticisms, Criticisms, but No Feedback for Improvement
Creatives know this pain all too well, but it’s experienced by employees in other industries, too. The boss rejects the work citing it’s not what they like, it’s not up to standards, or the generic, ‘you’re doing it wrong’ complaint without clarifying exactly what needs to be changed.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to critique an employee’s work. But critiquing goes hand in hand with providing direction and clear feedback. The inability to articulate yourself is a serious skill deficit, for without it, your team won’t be able to grow with your guidance.
Ugh, the know-it-all. Annoying people, aren’t they? They think they know too much. But they don’t know what they don’t know.
Know-it-all leaders have a strong desire to feel like the smartest person in the team. They’re not interested in hearing your opinion, and certainly not on learning from you. Even if they have no bloody clue what’s going on!
A huge ego and lack of curiosity often causes leaders like this to overlook critical items and commit mistakes that could’ve been easily avoided.
Understandably, some leaders feel that they have to know the answers to all possible questions their subordinates might ask. But that’s just not true. A better leader admits his lack of knowledge and strives to know the right person to ask for answers.
Buddy or Boss
Listen up, especially the newly-minted leaders out there. You don’t have to be friends with your team just to gain their trust and respect. You are the boss and that puts you in an awkward situation if you become buddies with the people you’re managing.
Sure, friendship can quickly gain you their trust and respect, even. But at what cost? Once you’re friends, they will undermine your leadership thinking they can get away with anything because you’re ‘buddies.’ Friendship also clouds your judgment towards poor productivity, career advancement, and accountability.
Be Honest, Do You Show any of these Signs?
Imagine for a second that it’s just you and me. No one else is around. Can you honestly say that you’re not guilty of the above behaviors? If you are, what are you willing to do about it? You don’t have to force yourself to change at once. You can do it little by little. As long as you’re aware of the problem — aware of the symptoms of bad leadership, that’s a good start.
Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also teaches in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle” — Sun Tzu, Art of War
There will always be difficult employees in any organization; even Fortune 500 companies have rotten tomatoes in them. As a leader, your job is to lead a team. Encourage them do their work, do their performance reviews, and talk to them when things go wrong, but how can you do that when you don’t even know who you’re dealing with? This applies to everyone in your team, but more so to the trouble makers. This Leader’s Guide to common trouble makers in the office was designed to help you understand your team members — especially the trouble makers.
1. The Competitor
This type of employee just won’t let go until he has won and another employee has lost. Rather than being a team player, The Competitor works for his personal gains.
The easiest way to work with a competitor is to convince him to focus on the big picture, a long term goal where he’s not in direct competition with anyone in the team. This way, it’ll be easier for him to forget short-term goals or deadlines that were given to his teammates.
2. The Rebel
Rebel employee thrives on negative attention that comes from putting down people in authority. These are the “bad ass” employees who like talking back, defying orders and coming in late.
Difficult employees under this category miss deadlines on purpose just to make a point that they don’t need to follow the rules. They also love to make fun of things. Sometimes they do it deliberately; sometimes they’re unaware of hurting other people’s feelings.
The solution here is straightforward: tell Rebels bad behavior won’t be tolerated. Let them know that the trouble they’re causing isn’t unnoticed. Make it clear that failure to improve has consequences, which may lead to dismissal.
3. The Procrastinator
This type of employee always says “Yes” and accepts projects, but is not able to follow through.
When the deadlines start approaching, he can’t be found or reached by any means. Then, when the work is finally completed by someone else, he will resume his normal work routine as if nothing happened.
Dealing with these people can get frustrating, especially if you have tons of work due. The best way to work with this type of difficult employee is to micro-manage them, at least for a few weeks. Set due dates for things to be done, and create specific and hard to ignore consequences for missed deadlines.
4. The Drama Queens and Drama Kings
These employees turn everything into drama. They cry, wail, whine, and complain about everything, even the smallest of things. Got no milk in the pantry? Well, they might whine about that, too.
They draw energy from the drama, all the while draining the energy of others.
Prevent drama by setting up boundaries, so that everyone is aware of what is acceptable as professional office behaviour. Let them know how their actions and attitude are affecting others. Employees that act this way must be taken out of meetings, especially when their actions are becoming obstructive.
5. The Volcano
These people explode whenever things don’t turn out the way they think it should. They end up screaming in meetings, yelling on the phone, and getting in your face.
In any organization, it is important that everyone treats each other with respect. If you end up dealing with an employee like this, then you need to speak with a certain intensity as well to ensure that you are heard.
Let that employee understand that unprofessional behavior is not okay and will not be tolerated in the workplace.
Know Anyone Who Fits these Profiles?
Know any Volcanoes? What about a Drama King/Queen? Try these strategies in dealing with them.
If you know of another trouble maker profile, let us know in the comments.
Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also teaches in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.
When most people think of professional soft-skills development we typically think of private sector white collar professionals. But the government does indeed take leadership development seriously as well, and that was shown last week by the US Social Security Administration in booking our High Impact Leaders leadership development program. Social Security is one of the most important institutions to American society, and Doug Staneart and Eric Molin had the privilege of helping a group of 22 of their managers, coming from all departments inside the organization i.e. Human Resources, IT, Project Management, Customer Service, and more.
The leadership class focused on developing the soft-skills, leadership abilities, and personal attributes necessary to thrive in an often inefficient environment. Through our High Impact Leaders program, in 2 days, managers from across the agency found ways to inspire and motivate their teams, better deal with frustration and problems, and to better serve the American public in a more efficient and impactful way. While most participants came into the training having had poor training programs before, and therefore not sure that this training would be different, they left with a new sense of enthusiasm to try out their new leadership skills and attitudes which they learned in the course. In just 2 days this large group improved noticeably and got to know one another much better than ever, solidifying the experience and the lessons learned.
This leadership class was held on-site at the Social Security Administration office in Wilkes Barre, PA. For details about a class for your group, call us at (800) 872-7830.
Below is a list of leadership skills and people skills that can be used to help you build stronger relationships and more of a team environment in the workplace. Below are three Human Incites (People Skills) that, when you understand them, will help you build trust and rapport more easily and resolve conflicts. In addition, below are seven people principles that will help build a team atmosphere, help you communicate more effectively, and build trust in the work place.
Human Insight #1: How to Build Trust and Rapport Quickly
- Human beings enjoy being around and are influenced by people they like and trust.
- In general, people are far more interested in themselves than in others.
- When you become genuinely interested in others, they will like you and trust you more.
Human Insight #2: How to be a Great Conversationalist
- The most interesting topic for most people to talk about is themselves.
- The person who asks the most questions tends to control the conversation.
- Use the 80/20 rule. Let the other person do 80% of the talking.
- People will know like you and trust you more if you ask questions about what interests them.
Week #1: Build Trust and Rapport with People Quickly
Leadership Principle #1
Avoid Criticizing and Complaining
People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be—not what you nag them to be.
–S. N. Parker
My college football team had an offensive coordinator who was arguably one of the most brilliant minds in the game. However, he used fear and criticism to motivate his players. If someone missed a block, he’d yell and curse. If a player dropped a pass, he’d shout profanities and ridicule the player. Consequently, the players were focusing on their mistakes rather than their successes. The coach eventually moved on, and after he left, morale improved dramatically. The very next year, the team won their first bowl game in years and went on to eight straight bowl games in the following years. The practices were the same. The fan support was the same. The only thing that changes was the atmosphere on the field during the practices and the games.
Think about some of the greatest leaders you’ve known. Are they people who quibble and complain about irrelevant issues? Do they point out every mistake? Probably not. In fact, they probably do just the opposite. They’re probably masters at keeping others focused on the relevant and pointing out every improvement. Any jerk can complain or criticize – and most do. But real leaders are the people who build others up, not tear them down.
Typically, when we point out mistakes that others are making, we are doing so in order to create a behavior change in the person. However, when we point out mistakes that others make, the automatic human reaction is to get defensive or shift blame elsewhere. People rarely make a change in their behavior as a result of criticism.
In section three, we’ll cover seven ways to create behavior change in others without raising resentment. Each of these tips will work much better than constructive criticism.
The next time you feel like you need to complain or to criticize someone, think about the outcome you want. Do you want that person to change his behavior? If so, by criticizing, you will cause the person to want to defend himself. This booklet is full of principles that you can use to build trust with and ultimately influence others. The next time you want to criticize or complain, try silence as an option.
Leadership Principle #2
Look at things from the other person’s point of view.
It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others.
One of the most primary desires of human beings is to be understood and esteemed by others. We want people to see things from our point of view. Sometimes we want this so badly, that we disagree with and argue with points of view that are also valid.
A business owner I know hired a young man who, in his first year, broke all of the sales records for the company. This young man had fantastic ideas that would revolutionize the way the company sold its services. The owner was very cautious about implementing these ideas though. He had spent years building his company and was very careful about making changes. The salesman debated and eventually argued with his boss, and the boss, after being backed into a corner, argued back. Neither had the courage or the foresight to take a step back and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
The frustrated salesman finally gave up a promising career and quit. The boss lost a great salesperson, because neither took the time to understand the other.
This very thing happens day after day in businesses and families all across the country. Human nature is that we always believe that we are right. Guess what? The other guy thinks the same thing, and if we dig in our heels, he will dig in his heels as well. All that we have to do is take a step back and say, “Why is this person thinking the way that he is thinking? Why is he acting the way that he is acting?”
That little moment of clarity can add a tremendous amount of understanding on our part and will help us build rapport with the other person very quickly. We don’t necessarily have to agree with the person, but just looking at things from the other person’s point of view is a big step forward.
If we want people to like and respect us, do the opposite of what comes natural and see things from other’s point of view. When we understand others, we are much more likely to be understood by them.
Leadership Principle #3
The man who gives little with a smile gives more than the man who gives much with a frown.
One thing I learned in high school and college was that if I wanted people to take me seriously, I had to have a serious, stern look. I learned that if I was to be “in charge,” I had to look unyielding. Then I got into the real world and realized that the stern, unyielding look came across to others as a scowl. One morning, I came into the office and my boss pulled me aside and asked, “What’s wrong? Are you OK?” I told him I was fine. He looked at me and said, “Then somebody should tell your face.” He told me that my grimace made others think that I was unapproachable. I made a change that day. I began smiling more (granted, I didn’t feel much like smiling, but I faked it.) Low and behold, people began smiling back. Eventually, they even began to make small talk. It was amazing.
I told this story to my class once, and one of my class members took it to heart. He went home that night, and when his wife met him, he smiled a very big grin at her. She was so shocked, that she asked what had happened. He told her that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He did tell her he was just glad to see her, and he was glad that she was his wife. When he woke up the next morning she had made him breakfast for the first time in two years. You can bet he is smiling more often today.
Many managers and supervisors have an “open door policy,” but because of the atmosphere that they create, no one ever walks through the open door. When someone has a problem or needs help, they walk up to the door, just about to walk in, and they see the negative countenance. Most people just turn around and decide to come back later.
A neutral expression can be just as unconstructive. People don’t like to guess about whether someone that they work for or work with is in a good mood or bad mood. A genuine small can do a lot for you and for the people around you because it will make you more approachable.
Smiles are also contagious. One well placed smile can go along way to improving morale and building rapport.
Leadership Principle #4
Make an effort to remember names
A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest most important sound in any language.
Have you ever been in one of those situations where you run into someone that you have met before and can’t remember that person’s name? It can be an awkward situation for both you and the other person.
When we remember someone’s name, we’re telling him, “You’re important.” Therefore, when we forget a person’s name, we may leave the opposite impression.
Do you want great service at a restaurant? Call the waitress by name when you place your order. Want to be the center of influence at a party? Introduce people you just met to others at the party. People love to hear their own name. In fact, Dale Carnegie said that, “a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest most important sound in any language.”
One of the first things we teach in our High Impact Leaders course is a simple way to remember names. It is a technique that is so simple that many people in a class of 25 will be able to recall the first and last names of every single person in the classroom within the first hour of class (You can find a short summary of this technique and others on our website at http://www.leadersinstitute.com/resource.)
In 1988, Harvey Mackay wrote a book called Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive, and he wanted to get it published. When he found a publisher that would talk to him, he had the audacity to request that the first edition print 100,000 copies. The publisher thought that Mackay was nuts. No publisher would print that many copies of a book written by a first time author. Then Mackay pulled out his Rolodex and showed the publisher how he new over 6,500 people on a first name basis, and he consciously kept in contact with each one. The publisher took a chance, and ended up selling over 300,000 copies of the first book.
Harvey Mackay used his ability to remember people – remember their names to build his world-famous envelop company, and then used the same relationships to build his writing and speaking career.
You can do the same thing. If you want to be a good people person, focus on remembering names.
Leadership Principle #5
Avoid placing the burden of your problems on other people.
A prudent man will think more important what fate has conceded to him, than what it has denied him.
Have you ever known someone who, after any setback, had an excuse and typically laid the blame elsewhere? I’m ashamed to say that at one point in my life, I was one of those people. The economy is down. My sales manger is not distributing the “good” leads. Joe was responsible for that. I had one for any occasion. Luckily, at one point in my career, I had a good friend that sat me down and said, “You can continue to come up with more excuses, or you can solve the problem.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t the economy, it wasn’t my sales manager, and it wasn’t Joe who was causing me to fail. I realized that every mistake or problem that had ever occurred in my life had one common variable. ME!
At that point, I took a really good look at myself. I looked at some of the mistakes I had made and asked myself, how can I avoid making the same mistake again? I used every obstacle as a learning experience. Don’t get me wrong, I still make excuses on occasion, but they are few and far between, and they no longer define me. Since I made that conscious decision, my career has really taken off.
There are actually some people out there who make themselves feel better by bringing other people down. They revel in their ability to know who had a heart attack, who is getting divorced, who is stealing office supplies, and more. The more they can bring other people down, the better that they feel.
Unfortunately, when the gossip starts, it’s easy to get caught up in it. My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Lofton used to say, “Misery loves company.” So just one person in your office with this type of mentality can cause the morale and team atmosphere in your office to drop like a stone.
Good leaders are the ones who stop this type of behavior in its tracks by just refusing to participate and standing up for coworkers who aren’t their to defend themselves. If you want to be a great leader, avoid placing the burden of your problems onto other people.
Leadership Principle #6
Assume Responsibility for Clear Communications.
The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
–Daniel W. Davenport
Communication is a two-way street. In order for communication to be successful, we must have a successful speaker and an effective listener. If either party is not present, miscommunication may occur. However, there are things we can do to reduce miscommunication.
For example, I used to work for a man who had been extremely successful in our business. I was fairly young, but I had a number of great ideas that I frequently told him about. I noticed, however, that when I shared many of my ideas, he discounted them immediately. Sometimes, I would leave his office upset and tell some of my coworkers how he wouldn’t even listen to me. Often, when these coworkers agreed with my ideas, they would bring them back up to the boss at a later date. He always seemed to be much more open to the ideas when he heard them a second time. I realized that we had a communication problem, but I took responsibility. I learned that if I wanted my ideas to be heard, I needed support from my coworkers. Many times I would plant the seed with the boss and then tell someone else the idea. Often, the idea would be implemented with a few weeks.
We all listed to each other at different levels depending on circumstances that are present. The leader is the person who takes into account these circumstances and the character of the listener in order to make sure that the communication occurred.
For instance, if you know you are communicating with a person who is not really detail oriented, and you give instructions verbally just once, you have a very small chance that the person with follow through on your instructions. So for that particular person, it might be a good idea to follow up with an additional phone call or email. Or, you might have to send some written instructions to the person. Regardless of how you follow up, if you want to ensure that the communication occurs, you have to go above and beyond the call of duty.
To be a great leader, take responsibility for clear communication.
Leadership Principle #7
Practice good listening skills.
A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something.
My first year in sales, I read a book about how to be a good Listener. The book said that if I wanted to be a good listener, I should make eye contact, say “Uh huh” a lot, and then paraphrase what the person just said. I couldn’t wait to go on my next sales call. I asked my prospect a question, made solid eye contact, said “Uh huh” a lot, and then said the words I read in the book over and over… “So, what I hear you saying is…” Take it from first hand experience; this type of listening does NOT work. My prospect looked at me like I was from Pluto and said, “If your having trouble keeping up, maybe I should go a little slower.”
Don’t look for techniques on how to listen better. The people who are great listeners do so because they want to, not because they learned a new “technique.”
I’ve noticed that there are three types of listeners. Selective listeners listen mainly out of self-interest, and will practically ignore you unless you are talking about something that directly concerns them. Responsive listeners listen just enough to form an opinion or a rebuttal. They tend to interrupt a lot. The highest level of listener is the focused listener. This person ignores all distractions and focuses totally on the speaker.
In any given conversation, we will typically slip from one of these types of listening levels to another. The key is to get our minds off of ourselves and onto the other person. If we are genuinely interested in the other person – if we really care about the other person – we will automatically spend more time in the focused listening level.
Want to be a good listener? FOCUS on the other person.
Week #1 Recap: Building Trust and Rapport
- Day 1: Avoid criticizing and complaining.
- Day 2: Look at things from the other person’s point of view.
- Day 3: Smile more.
- Day 4: Make an effort to remember names.
- Day 5: Avoid placing the burden of your problems on other people.
- Day 6: Assume Responsibility for Clear Communications.
- Day 7: Practice good listening skills.
Human Insight #3: How to Resolve Conflicts
- People love to be agreed with.
- People hate to be disagreed with.
- People like other people who agree with them.
- People dislike other people who disagree with them.
- People who are good at resolving conflicts look for some point of agreement and use good people skills to get others to see a different point of view.