Category Archives: Communication

Ways Leaders Destroy Their Credibility

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If many leaders took the time to be self-aware and accountable, they would discover so much about how they hamper their credibility and effectiveness in their role.

In today’s world of shifting blame, wanting immediate (though unrealistic) results, and rushing from task to task without deep thought, many leader’s today run into traps that an honest self-assessment and shoring up can avoid. Here are some ways that leaders, and perhaps yourself, may be destroying our credibility as an effective and respected leader:

  • Blaming others for a ball dropped on our end
  • Not listening to instructions, expectations, feedback, or requests
  • Pushing through to get results, or other subtle or overt ways of bullying
  • Making hyperbolic claims to generate an emotional response and get a desired outcome
  • Having an unrealistic time frame or expectation
  • Being frustrated at other’s inefficiency or incompetence when they were not properly trained
  • Not communication expectations and being frustrated when they are not met
  • Being late, short in tone, or barely engaged in any personal interaction
  • Calling others to account for failed performance without having all the facts

For any leader to have any success, they must be able to understand their thoughts and communicate them to everyone in their sphere. They must also come to grips with realism, both within themselves and with others, to ensure they know processes and improvement measures. Great leaders speak plainly, with facts, and take the heat for any missteps on their end. Overall, the best leaders are astute at gathering information, communicating if to everyone involved, and processing the feedback to improve performance, expectations, and processes with maximum engagement and minimal disconnect and confusion.

Determine to build these skills within yourself and watch the impact and turnaround your organization will reap from having a credible and capable leader who can properly process what goes on around them.

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Strong Vision Leads To Clear Expectations

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If you were to ask any random person who worked for any random organization two certain questions, you would have powerful insight into their overall values and culture.

The 2 questions to ask are:

What is your company’s vision and what does it value?

Do know know exactly what is expected of you throughout the day?

These two questions may seem quite elementary, but they can untap either synergy or dysfunction within the ranks.

Most leaders and managers, if you asked those same two questions, would probably tell you in great detail the company’s vision and what is expected of them. But when these questions get drilled down to the rest of the organization, things usually get fuzzy. Many employees know precisely what they need to do, but have no idea how it feeds into the big picture. Conversely there are many others who know where the company is going, but not what are they supposed to be doing each day to feed into those goals. To ensure that everyone knows a clear vision and expectations, the vision needs to be strong among the leadership.

Many barriers exist in threading through both vision and expectations. But the stronger your company’s vision is, the greater likeliness that your people will have a clear picture of what they need to do in order to realize the goal.

When leaders focus on the vision, see it clearly, and are fully engaged, they will naturally ensure the flow of vision and the laying out of a clear path to accomplish it. When a truly committed leadership team builds a strong vision, the following outcomes flow freely through the organization:

  • Alignment. Strong vision will enable the entire organization to know the most important question: “Why?” Why does the company exist, what makes us unique, and who are we?
  • Communication. Strong vision cannot truly exist without honest and continual communication. It will occur in every interaction, whether training, meetings, or general work duties.

And the by-product of full alignment and solid communication? Clear expectations of what is needed to accomplish the individual parts and achieve the whole. Clear expectations include fully congruent training methods, continuous improvement processes, and mutual accountability measures to help give feedback, enhancement, and track alignment of everyone’s steps towards the goal.

By developing a strong vision within your organization, you will create an environment where everyone will know what is expected of them. And in the slight occasion where that falls through, your staff will be more empowered to work towards the goals by understanding what the ultimate “Why” of the company is.

Build a strong vision daily and communicate it at each interaction.

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Lead By Thoughts, Not Feelings

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One of the most tremendous truths about being human is how our thoughts, feelings, and desires interconnect.

Through our internal connectedness of mind, body, and soul, we can harness greatness within ourselves and develop each aspect to become stronger and more in tune with the other aspects.

Yet our humanness comes with a flaw, in that we can get our feelings out of proportion to rational thinking. When that occurs, we are governed by only one part of us which, if not checked and balanced with the rest of our being, can lead us and others astray.

Feelings are great for motivation, inspiration, and drive. But many people that live solely off of motivational seminars find themselves flat when they try to be in touch with their feelings much to the exclusion of their thoughts.

This can also be true of those who spend time in fear or worry and let those emotions override their actions. Too many times leaders are led by their feelings, and not their minds.

That is where leaders need to consciously and consistently track their thoughts, and not just their feelings.

Real Life Scenarios Based On Leading By Feelings

  • A senior executive afraid of unfounded circumstances that calls meetings to solve problems that don’t exist
  • A new department manager who is agitated that things are done a differing way than what they’ve done in other companies
  • A shift supervisor who is worried that certain company actions mean they will be laid off
  • An employee who doubts the sincerity of leadership even though there is open and clear communication

In each of the scenarios, the following feeling-statements took over rational thinking…

  • “I feel…”
  • “We’re afraid…”
  • “We suspect…”
  • “I can’t believe…”
  • “You don’t see…”

These feelings, without being run through the proper process of thought and facts, can cause wrong actions, disengagement, and toxic culture to manifest. What is needed to happen with each feeling is to manage the feeling-statements through thinking-statements such as the following…

  • “This shows…”
  • “We know that…”
  • “The studies reveal…”
  • “Our culture supports…”
  • “The reality is…”
  • “I have found…”

When you or a colleague start to descend into making decisions driven by irrational feelings, it’s best to practice this two-prong approach as a standard action:

Stop & Think

By stopping how we feel long enough to think through our emotions and process the facts at hand, one can find a balance between gut feelings, emotions, sound process, and being rational. We can bring our feelings into their proper place, and then use the right feelings to propel our plan of action.

As leaders, we should be in touch with our feelings – and those of our people –  but be governed by sound thinking on what we always know to be right. When our emotions take us away from what we know to be true and correct, we fail to utilize our entire selves in our influence.

Fear has its place when it spurs us away from complacency. Excitement is right when it opens the doors to goals and innovation. Our feelings have their place when they intertwine with right thinking to create a stronger rope which we can give our teams to help us pull together.

Be led by right thinking. Infuse people with the right feelings. Help you and your teams stop and think throughout their day.

 Do you practice the stop and think method in some way? We’d love to hear about it…
(This article was originally posted on Lead Change Group on April 24, 2015)
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