Category Archives: Leadership Development
No matter how long you have been a leader, there is always room to grow.
There is an old but true saying:
If you’re green you’re growing, when you’re ripe, you rot.
Leaders who fail to become better by thinking they have arrived or they don’t need any further teaching or training are in eminent danger of losing their credibility, effectiveness and even imploding in their professional and personal lives.
The most stable, successful and credible leaders have a plan in place for their growth. In spite of their busy schedules, they make time and take time to develop themselves. And quite frankly, so can the rest of us.
So here are five easy ways we can all be better leaders starting today.
Be Truly Self-Aware. Absolutely no one can improve unless they know what thy need to work on. This involves admission of who you are, a desire to improve and the willingness to accept any criticism about yourself. Knowing your shortcomings, flaws, and tendencies is the first rung on the ladder to continued improvement and the most important. Then resolve to fix them one step at a time.
Truly Listen. There are leaders who tell their employees to work harder when they bring up that processes are broken, and there are leaders who will delve into finding the process failures to help their employees work more efficiently and not harder. Listening is truly listening, accepting that everyone has value and their input is meaningful. Helping and seeking to understand others is a characteristic we can always continue to work on.
Read in Context. One of the most challenging areas in communication is doing a quick read of an email, document, or even a text and not understanding the context of what’s read. In those cases, misdirection, wrong counsel, or wasted time in emails and call to clarify could have been prevented if we stopped to process the information. In this current climate of email barrage and limited attention spans, it’s more crucial than ever to master the art of understanding context in order to be a more effective leader.
Be Curious. A dynamic leader is one who learns the world around themselves. Whether it’s industry information, knowledge outside their industry, or learning about other people and their experiences will deepen your relatability, help you be more conversational, and will increase your storytelling in speaking and personal situations. Always find an opportunity to grow your knowledge beyond what you’re focuses are. Ask questions to grow yourself and others.
Speak to Edify. An easy way to boost your impactfulness and get people to trust you is to never talk ill of others. Leaders that defer a critique of someone, and speak their highlights rather than take an opportunity to make a dig are rare. Those that edify allies and enemies in their speech will never have their people wonder what is being said about them – they know their leader speaks highly of them. A quick pause to reflect on what you’re about to say will greatly aid in your leadership development.
No matter where you are in your career, these steps can enhance your growth and create a better dynamic among your teams and organization.
Work on these areas this week and leave a comment below as to how you’ve seen improvements in your leadership!
Much of our leadership is given to ensure our customers have the best CX – customer experience – or if you are in the tech industry, the best UX – user experience.
CX and UX. These symbols of experience are some of the core metrics and focuses that organizations hone in on to ensure they are meeting both differentiation and success in delivering the best experience to their external customers.
Yet how many of us are measuring what our internal customers – your staff – are experiencing?
In other words, how many of your employees are having the best LX – Leadership Experience?
While not in vogue as before, the term internal customers is used purposefully here to leverage what LX means.
Leaders are to provide cultures that deliver and serve their external customers a quality experience. However, many of those same leaders fail to give the same level of culture and service to their internal customers, their employees and teams.
That’s where Leadership Experience (LX) emerges. It’s the intersection of the relationship between employees and leaders, and the process of enhancing that working and cultural relationship within the organization.
This is not a new concept, as there are already LX conferences and courses that have been underway for a couple of years. But to better promote functional and synergistic workplaces, attract better talent, and feed the CX and UX experiences for your customers, LX should be at this time more of a core mindset to adopt to your own circumstances.
Just like the customer or user experiences, the leadership experience you generate is not a cookie-cutter plug-and-play process. It’s defined by the behaviors, skills, and relationships that comprise your teams as well as meet the needs, not only for improving morale and performance, but for strengthening a culture that becomes healthy, beneficial to all, and successful in its goals.
A great LX is not just a blanket program or one-size fits all culture. It is made up of the balanced blend of your cultural leadership approach to meet the needs of the organization as a whole as well as being able to meet every individuals’ needs as well. Think of a hotel that has a service culture that meets the needs of their guests but allows for individual needs to be met because of a particular guests schedule, accommodations, accessibility, dietary needs, and so on. Their CX is what each guest perceives it to be. Your LX is what each of your people perceives it to be as well.
We can look around today and see the poor LX that many workplaces have – pro sports teams, businesses, municipal departments, non-profit organizations, and even political organizations. Just a casual perusal of many of these mentioned gives cause to ponder what a great LX can do for any of those organizations. We can all imagine examples of these entities and how they could be transformed with a better leadership experience.
Yet it starts with you and me, where we are, and the sphere we influence in our current roles.
How can you provide the best LX in your world, right now, today?
Let’s ponder what your organization’s LX journey will be, and where it can impact in how others experience your leadership.
The recent headlines of Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo screaming at one of his players on the basketball court has capped off a week of interesting views and content about how leaders should conduct themselves when addressing poor performance.
J.T. O’Donnell of Work It Daily this week posted a video asking what one would do if their boss screamed at a coworker then subsequently asked them for their input on what they thought of the situation. She posed some answers to the dilemma of how to respond to such actions.
I’d like to address today if leaders are ever justified in committing such actions.
As a veteran of the restaurant industry, the picture of Gordon Ramsey yelling at a cook and smashing plates on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen seems like fiction or at least showmanship. Unfortunately much of that is very real and commonplace in the food industry. J.T. O’Donnell’s contribution shows us that most every industry has bosses that scream at their people. And as we saw with coach Tom Izzo this week, it’s common in the sports world.
So the question is – Is it ever justified to yell at an employee?
I would in general say with a broad brush – No. But let’s look at where it MIGHT be justified and place it into context.
You’re a parent and your toddler is ready to touch a surge protector or other outlet. You’re not able to race over there so in order for them to not shock themselves, you yell “No!” across the room to get them to stop the behavior. Is this justified? Is it mean or bullying?
Think of boot camp in the military. The picture of the drill sergeant getting in a young recruits face and dressing them down just millimeters from their face.
Is this justified behavior? Some say yes, because this style of training is proven and is necessary to get recruits battle-ready and mentally stronger. In the heat of a battle, collaboration and asking nicely may have to take a back seat to a yelling command to “Do” when lives and mission are on the line.
Which brings me back to Coach Izzo. While sports is not the same in context as the military or parenting, it’s still an intense situation, given the main goal is to win and a limited period of time to do so. Most of his players backed him up in saying it’s the nature of the game. But does that justify him going onto the court and losing it all over the player who was not giving his best effort? Could he have done so in a better way?
Sportscasters and former professional athletes in the days afterwards justified his behavior as well. The basic premise was that a pro athlete needs to be sharp and on their game at all times. But does that excuse yelling as the order of the day in sports or any profession?
I played baseball up until college. My best coach was one who demanded perfection and flawless execution of the fundamentals. When he would raise his voice it was always to get a message across or be heard, but it was never an angry, profanity laced yelling. “Get that glove down!!” across the field as a ground ball eluded us was always understood as a quick correction to be ready for that next pitch. Coach Mike was even keeled in his coaching style and knew how to be quietly intense yet always encouraging us to give our best effort all the time. I played my heart out for him and was MVP runner up that year, having never been a great ball player leading up to that time. If he was the angry yelling type I probably would have never played up to his expectations, but because of his approach, when he would get on me I would always try harder because I felt I disappointed him in my performance. It was never from fear of ramifications.
Gary Vaynerchuck had a couple of posts in the last week of this subject in general. One was about how a boxing coach should approach boxers not with a one-size-all, do-it-my-way-or-else mindset but by adapting and learning each athlete’s needs and getting the most out of them based on what will motivate them towards greater effort and success.
His second post is the attached graphic below:
Gary always like to place things in context. His message here is that no matter what profession a boss is, they should have the default of serving their employees to ensure they are given the tools, culture and support needed to perform at their best. Understanding the needs of the individual should be preeminent over the leader’s agenda or feelings. Meeting those needs in congruence with the mission and culture will always yield better results than the increased, non-sustainable immediate performance gained from being screamed at.
My belief is that we should always be self-aware enough to know how our actions as leaders impact others. We’re human and can lose it when the pressure is mounting. And if that’s the case, we need to make it right if we erred. (I have been guilty of this as well, and here is my lesson learned on this post). Or if yelling was needed to course correct, then take the employee aside immediately after the incident and explain what transpired and ask how you could have gotten the employee to perform better and address how you could have better handled the situation to them.
Leaders too often hide their willingness to change their approach because they want results now (or yesterday). And many times leaders yell because they say they’re passionate about what they do. To use that as a facade for yelling means it’s all about themselves, and not about building up the team and the individuals therein.
One-off yelling happens. Emotions take over at times. It may be justified or not. But if a pattern persists, then there is a real problem with the leader, and perhaps the organizational culture, and things need to change quickly. Prolonged anger and screaming will create a platform for bullying, disengagement and loss of quality talent.
People are emotional beings. Happiness ebbs and flows just as frustration does. Yelling may occur from time to time as humans interact, but this should never be anyone’s modus operandi or default mode. We should consciously avoid any yelling in any working relationship we have.
Always seek to encourage and keep a strong yet professional set of performance standards. Think twice about yelling even if the situation seems to warrant it. Most of the time, it never should occur.
Agree or Disagree? Please comment and would love to hear your thoughts so we can help each other shape better leadership and have a more profound impact on others!