Category Archives: Personal Development

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

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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.

(images: dynamikhgynaika.gr, anaman.net)

(this post originally appeared in Lead Change Group)

 

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How To Make Change After The Conference

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We’ve all seen and been a part of this: We come back from a workshop, conference, strategic planning session or other great event, excited to make these great changes. Great new ideas, lots of energy, and a broader vision has been instilled and you’re ready to effect change.

Fast forward just a few months later; the company has not been effected by those game-changing ideas, and any semblance of the workshop or conference’s impact is gone.

The same can be said for many of the books written, mastermind session hosted, or webinars attended. All loaded with great wisdom and sure to move the needle, these mediums for change seldom move the needle in an organization.

So much money is spent on conferences, travel, bookings, leadership and strategic development sessions and outside consultants only to see it get wasted because nothing lasting ever came out of those promising sessions. While, yes, some of what is put out there is fluff with no real depth, there is much more great content and resources out there that has true potential to make a difference if the right variables were in play.

So, what happened, and how can lasting impact be made?

First let’s look at some of the reasons why change did not occur:

  • Action plans were not made – many people fail to plan for what to do after. They just board the plane home and forget what they learned as they focus on what awaits for them back at work
  • Upper management saw the conference as an attitude adjustment for the employee – a lot of times managers send staff to events as a way to train or change the employee, without wanting to change themselves
  • The workshop was just for show – some companies have been know to be part of these events just by attending but fail to show they align with these initiatives
  • The attendees has a poor attitude about attending – a lot of individuals look at these events as drudgery, or as a mini-vacation from work, without any plan to improve or learn
  • Leadership is not aligned with any changes from such events – upper management never intended to change anything they do and would just rather stay their course of action
  • The one or few people who attend aren’t allowed much influence in subsequent changes – they come back with great ideas and are marginalized or squelched by their boss when they arrive and not allowed to implement any changes
  • Leadership minimized and wrote off what any impact would be – by sticking to their narrow vision and not seeing what new ideas or trends are out there, these types of leaders truncate any major impact these conferences or sessions can make for their company and customers

So if you want to get the best return for you investment form any book, webinar, conference, or workshop, here are the best ways to effect lasting change:

  • Get as many people attending as possible – does this cost more? Yes. But getting more people on board increases alignment, builds broader collaboration and generates more buzz and follow through to make a major impact
  • Have a team action plan session – have the people who attend make an action plan on what was learned no less than a week form the end of the event. if possible, make it within 48 hours while the ideas and energy are still fresh
  • Set goals and determine that the company will benefit from these ideas – make a hard goal plan that the organization will see these changes through towards improving operations, customer service, sales, etc. A goal will ensure the company adopts these changes and doesn’t forsake them
  • Set incremental milestones to make sure actions steps are on track – refer to the conference material after 30, 60, 90 days to ensure the momentum stays on track.  Nothing derails planned change like time; keep refreshing the ideas and energy at no more than 30 day periods.
  • Take the key points and find the best application for them in our business culture and model – it’s easy to tell yourself that some, or many, ideas won’t apply to your business. The best companies find a way to make these work for them and leverage a differentiation from them
  • Go with an attitude of learning and professionalism – many people who attend these events take them as a big bash and spend far too much time at the bar and instead of finding ways to improve themselves and their company

At the end of it all, it’s up to you as a leader to adopt ideas into lasting change. Don’t waste your time and money, and that of your employees, or the speaker’s time, by just attending and doing nothing to improve your company or your customer’s experience.

(image: wikimedia commons)

Guest Post – A Recipe for Employee Engagement

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Today’s post is from Art Barter, in conjunction with the newly released book “Servant Leadership in Action” by Ken Blanchard. Art is one of a handful of people who contributed to this book, including Marshall Goldsmith, Dave Ramsey, mark Miller, Cheryl Bacheleder, and Simon Sinek. Art brings to us a perspective of servant leadership in reagrds towards employee engagement.

 

The Servant Leadership Institute helps leaders around the country change their leadership beliefs from the control model to the service model. Leaders we help all have a common desire: to engage their employees at the highest level possible. Most realize that how they are leading today needs to change.

 

We have all been in meetings where those in attendance have lost interest in what the leader is saying. It took me some time to understand when people are looking down at their papers, playing with their pens and doing everything to avoid eye contact, it was my own behaviors that drove their response. Why is it so hard to connect with those whom we spend most of the day?  As leaders, how do we develop a culture where people are encouraged to participate and give feedback to their leader — and the leader cares about them enough to actually listen to understand? Here are some of my thoughts and experiences on how we can engage employees today.

 

Do you inspire your employees?

 

People don’t feel inspired by their leaders. Leaders today do not live the company values through their behaviors. Leadership behavior, in the most part, has been driven by the command and control leadership model. People want their leaders to care about them, not just say they care. Leaders inspire others through their behavior more than anything they might say.  Part of that behavior is painting an inspirational picture for employees — one that shows them how their work impacts the world. Be a storyteller, reminding employees all the things they have accomplished.

 

Do you invest time in your employees?

 

People don’t feel their leaders really invest in them. Leaders today don’t feel they need to meet people where they are. Most leaders don’t know what this means. I love to ask leaders if they invest their time in their employees. Most will respond with that worn out saying, “my door is always open.” I ask them to tear the door off its hinges and show me their calendar. When I see employees scheduled in a leader’s calendar on a regular basis, I know the leader really cares.  We all should schedule regular one-to-one meetings with those who report directly to us.

 

Do you trust your employees?

 

People don’t feel leaders trust them. Trust is the basic item needed in any relationship. If leaders don’t extend trust, how can they expect trust in return? There is both a social and economic driver in trust. Leaders need to understand both. In our manufacturing company, we measure trust every six months through a trust index. Leaders can’t build trust in their organizations until they trust themselves and trust the other leaders in the company. Leaders don’t believe the trust issue is with them — which couldn’t be further from the truth.

 

Do you model the company values, mission and purpose?

 

People notice when leaders’ behaviors do not support their words. “Walk the Talk” is another worn-out this phrase. We need to change it to “Behave the Talk.” Leaders cannot inspire and equip others through their talk, only through their behaviors. Leaders need to change their own behavior first before they can expect a change in their organizations and people. In todays’ world, people are looking to follow a leader who is serious about values and a higher purpose for the organization. They will follow leaders who behave their values, purpose and mission. Do people in your organization see you behave in accordance with all three of these?

 

 

In the end, our role as leaders is to inspire and equip those we influence. People are disengaged today due to their leaders’ behaviors. Leaders need to change their own behavior before they can set expectations for people in their organizations to change. It took me almost 30 years to realize this. Our organizations started to grow and perform after I changed my own behaviors and invested time in our people. Serving them has been the most rewarding journey of my leadership career. Start your journey today; you won’t regret it.

More about Art Barter

Art Barter (www.artbarterspeaks.com) is the owner and CEO of Datron World Communications and the founder and CEO of the Servant Leadership Institute. Art began his career working for the Walt Disney Company. He then spent more than twenty-five years with several manufacturing companies before joining Datron in 1997. Art Barter has a chapter in the new book Servant Leadership in Action (Berrett-Koehler, March 6, 2018). Coedited by Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell, the book is a collection of original essays contributed by 44 servant leadership experts and practitioners.

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