leadership incorporated blog

August 30, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: : 9 Ways Smart Leaders Lose Peoples’ Respect and Loyalty

This week I observed as the leader of an organization in a team meeting made a series of common mistakes that are practically guaranteed to annoy, offend, alienate and otherwise reduce the likelihood of building loyalty in the team.

I can’t imagine that she had anything but the best of intentions. Yet, these common behaviors are likely to undermine her objectives.

Here are some guidelines that may help you to not make similar mistakes:

DON’T be deceptive about your purpose. When you lead people to expect one thing and deliver another you erode their trust.

DO think about how your words will land with others, what those words will lead people to expect. When in doubt, get feedback.

DON’T focus more positive attention on long-time members. This is just as true in a business as in a membership organization.  It’s easy to think that you want to honor your most valued team members first and most and that this will encourage others to get involved.  However, what this really does is create separation and often makes newcomers feel as if there is a closed circle to which they are not welcome.

DO welcome newcomers first. Make them feel special. Give them the opportunity to introduce themselves or share. Then when you honor those on the team, it feels inclusive and not exclusive.

DON’T make assumptions about the motivations and knowledge base of the team. People come to your business or organization with a wealth of experience and know-how. And they each come with their own motivations. When you assume and get it wrong, they will feel they don’t belong.

DO be aware of your assumptions. Check with the group to see what they know, what they want, what they have to offer.

DON’T bring limiting beliefs into the mix, if possible. Others may not share these beliefs. Nothing will alienate someone faster than a mismatched belief system.

DO work to become aware of your own limiting beliefs, especially in areas relevant to your organization.

DON’T hold yourself up as a role model. Even when you have accomplished miracles and it would benefit people to follow your lead, standing at the front of a room speaking about yourself as someone to emulate is a turn-off. This doesn’t mean you can’t share your experiences and knowledge.

DO be a role model. However, focus your attention and energy on your audience and not on yourself. Know that there are other possible paths to success than the one you followed.

DON’T hold yourself as separate from the team. This is closely related to the last point. When you hold yourself as a role model, you see yourself as being ahead of or better than those you are leading or hoping to lead. They will feel that separation and the best among them won’t follow.

DO see yourself as part of the team. Recognize the value others have to bring, and not just selective others, but each person present. When you acknowledge the possibilities in everyone, many more people will step forward to own and create those possibilities.

DON’T make a negative example of someone in the room. This makes everyone feel uncomfortable. And diminishes trust. If you do this to him today, you could do it to me tomorrow. It will make people hesitant to speak up.

DO make positive examples of people in the room. If a negative example needs to be made, fall on the sword yourself, telling a story from your past. Or generalize, making it clear that many people have made this mistake.

DON’T parent people. Forcing them unnecessarily into actions, not giving them choice and autonomy will do one of two things: It will send the independent thinkers running, it will encourage the rest into co-dependent relationship with you.

DO invite people to experiences. Create a safe space for them to learn and grow and participate. It may take some people longer to step forward than others. Or they may contribute in other ways. When you create the room for all kinds of people and all kinds of participation you will also create incredible respect, loyalty and new possibilities.

DON’T speak down to people. Don’t use your position, authority or celebrity to make them smaller. No one wants to feel small.

DO think the best of people. The excellent book The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander (see link below) suggests that you “give people an A.” Assume the best and most of the time, you will both be better for it.

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

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August 22, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Why New Hires Fail 46% of the Time

An associate of mine was meeting with a business owner whose business was struggling.

He mentioned how onboarding principles might help her. She paused for a second, gave him a strange look, and asked, “Does it really work?”. He replied emphatically that it does. She then asked, “Do you use it with all the employees?” He responded that he requires onboarding of everyone in the company now, and they love it! “They do???” she asked, seemingly stunned.

At this point my associate looked at her right hand man who had his head down and was shaking it back and forth. He said, “Eric, she thought you said water boarding.”

She wasn’t alone in not understanding the meaning of the term onboarding. I often find that people who have years of business experience have never heard of this practice of supporting a hire or promotion in making a successful transition into their new position.

So, it’s not surprising that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months. Only 19%  achieve unequivocal success. The training most people receive upon starting a new position tends to focus on procedures and technical skills. But only 11% of people are let go because they lack technical skills. Competence doesn’t even make the top 8 list of reasons people fail.

How about you?

In your career, have you ever been let go less than 18 months into a job?

Have you ever been in a position without quite fitting in or figuring it all out?

Or perhaps you’ve been the one who hired a disappointment, but you put up with the situation anyway, perhaps for years?

What was the cost to you? To others? To the organization?

  • Financially?
  • Emotionally?
  • In lost productivity?
  • In lost opportunity?

Onboarding makes a significant difference in helping people avoid the main causes of failure: (note many new hires fail for more than one of the reasons below)

  • 75% of new hires fail because they don’t fit in with the organizational culture
  • 52% of new hires fail because they are unable to build a support team around themselves
  • 33% of new hires fail because they don’t understand expectations and prioritize accordingly
  • 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback
  • 25% fail because they lack political savvy
  • 23% of new hires fail because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions
  • 17% of new hires fail because they lack the necessary motivation to excel
  • 15% of new hires fail because they have the wrong temperament for the job

Most people don’t just naturally know how to manage change and transitions well. And most managers don’t know how to help others transition effectively, either. Many companies have no process in place for the successful assimilation of employees into the company.

Onboarding is about shortening the learning curve. Being brought onboard to an organization (or any new situation, really) in a deliberate and thoughtful way. Onboarding takes into account all aspects of the experience ahead. It supports both organization and individual by planning for success and anticipating breakdowns. It addresses the building of emotional intelligence, communication skills, relationship development and early and consistent wins, to name just a few of the areas generally overlooked in hiring.

And it compares very favorably with waterboarding as a tool for leading change.

*Statistics come from: 1) a Leadership IQ study of 5,247 hiring managers from 312 public, private,
business and healthcare organizations. Collectively these managers hired more than 20,000 employees
during the study period. 2) a Manchester Inc. Study of executives in Fortune 1000 companies

August 16, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: How To Turn Business Losses Into Wins

This week I heard the loser in a recent congressional race interviewed on the radio. As the numbers came in and it became clear he was going to lose, he received a call from former President Bill Clinton.

Clinton told him that the way he handled this loss would decide the rest of his political career. If he moped and was bitter or negative, people would feel justified in not having voted for him.

So instead, this candidate went out and, as he put it, “acted as if he’d won.” He thanked everyone profusely. He was positive and gracious. He focused on what had worked and not on what hadn’t.

You don’t have to be a fan of Clinton to see that this thinking applies to your business, as well. Whether and how people — your staff, your clients, your peers, your supervisors, your associates — will follow your lead, will trust you, and sometimes whether or not you will get a second chance, depends on how you respond when you lose; what you do when you are faced with challenges and problems and failure.

Whether you are leading an organization, in middle management or searching for your next job opportunity…

Here are some tips on how to win even as you’re losing:

Play the long game. Know that success often looks like failure from the middle. Don’t quit in the middle.

See failures as part of the process. Expect it. Perhaps more important, stop expecting not to fail. Things will always go wrong. So what?

Embrace failures as a learning experience. If you’re not failing occasionally it means you’re not taking risks. Which means you’re only doing what you’ve always done and not moving forward. Forward movement and change are essential to long-term success. So are failures.

Make failures part of your plan. And plan for what you will do when you fail. Know how you will respond now to failures you haven’t even imagined yet. Although this may sound counter-intuitive, there is almost no failure you could experience that others haven’t experienced before you. You can have a strategy in place for what you will do when the “unexpected” happens. And that will make all the difference.

Stay in the flow. Don’t stop to fight reality. Reality wins, but only every time. The clue to help you notice when  you’re fighting reality is feeling stuck. Accept your interim setbacks and look for their message for you to inspire your next move.

Associate failures with success. Some people choose to use failure as an excuse to stop trying or to shoot lower. Guess what? You can choose to use failure to learn how to do it better and keep aiming higher. That’s what the spectacularly successful people in our world have done. Click here for an incomplete list of successful people who’ve filed for bankruptcy — some over and over again.

Help those around you to embrace failures. Encourage people around you to take sane risks, find the learning and keep moving forward.

Keep your focus on the now with an eye to what’s next. Look back just long enough to get the lessons. Stay grounded in the present, with your eyes to the future.

If you keep learning in the present and stay firmly committed to winning in the long run, success is the only possible outcome.

August 9, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: How To Get Out Of Your Own Way And Create Change

(568 words, less than 3 minutes reading time)

Want to get unstuck? Last week, we talked about being able to recognize the signs that you — or people you’re trying to work (or live) with — are resisting a change that needs to happen.

Here are 6 steps you can take to confront resistance and leave it sniveling in your dust.

1. Own it. Recognize and accept that you are in resistance. When we deny resistance or ignore it, resistance owns us. Example: When other things keep bumping the thing you need to do from your list, that’s resistance. When we don’t own it, it’s so easy to believe that those things were urgent and postponing the change unavoidable, day after week after month. When you own that you are in resistance, you are better able to see how your priorities may be interfering with the bigger picture.

2. Know the cost of staying in resistance. What happens if you don’t make the change? What are the predictable outcomes of remaining on your current path?

Yes, financially, but also in terms of:

  • other impacts on your business
  • lost opportunity
  • state of mind
  • physical and emotional energy
  • health and wellbeing
  • impact on others
  • what else?

3. Know WIIFM – (What’s In It For Me) While you do want to know the potential negative impacts above, fear is not ultimately the best motivator for the long haul. What are the predictable positive outcomes for you if you successfully create the change you want to see?
Yes, financially, but also in terms of:

  • sense of accomplishment
  • creation of new opportunity
  • state of mind
  • physical and emotional energy
  • health and wellbeing
  • impact on others
  • what else?

4. Get specific and Get positive. What is the specific action you need to take? This step trips up a lot of people. For example: increasing revenue, landing a job or losing weight are not actions. These are goals that can help define direction, but we often mistake these for what we need to do. You can’t actually DO any of these things, they are the outcomes of other actions.

Positive actions you might take to create revenue are making a certain number of calls a day to set up meetings with prospective clients. And developing a strategy for converting meetings into business.

Stopping something you do is a negative rather than a positive action. You’ll be more effective if you plan the action you will take instead of the one you want to stop.

5. Tell the story of the change you want to see. In detail. the most basic tool of change and any other thing you want to create is the word. And it’s most powerful form is the story. Start to paint a detailed visual picture using words, for yourself and others. Repeat this, allowing it to develop and guide your actions and decisions. When you start to live the story the change you want to see begins to materialize.

6. Take away the option of not changing. When we say we’re going to do something but we allow something else to distract us and we accept that excuse, we allow the option of not doing what we need to do. Instead, commit to taking action, whether or not other things come up. If not acting isn’t an option, you’ll be amazed at the change you can create.

For other perspectives on getting out of your own way, check out my friend, Mark Goulston’s work:

Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior

Get Out of Your Own Way at Work…And Help Others Do the Same: Conquer Self-Defeating Behavior on the Job

August 2, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: Do you recognize resistance when you see it?

So, I’m trying to lose some weight. And I notice that the days that I declare to myself, “No sugar today,” I end up eating sugar earlier than ever. I actually forget that I have even made myself this promise…usually until just a moment after the sugar is melting from my tongue.

Can you relate? Maybe not in this area, but we all have places where we do not keep promises to ourselves. Where do you do this?

Not following through on commitments is a form of resistance. You can probably see clearly how this resistance might sabotage my efforts toward my goal.

My resistance is brilliant. It continually takes new and different forms and is quite good at disguising itself and finding new ways to outsmart me. Your resistance is brilliant, too.

Resistance will keep us from achieving what we want and need. Worse than that, resistance has the power to sending us and our businesses careening in exactly the opposite direction.

Whether you are a leader in an organization or in your own life, anytime you find yourself in a change situation, you will find resistance. If you don’t, you are not looking hard enough. It is the way of things. You will resist. Your staff will resist. Your boss will resist. Your clients will resist.  Potential employers will resist. Your family will resist. The higher the stakes, the more resistance you will find.

If we are not aware that resistance is at work, resistance wins. But only 100% of the time.

Your only hope of overcoming resistance is to expect it. But even that isn’t enough. You also have to value it and embrace it. You have to work with your resistance, not against it.

You have to get intimate with resistance. And that starts with recognizing it. Here’s what you want to look for:

Obvious resistance is  easy to spot:

  • Refusal
  • Arguing
  • Disruptive behavior

The most powerful forms of resistance are usually much more subtle:

  • Not being available
  • Not getting started
  • Getting distracted and not completing
  • Offering misleading information
  • Bringing up other issues
  • Becoming very busy with something else
  • Getting sick
  • Anger
  • Irritation
  • Frustration
  • Confusion
  • Criticism
  • Silence
  • Feigning acceptance, without asking necessary questions or working out the details
  • Finding reasons to be removed from the task
  • Surfing the web
  • Compulsively checking your BlackBerry or iPhone

Oh yeah, and forgetting.

Which of these do you do? Which do you see the people you work with doing? Which do you see in your clients? Start noticing the signs of resistance in you and the people around you.

Remember resistance is very creative.

Next week, we’ll talk about a few ways to work with your resistance.

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