Character

SAY WHAT? QUOTES TO PONDER AS YOU GROW YOUR LEADERSHIP VOICE

We are all trying to grow ourselves, our leadership voice and our ability to influence others. The following quotes are great words to ponder and incorporate into your leadership toolkit.                                              

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” –Norman Schwarzkopf  
"Confidence is contagious; so is a lack of confidence." -Vince Lombardi
“It's about doing things that you haven't done before, where you're still kind of a beginner, and not resting on your laurels.” -Caterina Fake, co-founder, Flickrz
"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed to fail if you don’t try." –Beverly Sills
"You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” -Mick Jagger
"It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings." -Ann Landers
"I would rather die of passion than of boredom." –Vincent van Gogh
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it."  –American Proverb
"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new." –Albert Einstein
"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." –Booker T. Washington
"Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." –Joshua J. Marine
"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." –Les Brown
"When we understand that what we do is not who we are, we then become what we do." –Lee Hubert  

 * Quotes courtesy of the Lynchburg News-Advance

Thanks for reviewing the quotes. Now, the challenge for you is to determine how these quotes will influence your leadership style. I look forward to hearing how you applied the quotes and what you are doing differently. I wish you continued success and let us know about your achievements!


 

CHARACTERS ON YOUR TEAM: WHICH ONE ARE YOU?

I was working with a client recently who said she felt her team was like a 10pm drama on television. She had the diva who tried to take credit for everything. The sniper who constantly lobbed in bombs that tore apart all the good ideas on the team. Mr. Passive Aggressive sat in the corner barely containing his hostility but a wry smile on his face the whole time. She also had the “holier than thou” character who stayed above the conflict and talked about how wonderful her group was doing and if everyone would just get alone, their results would improve. I asked her what role she played and she just laughed and said “I guess I view myself as Wonder Woman trying to rescue this team and organization.” As you can imagine, my client is pretty exhausted from being a rescuer/superhero and wanted help to regain the power of her team.

Does this sound like a team you have been on recently? There are other characters that we could add like Pass the Buck guy; The Blamer; It’s Not Me; Squirrel-Distracted by Shiny Bright Objects (this can be me if I am not engaged); Persecutor, etc. Obviously, we are not headed for the road to success if this is our team.

Let’s go back to Wonder Woman…how can we help her lead her team.  First, she will need to make sure each person knows their purpose, vision and mission and values of the organization. I believe most people come to work wanting to do a good job. Sure, there are a few truly bad characters but most people want to do a good job. Thus, have a conversation to make sure the team reconnects with the collective purpose.

Next, I would encourage the team to draft a team charter. This should include the vision, mission, ground rules and values of the team that supports the organization’s needs. I encourage team leaders to outline their goals, strengths, barriers, weaknesses, desired outcomes and hopes. This should lead to a discussion of roles and expectations for each team member. I would also spend time outlining how decisions will be made on the team and who has the ability to make what decisions. Are there group decisions? If so, who is responsible for these and does everyone understand the process for decision making.

Okay, we are making good progress.  Now, how are we going to handle conflict? This should be discussed as a team ensuring there are ground rules on how to handle any conflict. The team then needs to hold each other accountable to their commitments. One rule I would encourage is no triangulation. This means I cannot talk to Beth about Lee.  I need to go straight to Lee to share my feedback. The challenge is that people often start to see each other as the characters that we started the blog with. I encourage each person to spend time with each team member for a few minutes and find 2-3 things you respect about the other person. I then ask the team members to share that with their teammates. It is amazing the reaction that you get from this exercise. First, there is resistance and by the end there generally is hugging and sometimes tears.

Does this mean we are all set? I wish…no, we will need to keep working on recognizing each other, living our values and adhering to our ground rules and revisiting our charter. However, if we connect with each other in our team meetings and try to recognize the efforts of our peers then there is a good chance we start to see the good in each other and stop seeing each other as heroes and villains.

Good luck on your team journey and let me know how you do at bringing your characters into a high performing team.

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHARACTER

Character. It is a careful, internal interchange between our values and choices, and the decisions we make that guide our behavior.  Character is also an X Factor in every hiring situation. When I am hiring talent, I have 5 Key Success Areas I am searching for evidence in:

Character, Chemistry, Competence, Commitment and Capacity.

And the order I have listed them in is no accident: character tops my list. Why? Character, ultimately, is described by how you behave when no one is watching.

Here is part 2 of character, with a nod to the great poet Maya Angelou:

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

Yes, I have seen people change their character.  A. Few. Times. In. My. Life. 

Expecting someone to behave differently in the future despite the evidence of the past is magical thinking. I have not seen someone change their character without the motivating force of either a life-changing experience or a crushing personal loss. Life can bring us to our knees and beg us to change. 

I have also seen people choose not to change at those crossroads. Those life stories do not end well.

Does this mean I am not a person who believes in second chances? No. I do believe in second chances. But it means that when I give someone an opportunity, despite the evidence of the past, I am aware that I am taking an incredible risk. In those instances, I do everything I can to mitigate that risk and to help that person be successful.

Leaders can’t correct character. Poor character is a problem of an underdeveloped awareness, empathy, and conscience. These matters are hard to handle in a performance review. If you have to deal with them, it will likely be a long coaching process. The chances that you invest a lot of time and energy only to escort the person out the door 3 to 6 months later are high. Better to handle character problems before the hiring ever occurs. 

How do you discover the character of a prospective employee?

Here are some tips for the hiring process:

1.       Pose thoughtful questions which ask them to tell their story. For example, ask the candidate to recount, in detail, a story about their own first-hand experience with a difficult choice. Or a time when a situation at work made them angry, and how they responded.

Listen for what is said and not said, and trace the values that guided the person through their decision-making. What issue did they choose to share? How much did they disclose? Who were the people involved? How did they navigate their decision?

2.       Do the same with the references you call for your prospective hire. Ask references thoughtful questions. Ask for specific stories about how the candidate made choices. This provides another data-point about how your prospective employee handles pressure and navigates change, choices, and ethics.

3.       If you have more than one interview, choose several different settings. Notice how those different settings impact your prospective employee.

How did they enter and exit the building? Where were they most comfortable? Who did they stop and speak with, and how did that conversation go? What did they seem to pay attention to in each space?

Armed with these questions (and others you develop on your own), you will gain a great deal of insight about someone before choosing to bring them onto your team.

Take the extra time when you hire. It avoids a lot of headaches down the road.