leadership

How to Focus Teams for Success

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I am spending a lot of time working with technical/scientific type client teams across the USA. Like all businesses in this robust economy, their pace has quickened and they are all moving quickly. In this fast-paced environment, it is easier to lose focus on the big things needed to ensure success. It may become easier to be distracted by things that seem important in the moment,but in reality, don’t contribute much towards the bigger picture or make real progress towards goals.

I wanted to share an excellent tool that quickly focusses (or re-focusses) teams on the
big things needed for success.

We get them out of their routine, off-site and drill down on how they define success for their
teams as they contribute to the organization’s success. This is done for the near term
(the current calendar /fiscal year) and the longer term (the coming year.)
 

Here is what we drill down on:

1) If we fast forward to the end this year, (or next year – you pick time) and look back,
tell me what must have happened in order for us to call it a successful year?

These may resemble new initiatives started or completed, revenue streams supported,
or results as measured by metrics achieved. In other words, how do they define success?

2) As we look back, verbalize which barriers were removed that had an immediate or significant impact on the success of the team?

These will usually be examples such as, removal of bottlenecks - needless bureaucracy, lack of formalized roles and responsibilities, under-utilization of delegation and disparate competing cultures within the organization.

3) As we look back, how were we seen by the enterprise and how do we want / need to be seen in order to be successful?

This is the internal marketing plan to the greater enterprise to position the team as a reliable
and trusted business partner. It may also entail changing the internal brand, i.e. the way the team’s function is perceived and internally marketed to the organization.

If the year is flying by and you wonder, “Why haven’t we made a bigger dent in our most
important initiatives this year?” try answering these success focus questions above and
then allocate time towards the things that spell SUCCESS!


Lee Hubert is a Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer and founder of iTrainManagerforSuccess affiliate of Voltage Leadership, with over 20 years of experience in human resources development in healthcare, technology, financial and energy sectors. 

Help! I Don't Know What I'm Doing!

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Sometimes you have to unexpectedly lead in an area in which you are not an expert.  Maybe you are not even close to an expert.  Maybe you have no experience at all.  Situations will arise that you are not prepared for and when they do, you are still the leader and it is up to you to steward that role.  Take parenting for example, no one really knows how to do it.  But, guess what, you have to lead this tiny person into adulthood through unforeseen circumstances.  You figure it out, right?

However, most of the time it is other professional adults (some who may be gunning for your job), not children.   How will you accomplish this without those people figuring out that you don't know what you're actually doing?  There are a few ways to handle this, but what I've seen to be the most effective leadership style is not being afraid of the vulnerability.  OWN IT! 

You will need a bit of time to get yourself together and make a plan, but mostly you need to leverage the talent you already have in the people around you.  Don't be afraid to say, “I'm not quite sure what we should do with this part of it but I know that [Diane] has the skill set to take that on and be successful.”  That's leading!  Appreciating who is around you, being vulnerable enough to say, “I'm not quite sure about … but what I do know is this...”, and leading your team through the unknown.

Focusing on what you don't know and striving to find the “right” answer or way to do something will create an atmosphere of distrust.  When things get stressful, a person will tend to close themselves off from others or work themselves to the point of exhaustion in an effort to appear to have it all together.  The whole team notices that and, unless someone is bold enough to face and discuss it, distrust and rumors brew.  We must remember that we are often called to lead through something we have no experience with yet.  And that is OK!  Gather your team, share the situation before you, own that you are not sure about how to walk through it but that you will lead them through it.  I have not mastered parenting, but I am learning along the way and becoming better at it all the time.  Sometimes I have to talk to my older children in this way to let them know that I do have vulnerabilities but that I own my role as their leader and we will walk through this together.  That helps them to believe that they do not always have to have all of the answers to walk through something well.  In that way you will grow and your team will grow along with you. 

 

Try these steps when you don't know how to walk your team through a situation:

Get Clarity:  Are there questions you can ask, experienced people you can talk to, or resources you could scour to understand the situation more clearly?  

Focus on what you DO know:  You know you are the leader.  You know your team. You know that there will be an outcome on the other end of this. 

Decide what the desired outcome is and work towards it:  Is it success at all costs, or is it a team that will grow and learn together?  When mistakes happen or the result isn't good, will you cast blame, or will you be able to humbly take responsibility because you made the best choices you knew how to at the time?  Will you back your team or will you scramble toward self-preservation?  None of these are actually wrong, just different, choices one could make … just be sure you think about who you want to be as a leader as you make the choice.

Being secretive and not sharing a major project, change, or situation for too long could create distrust and paralyzing shock at just the time you need your people to step up and offer their loyalty, trust, and most thoughtful, creative work.  How will you approach your next difficult situation when you don't have experience in that particular area yet?  Here's to walking headlong into the unknown … but hopefully, not alone!

 

 

Why Employees Don't Trust Their Leaders

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According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer survey, almost 1 in 3 employees don’t trust their employers. The Edelman survey also shows that the survey results show that the lower you go in the organization; the less trusting people are. 64 percent of executives said they trust the company they work for while only 51 percent of managers and 48 percent of rank-and-file employees said they did.

In addition to this, employers now have to reach the millennial generation. After graduating from college, on average, a millennial will change jobs four times before they are 32 years old. Many millennials do not feel empowered in their current jobs.

Front-line managers are organizational connecting rods. They have the most influence and can make their teams excellent if they choose to do so. They accomplish this by consistently demonstrating leadership qualities can inspire their teams to do great things.  According to Daniel Wang, founder of the Loopring Foundation here are the top eight qualities that make a great leader:

1. Show real enthusiasm

Real enthusiasm for a business, its products, and its mission cannot be faked. Employees can
recognize insincere cheerleading from a mile away. However, when leaders are sincerely enthusiastic and passionate, that’s contagious.

2. Integrity

Whether it’s giving proper credit for accomplishments, acknowledging mistakes, or putting quality first, great leaders exhibit integrity at all times. They do what’s right, even if that isn’t the best thing for the current work product.

3. Great communication skills

Leaders must motivate, instruct and inspire the people they are in charge of. They can accomplish none of these things if they aren’t very skilled communicators. Poor communication leads to poor outcomes. It’s also important to remember that listening is an integral part of communication.

4. Loyalty

The best leaders understand that true loyalty is reciprocal. Because of this, they express that loyalty in tangible ways that benefit the member of their teams. True loyalty is ensuring that all team members have the training and resources to do their jobs. It’s standing up for team members in crisis and conflict.

5. Decisiveness

A good leader isn’t simply empowered to make decisions due to their position. They are willing to take on the risk of decision making. Bosses who aren’t decisive are often ineffective. Too much effort working on consensus building can have a negative effect. Rather than simply making a decision, many leaders allow debate to continue, and then create a piecemeal decision that satisfies no one.

6. Managerial competence

Too many organizations try to create leaders from people who are technically good at their jobs. They understand company goals, processes, and procedures. Being good at one’s job doesn’t prove that they can inspire, motivate, mentor or direct.

7. Empowerment

A good leader has trust in their abilities of the employees under them. When employees are empowered, they are more likely to make decisions that are in the best interest of the organization. This is true, even if it means allowing workers flexibility top go “off script.”

8. Charisma

The best leaders are well-spoken, approachable and friendly. They show a sincere interest in others. They make it easy to follow their lead. They have a certain je ne sais quoi that sets them apart and everybody around them senses it.

Remember, the lower in the organization we go, the less trusting people became. Looks like a call to action for upper leadership to become more visible in a meaningful way. This might be via a town hall meeting or skype for remote workers. We can certainly do better than roughly half of all managers and workers not trusting their leaders.