Posts tagged ‘leadership’

Sailing to Engagement through Communication

Just as “a rising tide lifts all boats”, good communication lifts all “ships”…including effective leadership, courtship, and friendship. In the long run, each of these is buoyed up by frequent, and positive, communication. For the purposes of THIS discussion, we’ll focus on leadership, however the same principles certainly apply to effectively maintaining and sailing any kind of “ship”!

Great leaders know that the wind that fills their employees’ sails, and moves the [engagement] ”ship” forward is clear and thoughtful communication from the leader. Communication answering the questions “Where are we headed?” “Why are we making the journey?” “What’s my role and how does it fit in?” Without these, the ship flounders.

Moreover, timely, specific and sincere feedback regarding employee performance, progress, and accomplishment puts your inspired leader-“ship” in full sail! Add to these, the many additional opportunities available to all, but utilized only by the most effective, leaders in engaging their teams, including:

  1. Simple greetings! “Good morning”, “How was your weekend?”, “Have a good evening”. Daily interactions provide simple, but effective opportunities to connect and acknowledge others. Sometimes just not doing this can leave employees thinking “what did I do?” or “why’s he upset?” A pleasant greeting truly lifts morale and increases trust.
  2. When giving instructions or making an assignment, ensure full communication by asking questions. Until you hear your intended thoughts coming out of their mouths, you have not effectively communicated…and they know that!
  3. Listen! Remember, Habit 5 – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood. You can only understand what you truly hear, and EVERYONE wants and needs to be understood.
  4. Thanks!” Never, ever, ever let an opportunity to express sincere thanks for any and all (even the simplest) act of kindness, assistance, or help of any kind. You may think it doesn’t matter and maybe it doesn’t, but to many a simple “thank you” is gold!
  5. Look beyond your team! Kindness, respectful recognition, and friendliness expressed to everyone in your path raises the overall engagement level of everyone within the organization.
  6. Compliments, when issued spontaneously and sincerely lift spirits, show recognition and awareness, and demonstrably increase trust and communication, while reducing barriers of skepticism, fear, or introversion.

Put the wind back in your team’s sails by increasing the quality, frequency, and sincerity of communication to and with them! It is the surest way to increase employee engagement…and have FUN doing it!

Lead on!

Cliff

 

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April 3, 2016 at 3:14 pm Leave a comment

The Simple Secrets to Motivation

A good leader wants nothing more than a highly motivated team, pursuing a purposeful plan. The rest is relatively easy.

So what’s the secret to creating an environment where motivation is high and where workers are happily pursuing the planned objectives? The answer is simple. – By remembering and leveraging the two most powerful motivators of human behavior – purpose and appreciation!

Purpose – The most highly motivated people in any endeavor are driven by a deeply held sense of purpose, accomplishment, meaning and “matter”. They are emotionally connected to their toil to the point that “quit” is not even in their vocabulary! They believe in their cause. They have an acute awareness of the importance and impact of their contributions, and they take complete ownership of their stewardship

Appreciation – Everyone loves appreciation – a sincere acknowledgement for accomplishment. Even a simple “thank you” or other expressions of gratitude for a job well done, have proven to have greater influence on worker motivation than any tangible rewards. Interestingly, this hunger for feedback isn’t limited to positive feedback. Everyone wants to know how they’re doing – even when they’re falling short (remember the first motivator?) But when they excel AND they hear about it, motivation is off the charts!

Knowing the simple “secrets” to motivation is half the battle. As with most things however it’s the lack of execution that keeps many managers from creating a truly motivating environment. Rather than sharing the vision – the big picture – the “who”, “where”, “when”, “how”, and most important, the “why”, they keep it all to themselves and deprive the team of the real “purpose” of their work.

Then, when their team members do accomplish tasks, make progress, or move forward on known objectives, and the only ones taking notice are the crickets, not only is this not motivating, it’s actually terribly demotivating!

So, here’s the plan…

  • Communicate
  • Share the vision
  • Empower
  • Facilitate
  • Get out of the way
  • Provide feedback
  • Praise liberally
  • Express sincere appreciation…frequently!

Follow the plan, remembering that real motivation comes having a strong sense of purpose, meaning, and matter, followed by acknowledgement and appreciation for effort and accomplishment!

Lead on!

Cliff

November 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm 1 comment

Leading [others] to Greatness

William Shakespeare wrote “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”  While I don’t know about the “born great” or “thrust upon them” parts, we have all seen people who achieve greatness by sheer determination and effort.  But even for them, greatness didn’t have a chance without one fundamental ingredient even more important than the others.  Faith – a belief that it can be done, that it can be reached, that it can be achieved…is the FIRST ingredient of greatness.

Without faith, nothing happens. Without faith that the light will come on, no one would flip the switch. Without faith that there’s promise in the day, who’d get out of bed? Without faith that obstacles can be overcome, no one would make the effort. Without faith that one can achieve great things, who would even try?

Faith in oneself and confidence in one’s abilities are prerequisites for striving for greatness in anything. So where does that faith and confidence come from?  Some would argue that there are those who are born with the drive, but certainly they are the minority.  But for most, and behind every champion, there is a special spark – a friend, a parent, an example, an idea, a feeling that somewhere in the champion’s life helped them to see their potential and gather the faith necessary to carry them to success.

And THAT is where you as a leader come in. Leadership is about helping others discover their potential. As Bo Bennett put it, “A good leader is one who can tell another how to reach his or her potential; a great leader is one who can help another discover this potential for him or herself.” THAT is your opportunity…as a leader, a parent, a friend – to help others see…and believe in their potential! Here’s how…

FIRST, You must believe in their potential. The good news is that all human potential far exceeds our wildest imaginations. We were all designed to reach heights higher than we can envision. The human body, mind, and spirit are limitless when the blinders of life’s experiences and the opinions of critics are ignored. Those you lead are better than they know!  SECOND, help them catch the vision – to “see” their own success and potential in their mind’s eye. Paint the picture. All things are created twice – once in the mind and then in reality.  THIRD, encourage them, support them, and expect them to succeed.  FOURTH, while you can’t remove all obstacles from their path (and shouldn’t), you can make sure you aren’t one of them. Your pure desire for their success will be an unseen strength along their journey.  And FINALLY, always be the example you would hope they’d have. You may not be expert in the thing they are striving to become great at, but your example of being true to the things you do believe and strive for makes all the difference to those, seen and unseen, that are following you…and yes, they are watching!

Leading isn’t always easy, but few things are as rewarding as making a real difference in someone else’s success!  Doing the hard thing is what makes life great. Doing the hard thing is what makes you (and others) great!

Lead on…

Cliff

May 28, 2014 at 11:17 am Leave a comment

Eat Your Peas!

“Eat your peas!” 

“But I don’t like peas!” 

“Yes you do……at least you should!”

“Why?”

“Well…because they’re good for you……and they taste good!”

“They don’t taste good to me!”

“We’ll…..they should!  Eat your peas!”

Does this sound familiar?  If you’ve been a parent…or a child (who hasn’t) it probably does.  Removed from the situation, it also probably sounds a little ridiculous.  Sometimes we sound just as ridiculous to our employees, our coworkers, and unfortunately our customers when we tell them what they should do, try, or like.  Remember the old Alka Seltzer commercial… “Try it, you’ll like it!”?  Pretty presumptuous isn’t it?

Habit 5 of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is… “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Before you can even hope to sell, convince, or recruit others to your proposal you have to understand their perspective – their way of seeing things.  My mom used to say “Never judge an Indian until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins”.  To presume what others should think, do, or like is in reality, projecting our views on others as if they were mindless drones waiting for someone to connect the remote control.

So how can you know…what others want or how they see things?  Simple – ASK!  Then…LISTEN…really listen…empathically…to understand.   Then, and only if it still makes sense, you can sell, convince, or recruit…to their needs…and not to YOUR presumptions!

Try it, you’ll like the results!  🙂

Lead on!

Cliff

November 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm Leave a comment

Always Begin With the “WHY”!

It’s 3:00 Friday afternoon, and your best customer calls.  He’s in a real jam and needs a simple and inexpensive part to complete a job and quickly fills you in on all the details.  Oddly enough, you are completely out of the item, but fortunately any of your surrounding stores has plenty on hand.  You ask Bill, the only one in your branch not doing anything terribly important at the time, to run and pick up the part and deliver it to the job site as quickly as he can.  Then you return to your work.

In the mean time, Bill who’d had to skip lunch earlier during a rush of customers, stops on his way to grab a sandwich and soda.  He’s not really dragging, but he’s also in no big hurry.  He chats it up a bit with the guys at your sister store, and then heads to the job site.  He arrives just in time to see your biggest customer getting locked out of the property for the weekend, due to a conflict with a major event being held there.  He looks completely depressed…because he is!

You see, just as he’d told you on the phone, this job needed to be completed by close of business TODAY, or he’d be facing $25,000 in late penalties!  The 6 month project was all but done, except for the  $6 part.  When you took the call you didn’t think twice about not getting your customer what he needed, as it seemed like a slam dunk…IF…everyone involved knew what was at stake!  Remember, you only told Bill that your customer needed a simple part.  To Bill there was NO urgency…and being relatively new he really didn’t even know how important the customer was to your branch…and the company!

Communication is the lifeblood of an organization, a project, a relationship!  Without it any of these will suffer at least, and possibly die.  In communication, the “what”, the “when”, the “where”, the “how”, and the “who” are all important elements, but the “WHY” is king!  The “what” informs, but the “WHY” inspires!  The “how” instructs, but the “WHY” transforms!

When you communicate with others…especially with employees, and most certainly when giving instructions, go back, way back, to the very beginning and explain the “WHY” behind everything!  Don’t sell your employees, your children, or anyone else short.  Not only CAN they handle the details – the big picture…they NEED them if they are to become engaged!  And we all know the difference between the engaged and disengaged performer!

To get the very most out of people you have to reach their hearts because the heart is where the “WHY” lives!  Always begin with the “WHY”!

Lead on…

Cliff

October 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

Social In-security

In his book “Pacific Coast Trail Hiker’s Handbook” author and adventurer Ray Jardine writes:

“Typically, the Pacific Coast Trail will approach a daunting creek, only to disappear into it and emerge from its far side.  And you might stand there looking at a potential drowning: yours.  Or perhaps you will stand there fuming at the government’s failure in providing hikers with a suitable bridge.  Consider though, that every time the wilds are “improved”, civilization thereby thrusts its maws a little deeper into the erstwhile pristine wilderness.  Should we construct stalwart bridges across every creek?  How about benches every few miles?  How about a five foot wide trail, well groomed and leading to huts at 10 mile intervals?  And how about power lines and roads to the huts, so hut-keepers could provide nutritious meals?

Instead, we might benefit the most by leaving the wilderness to its own devices, and laboring to improve ourselves.  When confronted with a swollen creek, rather than seeing an absent bridge, we need to see the challenge of finding a safe way across, somewhere upstream perhaps.  A bridge might allow us to cross safely, and it might save us considerable time hiking upstream to circumvent the torrent, but it does not strengthen us.  It does not better prepare us for the next bridgeless ford ahead.  I suggest that complaining about a lack of bridges only weakens us.  Why?  Because it reinforces our insecurities.

Security is confidence, not in the condition of the paths we travel, but in ourselves.  And no bridge can carry us over the river of our impatience and insecurities.”

Oh the lessons we learn in the wild!  Lessons for health, lessons for economics and governance, lessons for parenting and leading…lessons for life!  The greatest security, confidence, and peace comes from taking personal responsibility – by doing all we can for ourselves – and then trusting in our maker.  Self reliance is freedom; it is security; it is peace.  The more we depend on society to “build our bridges”, the more insecure we become.   Less really is more when it comes to the role of government in our lives. 

So the next time your trail disappears into “the creek”, smile and embrace the opportunity to take control, get stronger, and secure your own way.

Lead on,

Cliff

May 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm Leave a comment

It’s All in Your Head

Performance follows attitude!  It’s that simple!  Let me illustrate with a personal example with one of my passions – waterskiing…  A while back on an early morning ski outing with friends I took a bad fall injuring my back – a bad thing for a skiier!  For the next ten days I nursed my back hoping against hope that I would be back in the water in less than two weeks.  It gradually felt better, but I could still feel it.  Then, the day before our next early-morning outing, I woke to the same pain as the day after the injury.  I was VERY disappointed, but resolved that I’d still go the next morning if only to drive the boat for my ski pals.  The next morning, I actually felt a little better, but the pain was still there.  Long story short, I did ski. 

On my first run, I was very tentative, certain I was REALLY going to strain my back further.  I got up, expecting the worst, did a couple of turns, testing both sides, and while things seemed to be holding together I didn’t ski at all well as I was consumed with worry and feared that things wouldn’t go well…

I rested while my mates each skied a run, and then I got back in the water.  This time, I refframed my thinking, and EXPECTED that I’d be ok, and focused on the fundamentals.  Unhampered by worry and fear, I ran off 14 of the best turns I’d carved all summer, rested a minute and then laid down 8 more great turns to the hoots and hollers of my mates.

So, what was the difference between my first and second rides?  I didn’t ski well when I was pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly protective.  But then later, optimistic, confident, and released from the fear of failure or injury, I nailed it!  The difference was…All in My Head!

And so it is in business.  When we’re pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious we often lose our edge.  But when we are optimistic, relaxed, and confident EVERYTHING changes!  Let me give some examples:

Consider two salesmen.  Salesman A is often known to say:

“Price is the only thing customers care about.”

“This is the cheapest market in the industry.”

“Our market is all bid there’s no loyalty”

“If we’re not the lowest price, we can’t win”

“Forget service and support…all they want is price”

“It’s a waste of time to try to convince someone to pay more for something”

“A widget’s a widget.  I feel guilty selling at a higher price”

“Times are too tough to sell “value”.”

Pessimistic, fearful, tentative, and overly cautious statements?  You bet!  Also very real (all ACTUAL quotes)!  So how do you suppose salesman A ski’s through the [sales] day?  Probably, not very well! 

Contrast Salesman A’s negative thinking [and speech] with that of a different cat, Salesman B: 

“There are buyers who’ll pay more for better.  I’ve seen ‘em and sold ‘em.”

“Price is only one of many considerations in the decision-making process.”

“We’re selling a whole lot more than parts.”

“The price isn’t too high, unless the customer under-desires your product.”

“My success is a direct result of my preparation and attitude.”

“The more value I build in on the front end, the less important is price at the close.”

“The more I learn, about my products and service the more passionate I am.”

“I have 15% market share, which means I have an 85% share to pursue.”

“I am worth it!”

Optimistic, confident, proactive, and aggressive?  You bet!  Also real quotes.  Salesman B can’t be held back.  He ski’s through the day with power, finesse, and relative ease. 

Which salesman do you most closely relate to…especially when times get tough?  Do you become reactive, tentative, fearful, or sloppy?  Or are you more like Salesman B, Proactive, confident, sure.  The good news is that you can be either, because…….It’s All in Your Head!

 Lead on…

Cliff

April 6, 2011 at 9:50 am 2 comments

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