Tag Archives: leadership development

The “E” Word

The “E” Word

A few years ago I completed a personality profile.  Among other things, the profile measured empathy.  When I received the results, I was very pleased.  I scored very high on “sense of urgency,” “goal achievement,” “self-management,” and “analytical thinking,” and okay on empathy.  I showed the results to my wife and she immediately (and emphatically) shouted, “I knew it!  You lack empathy!”  I had difficulty seeing the results the same way she did.

empathy

Empathy may not be the first trait that comes to mind when you think about effective leadership, but it is important.  Seeing issues from another’s perspective enhances collaboration, communication, builds relationships and helps you be a more effective leader.

When it comes to building relationships, Gail Gross, Ph.D., has developed a five step empathy process leaders can use to improve relationships while working out differences:

  1. When attempting to work out differences, meet in a neutral location. Do not meet in the office of either person involved because that gives that person position power.
  2. Before you start talking, set the ground rules, prohibiting hurtful language and personal attacks.
  3. Divide the discussion time into thirds.
  4. During the first third of the time, one person talks while the other person actively listens. For the second third of the time, roles are reversed.
  5. During the last third of the time, both people work together to solve the problem. Agreement isn’t necessary, but collaboration for a mutually agreeable outcome that brings value to both parties is.

Utilizing this process with others will help them become more empathetic, and you just might learn something too.  Effective leaders are empathetic, or, like me, are working on improving their empathy skills.

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Building Integrity

Building Integrity

Last week I asked, do you have integrity?  To answer that question, I provided you with a list of six questions to help determine if you act with integrity.  This week, my focus is on ideas to build integrity.

integrity (1)

To accomplish that, I found a great resource.  Tony Simmons is the author of The Integrity Dividend:  Leading by the Power of Your Word.

Simmons recommends talking to the people around you to get honest feedback, what my friend Marshall Goldsmith would refer to as stakeholder centered feedback. You need to find out if you have the appropriate level of trust, and integrity drives trust.

Here are nine suggestions for building integrity:

  1. Fulfill your promises.
  2. Keep appointments.
  3. Before making a commitment, be absolutely positive you can deliver.
  4. Get comfortable saying no.
  5. Examine how you react in knee-jerk situations.
  6. Polish your communication skills.
  7. Consider the habits and skills you need to develop to enhance your integrity (i.e. speaking impulsively, courage over fear, apologizing, etc.)
  8. Take great care with the language you use, particularly when dealing with sensitive issues.
  9. Avoid people who lack integrity. Do not do business with them, do no associate with them, do not make excuses for them.

Effective leaders have integrity and are constantly building integrity.  Effective leaders model integrity for others.

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Words in Emails

Words in Emails

Survey after survey shows that leaders consider themselves excellent communicators.  Survey after survey shows that employees think leaders need to be better communicators.  That creates a problem because there is a definite link between effective leadership and effective communication.  There are many different communication channels, email being one of the more common.

email

I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with email.  It’s quick and easy, provides flexibility and convenience, and is readily accepted.  There are times when other channels of communication, like face-to-face communication or simply picking up the phone and placing a call, might work better, but email remains quite popular.  If you are like me, you have experienced a well written email (at least I thought it was well written) being totally misinterpreted.  Have you experienced that?

Those misinterpreted emails are why Gisela Hausman caught my attention with her book “Naked Words:  The Effective 157-Word Email.”  Hausman offers advice on effective email communication that everyone can use.  For example, an email needs to be short, but not too short, to allow recipients to quickly grasp the message.  Other tips Hausman offers include:

  • Enter your name above your signature line. That shows you took a little time to personalize your message.
  • End your email in a way that fits the message (Thanks! Thank you!  Hope this is helpful!  Let me know your thoughts. Etc.)
  • Take your time, particularly for important emails. Incubate on your response, re-read, see how you can improve your message.
  • Read your email aloud to yourself. Make it sound the same as if you were having a short in-person meeting.
  • Always use the recipient’s name in the greeting.

Effective leaders are effective communicators regardless of the communication channel being utilized.  Email communication is very prevalent today and writing effective email is a skill every leader needs.  Effective leaders are always evolving, always improving their communication skills.

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PTO

PTO

BuriedDeskHave you ever returned from vacation only to be greeted with a seemingly infinite number of messages and emails?  You come back refreshed and energized only to be buried alive in things to do?  I’ve even caught myself asking, was worth taking the time off?  The answer of course is yes, getting away from work and completely disconnecting is critical to being an effective leader.

In 2006, Ernst and Young conducted an internal study of its 50,000 employees and discovered that for each 10 hours of PTO taken, year-end performance review scores improved 8%.  In 2012, a Harris Interactive survey found that American workers left an average of 9.2 PTO days unused, which equals 73.6 hours.  Based on Ernst and Young’s study, that equates to a 59% improvement on a performance review score that is NOT being realized!

The recession has made an impact on people taking time off and disconnecting.  Many fear losing their jobs if they take too much time off or don’t make themselves available while they are off.  Fear may make that a reality, but research says otherwise.

Effective leaders take time off.  Effective leaders disconnect.  The most effective leaders make it possible for all the other members of the organization to take time off and completely disconnect.  Effective leaders make sure that no one in the organization has any unused PTO at the end of the year.

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Believe and Achieve

Believe and Achieve

I think we’ve all heard the concept that if you believe it you can achieve it.  Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  Have you ever tried to achieve a goal when you had doubts about your ability to achieve it?  I know I have!

marathon

The first time I ran a marathon, I knew that if I put the time and energy into to training for it, I could achieve my goal of finishing.  During the training process, there were times when I had my doubts.  Was I crazy for thinking I could run 26.2 miles?  During that training process, my confidence slowly grew, step-by-step, as did my conditioning and stamina, completing one long run after another, slowly adding mileage each week.  It was an incredible feeling as my confidence grew during this process to the point that I not only came to believe that I could run and finish a marathon, I knew I could run and finish a marathon.  I definitely prefer the believe and achieve mindset.

Carol Dwek, a psychologist at Stanford University, has quantified and tracked how beliefs shape outcomes.  Dwek identified two types of mindsets:  a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.  A person with a fixed mindset believes that they cannot change their abilities.  A person with a growth mindset believes they can grow and evolve to improve themselves.  In this study, a group of 373 students were followed from the beginning of the seventh grade thru the end of the eighth grade.  Students with a growth mindset experienced a rise in their grade point average while the fixed mindset students grade point average remained the same.  A different study looked at people taking IQ tests.  Those who read an article right before taking the test that stated that IQ scores are changeable (instead of being fixed based on genes) showed improved IQ scores.  Isn’t that remarkable?

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  Effective leaders embrace a growth mindset, and more importantly, instill a growth mindset in others.

www.BillAuxier.com

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What Will Your Legacy Be?

What Will Your Legacy Be?

 

Leaders are not remembered for what they do for themselves, leaders are remembered for what they do for others.  The most effective leaders are more interested in the success of others than their own success.  The most important leader is not necessarily the person with the top position on the organizational chart, the most important leader is that individual you have the most interaction with, the person you turn to when you need advice, support or direction.  A leader’s legacy is the legacy of many, not the leader individually.

JimRohnLegendary motivator, the late Jim Rohn, talked about making a mark on the world and being remembered for making the world a better place.  Rohn developed and taught nine philosophies for leaving a legacy:

 

 

  1. Life is best lived in the service of others.
  2. Consider others’ interests as important as your own.
  3. Love your neighbor even if you don’t like him.
  4. Maintain integrity at all costs.
  5. To improve, you must take risks.
  6. You reap what you sow.
  7. Hard work is never a waste.
  8. Don’t give up.
  9. Keep going.

The more you embrace these philosophies, the more you mentor and coach others to embrace these philosophies, the more you will be known and remembered as an effective leader.

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Claim Jumper

Claim Jumper

By the early 1850s, the California gold rush had attracted a less desirable crowd made up of crooks, bandits, gamblers and claim jumpers.  They were all there to take advantage of the wealth being discovered.  Laws were non-existent as California wasn’t a state yet.  When a prospector found gold, he was immediately surrounded by other prospectors.  Claim laws had to be established.  In some camps, a claim was only 10 square feet, with each person allowed one claim.  Claims offices were established to patrol mines and settle disputes.  Taking someone else’s claim, or “claim jumping,” was common, most often followed by violence.  Law and order was most often in the hands of the people.  No one appreciated one person staking a claim on land that wasn’t theirs.

ClaimJumper

When a person in a leadership position claims credit that she doesn’t deserve, that’s a modern form of claim jumping, and, just like the gold rush days, no one appreciates it.  On top of that, taking credit for someone else’s work means whoever deserved recognition isn’t getting it; a double whammy!

Sometimes it’s easy to determine if someone is taking credit for someone else’s work, and sometimes it isn’t.  Once I participated in a brain storming session to come up with a name for a new service.  I would have bet $1,000 that the name selected was my idea, but I wasn’t given credit for it, someone else was.  At a minimum, I know I contributed to the name selected and so did everyone else in the room.  Brainstorming by its nature builds on all the ideas thrown out and is a collaborative effort.

Just imagine what a team could accomplish if no one cares who gets the credit.  No one would be protective of “their” idea.  No one would withhold ideas.  Everyone would be aligned to achieve the team’s objective so that the team would get the credit.

Claiming credit not deserved is on Marshall Goldsmith’s list of habits that hold you back.  Marshall recommends that to stop being a credit hog, do the opposite, share the credit.  For one day, write down and keep a list of every time you congratulate yourself on an achievement regardless how big or small it is.  Once you have your list, look at everything on your list and ask yourself, is there any possible way that someone else might deserve the credit for “your” achievement.  Ask yourself this question as you go through your list:  If any of the other people involved in this were looking at this same list, would they give you as much credit as you are claiming for yourself?  Would they give credit to someone else?  The most effective leaders aren’t claim jumpers.

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When I was a Kid…

When I was a Kid…

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

You had a controlling mother, which explains why you freeze up around authority figures.  Your parents doted on you, that’s why you don’t concern yourself with the rules and do whatever you want.  Your parents never said you were good enough, that’s why you constantly seek approval.  Most psychologists contend that we can understand our current behavior by understanding our past.  Understanding the past can be an excellent tool, but if you want to evolve and change for the better, understanding the past may not help, it depends on how you deal with it.  The past cannot be changed.  You can.  Accept the past, learn from the past and move forward.

MischKid

Living in the past is something that many of us do, myself included.  The past lets us blame someone else for the stuff that goes wrong in our lives.  If you ever catch yourself starting a sentence with, “When I was a kid…” or “When I was first starting out in this business…” or “If my old boss would have caught you doing that…” you just might be guilty of living in the past and using that as a crutch to blame short comings on.

Some use this same technique as a subtle form of bragging.  “When I was a kid, we couldn’t afford a vacation, let alone going to Europe like we are.”  Using the past to highlight our success is just as annoying as using the past to blame our failure.

Don’t live in the past, learn from it to become a more effective leader.  Stop blaming others for choices you make that result in success or failure.

www.BillAuxier.com

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Take a Break!

Take a Break!

sharpenaxeTwo guys are chopping wood with an axe.  One guy is going non-stop, determined to finish the job.  The other guy takes several breaks, taking a seat beneath a nearby shade tree, seemingly taking a nap at times.  At the end of the day, the guy chopping wood non-stop became very frustrated when he realized that the guy who took naps had chopped more wood.  When asked how he did it, nap-guy confessed that while it might have looked like he was napping, he was actually sharpening his axe.  Abraham Lincoln used to love telling this story to make a point, and the moral of this story is still meaningful today.  The truth is, to become more effective at anything, leadership included, you need to take breaks.

Anders Ericsson at Florida State University researched high-performing individuals and found that if you want to be a high-performer, you need to spend less time working on being one. Ericsson examined musicians, athletes and other high-performing individuals and found that those who excel at an elite level typically practice their craft uninterrupted no more than 90 minutes at a time. Elite producers begin in the morning, take a break, and rarely work more than 4 ½ hours.  Ericsson concluded that you must prioritize your most important work to the time of day when you have the most energy and monitor your energy level.

Another study tracked employee productivity and found that the top 10% of the most productive employees did NOT work more hours that other employees.  The most productive employees took 17 minute breaks for every 52 minutes worked.

So how does this research make a leader more effective?  If nothing else, it should encourage all leaders to take breaks throughout the day.  Being an effective leader doesn’t mean that you have to log more hours than anyone else.  Stop going pedal-to-the-metal from early to late.  Take breaks during the day.  During those breaks, sharpen your axe.  Get out from behind your desk and strike up some casual conversations with others in the organization.  Take a walk.  Clean the bathroom.  Visit a patient.  I’m sure there are lots of ideas you can think of, the key is to do what high-performing leaders do, take a break!

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