Tag Archives: leadership

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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Sorry I’m Late, Traffic Was Terrible!

Sorry I’m Late, Traffic Was Terrible!

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

Have you ever been late to a meeting and blamed it on the traffic?  I sure have!  I’ve blamed my tardiness on the traffic, having the wrong time in my calendar, the wrong location, difficulty finding a parking place, I lost track of time, to name a few.  The fact is, I should have departed sooner, confirmed the time, confirmed the location, planned for parking, kept track of time, etc.  I should have been more diligent.  Blaming the situation or another person for my lack of performance tells the other person or persons that they weren’t important enough for me to have behaved in a more responsible, more professional manner.  Making excuses is hardly an effective leadership strategy.

TrafficJamThere are also those who blame their character defects when they screw up.  Their excuses sound like this:  I’m always late; I always put things off to the last minute; I’m terrible at time management.  These character flaws are used to excuse inexcusable behavior.

Direct reports and other organizational member do not utilize the quality of the excuse as a benchmark when evaluating leadership.  Making excuses diminishes leadership effectiveness.

When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and simply state “I’m sorry.”  That’s what effective leaders do.

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Recognition

Recognition

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

I was excited to share what I had just learned with the leadership team.  Market intelligence can be difficult to come by; it can also be very valuable.  I had just learned that a major competitor had a major chink in the armor that just might open the door to a large account that had never acknowledged us.  I sent an email to everyone on the leadership team, summarizing all the details, proofreading it three times, even attaching a link to a press release for further support of the information I was sharing.  The CEO responded with at best a lukewarm response that the information might be a factor to consider.  One week later on a conference call, the CEO enthusiastically recited the exact same information that I had provided in my email, the only difference being that he credited the source as an individual from another company he had spoken with the day before.  I was not recognized nor acknowledged for providing any of the information.  Depriving proper recognition makes others feel forgotten, ignored, or pushed to the side.  Depriving recognition ignites the feeling of resent.  That’s how I felt, ignored and resentful.

recognition

I’m sure I have done the same thing to others, most leaders have.  Too often leaders find themselves too busy or do not realize how important it is to recognize another.  Effective leaders realize the importance of recognition and make time to focus on others, to focus on providing recognition.

Marshall Goldsmith offers a four step process for improving on providing recognition:

  1. Make a list of all the important groups of people in your life including friends, family, direct reports, customers, etc.
  2. Write down the names of every important person in each group.
  3. Set aside time twice a week to review the list of names and ask yourself if any of them did something that you should recognize.
  4. If the answer is “yes,” provide recognition via phone, email, voice mail, or a note. If the answer is “no,” do nothing; you don’t want to come across as a phony.

People who experience the sting of no recognition tend to feel its effects a long time.  Effective leaders understand the importance of proper recognition and make it a habit.

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By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

Knowledge is power.  I’m sure you’re familiar with this expression.  Stated another way, information is power.  Withholding information keeps others in the dark and at best is irritating to them.  Intentionally withholding information has a negative impact on others while simultaneously giving the person withholding that information power.  The person who determines who needs to know has the power; the person who wants to know has a feeling of being annoyed.  Have you ever been in the dark about a meeting at work or not invited to a party?  Has anyone ever sent an email that you should have been copied on and weren’t?  Have you ever been the last person to learn about something?  Withholding information is not only annoying, it leads to mistrust. WithholdInfoWithholding information comes in two forms:  intentional and unintentional.  Intentionally withholding information is manipulative, and someone who practices this is not someone I want to help.  Unintentionally or accidentally withholding information is a habit that is easy to fall into, something many of us are guilty of.  This is a very important aspect of leadership that can be dealt with.

Most leaders today are very busy with a great number of tasks that need to be completed, each task with their own sense of urgency.  In our haste to get things checked off our things to do list, it is easy to be so busy we don’t get back to others in a timely fashion.  Too often we delegate tasks to subordinates without taking the time to let them know exactly what the desired outcome looks like.  Then we get frustrated when the project or task is done, and it doesn’t look like what we wanted.  Who is to blame in that situation?  The person who withheld information!

The majority of leaders that I know and have worked with do not intentionally withhold information to manipulate others and gain power, they withhold information and don’t even realize they’re doing it.  The majority of leaders mean well and have good intentions, they are simply busy!  Getting in the habit of bad information sharing takes its toll.  Over time, it looks like information is not being shared on purpose.  Over time, whether you withhold information on purpose or not, it looks the same to other members of the organization.

How do you stop?  Simply put, you share it!  Effective leaders make time and make it a priority to share information!  Schedule time to share information with others; time that cannot be cancelled, postponed or interrupted.  Practicing this habit will improve your communication and show that you care about other members of the organization.  Everyone is on a need to know basis.  It’s something effective leaders do!

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com

That Won’t Work

That Won’t Work

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

I belong to a Facebook group made up of authors who have achieved best-seller status.  One of the purposes of the group is to help each other with new books, providing feedback on titles, sub-titles, book covers, etc.  A couple of weeks ago, a newer member of the group posted a book cover for her new book and asked for feedback.  By chance, I was one of the first people to respond.  Her reply to my feedback was interesting.  Remember, she asked for feedback; her reply to my feedback was an explanation as to why I was wrong.  I didn’t reply back, but I did question why I had wasted my time providing the feedback that was asked for.  On top of that, other group members supported my recommendations.  The author’s negative reception of the feedback she asked for has made me reluctant to provide further feedback to her in the future.  That is her loss!

negativity

Negativity toward feedback or using the words that convey the message “let me explain why that won’t work” or “let me tell you why you are wrong” is “Habit #8” on Marshall Goldsmith’s list of 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top.  When you come across this way, you are asserting that you are the expert who is superior to the person you are communicating with.  You are inserting your opinion and being a critic.  Critics are annoying!  Critics are not liked!  People typically avoid critics and avoid helping or working with them.  Being a critic is not conducive to being an effective leader.

Yes, you heard me correctly.  Negativity and being a critic will prevent you from being an effective leader.  Self-awareness of what you say is a good first step to determine if this is a habit that is holding you back.  You can also observe how others deal with you.

  • How often do others come to you with suggestions without your asking?
  • How often do others like to shoot the breeze with you?
  • How do your interactions with others compare with your colleagues?
  • How often do others give you a heads up on something that will affect you?

If other people seem to be avoiding you, check how they relate to you.  Avoidance is a good indicator that you might have a negativity issue.  Effective leaders know how to say something positive or complimentary when a suggestion is offered.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com.

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I Already Knew That

I Already Knew That

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

What if someone said the following to you?  “You really didn’t need to waste my time.  You think that what you just told me was something I didn’t know.  I understand what you are saying.  In fact, I agree with what you are saying, but you are mistaken that I need to hear it from you.  You need to understand that I am an intelligent, well-informed person.  You obviously don’t know how smart I am.”  If someone said that to you, I’m guessing that you would probably think they were rude and full of themselves.  Well, that is essentially what you are telling someone when you say “I already knew that.”

Smart

“Being smart turns people on.  Announcing how smart you are turns them off.”  

Marshall Goldsmith

 Telling the world how smart we are is “Habit #6” on Marshall Goldsmith’s list of 20 habits that will prevent you from getting to the top.  Do you do this?  Being aware of this habit is the first step to avoiding it.  For example, have you ever had a coworker forward an urgent email to you that needs prompt attention that you were already aware of?  In that situation do o simply say “thank you” or do you feel the need to let the other person know that you were already aware of the situation?  If you can hit the reply button with a simple “thank you,” you’re probably okay.  If you need to let the other person know you’re already on top of it, you need to work on your habit of telling the world how smart you are.

This isn’t a habit that is hard to break.  It’s a simple 3 step process:

  1. Before you say anything, ask yourself, “Is anything I’m going to say right now worth it?”
  2. Conclude that it isn’t.
  3. Say “Thank you.”

Thank you!

 

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No, But & However

No, But & However

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

As a young manager, I had some great mentors that taught me many lessons about leadership and management.  Charlie Johnson taught me a lesson early on that has stayed with me throughout the years, and that lesson emanates from the use of the word “but.”  Charlie taught me that when you give feedback to another, anytime you use the word “but,” you might as well jump up and stick your “butt” in their face!  As you can imagine, if someone is sticking their butt in your face, it would be rather difficult to listen to what they were saying.  Charlie’s premise was that using the word “but” was code for “the next words coming out of my mouth are going to be negative feedback;” therefore, a trigger for defensiveness and non-listening.

buttMarshall Goldsmith agrees with Charlie.  Marshall says that when you start a sentence with the words “no,” “but,” or “however,” all the other person hears is that they are wrong.  The other person will likely go on the defensive to tell you why you are wrong.  Trying to win a conversation about who is wrong and who is right is not effective leadership.  Using the words “no,” “but,” or “however,” is “Habit #5” in Marshall’s list of 20 habits that prevent you from getting to the top.

I’d like to challenge you to do a test on this.  For one week, keep track of your fellow coworkers use of “no,” “but,” and “however.”  Keep track of how many times each person uses one of these words to start a sentence.  I think you’ll be surprised by the frequency.  You’ll also realize how people use these words to assert power.  You’ll also see how others resent it and how it stifles open communication.

To become a more effective leader, keep track of how many times YOU start a remark with “no,” “but,” or “however.”  You might find yourself starting a sentence agreeing with another only to insert a “no,” “but,” or “however” mid-sentence.  For example, “This a great blog article Bill, but….”  You might as well as jumped up and put your butt in my face!  You just contradicted yourself because using the word “but” means you really didn’t think this blog article was good.

Effective leaders monitor their use of the words “no,” “but,” and “however,” and do their best to eliminate these words from their conversations with others.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit www.BillAuxier.com.

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Nice Tie! (smirk)

Nice Tie! (smirk)

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

When I wear a tie, which is quite often, I like to wear a tie with a little pizazz.  Not too much pizazz, just a little.  I definitely try to avoid boring ties.  Finding a tie with a little pizazz versus too much pizazz can be like walking a tight rope!  Too much pizazz can bring forth sarcastic comments from my colleagues.  There’s nothing like a “nice tie” complement dripping with sarcasm.  Men seem to enjoy jabbing each other with sarcasm much more than women.  Regardless, sarcastic comments, no matter the intent, serve no other purpose than to put others down, hurt them, or assert superiority.  And that’s a problem!

Sadwoman2

 

 

 

 

Too many leaders make destructive comments without even thinking.  The problem is, the other person clearly remembers what they said.  They remember every detail.  Marshall Goldsmith’s research found that while the person making a destructive comment can’t even remember making it, the other person can recall every detail.  Leaders may not think they make destructive comments, but the people who know us disagree.

Every leader makes destructive comments whether they realize it or not.  The good news is, it’s only a problem 15% of the time.  But that’s a problem.  Why?  Words, like bullets shot from a gun, once spoken, can never be taken back.  The damage is done.  It doesn’t matter how much you apologize.

Destructive comments are an easy habit to fall into, starting in jest and unintentionally escalating.  Leaders who pride themselves on their candor can masquerade destructive comments behind truth.  Leaders permit themselves to make destructive comments under the excuse that their comments are true.  In this case, truth is irrelevant.  Leaders need to ask themselves, is what I am going to say “worth it” instead of “is it true.”

If you would like to avoid making destructive comments, Marshall Goldsmith recommends asking yourself these questions:

  1. Will this comment help our customers?
  2. Will this comment help our company?
  3. Will this comment help the person I am talking to?
  4. Will this comment help the person I am talking about?

Effective leaders know that if the answer is no, don’t say it.

To subscribe to Bill’s blog visit BillAuxier.com.

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Are You the Smartest Person in the Room?

Are You the Smartest Person in the Room?

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

I worked for a CEO who usually considered himself the smartest person in the room.  He had extensive experience in the industry we were in and had paid his dues to work his way into the C-suite.  I say that he considered himself the smartest person in the room because every time someone presented a new idea, the CEO would say something like this, “That’s a great idea!  But it would be better if you….”  Sometimes he would say, “When I was at XYZ Company, we did something like that and here is what we found that worked.”  There are an infinite number of variations of this exchange.  My CEO couldn’t resist adding value, a variation on the need to win (last week’s article).  Do you know someone who always tries to add value?  What about you?  Do you always try to add value?

AddedValueCartoonAdding too much value is “Habit #2” in Marshall Goldsmith’s list of 20 habits that will prevent you from reaching the top (What Got You Here Won’t Get You There:  How Successful People Become Even More Successful!).  Adding value may indeed improve an idea.  Goldsmith quantifies this by concluding that you may improve the idea by 5% while simultaneously lowering the commitment to execute by 50%.  Adding too much value takes away ownership of an idea.  Any gain in the value of the idea is overshadowed by the employees’ loss in commitment.

That doesn’t mean keeping quiet and never adding value is the way to go.  Effective leaders recognize the importance of making others in the organization winners.  The higher up in the organization you are, the more you need to focus on helping those around you win.  Effective leaders focus on helping others win instead of their personal need to win.  Effective leaders add value by saying “That’s a great idea” and then stopping.  Effective leaders are the smartest person in the room when they are surrounded by a group of winners.  Now that’s value!

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Winning at All Costs

Winning at All Costs

By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

Memorial Day was this past weekend, a day to remember, reflect and appreciate the sacrifices made by so many for the freedom we enjoy today.  Memorial Day was always a special time for our family.  In the small town where I grew up, a Memorial Day service was held every year in the town square, which my father presided over for many years.

A newer tradition on Memorial Day weekend is the playing of all the old war movies on TV.  One of my all-time favorite movies about WWII is Patton.  George C. Scott does a fabulous job opening up the movie reciting Patton’s famous speech to the Third Army the day before D-Day.  In that speech, Patton colorfully inspired his troops who were nervous prior to battle.  Part of his speech covered the topic of winning:

Patton 2

 

“When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.”

 

Winning is important.  Winning is part of our culture.  Winning is good.  Do you aim to win all the time?  Marshall Goldsmith identifies the habit of “winning too much” in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, as one of the most common behavioral problems that prevents successful people from getting to the top.  When the issue is important, yes, you want to win.  When the issue is trivial and not necessarily worth your time and energy, do you still want to win?  Even when winning is to your disadvantage, do you still want to win?  If you answered yes to those last two questions, you may have a problem!

The need to win is very prominent with successful people.  It’s one of the reasons people ARE successful.  Winning too much is a mutation of the desire to win that can limit your success.  You can become a more effective leader if you can suppress the will to win at all costs.

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