Summer is a season of vacations, beaches, time with family and other distractions. However, you’ve still got business to manage and clients to satisfy. Perhaps more than any other time of the year, summer presents time management challenges for you and your team. It’s up to you to make sure work gets done. Here are some time management tips to help.
I have been coaching and developing leaders for many years and during that time, I have found two behaviors that are “leadership killers.” They are acts that consistently, no matter who the leader is, weaken their position in the eyes of their reports and lessen their ability to lead. These leadership killers are: wanting to be a friend and orphaning instead of confronting.
Friendly But Not Friends
It’s important to realize/accept the responsibility you have as a leader that you must convey your observations, especially those that are focused on areas where employees can improve. But many times, I see the leader’s desire to be accepted by the direct report, to be considered a comrade and a friend, as something that stands in the way of delivering those observations. I counsel my clients that while it is perfectly fine to be friendly, you cannot act as their friend or they will not take your input seriously. You are the leader they are following into battle and as such, you must separate yourself so that they count on you for honest, direct input that isn’t mired in emotion.
Don’t Leave Them Orphaned
Providing the input described above can be difficult. And so, some leaders will avoid the “tough” conversation with a direct report. Avoiding this conversation sets a precedent; it says it’s okay to keep doing what you are doing, it’s fine…when it’s really not. In a sense, you are orphaning your direct report by not interceding and letting them continue on a path towards failure without your guidance.
People you coach can be just as skeptical, jaded and fearful of being led as you are to lead them. Hey..it takes courage to lead! But the big question is will you deliver frank, constructive input that will eventually help them achieve their goals, and those of your department, or will you simply set them to sea without a compass? If you constantly choose the latter, you can expect to develop a team that will not take your orders/input to heart and will time and time again blaze their own trail. That’s usually a recipe for disaster.
Keep interceding. Give them what they need, even if it’s not what they want. You will become a stronger leader and people with thank you for it.
As you grow as a leader, you will change, whether you like it or not! How you change and the impact that has on your development, your team and you future is up to you. Sometimes, the changes are requested by others who see your potential, even if you don’t. I work with many people in this capacity. Here’s a quick video where I explain why YOU wanting to change is the first, most important step:
7 Reasons to Change
There are a lot of reasons to change. Here are seven that I’ve found can be strong motivators:
- Someone, or some people believe in you: you’ve got a team of people who see more in you than you might see.
- Trust people who care about you, beyond your own opinion: the person who desires this program for you wants to contribute to you, don’t get in their way.
- Be grateful versus critical with this opportunity: WAY too many of us are not grateful often enough. An executive development program is an investment in your growth, not a scarlet letter, ever.
- Think about how many executives and potential peers of yours will never will get this chance/investment in them?: think about this, there are people around you who may have plateaued and have been passed by, don’t let this happen to you.
- You can’t do it alone: it takes a village to demonstrably change behaviors. It must be done carefully and professionally.
- It’s not about being right with your current behavior, its about being effective as an executive who can lead others.
- It’s healthy to stretch yourself: there will always be something to get better at, seize the opportunity now.
Use these reasons to be straight with yourself regarding what might be thwarting your adventure and how these could impact your growth as a leader.
Want to discuss changes you want to make? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently, a client lamented that he and his firm lost a multi-million dollar order. The CEO, who had not been involved in the process, stopped the expected transaction…after my client had invested a year’s worth of relationship building with the two execs that reported to the CEO. Hence the phrase; no client left behind!
I felt terrible for my client when I heard the news. As we deconstructed the crime, we realized there were THREE other executives who factored into the decision making process that were not met with, let alone tucked in. We’ve all heard and respected the phrase, “Selling starts at ‘No.'” My client didn’t get a chance to hear “No” from many decision makes until it was too late. A great client once said to me “In business, it’s always good to be a little paranoid.” He’s not wrong. In fact, this needs to be an operating principle.
The Money Guy Does The Talking
When you operate from the idea that something can always go wrong, you naturally understand it’s mission critical to determine early on in the process who the decision makers are who will factor into choosing, or not, your product or service. As I explain in the video below, it’s paramount not only to know who these people are but, to meet with them separately. Otherwise, you’ll only hear from the person in the room who makes the most money!
Do not only meet with people in a group. As you meet/vet each decision maker, you will uncover what’s core to them relative to your recommendation. This will move you closer to a “Yes” and further away from the “No.” The executive will start to get a feeling that their individual wants and goals are being considered, giving them a vested interest in the outcome…not just a group mentality.
Understand Everyone’s Barriers
Many years ago, my first sales manager, Nick, once said to me “You’ve got five minutes to understand what the barriers are to your recommendation…and it’s the first five minutes.” That’s a little too abrupt, but he was correct in that as you initiate relationships with these four to six decision makers, you must understand what barriers could block you early on in the process. As Nick also said, “If you get the objection when you’re closing, it’s too late.” Give yourself a chance early to discover roadblocks and determine how to resolve them.
You’ve got to endear yourself first, then your recommendation, to each decision maker. You will do that by listening first, selling second. The deeper you understand what’s important to each decision maker the clearer you’ll be in how to communicate and compel them.
Ever get blind-sided by a “silent” decision maker…the person you never knew about who holds the strings? Tell me about it in the comments. – SG
“I’ve got to have these two teams work together in harmony but, they’re at each other’s throats now!”
While companies strive for internal harmony among associates, often that’s not realty. Teams feeling territorial, threatened or jealous take aim at the source of this stress which could be another team. And a power battle ensues.
As a leader, it’s your job to mollify the teams and get them focused on the whole, not just their area. But how do you do that? I’m glad you asked…
Here are eight essential steps for calming warring teams:
1. Know the compelling challenge
Too often leaders will put their teams together to brainstorm what needs to get fixed. Generally, this is done as a band-aid that often backfires. You must know the core issue that is bifurcating your teams.
2. Know the politics involved
There are always politics. It’s important to read the tea leaves on who is doing what to whom. Who is the leader? Who is the muck-raker? If you can neutralize their efforts, you have made great strides.
3. Meet with each team leader
You do this to establish trust and a clear understanding of their “side” of the issue. This communicates a nice level of empathy and respect. And give you some inside information to stem the tide of confrontation.
4. Is integration possible?
This is not an easy question to ask, but ask it you must. You’ve got to honest with yourself and see the possibility before you can facilitate it in this plenary session. If these teams are just not going to blend well together, find another way to impact the way they work with each other.
5. Prioritize the issues
You won’t solve all the issues at once. So, which of them are having the greatest impact on the teams involved and preventing collaboration. Address those first. As you move further down the list, others may be willing to take on the smaller issues.
6. Determine what issues need to be vented
Politically through this diligence you’ll discover what issues need to be vented to clear the way to a new normal
7. Present clear behaviors that each team must accept
A debate is healthy provided each team understands the ground rules for successful communication. Rule #1: Listen without bias. Rule #2: Do not interrupt someone. Rule #3: Stay open to new ideas and trust each other.
8. Create the “New Normal” with joint authorship
Each team member wants to feel they made a difference and contributed to the solution. Nothing works better than for each side to co-author how they will operate going forward. Once they realize that they’ve created it, they’ll own it. LET THEM. It’s their show, not yours. Co-authoring is a great action to facilitate to show the entire team how concerned you are for their buy-in and homeostasis.
Is there a ninth…or tenth…tip that has worked for you? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!
Of course it’s not you. The job…that’s the real issue, right? If only your skills were being put to use in a more productive way.
As you develop as an executive, and coach others as well, you will discover that leadership is more about the courage and desire to change than it is about finding blame.
You Have to Want It
To develop yourself, you have to want it. Doesn’t work any other way! Believe me…I’ve seen too many people go through the motions of development but not be fully committed to learning/changing. It’s not worth going through a 360 review or collaborating with a coach unless you TRUST your superior genuinely wants you to grow and advance in your organization.
Trust Them…and You
You also need to TRUST yourself. You need to trust that a part of you knows you need to develop and your boss sees this nascent behavior in you already, they just want to accelerate it for you.
The value of the 360 when done in person, with tailored questions to pinpoint behaviors to strengthen, is a gift of awareness that many executives never get the chance to realize. Hold this feedback as a gift, not a jail sentence.
Are You a Horse?
If enough people call you a horse…buy a saddle. What I mean is, when you get feedback that points to behavior trends, it is the objective evidence you can either a) reject because they just don’t know you well or, b) use to develop yourself. I bet you can guess which option I recommend.
Face it, fifteen people can’t be all wrong, nor can the “job” have done this to you.
Your management team is providing you with your first road map with which to shape into a development plan. Try it, you’ll like it.
When a new leader takes over a team, the assessment period begins…on both sides! As a leader, it’s essential to understand this and accept it. Your new team is looking at how YOU act, react and lead to see how much trust they are going to put into you for the long-term. So, before you unpack all your boxes and set up photos around your office, start planning to get to know your team by asking some key questions!
Patience and Interest
Being the “new leader on-the-block” requires patience and the ability to be truly interested in each person’s direction and understanding of where they see the organization going. What is THEIR vision for the future? Taking time to assess this will not only give you some insight but, show that you care about their opinion as you create YOUR vision.
Ask these questions to show your desire to understand and align with your directs:
Seven Questions to Ask Your New Team
- What is the next step for our organization?
- What’s your opinion of our lead products/services?
- What’s our future from this?
- Developmentally, where do you see yourself now relative to our company?
- Where do you want to be next year at this time?
- What would be exciting for you to focus on?
- In retrospect, what would you have altered from last year?
These questions give you insight into your direct’s knowledge of the organization and how connected they are to it. Do you have a favorite question you ask?
Try these and let me know how it goes in the comments below. Thanks!
It’s been said that you only have one chance to make a first impression. You can change that for your direct reports! Read more
Too often leaders get blindsided with direct reports who leave abruptly. Yet, upon the exit interview, HR realizes the issues that catalyzed the departure had been brewing for months. It’s a divorce, business style.
For the leader, departures like these are quite painful and force the leader to do a post mortem in haste. What often gets decided was that the exec just couldn’t take the pace or didn’t have what it really takes. In other words, it was their fault and nothing needs to change.
Often this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Pace Your Delegating
Too often leaders who rely on their lieutenants over-use them. They are initially impressed with the preemptive abilities of their direct and assume they can handle double the work from their great performance. While the direct has earned a high degree of confidence, that doesn’t mean he/she can handle an increased workload.
Leaders need to stop right there.
They need to carefully assess their direct’s skills and regularly meet with them to mutually determine this increase in work/responsibilities to insure it’s correctly introduced, welcomed and achievable. This is mission-critical so that the direct embraces the lift in their work without one day coming to work and realizing it’s just become a factory.
It’s Not a Factory
How you avoid the factory-like climate is by regularly meeting with your direct and listening to them. I mean really listening to them. Listen without any predetermined opinion, listen for what’s important to them, listen for their challenges, listen for their dreams.
Until you know their feelings you can’t shape their work into the rewarding career they and you truly want.
Recently, I have been working with quite a few CEOs, synthesizing important messages and distinctions about their respective organizations. Content is king, of course, but too much of a good thing can dilute a message to the point that is loses all meaning. This is where the power of three comes into play!
Connect with Your Message First
I expect clients to be deeply connected to their message. That’s a good start. If you don’t believe in what you are saying and in the value you are presenting, then you may as well go home. You aren’t going to win any converts today!
But once you craft a message in which you believe strongly, that message can blur and lose its allure from adding too much data. In making your point, more is not better…synthesis is.
Think in Threes
Parcel the message into three overarching points much like chapters in a book. Three key supporting facts will make it easier for your audience to digest what you are saying. It is quite the opposite of the presentations most of us have had to endure when a person presents bullet point after bullet point, never really establishing a main idea and losing the audience in a quagmire of details. Have details ready if asked but, if you are making strong, well-reasoned statements, you will be having a dialogue that is a two-way street, leading to a partner-like relationship rather than a client-vendor one.
“What This Means for You Is…”
Try answering that question the next time you are putting together a presentation or having a client conversation. If you can answer the question with specifics, you are going to be far more likely to capture and keep your client’s attention. And once you have that, you can establish the trust we speak about that is only experienced by advisors who create real value for their clients.
Try it and let me know what you discover. You can leave a comment below and I will respond!
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