When talking about success Oprah Winfrey said "Everybody has a calling. And your real job in life is to figure out as soon as possible what that is, who you were meant to be, and to begin to honor that in the best way possible for yourself."
So how do you do that?
When you were young, whether you knew it or not, your parents hard-coded you with a definition of success. This influence not only drives YOU to try to succeed in the way you have done but it may have prevented you from tapping into your greatest strengths and passion.
Your parent’s success norms were established from what was important to them, determined by the circumstances and experiences THEY knew to be true.
As we grow up, we seldom challenge these built-in assumptions or stop and reflect on what we are doing to redefine ‘what does success mean…to me’.
The result for many, is an ongoing internal battle; chasing somebody else’s idea of success, guilt-ridden, filled with negative self-talk, feeling stuck or unfulfilled.
Self-Discovery Takes Work
When working with new coaching clients, one of the first questions we tackle is ‘what does success look like for YOU!’ We do this through a series of questions and in-depth discussion.
Self-discovery to figure out ‘who you are and who you’re meant to be’ takes work. It means thought provoking introspection and reflection about what success really means to you. While it may feel a bit overwhelming at first, you’ll soon reveal clues into what you are good at and where to begin for meaningful progress best suited to the real you.
The definition of your success and the meaning you attribute to it differs from one person to another – it is made up of guiding principles (values), beliefs and desires. It is yours and yours alone to determine.
It all starts with getting to know yourself really well, reflecting and observing all that you know about YOU.
Are you ready to dive in and create your own journey to success? If so, then this post is for you! Below is a personal discovery assessment to help you begin your own journey. Print your own copy to write on.
Personal Discovery Assessment - Blueprint for Success©
For some people, the questions may feel daunting to answer; there is no rush, take your time. It’s perfectly OK to chunk into a few questions at a time, pick the easiest ones first or just talk it out with someone you feel comfortable with.
Each question will help you probe deeper into ‘who you are and who you are meant to be’.
Be very specific and thorough with your answers; take whatever time you need to think about each question to answer fully.
(Click here to download a free Blueprint For Success© to write on)
What Does Success FEEL Like to ME? (check all that apply)
Now armed with this wealth of information, begin to look for patterns and reveal the clues of ‘who am I, what are my gifts’ – what picture do you notice emerging?
Observe how aligned you are on your current path with what you see as success – are you close or is there work to be done?
Once you see the gap you can begin to make your success plan – your blueprint. There are always steps you can take to begin a new journey, a change in direction or even to start all over if needed!
Create Your Success Plan
Success begins as soon as you create the right mindset and take meaningful action in the right direction! There are a variety of tools and methods you can use to understand 'who you are and who you are meant to be', you can begin the journey whenever you are ready.
If you are looking for help to connect the dots from your current situation to a more fulfilling future, then look no further – reach out today for candid guidance and a coach who will be in your corner!
Photo credit: Daniel McCullough CC0 Unsplash
Change can be a dirty word in many work environments today. Lets face it “Transformation” is the buzzword de jour! Almost everyone is feeling the affect of increased workload and the speed of change in their job.
It may be brought on from process improvement, new-fangled technologies to learn, added responsibility, regulatory scrutiny, or the most-feared-change of all…downsizing!
Constantly having to adapt, even for the best leaders, takes quite a toll. As a leader not only do you have to continually reframe and communicate the gist of the changes to your team, but you are also expected to be ‘on’ and supportive of whatever is thrown your way. This can be downright exhausting!
So how IS change affecting you? Are you coping? Or are you nearing burnout?
Take this simple assessment to find out:
Pump Your Brake Assessment © (Answer Y/N):
Here’s the thing, change is hard when it is imposed on you, yet, making your own change can be immensely exhilarating when it is something you want to do.
When you find yourself in a constant state of change, inflicted beyond your control, you will eventually shut down if you don’t find good coping strategies. Your health may be adversely affected, your family life may be impacted and for sure, your work performance will suffer when you burnout.
Fear not! You CAN find balance again. First step is recognizing the issue. Just like slowing a car down on a slippery road you can 'pump the brake' to prevent burnout.
The trick is finding ways to regain control over changes that affect YOU. Here are 5 action steps you can begin right now…today!
1. Book Yourself a Break – NOW!
I strongly believe in taking time back from work when you begin to feel frustrated and stressed. If you don’t make time for yourself, no one else will give it to you!
If you are a nose-to-the-grindstone type then taking time back may seem tough for you… initially. But taking back time for yourself is a game-changer to regaining balance.
Action Step: Start with small steps – book an hour into your calendar a few times through the week. RIGHT NOW – look at your calendar and book it…..yep, right now, it will only take a moment.
If you are already at the ‘burnout point’ then take a much bigger step - book a two-week break. Yes TWO! Detach completely – no phones/computer or email. You need the extra time to properly let go and become refreshed.
Why do this? Because pushing yourself harder and harder will not make you accomplish anything faster or better. In fact, it is when you pause, step back, reflect, giving yourself a break that you will become most effective, more able to make sense of the various changes and give yourself greater perspective to move forward.
2. Bust Your Paradigm
Paradigms are patterns you have adopted or think to be true. A paradigm can also be the way you approach your day. Often a paradigm is something we adopted based on what we think others expect of us.
Take crisis management at work for instance. If you are the Olivia Pope in your business that fixes every crisis, then you become the one everyone brings the crisis to.
Action Step: Hand off crisis tasks. In leadership roles it is true, the buck stops with you. But handing off crisis tasks to the right people on your team versus being the one who ‘does’ it provides big growth opportunity to others.
Delegation of important tasks takes leadership courage. It takes great trust. It means giving your team the confidence in handling very important work, with you as their safety net. You remain involved yet you set high expectations, selecting the right people for the right tasks. Watch how they rise to the challenge!
This is not an easy shift when you are known for being ‘the fixer’, yet once you master this hand-off, you will achieve far greater results with far less stress in the future.
Why do this? It’s a win-win! Giving others the accountability to fix big fat meaty issues stimulate their capabilities to grow as well as improve overall team engagement because they see you have faith in them.
As an individual takes on work that stretches their thinking, it pushes them out of their comfort zone; in turn they build new skills and develop. This then frees you up to act as a guide/mentor versus the doer. The results are far more gratifying for both you and the team.
3. Share - Give Work Away
Similarly most leaders, who are hit by wave after wave of change, take on more work than they give away. Often under the assumption it is easier to do it himself or herself rather than ask someone else to.
Action Step: At the end of each day write down two things that you did that someone else could have done for you. They might be administrative tasks, attending a meeting or simply to-do items that someone else could have accomplished just as easily. The next day, delegate those items and begin to make this a daily practice.
Why do this? You may think that you’re a master delegator and that you’re maximizing your productivity every day, but this simple habit will help you measure your delegating skills each and every day.
4. First Things First
In Stephen Covey’s well-known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he points out how important it is to ‘Put First Things First’ as Habit #3.
During changing times you can get bogged down with task work that doesn’t actually move you forward. When you practice choosing what you spend your time on, you will get the highest return on your investment.
Action Step: Refer to Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle that Covey talks about. Begin to organize tasks using these key principles focusing on the most important priorities.
Why do this? Get the biggest payoff for your time at work! Spend most of your time in the upper green zones. Avoid or eliminate time-wasting activities and ensure you delegate distracting work that doesn’t provide payback. By practicing these tried and true methods you maximize your time and you become a better leader.
5. Let Go of Perfection
According to Dr. Brené Brown, world renowned researcher and author:
“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.”
Every leader I know who suffers because of today’s pace of change, has some degree of perfectionistic qualities. They have very high standards; they surround themselves with over achievers (just like themselves), which is great, however they can be very hard on themselves and others too. They tend to put in long gruelling hours to complete everything to their satisfaction and they struggle with handing off and delegating.
Action Steps: Become aware of your tendency for perfectionism. Be kind to yourself, review your goals and validate when you are being too hard on yourself – is what you want attainable or realistic? If not, cut yourself some slack!! Involve your team, be more choosey on what you personally take on.
Self-worth is at the core of perfectionism, take stock of all the great work you do well to help change your emphasis and perspective on being perfect.
Use a Lifeline When You Need One
When work pace and change is getting to you it is OK to seek assistance from a professional. Many people need extra help to ‘pump their brake’ until they develop new habits.
Some of the benefits working with a professional include:
Drop me a line when you’re getting frustrated or fear burnout. I will help you find a path to take back control, refocus your time and energy into work that makes you want to get up and go in the morning again!
Last month we focused on the letter “S” – Steadiness of the DiSC behavioural style.
This month concludes the Style Talk Series as we focus on the profile “C” – Conscientious characteristics. You may also like to review the first two parts of the series focusing on the profile "D"- Dominance, or focusing on the profile "I"- Influence.
As previously mentioned, in each article I am highlighting real-life clients who tend to illustrate a strong profile of just one of the DiSC behavioural traits.
You will have different degrees of each behavioural style in your own profile but you tend to have a dominant style that many at your work will witness. How you behave compared to people with differing styles to you may be quite different, even when presented with the very same scenario.
Meet Nadeem (not his real name)
Nadeem is an Accounting Advisory Executive with a leading professional services firm. Nadeem has traveled the world, offering advice on accounting and risk management for 15+ years and is considered a leader in this field.
Nadeem has led large, matrixed teams, working on highly complex projects with large multi national corporations providing advice and guidance on Accounting and Tax.
We have identified for Nadeem that he needs to pick up on social cues and demonstrate interest in others. This includes taking a brief time in the first part meetings to greet people and chat for a moment, assess his audience then communicate in a way the other party feels valued.
Nadeems’s development plan includes coaching on relationship building. Some areas include meeting preparation; helping him to assess the people he will meet so he is more prepared to make the right first impression. Also we are doing DiSC assessments with each of his direct team to help him decode their styles. Lastly he is working with an internal mentor who has the exact opposite style to his so they can learn to appreciate their differences. In future this will arm him for analyzing people and provide a roadmap for flexing his communication style accordingly.
Do you know anyone like Nadeem? Or can you see yourself in his profile? He is a good representative of a strong “C” behavioural style.
Can you imagine how it may benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC style and how your style may impact others?
Once you see how your style affects people you work with, you can adapt accordingly.
Likewise as you leverage team dynamics using DiSC assessment, you can find ways to pair people for the best outcomes as well as anticipate where friction may occur.
Do you want your own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to reveal the secrets of success. Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment is a great tool to use with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success. It makes a great foundational piece for business planning, improving employee engagement and team development.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief that delves into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a line when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership derailers so you know how to head them off!
Last month we focused on the letter “I” – Influence of the DiSC behavioural style and previously we focused on the “D”.
This month we will continue the Style Talk Series focusing on the profile “S” – Steadiness behaviours and communication characteristics.
As I mentioned before, the clients I highlight tend to be symbolic of a strong profile of just one of the DiSC behavioural dimensions, this month using the “S”.
In your own DiSC profile you will have differing degrees of each behavioural style. That said, people at work likely have observed your most predominant one because when you are under pressure your most dominant style usually shows up.
There is no perfect style, no right or wrong either; just like people are from different backgrounds, we each view a situation and react uniquely because we are approaching it from a different vantage point. This series is to help introduce the benefits of understanding your style.
Meet Melissa (not her real name)
Melissa is a Senior level Human Resource Business Partner for a global financial institution. Melissa has been in HR (different departments) for most of her 20+ career.
She currently supports over 40 executives (various levels) who collectively have over 2000 employees. Her day-to-day work is strategic, focused on providing business executives’ HR advice, shaping and implementing strategic plans. Melissa is keen to be promoted to VP level.
We have identified that for Melissa to move up, she needs to command more authority. Colleagues, leadership and clients enjoy working with her but to be ready for the next move she has to prove she can manage conflict directly and comfortably.
Showing she can stand her ground and be more direct in her communications will give senior leaders more confidence in her capabilities at the next level.
Melissa’s development plan includes coaching courageous confrontation, role-playing in a safe environment using real-life scenarios and critiquing conversations. Through routine practice she will develop comfort in finding her voice, without sacrificing her strong values for harmony.
Do you know anyone like Melissa? Or can you see yourself in her profile? She is a good representative of a strong “S” behavioural DiSC style.
Imagine the benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC style and how you impact other people?
Once you see how your style affects people you work with, you can modify appropriately.
Likewise when your team uses DiSC assessment as a development tool, you will better understand the dynamic of everyone within the team. Some people may be a lot like you when others are not, you will see how to get the best out of everyone when you learn how to communicate to their style.
Time for your own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to reveal the secrets of success. Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment is a great tool to use with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success. It makes a great foundational piece for business planning, improving employee engagement and team development.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief where we will into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a line when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
Last month we focused on the letter “D” – Dominance of the DiSC behavioural styles.
This month we will continue the Style Talk Series focusing on the profile “I” for Influence behaviours and communication style. I personally relate most with this dimension myself, though not quite to the same extreme as my client.
As you will see, the client I am highlighting tends to be emblematic of a strong “I” profile which is just one of the DiSC behavioural traits.
You will have varying degrees of each behavioural style in your own profile but we all have our ‘go to’ dominant style that others tend to see, particularly under stress. Two people may react quite differently when presented with the same situation, depending on their dominant behavioural style.
Meet Daniel (not his real name)
Daniel is a Senior Vice President for a national Sales organization that employs 4000+ people across Canada. Daniel worked his way up to a senior level over 18 years of progressive moves.
He joined the company directly from University, when he began as an intern in Customer Operations gathering customer information from clients to prepare for year 2000 cut over.
For Daniel to continue to move up in the organization he must take more time to consider data and facts; use solid supporting evidence to help formulate decisions, and incorporate facts into his narrative.
He is seen as a promotable resource for the business, he may be considered for President or CEO of a smaller division in the future.
Daniel’s development plan includes an executive coach (external) as well as internal mentorship from the CFO, who is giving him guidance and support to develop data-driven decision making.
Do you know anyone like Daniel? Or do you see yourself in his profile? He is a good representative of a strong “I” behavioural style.
Can you imagine the benefit to better understand your own DiSC style and how you may impact others?
Once you grasp how your style affects people you work with, you adapt accordingly. Likewise as you build a team, you can better understand the dynamic of everyone within the team. Some may strike sparks with you, yet they bring tremendous benefit overall when you learn how to communicate to their style.
Time for Your Own DiSC Assessment?
Email me to take advantage of the insightful perspective of Everything DiSC Workplace®
assessment or to arrange a session with your whole team. This assessment will decode how best to communicate for your own success.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief where we will delve into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Drop me a note when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
Ever work with someone whose style drove you crazy? Perhaps they talked too slow or fast for you, were overly demanding or passive, very logical or maybe they talked so much about feelings and relationships to the point it made it difficult to get down to business? The list of bugaboos varies because what bugs one person, may not bother another to the same degree.
We are all made up of a unique combination of behaviours that show up as our style to others. So when you work with someone whose blend is quite different to yours, they will likely hit a nerve if you're not well armed.
Assess for Your Own ‘Ah Ha!’ Moment
One way to ease this kind of discord is to conduct an assessment that decodes both you and your team’s behavioural styles.
My tool of choice is a DiSC® model behavioural assessment tool – Everything DiSC®Workplace by Wiley Brand. It is simple, yet uncovers ‘pinch points’ quickly with leaders and/or their teams so they can immediately adjust. This tool works for building better cohesion in a team, improving communication, reducing tensions, but also offers self-awareness for leaders I coach, most of whom have a few ‘ah ha’ moments as a result!
Over the next series of blogs I will highlight each one of the four dimensions of DiSC® characterized by people I’ve worked with (names changed, of course).
Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston created the theory of DISC® in the 1920’s, illustrating that people exhibited emotions through four ‘Normal’ behaviours of Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, or Compliance – aka DISC® In the 1950’s an industrial psychologist named Walter Clarke went on to create the first assessment using the DISC behaviours Marston founded. Over the years the assessment has been improved and updated but the principles remain the same. Today we use the terms: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientious in the assessment.
First I will start with a profile of the “D” – Dominance.
Meet Belinda (not her real name)
Belinda is a Vice President in a Customer Service group (Canada) of a large multi national company. She moved up through the ranks fairly fast. Here are some of her traits and behaviours that demonstrate a strong “D” profile:
Do you know someone like Belinda? Or can you see a little of yourself in her profile? She is a good representative of a strong “D” behavioural style. Most of us have behavioural styles with varying degrees of each of the 4 DiSC® dimensions so certain circumstances may bring your “D” more to the forefront.
For Belinda to be considered for future, more senior level roles she must make an effort to develop work relationships by recognizing the opinions, feelings and ideas from others. Taking time to get to know people versus putting them to work.
Without some coaching, guidance and support from others, Belinda’s trajectory in a large multinational company will surely be hampered. Much of her advancement will depend on whom she reports to and whether she reigns in her power punches!
Can you see the benefit to you to better understand your own DiSC® style and how you may impact others?
Get Your DiSC® Assessment!
Email or call me to take advantage of the eye-opening perspective of Everything DiSC® Workplace assessment or to arrange a session with your whole team. This assessment will surely provide a clearer understanding of how you affect others and decode how best to communicate for your own success.
Not only will you receive a detailed report but I will also provide a confidential debrief where we will delve into your personal profile and/or team dynamic. Call or email me when you’re ready to learn more about yourself and discuss potential career/leadership de-railers so you know how to head them off!
Building a kick-ass team is one of the most rewarding experiences for any leader. To see the team YOU established succeed and thrive creates a sense of pride and satisfaction like no other.
Do you remember how it felt to be a part of an awesome team? You were in sync, you had fun, and you were an unstoppable machine. Everyone was connected and continuously driving in the same direction to get stuff done.
This blog marks the beginning of a series of posts that will walk you through the full cycle of not only building a team, but also supercharging it! Today, we start from the beginning, which involves creating your vision, crafting roles and selecting the right members. Over the course of the next few months, I will address other topics such as the settling in period, navigating through difficult times, celebrating successes and preparing for transformative windups.
The “Kick-Ass Team Building From the Ground Up” series will also include tons of practical tips and tricks for boosting your own leadership capabilities, so please follow along for full access to an abundance of insight and advice.
Without further ado, welcome to part one of our series – The Start Up Phase!
There are countless reasons why you may be forming a new team right now. It may be the beginning of a new project or initiative, or there may be an important new business direction underway and you have to pull a group together. Regardless of the reason behind the new team formation, here are your steps to get started:
Let me preface by stressing one thing – do not skip this step! Even if you’ve been handed a group of pre-selected individuals to begin with, I encourage all of my clients to start with a blank slate. Before you go sticking boxes on an org chart, ensure you are crystal clear on your own vision. Grab a whiteboard and consider these key questions:
Having this information readily available will assist you in figuring out which roles are required on the team and what work you’ll be in charge of overall. It will also provide a basis to review the team’s progress once set up.
2. Suss Out The Work
When beginning to build a team, it’s common for leaders to immediately think about managers – how many they need, who they will be etc. But there is a major drawback to this approach. What tends to happen is teams end up with too many people trying to lead without clear and distinct accountabilities – and you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen!
Instead of beginning with management, do a bottom-up build. Consider the day-to-day work of your team and allow your structure to fall into place according to what actually needs to get done.
In order to ensure you stack your structure with the right number and level of roles, consider these questions first:
Your answers to the questions above should start to create a picture of how many people you really need to DO the day-to-day work? And in contrast, how many managers are required to manage the people doing the day-to-day.
If you can, quantify the output that will be delivered – you may have to make a few assumptions at this point – and think about the ROI (return on investment) of your resources. You tend to get bigger return with ‘doers’ than with ‘managers’.
Here are some common pitfalls that many leaders face during this step of a new team formation:
3. Map Your Structure
This is when you get to move the boxes around. When creating an organizational structure, I prefer using an accountability-based approach – that is establishing a hierarchy with clarity so everyone will know who is on the hook for what.
Clear accountability is a critical success factor for a smooth running team. Also vital, yet sadly overlooked, is ensuring that each Manager fully understands that their responsibility includes the development of their team members, not just direct reports. This includes formalized succession planning for managers to have replacement plans for their own roles – setting this up in the beginning will make your job a whole lot easier.
Now layout a future focused org structure identifying how each role reports. Every role on the org chart needs a unique and clearly defined accountability in order to reduce confusion and improve self-sufficiency. Notice we haven’t talked about the people yet? This is done on purpose.
Million Dollar Tip: Never design your structure around your people. Big mistake! (Send me a message if you want to know why)
Here is an example of how you might divide work initially in order to support your longer-term structure to ramp up staffing over time:
Org structures evolve due to many variables over time, but having a plan to begin with a ‘target’ operating model (future structure) will help as you begin the hiring/selection process. Look for talent who can grow and be developed over time into expanded roles.
4. Spec Your Jobs
I know this may seem tedious, but believe me, this is worth the investment! Not only will this step get you thinking about what work is needed to be done and the talent you will need, but also the document you create will serve multiple purposes over the life cycle of the team (e.g. sourcing people, evaluating compensation, performance management).
Each role needs its own spec - a profile. Consider all the elements similar to a job posting you would need, which details the skills necessary, the type of characteristics required to be successful and the education or knowledge you feel is a must or nice to have in each job.
If you’ve never done this before, you can cheat by ‘Googling’ similar jobs and reviewing postings for relevant content. They will give you a clue for the type of jobs in the market (no one I know ever got into trouble for using another job posting for inspiration). Just ensure your job spec thoroughly outlines the work duties, tasks, and responsibilities so that a potential employee has an idea of what they’ll be signing up for!
5. Pick Your Talent
Finally, it’s time to talk about people. I could write a whole blog on just this step – I love selecting talent – but I’ll save that for another time! For the sake of moving along, I’ll keep this section brief.
If you already have a pool of people to select from, resist the temptation to simply slot in people you know in the boxes. Do yourself a favour and review them against the job spec for ‘fit’, and ask yourself if they are the right people to do the job. If not, you may need to post the role.
This is the step where it really pays to have objective help in screening candidates and conducting interviews. Having someone to whittle the list of candidates down to a choice few will save you time – they can also be your point person to field follow up calls and emails.
I highly recommend involving several people that you trust in the interview stage to help you screen for ‘fit’. It’s important that anyone new joining the team or business matches both the style and organizational culture of the company. If you have management roles, start with those first and perhaps have them join you in future interviews as you build out the team.
Prepare a series of questions that will help you probe and qualify the candidates until you find the right people to fill your roles. I also recommend considering the use of a comprehensive assessment tool that can give yet another dimension about fit to the team and clues for how best to manage and communicate moving forward.
Dots Leadership Solutions can assist you with crafting your structure, developing job specs, preparing your selection strategy and even screening, assessing and interviewing candidates – it’s kind of our ‘thing’. Give us a call today and let’s chat about the next team you’re building.
Stay tuned for our next blog in the 'Building a Kick-Ass Team' series Part 2 – Team Identity
One of the most frustrating and time-consuming aspects of every manager’s role is dealing with a difficult person on their team. But getting good at managing the most challenging employee can be well worth the time and effort invested, even if it doesn’t seem it at the time. Not only will you demonstrate top-notch leadership skills to ‘the powers that be’, but you’ll also be role modelling for those you are developing to be a leader – which looks great on you!
There are all kinds of difficult people to manage or to work with: the know-it-all’s, passive-aggressive’s, quiet sulker’s, loud mouths, pity partier’s etc. And while you can develop specific strategies for managing each type, I have found there are a few general approaches for dealing with ANY difficult person that are often successful:
1. Understand Your Own Type
I know what you’re thinking…’Hey, I’m not the one who is difficult, so why start with me?’ Well, that is because when you understand yourself, you can better strategize how to flex your style to effectively communicate with others. It also helps you recognize why some people drive you to the brink and press your buttons more than others. There are many assessment tools that can be used to develop a greater understanding of your own personality type and how you affect others. DISC, Kolbe and Myers Briggs are quite common and a good place to start; it doesn’t matter which tool you use as long as you do the homework on self-discovery.
2. Understand Each Of Your Team Member’s Type
Unsurprisingly, I also recommend understanding the personality type of each of your team – not just the difficult one! Teams are like living organisms; they have reliance and dependency on one other. People get along much better when they learn to appreciate the nuances and differences of each other. Personality assessments provide a non-threatening, consistent language that facilitates the breaking down of communication barriers.
3. Be CANDID!
This is not for the faint of heart. Being clear and candid with a difficult person is not easy for most people, yet it is the single most important first step in managing the situation. Regardless of the different types of ‘difficult people’, when you can articulate the issue head on, you’ll make better progress. Help them to understand how their behaviour is impacting the office, the team or any key stakeholders. Good ol’ Dr. Phil says, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge", and that holds true here too. You have to call out what the problem is, particularly when it is causing trouble with others. The way to do this is by clarifying the effect the person’s behaviour is having on others without judgement and blame.
A great reference for how to frame these conversations is a book called Crucial Confrontations. Just as the title implies, confronting is crucial! Regardless of how awkward the situation, when you deal with it with compassion and the right intentions, you can work with the person to find solutions.
4. Look For An Underlying Issue
I’m not saying you should give them an excuse for their ‘difficultness’, but you may find that something may be at the root of their behaviour issues and knowing this will give you a clue for how to manage it.
I once worked with a man who, when heard on the phone with his wife, was clearly in a dictatorial relationship – he was a doormat at home, but a tyrant at the office! Once we realized that he had a need to feel in control because he had zero control outside of work, we were able to adapt how we dealt with issues to give him some measure of power within his work. Very quickly, he stopped battling everyone else.
Simply put, if you can spot the underlying issue, you can adapt your response. It takes a little thoughtfulness, but it absolutely works.
5. Tap Into Empathy
Sometimes you have to walk in someone else’s shoes to understand where they are coming from. Try to put yourself in their situation to understand their point of view before jumping to conclusions. Did you know CCL research shows that, “Managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses.”
In today’s social media rich world we are terribly quick to label a difficult person and criticize before taking time to understand who they are and how they view life. In the workplace, it is a big win when you can find the bridge into their way of thinking – you can then help by making a connection and break down the issues.
6. Accept 100% Responsibility For Your Response
I often say, no one can make you FEEL anything – how you choose to respond to any tough situation is all up to you. The fact that someone is driving you crazy is a direct reflection of how you are responding to somebody else’s ways. This is completely within your control. This is a tremendously liberating concept when you realize you have the ability to control your response. Brian Tracy - Free Your Mind: How You Are Responsible offers a great snapshot for just how to accomplish this!
When it gets really tough dealing with a difficult person and you are about ready to give up or you’ve been trying to follow HR guidance and still not getting at the heart of the matter, give Dots Leadership Solutions a call – we have a kit bag of approaches that have worked very effectively. We also have some great assessment tools and can be available to plan for or facilitate discussions if you need an objective third party!
“Let’s play follow the leader Nanni,” my 3-year old grandson says, pulling on my hand. He then leads me through the house, taking me downstairs and back upstairs. We crawl, we jump and we stand still; he laughs when I shadow him and is so delighted I’m following his lead. He then says, “Nanni its your turn to be the leader!”. After much laughter, we fall into a heap on the couch. Fun and shenanigans like this make for some great memories.
Too bad leading a team isn’t quite that straightforward – or is it? As a leader, trusting your team members to take the reins and empowering them to problem solve on their own demonstrates a great sign of strength. The very best leaders involve their team in creating the roadmap to attaining business results. Likewise, they involve them in making improvements to the workplace where it will directly affect their roles.
Today, organizations and employees are demanding more of their leaders than ever before. With corporate downsizing, rising inflation, the instability of the markets and the low Canadian dollar companies are struggling to stay ahead; they need leaders who can effectively maximize every resource.
Likewise leaders are looking for high performing teams who not only follow, but who can be trusted to take on key projects and initiatives – they have to be able to do far more with way less. Open communication between the leader and their team members is a critical success factor to high performance, yet many struggle to connect effectively. Therefore the relationship of the leader with their team is at the core of what builds employee engagement and results.
How do you measure up as today’s leader?
Here are some of the key leadership traits employees look for in today’s leader. Take a moment to evaluate yourself on a scale of 1-5.
A leader who is ‘real’ with their people. Someone who doesn’t hide behind a corporate mask and is humble enough to show they too make mistakes. They can relate to their employees as they have been in their shoes.
A leader who gives their employees the latitude to solve problems on their own and backs them up, when necessary.
A leader who follows through on their commitments – they say what they will do and then, what do you know? They do it! Employees want to be able to count on their leader to be dependable.
A leader who demonstrates support to their employees through action, not just words. They take time to know their people, they support their career goals and leverage their greatest strengths by giving them the right work. They then acknowledge and recognize their good work.
Action Oriented ______________/5
A leader who gets things done, but does so with their team. They want them to succeed, together. Employees today want to be a part of a winning team who love to accomplish important and meaningful goals.
A leader who makes thoughtful decisions – is not ‘wishy-washy’. One who works with their employees to find their own path and who helps ‘connect the dots’ from organizational goals to the department, team and individual. Someone who organizes work appropriately, fully utilizing the best skills of their people.
Now that you have an idea of what your strengths and weaknesses are as a leader, create an action plan, focusing on the traits you may still need to work on. Consider seeking additional, candid feedback, from your team by asking your team to complete the attached assessment of the traits. Have them complete it anonymously, dropping it in your mail slot/on your desk. Once you have reviewed the feedback demonstrate to your people how you will be working on these areas.
Additionally, share your results and plan with your own leader to open dialogue for further feedback from their perspective.
Be the leader others want to follow…
The role of today’s leader is to create a positive employee experience tailored to meet the needs of individuals in the team, while delivering exceptional results for the business. Today’s leader requires a blend of finely honed communication skills and smart-savvy business prowess, with a knack for understanding and leveraging the skills of the people they lead.
To create a positive culture and environment where your people really do want to follow you, take the time to learn about the people who work for you! You may discover some outstanding and hidden gems and have some fun at the same time!
For more information, or to discuss how we can help you reach your leadership goals, please feel free to Contact Us. You can also learn more about Dots on our About page.
Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.