I will never forget the first time I received tough feedback. I was managing a government-funded employment centre at the time.
While working on a tight deadline to implement a new computer system, I was surprised when the Director called me to come to her office ASAP.
She told me my peer (Margaret, who I worked with every day) had raised a concern that needed to be addressed immediately. Margaret felt ‘intimidated’ by me and I made her uncomfortable. Instantly I became defensive – why didn’t she talk to me, what did I do, where was this coming from? Me… intimidating?
Margaret said I was impatient and judgmental, pushing her to explain how things were done. She felt I didn’t respect the work she and the team did and that I just wanted to ‘change everything’. It became obvious she didn’t know what I was doing; she was missing the context for why I needed information and how I was using it.
I felt bad that my actions were seen as overbearing but it was a pivotal moment. From then on I took more time to listen and explain before rushing ahead; I brought Margaret along as a partner. In the end, we formed a terrific working relationship and created a great new system!
Looking back, it was that tough feedback that helped me learn about my own direct style and how to flex my approach with others who were indirect.
While I can relate to what it feels like to receive tough feedback, I truly value the awareness you develop because of it. This is why I always recommend people become aware of their own style. You grow so much when you connect with people who are different than you.
Candour and Feedback Makes a Better Workplace
In today’s workplaces we often refrain from saying what needs to be said for a variety of reasons, we:
Feedback, the Breakfast of Champions
When someone cares enough to give honest, constructive feedback in a clear and helpful way it helps the individual grow and become more self-aware – just as I did. Yet according to Harvard Business Review, we actually all want the negative feedback you hate to give!
I’m not talking about the positive nice feedback here; I’m referring to candid and sometimes difficult to hear ‘real stuff’, often shielded from more senior leaders as you rise in an organization.
Cultivating a positive environment where it is safe to give and receive feedback openly begins with you, the leader. You set the tone by modelling trust and openness in every interaction, encouraging others to share their differing views.
Seek and Ye Shall Find
In each workshop I’ve done about feedback or candour it’s been surprising how few leaders ever received tough or candid feedback over their career! So it is no wonder they aren’t comfortable giving tough feedback to their team!
So how do you start to develop an environment for tougher feedback? You actually begin by asking!
How to Get to The Tough Stuff
Given the reluctance listed above, you may find it difficult to get open, candid feedback. Here are 5 things you can do to get people to open up:
It takes a little focus but based on my experience, candour is your best bet to creating the most highly engaged, super-charged high-performance teams!
Drop me a note when you’re looking for help to gather, receive or act on feedback! I conduct sessions with teams to uncover what issues are causing the most frustrations as well as coach leaders who want to stretch and improve.
photo by CC0 @cerpow on Unsplash
Watching political leaders wrangle for position, launch smear campaigns and talk trash about each other sure fires up the leadership coach in me. Grown adults identified as so-called “leaders” who choose bully tactics, intimidation and demeaning others as their campaign strategy gets to me every. single. time!
The Canadian province where I live is currently embroiled in a smear-filled provincial election fraught with insults and put-downs; it is such a miserable and appalling ‘gong show’ - wish I could bong the gong to put an end to this conduct!
I am not naïve enough to think anyone could simply fix what seems to be wrong with such political behaviour overnight but I hope I live long enough to witness a group of leaders stand and face the masses, clearly state their position, demonstrate what they believe in (without being wishy-washy) and then once elected, set a concrete plan working to get it done in a professional “principled” fashion.
In my books, everyone in a leadership position, regardless if they’re running for office or managing a team of 2-20,000 people can be a better leader by leading with principles.
My Kind of Principled Leadership
Note: Seeking, receiving and acting on feedback are skills many of us need to develop further. If you have yet to receive constructive criticism from your people about YOU, it is a good sign you have room to grow. If you have received it, consider it a great gift! Now, how did you address it?
The Core Principles in Action
One senior level corporate leader I worked with (Katrina McGee….yah, not her real name) truly exemplified the core principles I look for as a Principled Leader.
Such a pleasure to work with. I recall one time we were working on a very sensitive and difficult message about a pending reorganization (sadly, one of many). It was a very stress filled period for her. She painstakingly agonized about every change to the department and fretted over each and every word choice because she personally felt the impact of the tough decisions being made – people truly mattered to her.
We were working in her office around 9pm at night, long after others had gone home, when we heard the cleaner in the outer office area singing quite passionately to himself with headphones on. He passed by her door a couple of times - clearly he hadn’t noticed us but we did him. Instead of getting annoyed at the “I hope he buys you flowers” being belted out, she asked if we could take a quick break.
She collected up the garbage from around her room and grabbed a fresh bottle of water from her sideboard and went to the outer office. She startled him as she emptied her bin into his cart and then took a moment to chat, giving him the bottle of water and acknowledged his singing prowess. It was obvious they had spoken before as they shared a little chuckle before she returned to the office.
You see, she treated everyone with that level of respect and consideration - from the cleaner to every member of her global team to her C-suite colleagues. So genuine was her care for everyone that I can honestly say anybody who ever had the opportunity to work with her would go to the end of the earth to support her agenda. A master at Principled Leadership I would say!
I know most of you want to be that kind of leader too. Here are some of the core principles that make all the difference to the teams who look to you as a leader:
Principled Leaders put the interests of people first. Their every action sends a message that everyone is equal and their ideas and opinions matter. It doesn’t mean they will do everything people want, but they ensure their teams feel heard and acknowledged.
Respect is Earned
Principled Leaders operate with respect for others in everything they do – there is no put down, no intimidation or bullying. They gain the respect of others by treating others fairly and with respect, regardless of their position.
Principled Leaders have a positive attitude. They act in a positive, genuine manner, even during some of the toughest times, ensuring everyone remains calm and productive.
Consistency is the Key
Principled Leaders are who they are regardless of the situation. Whether riding the elevator, walking through the office or sitting in a board meeting, their every move is consistent and in-line with their good character.
Curiosity is a Game Changer
Principled Leaders love learning and knowing but will acknowledge openly they actually don’t know everything. They ask a million questions of people – how does that work, why does that happen, why can’t we do that, how can we make it happen. This inquisitiveness comes in handy, seldom are they duped and inevitably they know exactly who to go to if help is needed because they understand the roles/process in their team as well as other groups.
Delivering is their Jam
Principled Leaders are obsessed with getting done what they set out to do. They are doggedly determined. They make sure all of their team understand the mission and remain steadfast in overcoming whatever obstacles are in the way to deliver on their promises.
Can you measure up to being a Principled Leader? Of course you can! You’re likely well on your way if you took time out to read this article and thought about what you currently do!
Keep Dots Leadership Solutions in mind as you determine your own development needs and plans for improvement. I’d like to be your personal and confidential leadership development guide. My coaching clients will tell you I hold them accountable to deliver against any goals they set passing along many tips and tactics to help them be a Principled Leader.
My style is direct (don't worry, I won't bong the gong on you), yet highly supportive and I bring 25+ years of experience working with leaders from many different industries both big and small – give me a call or drop me an email when you’re ready.
Hanging out with my grandson the other day he told me about a neighbourhood bully who makes ‘bad choices’. We had a great conversation about people who make bad choices, particularly bullies. In his vast wisdom of nearly 5 years, my grandson told me ‘Bullies are people too but its not OK when they hurt other people and if they do, then a grown up has to give them a time-out.’
What a thoughtful leadership lesson in this little statement. After all, we use time-outs with children to make them think about their actions, they must apologize and we expect them to do differently so they learn from their experience. So why don’t we tackle bullies in the workplace with the same energy - especially people in a power position over others?
What Would You Do?
You know the headlines these days are dominated by allegations of sexual harassment; victims are speaking out about their nasty experiences, almost daily - a topic seldom talked about before. Women everywhere have been emboldened to speak up and share their personal stories of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in work situations. With every news story, it triggers another woman's courage to speak out. Rest assured, there will be more to come.
Will you know how to manage an allegation at work if someone in your company or organization turns to you for help?
Policy and Practices Start with YOU, not HR!
Lets face it; dialogue about sexual harassment makes most of us uncomfortable. Anything ugly is difficult to speak about, but open discussion is vital to bring about improvement. It really concerned me when I read the Globe & Mail article that '94 percent of Canadian's leaders believe sexual harassment isn't an issue.'
Given harassment has become such a hot topic, every company should recognize that sexual harassment IS a real problem. It is time for leaders, or anyone in a position to help, to stand up, call out and follow through with discipline for inappropriate behaviour. No one should ever feel harassed at work, particularly if it is unwanted and sexualized in nature. It’s just not ok, regardless of how you qualify or explain it away as ‘that is how it is here’.
Turning a blind eye to anyone’s harassment claim can make worldwide headlines within a few hours through social media when they don’t get the help they need. So #Time's Up on covering up transgressions of anyone, especially senior level leaders or officials.
This is tough stuff to handle but there are steps you can take, immediately, to prevent all forms of harassment from happening at your work. Lets look at how you can create work environments where both men and women feel safe to bring forward concerns and get support rather than feeling they have to go public or leave the company.
Think ‘METALS’ - Leadership Steps to Say #Times Up
1. Model. Everyone is watching you whether you know it or not. Don’t speak inappropriately about women (or men); leave any form of sexual innuendo out of the workplace – sexual dialogue does not belong in a work environment. Help your team remain respectful in every interaction, show them how you manage with respect. You are the one your team will imitate, so show people the right way to treat others.
2. Enforce. The basis for change at work begins with having policy as a guidepost. No matter the size of your business, you need policies in place to fall back on to enforce. Ensure your workplace has a clear harassment policy in place with specific actions to take should any disrespectful behaviour occur – regardless of level or position in the company. Check to see that your company has a policy, become familiar and communicate it. If they don’t have a policy, suggest it be implemented ASAP. You can be the catalyst for ensuring a harassment policy is in place, communicated and enforced.
3. Talk. Talk about harassment with your team, long before an issue occurs. When opportunities arise to reinforce, discuss behaviour openly, highlighting what is acceptable and what is not at work. Openly share stories about past personal experiences and state how you would handle it now. Immediately discuss any sign of disrespect you observe or hear about so your team know you will not tolerate it. Make your team aware that they each have a role to play in keeping the workplace safe, people who stay silent are complicit; give them the courage to speak up. You create the environment of open dialogue.
4. Act. In the best work environments ‘respect in the workplace’ is a foundational training piece for all employees so they understand what behaviour is expected of them and what to expect in return. Many people go through training but notice when management doesn’t consistently follow through when something occurs, so they clam up. Be the one who acts swiftly. People want to work for leaders who readily step up and take responsibility for the wellbeing of their people. They will know you care enough about both the ‘bully’ and the bullied to deal with bad behaviour head on. Any form of bullying or inappropriate behaviour should be investigated and acted upon with appropriate discipline, without delay. Action begins with you, not HR.
5. Listen. Treat any form of harassment claim with urgency, seriousness and respect by hearing out those who have the courage to speak up, suspending your own judgement. Ensure a proper investigation is done while taking steps to protect the complainant from any form of retribution. Active listening shows them you care, understand and can be trusted to help. Listening with empathy is a key leadership trait.
6. Speak Up. By respectfully speaking out for those who feel harassed at work, you quickly become a powerhouse leader of tomorrow. Inappropriate behaviour at work is not OK; it is never to be tolerated. By speaking up and supporting others who speak out you will be the leader everyone wants to work for.
Take a Stand
You make choices everyday for how you treat others, we all do. If someone chooses to be a jerk or worse, an aggressor, then they should face appropriate consequences for their actions, regardless of their position in a company or organization. But it takes strong leadership to follow through with these people and take deliberate action. Take a stand!
As a leader you have the ability to choose what your team’s workplace should be like, irrespective of the culture or industry you’re in, or whether you have an HR team. YOU can be the shining example to others in management. YOU count to the people who report to you and how you act during the toughest times will be a key differentiator to their lives.
I’m here if you need guidance to manage tough leadership situations. Send me an email if you want support to develop policy or practices to enforce a respectful workplace or you’re struggling with a difficult issue and want a coach to talk it through.
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My hubby and I have this ongoing joke that I am a closet cape crusader. You see I stand up for good vs. evil and I even have recurring dreams where I leap out of my car to rescue someone from a car accident. Did you ever think of yourself as a super hero? Well I’m here to tell you, that just like every defender of the universe has unique powers, so do you!
All business leaders I’ve worked with have powerful influence over others as well as many other admirable traits. The fact is that each and every people leader brings special powers to the world; it just hasn’t been pointed out in that way!
What are Your Leadership Super Powers?
As a leader, I want you to take time to consider what super powers you possess. These will likely be leadership skills that you are best known for. As example, I am known for insight - I perceive things others don’t see in themselves. Through questioning, feedback and thought provoking conversation I help leaders grow, becoming aware of their own gifts.
Caution – Be Careful of Overuse
These unique skills make us great at what we do, but only when used in the right way. As leaders, it is important to look at your best skill and be aware of the trap to overuse it in a negative way. Some of the greatest learning comes from recognizing this nuance and avoiding the potential harm that can come from it.
Here are a few examples from some successful leaders I’ve coached, with the evil trap they had to steer clear of:
Decisiveness – The ability to quickly assess and evaluate pros and cons, then make a call. People with this power often are ‘go to’ people, called upon to provide advice and come up with solutions, particularly during tough times.
The Evil Side – the flip side of decisiveness is someone who can rush to judgement based on the wrong assumptions. If not careful they can damage trust with members of their team, as they may not take the time to seek input and detail from those who are closer to the information.
Tenacity – This power is the epitome of ‘when the going gets tough, the tough gets going’. You’re a leader who doesn’t give up; you hold yourself and others to high standards. Determined in the face of whatever challenges you encounter.
The Evil Side – the flip side of tenacity is someone who can be hard on their team, pushing them to succeed, not taking time to reflect and learn, missing out on reward and recognizing the team because you just want to keep going!
Dealing with Ambiguity – This is the power to be open and versatile, the ability to manage during times where you don’t have all the answers.
The Evil Side – the flip side of being good at ambiguity, can be a leader who is a bit wishy-washy or unclear. Your team will look to you to help them understand what is going on and why it is happening. You may be comfortable with the unknown but many people get frustrated without more concrete information.
Loves a Challenge –This is the power to take on difficult and meaty work, likely the one who is frequently asked to take on difficult assignments, complex tasks or projects.
The Evil Side – the flip side of loving a challenge can be taking on more work than is reasonable for your team to deliver. Often leaders who love a challenge will take on too much. The team can be quite worried and stressed as increased workload comes their way.
Thorough – This is the power of great detail orientation. You pride yourself on knowing the answers; can dive deep on a subject or know all the details on a project.
The Evil Side – The flip side to being thorough is micro management; I find high detail oriented leaders have difficulty delegating. They need to know every detail. Your team can lack a feeling of autonomy and trust.
Authenticity – This is the power to be real, you don’t hide behind a façade. You speak your truth, you are candid and open with everyone you meet.
The Evil Side – The flip side of being authentic is that you can share way too much about your life and personal business, making it very hard for you to make unpopular or difficult decisions, should you have to. Blurring the boundaries of leader/employee relationship can also lead to a lack of respect toward you.
Awareness is the Greatest Agent of Change
You can see from these examples that when a great leadership skill is overused it can result in damage to your relationship with your team and in some cases possibly hurt your career advancement. It’s important to reflect and consider when and under what circumstances you may be over doing it.
Becoming aware of how your behaviour impacts the people who report to you can be a real eye-opener. Consider having a proven 360 Assessment or confidential workplace survey done with your team to uncover feedback and help you grow.
Beam the Bat Signal
I may not be a Wonder Woman with a red cape and gold armbands to anyone other than my husband but my super powers are undisputable with anyone who I’ve worked with.
If you’re ready, I mean really ready to develop to your full leadership potential, I’d be honoured to be your coach! Drop me a line, or call me from your red phone I’ll be there. I’m already picking up telepathic messages!
Previously in this series, I covered the various phases of building a kick-ass team, including the ‘Start Up’ phase, ‘Building the Team Identity’ phase, ‘Bust Through the Barriers’ phase and ‘Kum Ba Yes’ phase. By now, if you’ve implemented all of my suggestions, you should be experiencing the ‘High Performance R Us’ phase – high five to you for graduating to a kick-ass leader!
What Does This Phase Look Like?
You’ll know the ‘High Performance R Us’ phase when you see your team consistently triumph and achieve goals together. For the most part, they get along, openly discuss ideas, problems and solutions, and most importantly, they share recommendations for improvement, actively solving issues together and demonstrating commitment to the group and company. Generally the climate is positive and activated for achievement. This kind of high performing team emits a positive vibe, and as such, they make the customer (internal or external) want to work with you.
So…now what? What do you do once you’ve successfully attained a high performing kick-ass team? Some say great teams eventually come to an end, but I like to think its more of a metamorphosis–just like a butterfly, your people undergo a change that gives each individual courage and esteem, which often means they will move along.
Kick Ass Leaders Shift Gears
At this point, some members of your team will either take on new roles within the team or move along, triggering a change to the whole dynamic. Similarly, this may also be a time when you prepare to make your own move, or you earn that well-deserved promotion!
Lets look at how you can either course correct to help your team through changes or how you can begin to wrap up so you are ready to make a move:
After the team dynamic changes or the team divides after having been together for a long time, you may notice a shift in peoples’ behaviours. Watch out for complacency, disengagement or repeated illnesses. Even the highest performing employees can become frustrated with changes–they are usually the first to exhibit fluctuations in behaviour.
Keep an eye on things like:
These are often symptoms of disengagement or complacency.
How to Respond
Wrapping Up With Your Team
If you’ve instead decided to make a move and depart from your now, high-functioning team, it’s imperative that you take right steps to leave them on great terms and in great shape. Parting ways can be difficult, but if you follow the wrap up checklist below, you’ll be sure to leave on a positive note.
Check In – take time to check in with the team to reflect–review the vision and mission you designed in Part 1 and 2 and have your team help you assess the progress. Record what worked and what could have been better, and identify how the team adapted to changing requirements over the duration. Determine what were the best parts of this team and which core competencies made the group most successful and why.
Check Off – take time to celebrate the journey of the team and reflect on the growth of each team member. Sit down with a coffee and make a list of how you’ve seen each of them grow as you look back over the time you spent together. Be sure to exchange written feedback so they can keep track of their progression and enjoy the fruits of their labour – this can be done using formal performance review tools, emails or, better yet, hand written notes. Thank everyone who helped the team succeed and encourage team members to write notes to support people from other areas in the business or to vendors/suppliers who were instrumental in the success. Send a summary to your boss or present the overview at a peer meeting to acknowledge progress of the team. And don’t forget to book a fun gathering too – coffee, ice cream, drinks or an outing together will allow you to clink glasses and leave on a high note.
Check On – if you haven’t done it already, be sure to communicate to your management and HR department who on your team has high potential and may be ready to take on leadership roles. Be sure to have a development plan laid out for those specific individuals, to ensure they work on acquiring the missing skills needed to make the leap to the next level. You can continue to be a mentor whether you continue to be their boss or not.
Check Out – one of the best things about having a high performing team is the ability to export some of your talented people to other areas of the organization. Reach out to various leaders you know in other areas of the business and connect them with team members who you feel would be valuable contributors. This is a great way to help your people shine and begin kicking off their own amazing team! You can bet they will come to you as they go through their own kick-ass team development.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey of kick-ass team building–no doubt, you’ve noticed some consistent themes. Becoming a Kick-Ass Leader takes a great deal of effort, a lot of communication, and the ability to know when to be tough, when to take the reigns or when to let your people soar. As always, I’m at your service if you’d like help in dealing with the various phases of building your team. Reach out any time.
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
Ever wonder how your company’s President or senior decision makers decide on who to promote? Well, I’m going to reveal it to you today.
...It doesn’t have anything to do with how many additional hours you put in.
...It has no relation to how many lunch breaks you skip.
...And your late night email response rate has absolutely no bearing on the decision.
It’s all about HOW you show up!
You see, senior leaders are listening carefully to those reporting to them and are observing who gets acknowledged most frequently – and yes, HR partners are also providing them with insights regarding HOW people situations have been dealt with. Senior Execs are always on the lookout for future leaders who can make a positive impact.
Of course the unique keys to being promotable may differ slightly from one organization to the next, but there are many elements that senior teams everywhere look at to determine who stands out above the rest.
So, how do you get noticed in a sea of people? Here are a few things you can do to demonstrate YOU are the one to watch:
1. The Buck Stops Here
Can you say accountability three times?!!! The promotion-worthy never shirk responsibility or pass the buck – they jump right out in front, even when they don’t own the root of the issue. If there is a problem, step up and demonstrate ownership. Executives want people they can always count on to resolve issues so they don’t have to.
2. Coach People to Execute
To be seen as a strong promotable resource you want to be able to show that you can help your people stretch to deliver. To do this you need to know your people well and understand their strengths. Give them courage to take on assignments that really play to their strengths and then set expectations for them to deliver results. A great book to raise your game on delivery is Larry Bossidy's Execution: Discipline of Getting Things Done.
3. It’s More Than Performance
Senior executives look for people who are socially dynamic, who can adapt appropriately to different social situations; they have strong capabilities in understanding and perceiving the emotions of others – they are not JUST a high performer! If you’re simply relying on your exceptional performance to get you that promotion, now’s the time to take things to the next level. Focus on cultivating and developing emotional aptitude to guide your thinking and behaviour and then practice managing or adjusting your emotions in the workplace, according to the situation.
To develop and hone your emotional quotient/emotional intelligence, you must focus on the ‘HOW’, not the ‘what’. Watch this video with Daniel Goldman explaining EQ to further develop your own knowledge of emotional intelligence!
4. Purposefully Take Initiative
Always be on the lookout for big hairy problems to take on – and then get tagged to be the one to find the solution! Presidents and senior leaders are just waiting to hear about the great people they have in their team who can put out the fires, stop the chatter of the troops and calm issues with stakeholders.
5. Deal With Tough Stuff
Reorganizations, performance issues, difficult stakeholders, angry staff, ticked off customers – these are the things that make everyone’s corporate life miserable. Most people shy away from conflict and acrimonious bitter disputes, but to stand out you’ll want to get really good at walking towards the nastiness to sort it out. When you are seen as someone who can be tossed the baton and make the pain go away, you are sure to be noticed by the senior team.
6. Lead In The ‘White Space’
On an organizational chart there are lines that join people – that is the hierarchy. Those with highest potential manage all the white space in between – they realize that processes cross boundaries and they ensure the processes they own flow smoothly through the organization. Here is an old article about process thinking - Managing the White Space. worthy of a look. People who lead in the white space are collaborative, curious to understand the impact of their teams work on all other stakeholders, and people who take ownership of their own processes – they activate others to work together. Top executives love to hear about people who calm the discord and noise in the system, turning the complicated into something simple.
7. Excel In The Grey
All companies, big and small, have some level of ambiguity. Those who can lead people through turbulent times and excel in spite of having all of the details are rock stars. Senior leaders gravitate to promoting those who don’t have to have all the answers before moving forward.
If you’re keen to be noticed and would value feedback and support from an outside source call us today. Dots Leadership Solutions offers customized offerings that can help you tap into your own potential and help guide you to that sought after role!
“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.