The Leader Within

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The Leader Within Self Assessment_Page_1
Click “The Leader Within Self-Assessment” for Questionnaire

“Sharpen The Saw” — Habit 7 from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People focuses on self-improvement and the ongoing process of personal transformation. Continually examining self and how I show up in the world is exhausting. But it is necessary to effectively lead: families, organizations, and ourselves. In fact, the starting point for learning how to lead effectively is self-leadership. Ken Blanchard shares that “you can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself, and you can’t lead yourself without the right tools.”

The Leader Within Self-Assessment  is a very practical tool that helps to identify the thoughts, behaviors and habits that require pruning, eliminating and those to learn.  It’s simple, complete the sentence: As a leader I . . . The descriptions accurately or not describe how you think and behave. Celebrate your YES responses and keep up the great work. For the NO response(s), consider what you need to change in your heart and head that will affect the change in your words and actions. Resist the urge to edit with responses like “maybe/sometimes/most of the time”. Challenge yourself to respond with the kind of integrity that is compelling i.e., yes or no.  NOTE: For a real challenge, self-assess twice: once for yourself as family leader and once for yourself as an organization leader.

The daily grind provides no shortage of opportunities for honest self-evaluation. The world is our classroom and our relationships and interactions create the impetus for us to learn. Our goal as leaders is to keep ourselves operating at higher levels where we are most effective and most powerful. The struggle is real, but the results are profoundly meaningful.

 

The Leader Within Self-Assessment

 

 

 

Sunny’s Rescue

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I’m forever grateful for the healing & transformative power of Sunny’s love. She taught me so much about myself and my capacity to love and forgive. The truth is, I’ve never been fond of pets — including dogs.  No one would ever call me a dog lover. I have friends that have dogs as a part of their families. But, it wasn’t my thing — at all. However, having a dog stayed on my daughter’s wish list. Every time she asked, I issued a firm no, no, no. My hands were full and I had no interest in taking on the responsibility for anything that required food or shelter under my roof. Although I did get her a pet fish — LOL.  One thing is certain: life will bring about change. And so it was 2013, the year of professional transition for me.  And with that shift came an opportunity for me to open up my heart and home to this beautiful dog — Sunny.

From the first time I laid eyes on her, I was smitten.  It still blows my mind that she met every one of my criteria: no shedding, smart, energetic, courageous — my exact words were “cute, loving, but I cannot have a punk dog” ?(LOL) People were genuinely shocked when meeting the dog behind the bark. She was a feisty little thing.

The funny thing is, I adopted her to be a companion for my daughter. They were buddies — sometimes. Actually, they behaved liked siblings. A relationship defined by love and sibling rivalry. It was clear, Sunny was my IMG_0688companion. We had a very special connection. We understood, respected, accepted, and protected each other. It was like a dam of love had been released and the intensity of it never let up.  Even her last minutes on this earth she and I spent in the presence of a love that is still palpable almost 8 months later.

She wasn’t with us long; she was so young that her death is still shocking. And while I still have moments of unbelievable sadness about her absence. Here’s what I do know: God knew we needed each other. And I’m grateful for all that it meant. I will one day adopt another rescue dog. But for now, I’ll bask in the afterglow of the love, laughter and pure joy of the wonderful memories of my Sunny girl.

 

ARE YOU STAYING IN THE KNOW?

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crossweill

Looking to refresh or establish your methodology for knowing what’s really going on in your organization, when you need to know it? Take a look at MITSloan Management Review article “Staying in the Know” (June 2015). Excellent read!

Tips on keeping your knowledge infrastructure relevant: (1) Do more listening than talking. For your personal knowledge infrastructure to be meaningful, share the why’s of decisions, engage in real dialogue with people, and sincerely initiate and participate in conversations with people on issues that matter to them. (2) Demonstrate an ability to ”hear” objectively; you need people to be candid. (3) Be very thoughtful about what you take to heart. Don’t discredit your leadership by acting or reacting to the wrong information. If you have the right infrastructure, you’ll quickly be able to sort out fact from fiction. (4) Know when to evolve the system and tools you are using. If you don’t seem to have the insights, when you need to have them, time to evolve your methodology. As new team members join, technology is updated, processes improve, and organization structures change all are clues that it’s time to revaluate your methodology.

©2016 Amplify Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

Leaders Leading. . .

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Leading others is the most challenging role one could assume. In addition to possessing industry and technical knowledge, your ultimate task is to influence people to believe in you, the company and organization enough that they will give their best effort. The affects of great leadership are so profound that it grows businesses, changes industries, influences economies and transforms the lives and families of those being led. There’s a higher purpose in being a Leader that creates incredibly high stakes!

Being a great or even good Leader requires a continuous quest for self-improvement. The process of leadership is so complex that Leaders have to be able to flex and anticipate shifts for their organizations to remain relevant (businessnewsdaily.com). To this end, Leaders have to be avid learners. Contrary to what some believe, leadership is a learned observable skill. And certainly, every leader has strengths, weaknesses and the ability to improve (hbr.org).shutterstock_105254732-2

This might be the age of selfies and likes. But don’t get it twisted. When it comes to leadership, what matters is what you say and how you say it; what you do and
how you do it; AND how you prepare, support and enable others. The extent to
which your leadership results reflect a real contribution to people performing better in their existing roles or being prepared for the next role, speaks volumes about your leadership. Substance still matters in this arena (cio.com). Employee studies focused on culture, retention, employee engagement, and leadership continue to site that
people quit their bosses not their jobs.”

As we are counting down to the New Year and relishing in those moments of deep introspection, consider your leadership disposition. Get clear about what you must do to be a better leader. There are a multitude of actions one can take to improve. There’s a short list of suggestions attached.  Engage human resources or talent development specialists for developmental recommendations specific to your needs. Commit to action. Create opportunities to understand what’s working what’s not working and why (inc.com).

Leaders aren’t expected to be perfect. But with the lengthy list of what is expected: humility, collaboration, decisive, empathetic, respectful, trusting, engaging, inspirational, relatable, accountable, problem solver, bold, strategic, tactical, honest, inclusive, kind, resourceful, authentic, empowering, proactive, forward-thinking, teacher, coach, competent, agile, team builder, compassionate, thoughtful, accessible, responsive, timely, gracious, knowledgeable, vulnerable, networked, balanced, self-motivated, calm, confident, clear, concise, articulate, self-less, influencer, self-aware, results oriented, fearless, role model (OMG – breath!) . . ., suggests that Leaders have an obligation to be action oriented about serving-up the very best of themselves (forbes.com/video).

Development Ideas For Improving YOUR Leadership Skills in 2016

  • Leverage formal tools to enhance your self-awareness and gain relevant insights about your modus operandi. With the appropriate guidance these resources can be helpful: Multi-Rater Feedback Surveys and Personality Assessments (i.e., Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Predictive Index, DiSC Profiles, Personalysis Profile…).
  • Broaden your reading list to include books, articles, websites that challenge and inform. The Leadership Challenge 5th Edition, Kouzes & Posner is an excellent book with practical insights.
  • Deal with those life issues that are ailing you. There’s a spillover affect that becomes a distraction and compromises your effectiveness. Commit to counseling if needed.
  • Establish metrics on how you will improve the diversity and inclusion on your team – the team culture and the gender and ethnic makeup. Deal with your biases that are inhibiting progress in this area. Conscious or unconscious, we all have them. The social ills of our world don’t stop at the office entrance. Engage HR/People resources. Challenge them to challenge your leadership (hbr.org).
  • Rethink your team interactions. Seek opportunities to develop, inform, build trust, collaborate, and celebrate team members.
  • Broaden your relationships and network to include people 2-3 levels below you that are more inclined to tell you the unadulterated truth. Brace yourself for what you might learn. But know this – it takes courage to hear what others think about your leadership and for you to act on the learning. Go for it!
  • Lend your talents to nonprofit organization(s) with the aim of contributing your knowledge and skills while enhancing your leadership disposition (blueavocado.org).
  • Participate in formal leadership development experiences like forums, conferences, webinars, seminars, and course work. Don’t rule out the possibility of a Coach.

 

©2016 Amplify Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.


 

7 Steps To Forging A New Path

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Leading others requires an ability to connect with the hearts and minds of team members. Inevitably, there will be challenging relationships and rough interpersonal dynamics. As luck would have it, there’s always that one person on the team with whom you struggle to establish a trusting connection. No surprise, we are perfectly imperfect human beings! There are many reasons why the relationship isn’t working. Without even knowing the details, it’s easy to surmise that you share in the dysfunction. Although as the Leader, rest assured, you’d be held accountable for the success or failure of the relationship.

I want to be sure we’re on the same page. I’m not referring to those relationships that are troubled because the person has a performance issue. I’m also not talking about likability. I’m assuming that we’re at the level of maturity where we can relate to be people we may not like. This is all about nurturing healthy and happier manager employee relationships – essential to achieving higher levels of employee satisfaction, engagement, retention and performance.

So you’re frustrated and at your wits end with managing this situation. You’ve tried a few things that haven’t worked. You’re not ready for an intervention or perhaps you don’t have access to those kinds of resources. Before you throw in the towel on what could be one of the more successful working relationships you’ve ever experienced, here’s a suggestion. Try these “7 Steps to Forging a New Path” for the next few (at least 4) one-on-one meetings with the team member in which you are having difficulty connecting. Your goal in working these 7 Steps is to get the relationship on track and create a more effective interpersonal dynamic.

  1. SCHEDULE THE MEETING. Ensure the meeting is scheduled for the time of day when you are at your best. This is the time of day when you tend to be the most patient, compassionate, and attentive.
  2. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE – Your perspective will influence theirs. Get rid of your “war armor” (i.e., defensiveness, anger, annoyance…). In fact, kick off the meeting with a sincere compliment. Preferably noting something the person did or participated in that went well. Be sure you have a good understanding of the matter. You don’t want to risk sounding condescending or insincere. Let the person know your intention: you are trying a different approach with the hope of improving the relationship. This disclosure is important to share at the on-set. It will influence buy-in and boost engagement. You are also letting the person know that you are taking responsibility for where things are and inviting them to participate in the transformation. These actions are powerful influencers towards gaining trust.
  3. SEEK TO UNDERSTAND.  Be authentic in the conversation. Make a point to talk less and listen more. Listen to improve your understanding. Ask probing questions to minimize misunderstanding and assumptions (mindtools.com). Assumptions are dangerous when people have difficulty relating.
  4. TEACH, COACH, but don’t PREACH.  As you are navigating the conversation, be mindful of your tone and approach. Respecting the talent level of your team member will help you know when to coach and when to teach. As will the additional data you’ve gleaned as a result of your probes in Step 3. As a general rule coaching conversations are more appropriate for people with advanced skills, experience, and organization understanding. But coaching is a skill. So make sure you’ve taken the time to hone yours before you begin this journey hbr.com.    (Development resources: The Five Minute Coach, L. Cooper & M. Castellino, 2012. Coaching for Performance:  Growing Human Potential, by J. Whitmore 4th Edition)
  5. BE HELPFUL.  During the last 5-10 minutes of the meeting, ask this question: “What can I do to better support you?” Your response to whatever is requested should be a firm positive commitment or you will need to negotiate a win-win agreement. A “no” response is not an option as you want to be helpful in a manner that is meaningful to the employee (skillsyouneed.com).
  6.  Take notes during and after each meeting. In addition to capturing the agreements and deliverables, note the overall interaction. Reflect on how the interactions evolved. Be specific about what was better, worse or the same. Note your observations of the person’s behavior and engagement level. Ask your team member for feedback. Specifically, what worked for them? Get clear about what you specifically did and didn’t do to contribute to the outcome.
  7. REFRAME YOUR APPROACH.  Use the learning from this experience to change the way you interact with this team member. Keep doing what worked and ditch what didn’t. As you improve your coaching skills, the quality of the interaction will also improve.

©2016 Amplify Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

#thebestgettingbetter

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Deflecting blocks introspection, keeps you broken AND ineffective. Don’t diminish your success. OWN every shortcoming, misstep, mistake, and judgment error. Understand and learn; retool and reposition. Embrace a renewed heart and mind. Move forward with an even greater sense of purpose.

 

 

 

©2016 Amplify Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

Employees Make the Brand!

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Companies commit significant time and resources into articulating their brands for the marketplace. I really look forward to Forbes annual “Most Valuable Brands” list http://www.forbes.com/powerful-brands/list/.  In most cases, its easy to surmise which brands will make the list. These Companies are dogmatic about their strategies, products and consumer experience. Many keep us excited about what’s to come. Some brands influence our lives in meaningful ways. I’m hopeful that we will see more of this kind of thinking and action, as the normal course of business, when it comes to how Employers think about employees. Companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook . . . are modeling the way in making the employee experience a strategic imperative. But there’s a significant population of Employers that haven’t been able to translate their concerns about the talent gap and being able to compete into consistent action. Why employers undervalue the importance of this work is baffling. Undervalue sounds harsh. But what’s not a strategic priority doesn’t get our attention or resources. So let’s call it what is. It is that very lack of action that becomes a distraction to the brand’s greatness.

Harvard Business Review cited that only 61% of Employers developed an Employee Value Proposition to support their employer branding activities hbr.org. Fewer Employers are noted as even having a clearly articulated employer brand. There is no better time than now for a shift in our thinking. Employees are one of the biggest assets to any company. They are the brand ambassadors; the secret sauce. If Employers really want to attract, hire & retain the best, we must be willing to demand the best of ourselves and challenge our values and beliefs that limit our progress related to the employee employer relationship. Corporate transparency and trust have become synonymous. Trust in government and business is on the decline http://www.edelman.com.  And all the while, employees have unprecedented access via the Internet and social media to get and tell their truth about Employers.

There’s lots of good to be said for having a clearly articulated employee value proposition (EVP) http://www.kpmg.com.  Most important, is that it will enable your talent management efforts. Let’s face it the war on talent will be around a long time — especially good talent. Whether or not you have an EVP, you must be intentional about ensuring management practices and employee policies align with the brand. It’s simple: employees should be treated as well as customers. When they aren’t, business suffers; the brand suffers. Here are some fundamental truths related to this alignment. Hopefully something here will inspire you to take the lead in making the employee experience more than a conversation.

Truth #1: Employees make the brand!

Truth #2: There’s an implicit arrogance in believing your own press about your greatness as an Employer. It inhibits retention; circumvents good thinking; makes it tough to recruit in a talent economy; and influences over paying for jobs. Humility is a healthy and helpful disposition.

Truth #3: The tone & spirit of some employee policies breed lose/lose outcomes. While our customer policies tend to inspire win/win.

Truth #4: Too many times employee policies are created to offset management skill gaps. Commit to management development; hold managers accountable for improving.

Truth #5: Some management practices are contrary to what we mean to reflect: stiff, harsh, punitive, biased, indifferent…stupid.

Truth #6: Paralyzed by data, risk management, nonexistent creative thinking and poor writing skills, we take the path of least resistance and allow our employee policies to be written in legal speak. They don’t reflect the soul of the brand and they don’t inspire.

©2016 Amplify Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

10, 9, 8…Here We Go!

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As we are counting down to the New Year and relishing in those moments of deep introspection, consider your leadership disposition. Get clear about what you must do to be a better leader. There are a multitude of actions one can take to improve. Engage human resources or talent development specialists for developmental recommendations specific to your needs. Commit to action. Create opportunities to understand what’s working, what’s not working, and why (inc.com).

10 Development Ideas For Improving YOUR Leadership

  1. Rethink your team interactions. Seek opportunities to develop, inform, build trust, collaborate, and celebrate team members. 
  1. Broaden your relationships and network to include people 2-3 levels below or above you that are more inclined to tell you the unadulterated truth. Brace yourself for what you might learn. But know this – it takes courage to hear what others think about your leadership and for you to act on the learning. Go for it!
  1. Deal with those life issues that are ailing you. There’s a spillover affect that becomes a distraction and compromises your effectiveness. Commit to counseling if needed.
  1. Establish metrics on how you will improve the diversity and inclusion on your team. Deal with your own biases that are inhibiting progress in this area. Conscious or unconscious, we all have them. The social ills of our world don’t stop at the office entrance. Engage HR/People resources. Challenge them to challenge your leadership (hbr.org).
  1. Mentoring is the gift that keeps giving. You develop meaningful relationships that often last a lifetime while sharing your experience insights and skills to the benefit of another. This process yields a treat to the Mentor: actively learning and honing your skills. Mentoring is an important role (forbes.com). Be sure you are up to the task before committing.
  1. Determine if you would benefit from having a mentor (management-mentors.com).
  1. Leverage formal tools to enhance your self-awareness and gain relevant insights about your modus operandi. With the appropriate guidance these resources can be helpful: Multi-Rater Feedback Surveys and Personality Assessments (i.e., Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Predictive Index, DiSC Profiles, Personalysis Profile…).
  1. Broaden your reading list to include books, articles, websites that challenge and inform. The Leadership Challenge 5th Edition, Kouzes & Posner is an excellent book with practical insights.
  1. Lend your talents to nonprofit organization(s) with the aim of contributing your knowledge and skills while enhancing your leadership disposition (blueavocado.org).
  1. Participate in formal leadership development experiences like forums, conferences, webinars, seminars, and course work. Don’t rule out the possibility of engaging a Coach.

A toast to leaders leading and the best getting better!