I work with and coach many leaders and teams. Although each team is unique, there are some common themes I see as performance and productivity blockages.
Are you suffering from one of these?
1. You have to be good at everything. There are many smart, good people I talk with, who can’t admit that they aren’t perfect, or still believe they should be. Perfection is outdated and unattainable. Trying to be good at everything should be too. Plus, it will only highlight and put focus on tasks and skills where you are NOT so good. As a leader, stop expecting people to be good at everything. For example, few people walk the earth who are great at being both detail/task-oriented and engaging with people. Consider realigning tasks to people based upon their natural strengths. In the end, the team will get more done with less stress.
2. Your way is the best way. If everyone was like you, your value would be diminished and the team would suffer from a huge blind spot. Instead, focus more on the goal and you’ll realize that the team will accomplish more. You’ll also look smarter and increase your influence by being able to see your teammates as valuable assets, even if they think and act differently, than your way of operating.
3. You’re constantly aware of teammate’s imperfections and wish they would change their ways. Stop thinking that the other person is who needs to change. You can positively influence behavior by trying to understand the other person’s point of view, their strengths and how they are motivated.
There are not many business leaders out there who are truly great – leaders that inspire, you can look up to, and immediately trust.
It is not easy to discover your purpose in life, and then, at all times, live it. Today, I was fortunate to meet Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, an iconic Georgia headquartered business. I fully admire Dan because for his defined life of meaning, and who lives it authentically, every day – a rarity in our age. Not just lip service; he lives it in a very real way.
When asked how Dan defines success, his response was, “being the best you can be as a person.” He continued by articulating how every aspect of what he does is measurable, whether it is from how Chick-fil-A is run, to community giving, his family and health. To lead others successfully not only do you emotionally engage them but you must be centered and balanced yourself. This is very important in order for others to trust you. So many leaders fail because they live in a falsehood and are not trustworthy.
A key dimension I see in Dan is his commitment to the development of Atlanta’s community, particularly the Westside area. While central to Atlanta, it is one of the poorest. And while there is a celebration of the great wealth being created in Atlanta, Dan is determined to use it to remove social inequity. The development of the Westside area will be a symbol of this change. Otherwise, Atlanta could become more like a Baltimore.
I have learned my leadership lessons from Lee Ellis, another great Atlanta leader in the same level of authenticity as Dan Cathy. The principles I look for in a leader I learned by reading Lee’s book “Leading with Honor“.
I would be interested in your views of great leaders anywhere in the world and why.
Leaders set the tone and direction for engagement in the workplace. To do this effectively they need to identify their natural instinctive behavioral talents. These provide reliable predictors of how a person will consistently perform over the long term. Using their talents, making decisions with the least stress, and responding to changing life and work factors, is what their “go to” behavior is under pressure.
The 2015 Gallup study titled ‘State of the American Manager’ studied 2.5 million manager-led teams noted:
Companies that hire managers based on talent realize a 48% increase in profitability, a 22% increase in productivity, a 30% increase in employee engagement scores, a 17% increase in customer engagement scores and a 19% decrease in turnover. Source
Talent is defined as a special natural ability or aptitude; a capacity for achievement or success
The key word here is ‘natural’.
The majority of managers working in the U.S. today are wrong for their role. That’s not to say these people don’t have talent. On the contrary, their talent probably made them quite successful in their previous, non-managerial role. But the talent that makes someone a great salesperson, accountant or engineer is not the same talent that makes him or her a great manager. In fact, Gallup has found that only 10% of working people possess the talent to be a great manager. Source
The further up the hierarchical ladder a leader goes, the more likely a leader feels isolated and lonely. This is especially true if they believe the promotion is above their level of competency. This leads to poor decision making and even poorer communication. More worrisome is the belief by the isolated leader eventually believes that they are doing a great job!
In a recent survey the Plank Center at the University of Alabama and Heyman Associates, observed the following:
The perceptions of top leaders and followers. Top leaders rated their performance, trust, work engagement, job satisfaction and organizational culture significantly higher than followers at all levels. Things look different and far better at the top. Leaders may often rate their own performance higher than do followers, but the size of the gaps in the study is substantial. Leaders can reduce the gaps by 1) increasing power sharing, 2) strengthening two-way communications, and 3) enhancing interpersonal skills to enrich relationships and teamwork. Source
Leaders may indeed feel isolated and lonely, but the risk is that this creates an information vacuum around them, resulting in employees withholding important and sometimes unpleasant information.
Understanding a person’s inherent leadership style (we all have one) ensures that leaders understand the differences between times of reflection, feelings of isolation, sensations of loneliness and how to manage each state.
Reflection: Some leaders need quiet time for reflection, planning, thought, and inspiration. Isolation: Some leaders with a more engaging behavior are stimulated by conversation and connection, yet allow the position of leadership to cut them off from this ‘energy’. Loneliness: Some leaders struggle with their leadership position having possibly enjoyed the ‘mateship’ of teams leading to loss, sadness and feelings of loneliness.
As human beings, we are not designed to live alone. We’re ultimately designed to need one another. The degree to which that need is met depends a lot on understanding inherent natural behavior. Without behavioral insight, individuals may never fully grasp how to be effective in leadership.
Using a discovery process, such as DNA Behavior, http://www.businessdnaresources.com/natural-behavior-discovery, natural talent can be revealed. This is our natural instinctive “hard-wired” behavior. Armed with this insight, leaders do not need to feel isolated or lonely. This knowledge will reveal not only their preferred operating style, but also provide signposts to the kind of support group necessary to ensure effective leadership.
Authentic leaders build close relationships with people who can counsel them in times of uncertainty. They engage in conversations with other leaders. And they continue to participate in executive education and management training programs.
As John Maxwell says:
Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.
The most effective cure’ for leadership isolation/loneliness is to understand your inherent behavior, communication approach, and talents so that you can be proud of your leadership legacy.
Some meetings should never take place!! When the leader of the meeting has no control over them, they are a waste of time.
According to research from Harvard Business School and the London School of Economics, executives spend upwards of 18 hours per week – a third of their working week – in meetings. And with an estimated 25-50% of meeting time considered wasted. Source
11 million meetings are held in the United States each day on average. That adds up quickly to 55 million a week and 220 million a month. By the end of the year, the meeting total is well over a billion. Source: (accessed 4/18/15). – Dave Johnson, How Much do Useless Meetings Cost?, CBS MoneyWatch (February 16, 2012).
The most frustrating meetings are when the boss let’s those with the loudest voice have too much time. Even trying to shut them up (politely) just doesn’t work. Then there’s the person in the room whose whole body language says, I know best; no one else’s opinion matters’. What about the colleague who has plenty to say on the way to the meeting, and just sits there and says nothing in the meeting. Poorly run Meetings are an expensive waste of time
Source: Google images www.annmarieklotz.com
Howard is compliant, hesitant and diplomatic. He is well liked and respected among most of his team and peers. But when leading staff meetings, Howard fails to control difficult people who upset the balance of the meeting and leave most of the remainder of the team wishing they were somewhere else.
The discussions tend to be unbalanced and very little gets resolved or decide upon.
Phil is the CEO and on one occasion sits in on the team meeting. He senses the atmosphere has no healthy positive energy; it’s heavy and negative; people are frustrated and deflated. Nothing is agreed. Phil knows he needs to work with Howard to improve his leadership skills.
Phil is goal driven, ambitious and yet understands the impact of knowing how to communicate with a range of people. Phil appreciates the importance of getting results through people management and strong strategic leadership.
Using his own experience as an example, Phil talks to Howard about how he felt when leaving the meeting. He explained that Howard needed to change the dynamic of the meeting in order to ensure people didn’t leave feeling frustrated, deflated and lacking a sense of direction. Phil explained to Howard the relevance to his leadership style of understanding behaviors. Further, he talked about the significance of becoming more effective and efficient in terms of managing individual communication styles. He explained that leadership required a person to adapt their own behavioral style to build relationships and meet the performance needs of a specific situation and in this scenario to manage meetings more effectively.
Had Howard understood the dynamics and communication styles in the room and gained insight into his own communication and behavioral approach, he would have known how to manage individuals and control the meeting. Phil used examples of how he should be communicated with to help Howard understand communication styles. He then contrasted that with how Howard would wish to be communicated with. Very quickly Howard realized that he needed to gain insight into understanding communication styles if his meetings were to be effective in the future.
Allow a short time to discuss family, life and non-work issues upfront
Communicate at a slower pace and do not make them feel pressured – keep it even
Have office meetings in a more living room environment
Show with empathy that you care about their well-being and desire the best outcome for them.
Give them step-by-step instructions to avoid any feelings of chaos.
Provide lower end estimates of returns and keep them diversified
Communicate security and the safety buffers
Ask them how much contact they would like with you and what type (email, phone etc.)
Indicate your feelings about the recommendations and get them to discuss theirs
Invite them to group workshops and demonstrate how solutions work
No long stories, keep to the point
Keep meeting agenda short and focused
Prioritize objectives around their goals
Start with the big picture, not too much detail on one part of it
Lay out the options so a decision can be made
Provide bullet points
Clearly outline risk/reward from best and worst case scenario
Ask for their thoughts on recommendations
Ask how involved they want you in the planning process
Recognize them with referrals to other influencers
Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?
1998 Rush Hour movie starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker
How many times have you been in a situation where you were trying to communicate with someone and it felt you might as well have been talking to the wall? I remember explaining a concept to a client using a PowerPoint and the client didn’t hear a word I said because he was focused on how he didn’t like the color scheme on the slide.
60% of communications fail because communication styles and preferences are not aligned. Based upon 1999 Stanford Research study.
Our brains are hard-wired to process information and learn a certain way. Most people accept this by now due to the volume of research on the topic. However, we can learn how to adapt to different communication styles to increase our effectiveness.
Sales increased 17% just by a salesperson mimicking the communication style of a potential customer.Harvard Business Review
Our research has identified that most people have one of 4 primary communication styles: Goal-Setting, Lifestyle, Stability and Information. There is a lot you can learn about people and how their brain processes information:
Information needs for Decision-making
With this knowledge, you can make some simple adjustments to how you approach a person to help them absorb the information, understand why your communicating and ensure they take away the points you feel are important (the ability to influence them.)
8 Simple Tips to Adapt Your Communication Style for Others:
If you are interacting with a Goal-Setter primary communication type:
1. Start with the End Goal in Mind – What is the purpose of the interaction and how does it connect to your audience’s goal (what’s in it for them?) Use bullets and executive summaries to convey more information with fewer words. Details can be provided after the summary if needed, but Goal-setters don’t read long emails/blogs or sit through long presentations.
2. Provide Options – If you only give them one recommendation or option, you will most likely get pushback or a “no.” They want to be able to make a choice. They will likely want to discuss it.
If you are interacting with a Lifestyleprimary communication type:
3. Explain Who is Involved -Being more relationship-focused, their brains first have to understand who is involved, their role, how they fit into the discussion and what they may think about it. They also respond well to social events and informal communication methods.
4. Use Visuals – Rather than send a long email or written instructions use a picture, infographic or demo to better help their brains process the information and retain it. They need to experience it to learn.
If you are interacting with a Stabilityprimary communication type:
5. How You Say It Matters – The right tone is especially important for this group. They prefer supportive and low-risk interactions and solutions. Email may not be the best choice, but if you do send an email, be very careful to consider them as a person and how they might perceive it or “feel” about it.
6. Slow Down and Reassure – They like to be thorough and appreciate step-by-step instructions. They want to be very comfortable and sure of their actions before they act.
If you are interacting with an Information primary communication type:
7. Stick to the facts – They prefer to primarily focus on tasks/results and do not necessarily want a lot of social interactions. They tend to be logical, want to “get to the truth,” and understand “why,” therefore, they are more comfortable when they have more details, information, and research.
8. Don’t Try Appealing to their Emotional Side – I repeat, stick to the facts, policies and procedures, and the logical explanation. If you try to sway them with name-dropping, leverage office politics, oversell a concept with marketing hype or appeal to their emotional side, you will actually repel them, not influence them.
The President of a company called together his senior executives and announced that the CEO had a heart attack. The CEO was hospitalized, but after surgery he was expected to make a full recovery. The President insisted on complete confidentiality until he had more information to share.
The President was a wise man. He was formal, systematic in all his dealings, good at analyzing information, a man of integrity, thoughtful and well respected.
His Head of Marketing left the meeting feeling confused, a sense of instability, emotional, and concerned. He immediately used social media to encourage all his friends to think about the CEO and believe for a fast recovery. The Head of Marketing was empathetic and warm. He was a person who needed stability and a calm, predictable working environment. He was very well liked, very good at his job and had a wide network of friends and business contacts.
Directly after the meeting, the President received a call from the media asking for a comment; the company share price dropped 10%. The next call was from the Chairman insisting the source of the leak be found and fired.
The news of the CEO’s heart attack was now only 3 hours old; the potential fall out to the business (and the family) was significant.
The President recalled his executive team kept them standing and insisted the culprit own up immediately. The Head of Marketing owned up and the remainder of the team left the room.
The President immediately put the Head of Marketing on notice saying, “I instructed you to keep what I told you in confidence. That means you agree to keep the information completely, totally secret and not to repeat the information without permission.” He continued, becoming even more analytical in his communication, “asking someone to keep a confidence is a solemn contract. You broke it.”
The Head of Marketing tried, without success, to respond. The President left the room leaving the executive confused, bruised (metaphorically speaking) and devastated that he had acted so inappropriately. His first reaction to the news was driven by feelings and a loss of certainty about his future. He’d given no thought to the family or the consequences of such news reaching the marketplace.
The reality of the situation is that the President and Head of Marketing were operating from their natural zone and they did not have the awareness to adapt.
Had both parties understood their inherent communication and behavioral styles this would have been a different scenario. The President would have emphasized the potential market risk. He would have understood the inherent behaviors of some of his team. He could have stressed the importance of not bringing emotions into the situation. The Head of Marketing would have understood his own reaction to the challenging news. He would have realized he’d be concerned about the potential loss of stability and safety in his environment and known how to manage his reaction to the news.
Set a structured agenda and have prepared questions.
Meet in a more formal environment in the office.
Expect yes/no answers.
Offer details and analysis.
Avoid abstract ideas in communication, and keep to specifics.
Present the research performed to come to the specific conclusion.
Provide case studies as examples rather than having a high-level, conceptual discussion.
Show the risks are minimized (not eliminated) in the recommendations.
Say what you are going to do and then do it. Be very transparent.
Provide them with newsletters and books, economic information.
How we handle responsibility for our decisions, as well as our mistakes, is a direct reflection on our character. However, without insight into our inherent communication and behavioral style we do not know our default reaction to a situation such as the Head of Marketing faced.