SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT WFXR – Virginia@Work: I am very excited and honored about becoming a regular commentator on the Fox 21/27 WFXR, Virginia First news! My first appearance is TONIGHT, Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 10p and I will appear live at 7:30a tomorrow for the launch of Virginia@Work. I appreciate being chosen by Becky Freemal who was intrigued by how we might work together to help her viewers learn more about ways they can be more effective in the workplace. I’ll be on with January Keaton and Kyle Benjamin most Monday mornings at 7:30am. The above picture is in the studio during the recording for tonight’s short appearance. Tomorrow morning will be LIVE where we’ll focus on my ebook’s topic of Time Mastery: 7 Simple Steps to Richer Outcomes in a longer format.
The first hint I can give you is this – DON’T CALL THEM MILLENNIALS! The majority of them really don’t like it. They often think that term has bad connotations and it boxes them into a stereotype. And its true- it does. But so does “Baby Boomer.” Millennials, however, were raised to feel like each person is an individual with special talents. Putting them all into one category can seem offensive and near sighted– especially the one’s that don’t fit any of the stereotypes. So let’s just keep “Millennials” as our secret term and move on.
Here’s the 5 tips for working with Millennials:
- Nothing “goes without saying”: Millennials are accustomed to challenging the social and corporate norms. This may derive from the fast pace of technological and societal change they have experienced in their short lifetime. What it means for management is that nothing “goes without saying.” You will need to establish clear boundaries and structure if you don’t want them to create their own. It’s the idea of “if they didn’t say I couldn’t- I can!”. To them, this may be thinking outside of the box and ambitious. To you, this will likely be a human resources and management two-month headache. Just tell them the rules, honestly.
- Understand their need for information/feedback: They grew up with instantaneous information. It’s not surprising that they expect a similar flow of information from their coworkers and supervisors. They are used to the instant feedback of social media. They have adapted to expect that from everyday interactions. Be prepared for this and schedule time for them to receive feedback on their progress and development. This goes back to our previous point- if you don’t they will likely assume what you think. This could be a problem.
- Be transparent in your culture and expectations: Millennials are very aware of the different types of corporate cultures and what their peers are experiencing at different companies. This can cause them to come to a position or organization with preconceived notions of what “work” will or should be like. Be explicitly clear up front about what your culture is (and is not) and the expectations of their position. They consider this training and professional development. It will be appreciated.
- Understand the new financial burdens they are facing: Millennials are without a doubt the most financially handicapped generation to enter the workforce. With 50% of them leaving college with twice the amount of student debt as the previous generation, they are having an incredibly difficult time establishing a strong foothold on adulthood and independence. Understand that they may exhibit some erratic reactionary behavior due to their financial stress. Take time to understand the situation each Millennial that works with you is in and help them develop a realistic plan to achieve their career vision.
I have worked with many reliable, hardworking, and dedicated to high performance Millennials. People like our newst Executive Coach, Courtland James, Samantha Steidle, Aerial Lev with the CoLab, JD Sutphin, Scott Duvall, Joseph Carleno, and others in our community. There are too many standouts to name them all here. Millennials are people. They have strengths and weaknesses. They have preferences- some stereotypical, some personal. Sometimes they are difficult to understand and communicate with. Sometimes they let us down. Sometimes they do really stupid things. I think that pretty much describes any one of us. I think we can all relate to that.
A BIG THANKS to Courtland James for his major contributions to the creation of this article.
This picture is from this morning when I was with Ruth Cassell, Chief Development Officer of Family Services of Roanoke Valley live on Fox 21/27 discussing their Celebrity Tip Off fund raiser.
Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders: 5 Ways to Finally Stop the Email Madness©
By: Lynda McNutt Foster
(Be sure to check below to see if you are the winner of March’s High 5 prize)
It’s madness. The amount of emails executives are processing a day is nuts! I was with one last month that gets about 300 a day. Email is not the best place for conversations. It’s really a medium to transfer information and it’s not really ideal for that if there is a pattern to the information and an app could organize it more effectively.
I can not count the amount of coaching sessions I have had where a manager or supervisor had spent the last day or two trying to interpret an email they got from their boss or a peer. Maybe they hadn’t heard anything back from their boss on a request for a decision they sent via email. Sometimes they received a response back but aren’t really sure what their boss meant by it.
Research taken from the book Conversational Intelligence by Judith Glaser notes that conversations are interpreted by us in this way: 7% by words, 38% by tone, 55% by non-verbal or body language. In email, 93% of the interpretation is LOST. If you do not have a relationship with someone, or worse, if you have a bad one, the way you interpret their tone is probably how you will label their intention and therefore the meaning of the email.
An email as simple as:
“Thank you. What exactly do you mean by that?”
Depending on the relationship of that person with you, the positional power that person has over you, the culture of your department or company, could set you off on a quest for tone that could send the gerbil wheel off in your head for a day or more. (Try reading it putting the emphasis on a different word each time, like, WHAT exactly do you mean… or what EXACTLY do you mean…or what exactly do you mean by THAT)
Email is costing most companies and organizations hundreds of thousands a dollars a year in lost productivity. As I have been collecting data by taking surveys in our leadership classes for the last year, the average time that leaders say they are spending, during working hours, sorting and managing email threads is at least 2 hours a day. If the cost of that leader with all of their benefits added in is only $50 an hour, that cost is $100 a day, $500 a week, and if they have 2 weeks vacation, that’s $25,000 a year… managing email. Many of my client’s time is worth well above that hourly amount. Some as much as $500 or much more an hour. What’s interesting to me is that executives are believing they are being efficient by not having an assistant and handling all correspondence themselves. The cost to the leader’s productivity and increased stress level of managing upwards of 100+ emails a day is hard to calculate in exact numbers. It would appear to be very high, though.
So how do we work together to stop the madness? Here’s 5 things to do this week to reduce stress, increase productivity, and manage your time more effectively when it comes to email:
- Create, if you have the power to, and if you don’t, suggest it to the powers that be, that you determine a list of “Rules of Engagement” for email with your department or organization as a whole. Determine when email is required to be responded to, the boundaries around what should and should not be put in an email, who should be copied and who shouldn’t. This is a big one. If you send an email out that takes 2 minutes to read to 10 people that is 20 minutes of productivity time that has been eaten up not to mention the time it takes to understand whether or not each of the people is supposed to respond to it. Some of the most successfully run companies in the world now have Rules of Engagement for email which they strictly adhere to.
- Stop, thinking you know the person’s tone or intention in sending the email. If you need interpretation, pick up the phone… yes, that dusty thing you only get texts and emails on now, and call the person for clarity. It will actually save you time so you can work on the task being requested rather than trying to interpret what they mean.
- Start, creating a task list or better yet, put tasks on your calendar so you can start tracking how long they take. Don’t use your email inbox as a to-do list past a few days.
- Set times to check your email. Responses to people don’t have to be perfect. Waiting days and days to get back to someone can delay processing of important projects and tasks. If you don’t know and need to get back to them, say that and put it on your calendar to respond to them.
- Turn off the bells and noises that alert you that a text or email has come in. The sound is triggering your lowest level thinking in your brain stem/amygdala. Not good. Those bings and dings are actually lowering your IQ by 10-15 points during the day according to the research shown in Your Brain at Work by David Rock.
There is probably little chance you have not heard some of these before. Why aren’t you doing it? Why is everyone still so distracted by email? You may not have the power to create the change you want to see. I understand. Perhaps passing this on to the folks that do could go a long way in starting a new wave of focus in your department or organization.
Suggested Team Exercise for this week:
Get serious about creating a list of “Rules of Engagement” for email within your department. This may take a few shots at it to get it in alignment with your culture and it will certainly take quite a bit of follow up and policing to ensure compliance. I can assure you that the effort will be worth it when you see the productivity increase and stress levels go down.
Courtland James, an Executive Coach with Cortex Leadership, did a fantastic job facilitating an open forum discussion with a panel on the Generational Divide event at the CoLab last Wednesday night. Thank you, to each of you that attended. There wasn’t a seat left! Courtland was also interviewed on Fox21/27 in regard to the event. Thank you, Becky Freemal, for the great story.
Courtland also got married recently and the picture you see at the top of article is from his reception at the Colonnade Club at the University of Virginia on Sunday afternoon. Congratulations, Courtland, you rock!
Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders
5 Ways to Prime Your Mind for Success Tomorrow Morning©
by: Lynda McNutt Foster
Each morning I pick a different video to crawl on the elliptical with. It’s got to be something interesting or there’s no way I’m pumping for 20 minutes on that thing. I give videos about one minute to see if they have something that will add to my library of knowledge and have the ability to keep me from checking every 30 seconds about how far I have left to go.
This morning I was priming my mind with material to assist Courtland, one of our executive coaches, prepare for tomorrow night’s forum, The Generational Divide, at the Grandin CoLab in Roanoke. It starts at 5:15p if you want to attend. Let me know and I’ll save you a seat. Anyway, I was watching this video. It’s real. It’s raw. It’s a TEDx Talk by a Millennial who educates Generation Xers and Baby Boomers, like me, about how to best work with that group. Man, she really made a good case about anything, good or bad, we’re experiencing we created in them. She’s probably right.
The average American watches about 4 hours of TV a day. “Watches” is the key word I think as so many people are doing other things while the TV is in the background. Years ago, now, I used to wake up flipping through Facebook. I’m off that addiction now, all together, as I realized that it simply primed my mind for drama and there’s plenty of drama in the world without having to scroll through FB looking for it.
So what are you priming your mind with in the morning? Are you intentionally focused, each morning, on what will create the best you to show up in the world? Do you have a routine that awakens your prefrontal cortex (that’s the CEO of your brain) and gets your blood pumping through your veins in a way that is not just caffeine induced?
Here’s 5 ways to seriously prime your mind for a focused, productive, and satisfying day ahead:
- Watch any of these: channels on Youtube. You can seriously feel like you’ve read a book a day in less than like 15 minutes with Brian Johnson channel. One of my favorites was Your Brain at Work by David Rock OR Evan Carmichael. Believe. Stuffed full of “Top 10 rules for success” he edits together the best highlights from famous folks to bring you a quick guide to get your day focused on the type of behaviors that lead to their success. One of my favorites is Will Smith’s Top 10 Rules for Success OR Fightmediocrity is another great channel for condensing books into their biggest themes. If you haven’t read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People here it is in under 8 minutes.
- Listen to any of these: Audiobooks are great primers. If you haven’t listened to How Google Works there is a massive amount of useful information for any leader in that book. It could be worth it to spend some time listening to Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. It’s one of the best sellers in leadership circles in the world right now. And, well, if you want to learn quickly how to design your time for richer outcomes (WARNING: shameless plug ahead) in less than 111 minutes you can listen to my book on Audible, Time Mastery: 7 Simple Steps to Richer Outcomes.
- Do any of these: Exercise for 12 minutes (the amount of time Dr. Medina wrote about in Brain Rules) to get the blood flowing to all parts of your brain OR Do stretching exercises for a few minutes to loosen up and prepare your body for the day OR Do a 7-minute gratitude meditation OR Eat a smoothie with spinach and blueberries (big time brain food).
- Ritual of appreciation. Priming your mind, each morning, with appreciation is like setting off fireworks in your brain. It activates all different parts of your brain and creates the best possible environment for higher level thinking and being for the day.
- Be this. There’s no rewind button on life. Yesterday is gone. Today is not here yet. You’ve got today and even more importantly, right now. This very moment. Embrace it. Be alive in it.
I am asked by clients and participants in my classes what the best books to read are, videos to watch, etc., so I thought it might be helpful if I started sending out what I am reading or listening to each morning on Twitter. You can start following that feed at @lfosterva.
How does your team prime their minds in the morning? Try some of these practices that can help prepare your team for higher levels of thinking and success each day.
- Greet one another pleasantly in the morning. Nothing throws off people’s day more than when the boss or a co-worker walks right by them without as much as a word.
- Review your co-worker to do list. Is there anything you need to respond to a co-worker about that would allow them to have a more productive day? Is there a task or decision you need to get complete for them so they can finish one of their to-dos that has been pending?
- Start with what went right. If you have morning meetings, begin each one with a quick round or announcement of what has gone right. This type of asset based thinking builds trust and primes your team’s mind for looking for strengths in themselves and others.
Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders
5 Ways to Optimize the Calculators on Your Team©
By: Lynda McNutt Foster
I am a big fan of people who love to analyze data and thoroughly think through things. My behavioral type as a high Driver/Influencer requires that if I am going to be successful, long term, I need Calculators. It’s taken me quite a long time to learn the best ways to communicate with them. I’ve had a big incentive though, my two favorite people on the planet, my husband, Allen and daughter, Melody are both screaming high C’s.
Calculators (the final letter in the DISC behavioral type we’ve been discussing for the last 3 articles in the series) tend to move at a slower pace. They can be highly analytical. Their strength on a team is that they ask good questions and normally are wonderful “theme masters”. Ask them what the themes of a meeting they were just in were and they can usually boil it down to a sentence or two, no matter how long it was. They are all about what is just and fair. Their body language tends to be reserved and their tone, if challenged in an area that they feel educated and certain in, can be argumentative and direct like a Driver’s would be. They will focus on your words, rather than your body language or tone during a conversation.
A Calculator type will frequently ask for more time to process information. Their question tends to be “why”. When given tasks to complete they would wonder why they are being assigned to them, why those tasks need to be completed by the deadline, and if there is a change, why the change is occurring. They are perfectionists, so they will be hesitant to accept tasks unless they feel they are being given enough time and resources to get them done well. Their motto is, “measure twice, cut once.”
- JUST THE FACTS: Calculator behavioral types like data…raw, unfiltered data. C’s like to let the data tell them what is true and what is not true. When getting feedback from a Calculator, give them as many objective facts as possible. They certainly are OK with reasonable opinions, but tend to start to tune people out who are giving them wild exaggerations or jumping to what they would consider unfounded conclusions.
- KEEP ITEMS RELATED: Calculators tend to want to give a lot of thought to what you are saying. That’s a good thing, but the side effect of that is that Calculators tend to have a harder time when you throw multiple unrelated items at them in a hurry. You might be on item 3 and they’re still giving serious thought to number 2! For getting the best results of a C’s logical thinking, give them a chance to think about one thing at a time, if possible.
- DON’T LET YOUR HANDS DO THE TALKING: Calculators are not generally known for being outspoken and gregarious. Think Mr. Spock from Star Trek. They tend to be very good listeners, but if you are talking very fast or quickly moving to different topics, it doesn’t give them a chance to think about what you are saying (which they like to do). Also, if you make a lot of gestures with your hands or are being demonstrative, it can be distracting to a Calculator who is trying to listen to what you are saying.
- BE PREPARED FOR THEIR FAMOUS “RESTING FACE”: As stated earlier, C’s are fairly good listeners, and they like to think about what you are saying. Unfortunately, the high C may listen so intently that they get what we call “the resting face” This is the face that you get when you are focused on the conversation. While a High “I” may have a smile on their face while they are listening, a High “C” might give you the furrowed brow or have their arms folded. Also, remember that some C’s do not make eye contact as much when you are talking. Often, this isn’t personally directed at you, they are just trying to not be distracted, as they listen. Try not to be offended or take the body language of the High C to personally. They actually may be listening.
- KEEP A SAFE ZONE: Many Calculators may not like to be touched. That is certainly not universal and if a C is very comfortable with you, it may be OK, but as a general rule, C’s will not appreciate someone putting their hand on their shoulder or hugging as a greeting. They may not like it if you stand directly behind them and hover. Also, for you Seinfeld fans, Calculators would not be appreciative of the “Close Talker”!
Possible reasons for conflicts with a Calculator:
Influencers are usually good with people, like to use their hands when they talk and many enjoy constant conversation. They have energy and enthusiasm which makes them exaggerate some times. They also take cues of acceptance or rejection from other people’s body language. This can come in direct conflict with a Calculator type who has a “resting face” that seems to indicate disinterest in what the Influencer is saying. The Influencer type can feel like the C is not listening and is aloof. That may not be the case, but the I may feel like it is. The Calculator, on the other hand, can think that an Influencer type jumps around when giving information, is distracting with their high energy body language, and may come across to the C as emotional. The C may literally look away, during a conversation, in order to filter out just the facts that are being conveyed.
Utilizing your smart Calculator types to create appropriate and relevant agendas for a meeting, keeping the meeting on time and on task, along with reporting out themes are strengths of a Calculator in these types of settings.
5 things Supporters would ask from you – if they weren’t so nice©
by: Lynda McNutt Foster
(Read below to find out who winner was for the High 5 Monti prize.)
We all know the type of people that are just plain nice. They are the one’s that are always asking how they can help. As leaders, Supporters are the type that consider how procedures and policy changes will effect everyone on the team. Supporters tend to be pretty hard on themselves if they don’t get a task done properly that you were counting on them for. They are kind. Thoughtful. On a team, they tend to be the most loyal members. They have a good tone when speaking to others. There’s no sense in telling them you have an open door policy because they would never want to bother you. Supporters, as described in the DISC behavioral model, are the true Superman and Superwomen of the workplace. They tend to be behind the scenes of a lot of success stories. They are more than capable of leading. They may just be waiting to be asked.
They tend to move a little slower than the Drivers or Influencers that we discussed in the last couple of articles. When being assigned tasks they tend to like to gather as much information, first, and then be allowed to asked questions, later, to be sure they have everything they will need to complete it properly. There question is “how?” meaning, “How can I help?” “How would you like to have that done?”
If you aren’t familiar with DISC, it’s a behavioral assessment that measures HOW you behave and your ability to interact effectively with others in work and life, as well as how you respond to challenges like problems, influencing others, the pace of the environment you are in, rules and procedures. You can find out more here.
Here are 5 ways to help support your Supporter this week:
- HAVE A PERSONAL CONVERSATION: A Supporter will really appreciate it when co-workers take an interest in them on a personal level and get to know them. Supporters aren’t as gregarious as the Influencers. They tend to form fewer bonds with people, but have really strong bonds with the few people that they do interact with. They like to go a little deeper in interpersonal relationships. This also can make a Supporter more at ease at work and it feeds their sense of loyalty.
- TAKE TIME TO ANSWER QUESTIONS: Supporters REALLY want to do a good job for you and if they feel like they are not sure how to best do that, it can cause a lot of anxiety. Supporters tend to ask a lot of questions about how you want things done. This can frustrate a Driver or Influencer because it’s “slowing down the process”, but realize it is normally coming from a place that really wants to do the project well.
- ASK FOR THEIR OPINION: Supporters are notorious for being the “quiet one” in the room. They tend to be very polite and do not want to “bother” you with their opinion. This does NOT mean that they do not have opinions! Often, since Supporters tend to be the best listeners and observers, their feedback is incredibly insightful, as they may see things others do not. If you make a Supporter feel safe and comfortable (see “have a personal conversation above), they may offer insights that others have not seen.
- LET THEM TALK: We just established that Supporters can be quiet and polite. For this reason, in a meeting it can be very easy to “bulldoze” over them. When you are talking to a Supporter this week, make an effort not to interrupt them. They often allow interruptions because they tend to be more passive, but slow down and listen for great results.
- CLARIFY ROLES: Supporters LOVE to have a sense of stability. Having clarity on what their role is and what successes they are having at their job feels very good to an S. Remember, they like to know how they can help, so if their role is clear and they have a good understanding of HOW to do their job well, they will feel a great sense of security and safety.
APPRECIATE A SUPPORTER ON YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK: Supporters will not ask for appreciation and in fact, they may shy away when you express it to them. IGNORE how they react and be sure to amply appreciate them! It’s food for their soul.
Be sure to use “rounding” in an upcoming meeting this week to be sure that all are heard. The Supporters on your team may not speak up unless you use this method. Rounding is a technique wherein each person, in a meeting, is given at least 30 seconds to express their thoughts or opinions on a topic or agenda item. Many times, only the Drivers or Influencers are heard because they are more likely to speak up… this does not mean that everyone else doesn’t have an opinion. It simply means that they may need to be asked to share in order to feel safe and comfortable to state what’s on their mind. Their insights might just surprise you.
WINNER of MONTI for February:
Ryan Brooks of Excel Truck Group is the winner of a $25 Amazon gift card. Ryan, you should have it waiting in your inbox!
(Each month we will be awarding one winner from the top tier most engaged participants of goMonti.)
A HUGE HIGH 5 goes out to the amazing team at the City of Roanoke Library system! They just opened their newly renovated Raleigh Court location. It’s a must see. Their training room, that you can rent, is gorgeous and even has a small kitchen area along with small, 2-seater glass rooms for quick sessions or breakouts. Congratulations to Diane McGuire, the Branch Manager, and her team along with the fantastic Sheila Umberger, Director of Libraries, who is truly a Wonder Woman for her talents and abilities that are transforming the library system in Roanoke. (The picture is Sheila and me at the grand opening last Monday (that’s Ken Cronin in the back!)…yeah, that spray tan I got is always way to intense on the first day or two!)
Jealousy is a waste of time and emotional energy. I haven’t coached a successful leader yet that focuses on it. Knowing what other people earn and celebrating them for their accomplishments is what motivates many top performers. Being realistic about your skills, resources and behaviors will help guide your activities and decisions and will lead to better career and financial outcomes.
Thinking that a position pays $100,000 when a top professional, in that job after 10-15 years, only makes $45,000 can help you plan better career paths. Many people come out of college thinking they need to make $40,000 to pay their college loan payments, yet are only qualified for positions that pay $25,000-$30,000 because of their lack of experience and practical knowledge to perform the requirements of the job. This isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s simply a fact that can be navigated if professionals stay focused on their skills and market conditions.
So how do you find out what people in your industry make so that you can set and negotiate realistic goals? (or, find out how good you have it where you currently are!) There are a couple of options:
This site shows you 84 different people and what they earn
Want to know what more than 800 jobs pay? Click here.
Career Profiles is a source for determining salary ranges.
Glassdoor – a social media site for employees where anyone can post a rating for their company, description of their job, review the company culture, their boss, or coworkers and state what they make, anonymously. If your organization doesn’t have a page, you might want to create one before a disgruntled employee does for you.
Another way to determine what people make is to ask someone in that industry. It’s surprising how much you can learn if you simply have the courage to ask. I’m not talking about being inappropriate or crass. Be strategic. Many times someone in an industry knows what different positions pay. At a conference, at dinner or while having drinks, you can inquire as to what people in certain positions usually make. You can find out which firms pay the most, which ones have the best working environments, and what qualifications you will need to have to earn the highest rate of pay in that field and with that company.
Earning a good living is not luck. The professionals I have coached and trained work hard for what they make. Yes, some make LOTS more than others. The truth is, though, those that earn more are usually willing to sacrifice more, have taken more risk, and may have some killer people and other skills and talents, along with the emotional discipline needed to motivate and engage team members, customers, and negotiate with vendors.
Do you want to earn more in the next 5 years? Here are some tips:
- Be willing to work hard… workers perceived as unenthusiastic and low energy aren’t usually the one’s to cross any finish line first, like being offered the promotion they desire.
- Stay focused on delivering things that your organization values the most, not just for a day or week, but consistently over time.
- Create credible connections, relationships, and study those people that are above you or earn more than you do – mimicking the highest performers’ behaviors will go a long way to you being one of them one day.
- Work on the components of your executive brand/presence that you need to.
- Read, read, and read some more to build your current knowledge base of your industry
- Practice, practice, practice, the skills that will pay off the most in your organization or in your industry.
- Get or maintain optimal health – people want to promote people who have energy and enthusiasm for what they do.
SUGGESTED EXERCISE FOR THIS TOPIC THIS WEEK:
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you earning what you want to be earning? If not, how much do you think you are worth?
- Can you prove you are worth that amount? Have you been offered that amount of money, or earned that amount, by another company?
- What skill would you need to obtain or build to be worth what you want to make?
- Is what you want to make an industry standard for the position you want to have or are you guessing or know one person making that amount?
- What types of perks and benefits do you have now that a different position, or even promotion might not offer you?
Be realistic about what you want to make for the position you are in, want, or will be qualified to do. Make yourself known and create the relationships that you will need to land that position one day. Trust me, you are capable, smart, and hard working or you would not be reading this, and especially not to the end. Don’t let anything deter you from what you want to achieve. Leadership is lonely and success is not sexy. Not everyone makes it because getting what you want isn’t always fun along the way. Celebrate today how far you have come to get to this point. Use all of your strengths and those of others to build your success one day at a time.
At Cortex Leadership Consulting we provide DISC, Motivators, Leadership Competency, Stress, 360 degree and Team Accountability assessments along with workshops and leadership programs to assist you and your team to reach your peak performance. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (540) 776-9219 to book a workshop for your team, a customized leadership program for your organization or schedule a keynote speech.
Your executive brand (or your unique executive value of you) is communicating something about you as a professional, all the time, whether you are conscious of it or not. It may be working for you, or against you.
Whether you want to get promoted, negotiate for a raise, land that dream job, start your own entrepreneurial adventure, or lead your industry’s most prestigious organization, your executive brand is the key to your success or failure. Unfortunately, you aren’t graded on your executive brand out loud. Your customers, co-workers, bosses, partners and vendors are grading you constantly in the little bubbles over their heads and rarely will you get the opportunity to know what they are thinking about you until it is too late to do anything about.
The following percentages generally represent where others are placing emphasis during a live conversation with you:
7% to words
33% tone of voice
55% non-verbal body language
Basically, as you are communicating, others are more focused on your tone and how you are looking back at them (or not looking) than they are the words you are using. For that reason, you can lose standing quickly, with who you want to influence the most, if your tone of voice and your “resting face” or body language indicates a disinterest or harsh nature.
For those of you familiar with DISC behavioral styles, Drivers can come across with a harsh and dismissive tone and intense body language under stress. Influencers can come across as unfocused and “too jovial” under stress. Supporters, could be too quiet or even shy when the situation may call for a more assertive tone or body posture. Calculators, on the other hand, may look away when someone is talking to them and seem uninterested which could come across as arrogant when that is not their intention at all.
The great thing about your executive brand is that building it is within your control. Repairing it, if it is damaged, is imperative if you want to advance. How do you know if you have an issue with your executive brand? A good place to start is by doing some self evaluation with these 3 questions:
- How quickly do your emails, phone calls, or texts get returned by others and especially those that you want to influence and connect with the most?
- In meetings, do the people you report to, your partners, or peers listen to you when you speak or do they talk over you and rarely “give you the floor” to present your thoughts, concepts, ideas or vision?
- How often are you asked for your opinion on high level decisions in your organization or department?
Research indicates that there is a wide range of opinions on what creates the optimal executive brand. One of the simplest models focuses on 5 key areas of executive presence, or brand as many of us call it.
“Communication is the business currency of today”, says Raymond A. Mason in his video webinar: Attaining an Executive Presence. Building your skills in listening for information rather than confirmation is essential. Most people I study are listening for others to prove that what they believe is accurate and on track. The highest level leaders I have worked with and coached listen for information. They want their beliefs, thoughts, concepts, and data to be disputed and debated so they can be sure they are solving the right problems, at the right times, using the smallest amount of resources.
Raymond breaks down communication in these 6 ways:
- Active Listening
- Speaking, presenting, delivering
- Verbal communication
- Cross Cultural Sensitivity
- How are you perceived?
Know your stuff. Read. Read books, articles, and white papers on your industry and new technologies that will be effecting your industry 5-10 years from now. Be knowledgeable about what you have been assigned to do within your organization. Competency and standards build trust. Executives that put forth little effort to be well educated and up to date in their field can quickly fall out of favor. The challenges facing most organizations today are robust with complex issues. Being well read and studying topics at hand, before group meetings and key one-on-ones will put you way ahead of your internal and external competitors… and trust me, you are ALWAYS COMPETING with someone whether you are aware of it or not. You are rarely the only one that can do your job or hold your position.
This is about being appropriate for your organization and industry. If your boss wears a suit to work every day it’s highly possible you are expected to. Ask about dress codes. Ask others, that you respect and who will give you direct feedback that you may not like sometimes, what they think about your attire, your hair, and if you’re a woman…or want to be one…about your make-up choices. I feel like I’ve seen this enough to have to say it: Holes in your clothes – even small ones, wrinkles in your shirts, highly scuffed and worn out shoes, ungroomed hair, can all be a non-verbal sign to those you report to or work with that you “don’t care.” Don’t fight the appearance aspect of executive brand. Let the rebel in you dress however it wants on off hours.
Refer to a previous article I wrote on emotional discipline.
What does your office look like? If you Skype, what’s in the background? What does your conference room communicate to potential hires, to vendors who call on all your competitors, to peers from your industry, and most importantly, to your customers?
One aspect of executive presence/brand I would add to this list is originality. Copying other’s original ideas, thoughts, and concepts, without giving them credit, as opposed to building on them, will not lead to optimal outcomes. You are smart, capable, and probably more creative than you give yourself credit for. Collaborate, don’t copy.
TEAM EXERCISE FOR THIS WEEK:
Assign team members to read or watch any of the following webinars, videos or articles and have them report out on what they learned about creating a strong executive brand for themselves. Each member could choose a different one and then report out at a session you schedule together.
Have each team member answer the following questions at the meeting:
- What was your biggest take-a-way from what you read or watched?
- What were the top 3 themes from what you watched or read?
- What is one aspect, of your executive brand, you would like to focus on to improve?
Just passing along some love to you, the leaders, executives and managers I admire the most. Thank you for making the choice to receive this article series, “Lynda’s Launch List” each week. You and I have been creating this content together, because it is based on your feedback in classes and coaching sessions, since the Launch List was first published in December 13, 2007. It cracked me up to see the first one I ever posted and distributed on that date. http://lyndamcnuttfoster.com/today/ We’ve had quite the journey together to build a subscriber base that reaches more than 2,000 executives and their teams each week.
I am grateful for the support so many of you have shown, over the last year, as my husband, Allen Foster and I, launched Cortex Leadership Consulting, which was the merger of a consulting firm I founded more than 20 years ago, McNutt & Associates, Inc.
Our team at Cortex has already coached and trained more than 120 participants in our leadership classes, Leading a Winning Team, and given keynote note speeches about my newest ebooks and audiobook to more than 750 in the last 6 months alone. Our diverse team of professionals work hard to listen to you, hear your feedback and biggest challenges and respond with content and programs that appear to be transforming you and the teams you lead. I am hooked on working hard to serve you. I love what I do and wouldn’t be able to without you! So, onto what you read this article for each week.
So, will you be hooked on what I discovered for you this week?
I have not been able to put down Hooked: How to Build Habit Forming Products, by Nir Eyal. It started when I watched a short video on YouTube one morning when I was on the elliptical. Then I bought the 30-minute audio summary. Next came the Kindle version and the hard copy is on the way. Why am I devouring every piece of material available on this book? Simple. It provides a clear path to how people get hooked on things and then build habits around them. The work Eyal has done focuses on products and services. A previous article from “Lynda’s Launch List” focused on the book The Power of Habit. Why I am so interested in the formation of habits is that I want to discover easier and simpler paths for leaders to be hooked on the types of behaviors that lead to their, and their team member’s successes. Eyal talks about wanting to produce products and services that use what know about getting hooked for the betterment of people rather than simply manipulating them.
Consider some of the book’s key take-a-ways:
Behaviors = Motivation + Ability + Trigger
A behavior is created when there is sufficient motivation, an ability to complete the desired action and a trigger to spark the fuse.
It’s much harder to motivate someone to do something than it is to simply make it easier for them to do it. In Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Switch, they researched and wrote about how important it is to make the “path” easier during any change you want to see. Eyal found the same thing to be true. Simply the steps one needs to follow to get to their reward and they are much more likely to get there. It works the opposite way as well. If you want to break a habit, make it WAY more difficult to get to the reward and you will be less likely to chase after it. For example, it’s much easier to collaborate on a project if you have set days and times to meet and everyone is in attendance. The harder it is to communicate with one another the more likely it won’t happen.
In other words, if you want to not eat ice cream, don’t buy it in the first place. If you want to exercise more, make your desk sit on top of your treadmill. Stop trying to motivate yourself and others and simply make it easy for them to do what you want them to do and connect it with one of the 3 types of rewards people seek.
The 3 types of rewards that people seek are:
Rewards of the tribe…people want to feel connected to others.
Rewards of the hunt…people want information or tangible goods and they like to make a small effort to get them. They like to complete tasks.
Rewards of the self…this one is about our desire for learning and mastering new skills.
Social media sites have been genius at getting many of us and I dare say most of a young generation of folks, hooked on their products. The sites appear free of cost, yet that is only true when users are not valuing the time they are investing in those platforms. The emotional reward comes when we go to the site and “hunt” to see what is available to us as far as information. Once we are invested in the sites by having connected and invited our friends to join we become less likely to disconnect from them, even if a better site comes along.
What if we used the principles and practices described in Hooked to get ourselves and our team members hooked on the types of actions that we know lead to lasting results?
What do you want your team to be hooked on?
Sticking to agendas in meetings?
Having higher quality conversations?
Lower levels of drama between team members?
- Start by determining, as a team, one habit you want to create.
- Next, discuss the types of rewards (tribe, hunt, self) team members would achieve if they were to create that habit.
- Determine what reward team members are getting now from their current behaviors. (Trust me, there’s always a reward or they wouldn’t be doing it.)
- Brainstorm what type of external trigger you can create to help cue people to take action on the behavior. If you want meetings to stay on time and on agenda, agree to send agenda’s ahead of time, get agreement to follow it during the session and have a time keeper of the meeting to ensure they stay on track of what has been agreed upon.
- Determine how people will be invested, over time, in the new behavior. Maybe team members receive points each time a meeting starts and ends on time and those points add up to rewards.
Footnote: I hope that each of you have someone in your life, on this Valentine’s Day, that you are hooked on the way I am my amazing, brilliant, and supportive husband, Allen Foster. I am deeply, madly in love with him and appreciate him for what he has done to make the last 17 years joyful.
There’s a part of being emotionally intelligent that is key to leaders successfully creating collaborative outcomes and it would appear, from my experience with thousands of them in training and executive coaching sessions, to be the portion know as “self management.”
Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Basically, it’s your “people” skills. The characteristics include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, developed the framework for it. Many organizations use assessments that measure your level of development in each of the skills. Studies of indicated that emotional intelligence is a higher indicator of success, in many areas, than even a person’s IQ. Here’s a nice article to compare the two for you.
Discipline is defined as: the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. Discipline used to be something that was coveted. The concept was honored and honorable. It still is when it applies to having a perfectly sculpted body (one thing I may never see in the mirror). Everyone seems to want one of those these days and will go to great lengths to have one.
Emotional discipline, though, is something that we may not be focusing quite enough on, right now, and could be the missing key that unlocks the outcomes we want to achieve. The leaders I have coached and admired have emotional discipline, which I have found to mean that they don’t always do what they want to do, or say what they want to say, when they want to say it. They don’t always react in anger when they have full justification to do so. They don’t do tasks when they feel like it, but rather when they have them scheduled to happen.
Leaders that possess emotional discipline have an impulse, quite frequently, to run the other way when the super tough decisions need to be made, and yet they don’t. They stand up, when others sit down, and they speak their truth in the face of criticism and sometimes serious consequences.
For those of you that are familiar with the DISC behavioral styles here are some areas that each of us may have an opportunity to develop emotional discipline in regard to:
Drivers – may have an impulse to over-confidently say exactly what’s on their mind, with little contemplation. They may speak from the “gut” and may not give consideration to how it lands on peers and team members.
Influencers – may have an impulse to avoid needed conversations and situations if they feel like they could result in a possible conflict, or deterioration of a relationship or a how much a person likes them.
Supporters – may have an impulse to hold back on their opinion or believe that their opinion isn’t as important. They may also have an impulse to take all of the work onto themselves instead of burdening someone else which may sometimes lead to not delegating well.
Calculators – may have an impulse to NOT communicate instead of communicating. Calculators can sometimes be more comfortable in their office with “time to think” instead of seeking others’ opinions.
When the rules of emotional discipline aren’t followed there are consequences for the leader, their team and their organization. They might include and certainly aren’t limited to their team loosing respect and trust in them. A lack of emotional discipline may lead to lack luster results because a leader did what they felt like doing in meetings and during important interactions with others, rather than calling out unproductive behaviors. Maybe customer centric standards aren’t kept because it’s easier to overlook poor performance than it is to inspire excellence every day.
We all have work to do to right this ship and make emotional discipline as sexy and common place again as it used to be, when we celebrated and were more attracted to a leader taking a moment to quietly contemplate their answer than blurting out the first thing that came to their mind before the other person was even finished talking.
Here are some things to discuss with your team this week:
- In which areas of their work do they feel they are exhibiting strong aspects of emotional discipline? Do they hit deadlines regardless of the internal or external obstacles they are dealing with?
- In which areas of their work do they need a higher level of emotional discipline? Do they need to lean into meaningful conversations that can move themselves and the team forward rather than leaning away because it’s more comfortable and familiar?
- Where do team members need help in being more disciplined? Is it hard for them to get fired up in the morning and do the toughest tasks they need to get done, first? Who can help motivate them and keep them on track?
At Cortex Leadership Consulting (www.cortexleadership.com) we provide DISC, Motivators, Leadership Competency, Stress, 360 degree and Team Accountability assessments along with workshops and leadership programs to assist you and your team to reach your peak performance. You can contact us at email@example.com or (540) 776-9219 to book a workshop for your team, a customized leadership program for your organization or schedule a keynote speech.
If you would like to receive the Leader’s Launch List, each week, in your email inbox, go to www.lyndamcnuttfoster.com.