5 habits that will sabotage your work week©

It seems like the majority of what we read or listen to, as executives, focuses on the habits we need to have in order to create the success we desire to achieve.  Which habits, though, are the most disruptive to our journey onward and upward at work?

Here are 5 habits that may be sabotaging your mental strength, at work, and that of your team:

  1. ENVY.  Not helpful.  Envy is defined as:  a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.  There aren’t even words in the definition of envy that are going to move you towards your richest outcomes.  Discontented.  Replace that with gratitude for what you have been able to accomplish up to this point.  Resentful. Give changing the image of the person or situation a shot.  If you resent someone for something they did, try reframing the situation in a way that allows you to see the person to be as human as you are.  Luck.  Not a word of a winner.  Everyone knows that the harder your work the luckier you will appear to be.  Waiting on or counting on luck will be a serious miscalculation towards successful outcomes.
  1. SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS.  Your should library, as I like to call it, those things which you say to yourself and others that aren’t based in the reality of a situation, but instead are statements of judgement, probably aren’t serving to move you forward and create more meaningful and productive relationships.  Thinking someone “should” or “shouldn’t” talk to you in a certain way;  that they “shouldn’t” use that tone;  that they “should” move faster… or move more slowly and thoughtfully, will not make it so.  Having a habit of constantly persecuting yourself because you “should” manage your time “better”, be more “effective”, or “better” at presenting your idea will not make those things become so.  What will make those things happen is focusing on them and building the skills to create better outcomes in those areas.  The majority of what you want can be obtained through focus on an outcome you have thoroughly thought through, passion to achieve it, and building the skills necessary to accomplish it.
  1. IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME syndrome. There’s a disease known as “ain’t it awful”.  We all love to complain, rant, take time to simply wallow in our own miserable circumstances.  It feels good and is a relief to do that for a short period of time when we are hit with a situation that we didn’t plan for and never would have if it were up to us.  The habit of constantly finding things that are “awful”, staying in that state of mind, and worse, vomiting that dread all over others with our words and sentiments, is destructive.  Besides, almost anything that is happening to you has probably happened to someone else.  They got through it and if you are open to mentoring, coaching, and are curious about ideas on how to manage the situation, by someone you can trust, you will as well.
  1. USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS.    I had a good friend who used to say, “I’m stressed for success”.  Most of us can be heard saying, “That person makes me crazy!”  My favorite in this category is “they threw me under the bus”.  Really?  That just seems really violent to me.  Stop a minute and think about that one.  If it were true, the result would involve law enforcement.  Our words create our worlds.  The habit of unintentionally speaking words that you have given little consideration to can sabotage your forward progress, keep you stuck in a situation you do not desire to be in, and completely derail your team members.

 

  1. TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR. This was probably the biggest lesson I had to learn to get to the next level.  I’m ambitious.  Big strength AND, it can be, when misapplied, a huge weakness.  I used to rush into situations and take responsibility for things right away.  I was the first to raise my hand and say, “Yes!” I will take that project on.  “Yes!” I will make sure that gets done.  “Yes!” I will lead that initiative or project for you. I had a habit of taking responsibility but not negotiating the terms of authority I would have in the situation.  It’s hard to lead a team of people when none of them are told that you have any authority to ask for things you will need from them.   The challenges are insurmountable when you are accountable for results, yet have no authority to choose your team, make even the most minor decisions in creating processes or execution.  Creating a habit of negotiating your authority, in each professional situation, can make things much easier when you go to execute tasks towards the outcome that was envisioned.

 

Any of these 5 habits can waste needed time and your energy.  More importantly, when they involve other people on your team they be wasting theirs as well.   Mental strength requires emotional discipline.  Building skills in these areas take focus and practice.

EXERCISE FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:

At your upcoming team meeting, take 15-20 minutes to discuss which habits are sabotaging each member and the ones that are effecting the forward progress of the team as a whole.

Do a round at the beginning of the meeting wherein each member shares for about a minute regarding one sabotaging habit they would like to replace with one that they can envision would lead to better outcomes.

If someone chooses the habit of ENVY.  Maybe that member can make a weekly gratitude list of the about what they appreciate in their peers, their boss or organization, and themselves.

If they choose SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS, maybe replace that habit with asking one more question, based on pure curiosity about someone else’s perspective each day.

The habit of IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME can be replaced with making a habit of finding someone who has been through what they’re going through and being open to that person’s input on ways to manage through the situation.

The habit of USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS can be modified by instead being curious about the words you and others are using and how they are effecting outcomes.  Simply having a raised awareness of the words you use can quickly help change them to ones that trigger your higher level thinking, rather than being in the “auto pilot” mode of thinking.

Finally, modifying the habit of TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR is a matter of having getting in the habit of asking about your boundaries of authority at the BEGINNING of a process or project, instead of halfway through it.

You might find this 15-min YouTube video on building mental strength helpful:  The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong/Amy Morin.  Other articles that can assist you in thinking through patterns and habits that sabotage your success are:

6 Bad Habits that will Sabotage Your Success

Overcoming Self-Sabotage

WFXR, Virginia First, launches Virginia@Work featuring Lynda McNutt Foster

WFXR

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.

5 Ways to Work Well with Millennials©

 

MillennnialsThe 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:

  1. Take an interest in their professional development: Millennials need to pay for college. They want to pay for it as quickly as possible.  They are also a young and inexperienced. Millennials seek out opportunities for growth and greatly value employers who take an interest in their professional development. They want to KNOW what they don’t know. They want to know it immediately and they want to know it better than you do. Is that to say that after 3 months on the job they need to be promoted or they will quit?    All it means is that if you take an active interest in their goals and vision, and help them create a realistic path to achieve that vision, they will be far more loyal to you and your organization. They recognize they’re not at your level yet. They want your help to get there. Just be sure to make them understand their timeline may be from a science fiction movie. You can’t build Rome in a day- even with Javascript and HTML coding experience.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.   
  1. 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.

Family Services Fox appearance

 

 

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.

5 Ways to Prime Your Mind for Success©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders

5 Ways to Prime Your Mind for Success Tomorrow Morning©
by:  Lynda McNutt Foster

Lynda McNutt Foster

Lynda

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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).
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

TEAM EXERCISE

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

 

5 Ways to Optimize the Calculators on Your Team©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders

5 Ways to Optimize the Calculators on Your Team©
By:  Lynda McNutt Foster

Melody and AllenI 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.”

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

TEAM EXERCISE:

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.

 

Will you let how much other people earn motivate you this week?©

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.

Let money motivate youThinking 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 lynda@cortexleadership.com or (540) 776-9219 to book a workshop for your team, a customized leadership program for your organization or schedule a keynote speech.

What will you lose because of your executive brand this week?©

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

  1. Communication

“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
  • Empathy
  • Cross Cultural Sensitivity
  • How are you perceived?
  1. Substance

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.

  1. Appearance

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.

  1. Poise

Refer to a previous article I wrote on emotional discipline.

  1. Surroundings

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:

  1. What was your biggest take-a-way from what you read or watched?
  2. What were the top 3 themes from what you watched or read?
  3. What is one aspect, of your executive brand, you would like to focus on to improve?

Webinar: Attaining an Executive Presence with Raymond A. Mason School of Business Alumni

7 Steps to Developing Your Presence as a Leader article

Executive Presence Learning article

The 7 Traits of Executive Presence

5 Ways to Optimize Your Executive Presence

Look Like A Leader:  Secrets to Executive Presence

Executive Presence – Talks at Google with Sylvia Ann Hewlett

 

Will leaders exhibit emotional discipline this week?©

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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 lynda@cortexleadership.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.

Will you follow the Platinum Rule for Leaders this week?©

There’s the golden rule:  Treat others as you want to be treated.

Platinum RuleAs a leader, the golden rule works well if the person you are working with has the same upbringing as you did, has the same behavioral style, is motivated by the same things, has the same vocabulary and has the same values.  In other words, if the person is exactly the same as you are and would want the same things then treating that person how you want to be treated, in it’s immediate, literal sense, would work.

Let’s face it, though.  We all want to be treated the way we want to be treated.  I like to be treated the way I prefer to be treated and so, I would guess, do you.  So treating others the way you want to be treated is treating them the way they want to be treated.

Which brings us to the Leader’s Platinum Rule.

Treat others as THEY want to be treated.

This way of thinking will help you:

  • More effectively communicate with others
  • More efficiently get to the goal you want to achieve through others
  • Create more trusting relationships that will result in others being motivated to help you achieve your goals and reach you and your organization’s outcomes.

Who you are talking to and dealing with, many times, is not like you.  You may hate when someone is too direct.  There are people that hate it when you aren’t direct with them.  When you aren’t direct they think you are “beating around the bush” and they are actually wanting you to “get to the point”.

You may think that people sitting there, hardly looking at you when you are talking to them, or who look at you with that terrible, what we call, “resting face” are cold and are ignoring you.  Actually, they may just have a different behavioral style than you do.  You being all bubbly and super positive may be coming across to them as superficial and perhaps, dare I say it, artificial.

How do you find out how others want to be treated?  Ask them things like:

  • How do you prefer to have me contact you? Text, Email, Phone?”  Is there a time, during the day, that works best for me to approach you with certain things?
  • Do you prefer I just come to your desk when I have a question I need answered right away or is there another way that would work for you?
  • When we hit a bump in the road, because everyone always does at some point or another when working together, how would you like for me to approach you with it? Is it best to send you a note and request a meeting, just come up to you and tell you about it, or is there another way of approaching it that you prefer?
  • How is it best for me to get feedback from you about how things are going? Is it best to go ahead and schedule some check-in points now or do you want me to reach out to you in a few weeks, or is there another method that you have found that works best for you in regard to giving or receiving feedback?

If you have taken one of our DISC workshops then you know that different behavioral styles prefer you to approach them with the answers to certain questions if you are requesting something from them.  The sooner you answer the questions that are in their head the sooner you will get what you need or want from them.

D – Drivers prefer you to be direct, to the point, be prepared, and answer the questions What?  As in, what needs to be done?  What are you requesting?  What is the bottom line?

I – Influencers prefer a friendly approach, to talk about personal things for a moment to “check-in” first, and then to answer the question Who?  As in, who will be working on the project, who is coming to the event, who is asking for the donation from us.

S- Supporters prefer you to take a slower pace to approach, be as thoughtful as possible, and answer the question How?  As in, how can I help you?  How can I serve you best?

C – Calculators prefer that you come to them with the facts, take a logical approach, provide them with details at a pace that allows them to absorb the information and answer the question Why?  Why does this need to change?  Why do you need what you are asking for?  Why does this need to be done now rather than later?

HOMEWORK WITH YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:

In an upcoming work session with your team, start with a round that asks each member to share with the group one thing that helps them serve the group better.  They might share that they prefer to have any instructions in writing so they can be sure to deliver exactly what is needed.  Another member might say that they prefer to get a “heads up” about any changes that might be coming up so they can properly prepare for what’s ahead.  Another person might share that they prefer for people to be direct with them and just say what’s on their mind, to them directly, so that they can handle any issues immediately, before they fester.

You can start the meeting with the question, “What’s going right?” to get your meeting started with the right tone and thinking patterns.

If you would like to receive the Leader’s Launch List, each week, in your email inbox, go to www.lyndamcnuttfoster.com.

At Cortex Leadership Consulting (www.cortexleadership.com) we provide DISC, Motivators, Leadership Competency, Stress, and Team Accountability assessments and workshops to assist you, as a leader, and your team to reach your peak performance.  You can reach us at lynda@cortexleadership.com or (540) 776-9219 to book a workshop for your team, a customized leadership program for your organization or a keynote speech.

 

 

 

How smart will your failures be this week?©

My big sister, when I used to call her crying over some huge failure I thought I had just experienced used to tell me, “It’s a million-dollar day, Lynda!”  I wanted to hurt her.  She was trying to get me to see that the lesson I just learned was going to make me a million dollars one day.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Blah, blah, blah, right?  We all know that things can not always work out.  Yes, we know it intellectually, but do we embrace failure in ourselves?  Do we encourage others to fail?  Do we really lead our teams by looking at it’s members and saying, “If no one is failing then no one is probably trying anything new.”   After all, like Edison found, the faster you fail the sooner you find the right answer or solution.

Failure due to laziness, lack of accountability and effort or just being sloppy and uncommitted is not what I am talking about here.

I’m talking about innovation which can not happen without failure.  If you’re not willing to risk you are not going to innovate.  Lack of innovation is going to be the real failure for many organizations in the coming years.

In the article, Why you should encourage failure in the workplace, they explain why failure is necessary in today’s organizations:

  1. Encouraging risk-taking appears to top talent
  2. Risky behavior can yield huge success
  3. Mistakes are great learning tools

In Harvard Business Review’s article, To Increase Innovation, Take the Sting Out of Failure, Doug Sundheim suggests the following questions to help you and your team define if something was a smart failure in order to determine the right and wrong way to fail:

  1. What makes a failure smart in our organization?
  2. What makes a failure dumb?
  3. What guidelines, approaches, or processes characterize smart risk taking?
  4. What clear examples can we point to, to demonstrate smart failures?

How will you reward smart failures on your team or in your organization this year?  Will you only reward successes or can you create a “Dare to Try Award” which would go to the most thoughtful and well-executed failures?

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