How to handle dissent on the team

How to handle dissent on the team

Who loves disagreement and dissent? Well, there might be a few who love the drama, but for the majority of leaders and co-workers, it’s not an item that we look forward to encountering. Dissent has to be addressed though in order to be an effective team that has high morale Today we’ll look at where it may come from and how to address it head-on. 

Understand the type of dissent that you are dealing with


Before you get in front of dissent happening on the team, you’ll be well served to understand what exactly you are getting in front of. Are you attempting to stop a squabble or an all-out rebellion? Here are different types of dissent that can show up in your team

Storming: a normal part of team building – Storming is a phrase that refers to the second phase of a team coming together. They’ve worked through the pleasantries of the introductions and now they are fighting to figure out direction, responsibilities, and influence. This phase will often work itself out as the team settles into roles, and what is expected. It is good however to check in and make sure that things haven’t gone too far off the rails. 

Personality differences – There will be times that you encounter an oil and water situation with two people; they simply don’t mix. Knowing that they never will, actually helps you as a coach and leader. You shouldn’t waste time and energy expecting these folks to magically become good friends. Instead, focus the coaching on how they can establish a working relationship. Address any performance issues here or behaviors that are counter to your company’s values. How to Handle Toxic People (Show 205) will help employees deal with those co-workers whom they truly don’t get along with.

A fear of change – Just like the rising sun, change is inevitable. No matter how along in your career journey you are or what your tenure is at an organization, change can be surprisingly hard sometimes. We all settle into our areas of comfort, and it can be difficult to change the dynamic or be asked to leave it altogether. The key here is up help the person understand 1) The Why behind the need. 2) How it impacts them. 3) How the change could positively impact that person. 

This conversation certainly isn’t a one-and-done discussion and will require you to check in to help them feel secure and informed on the change journey. Remember that their dissent is based on fear, so communicating and affirming in a way that mitigates that fear should be your goal. 

Detractors: misaligned employees –  Sometimes there are people who just aren’t aligned with what your team is trying to accomplish. There could be a number of reasons why that person now sits in this category, but the most important thing is that they are here now. When I do talent assessments with leaders, we make a collective commitment when people fall into this category. Either we rehabilitate these people to perform like they need to or we find a different position for them that better suits them. Our last course of action is to exit the employee, but even then we must walk the agreed-upon coaching plan first. leaving detractors on your team is detrimental to your business, and your mental health as they continue to drag you down and their influence can spread to others. 

Address the dissent


Once you determine the type of dissent, you’ll be better equipped on how to approach the situation. Regardless, these steps will help you as you address the issue:

  • Address it immediately, or at least as soon as professionally possible. Don’t let the rub or issue fester, but also balance the need to address it quickly with the appropriate setting to do so. You don’t want to embarrass someone and become unprofessional yourself. 

  • Be very clear on what the issue is. Clarity and brevity are best here. Communicate what you are observing (or what feedback you were given) 

  • Ask questions (when appropriate) and seek to listen and understand instead of react. Get a true understanding of their perspective and experience. This works well, especially for those with a fear of change, but this step will be less successful and sometimes unnecessary in situations like personality conflicts where someone acts unprofessionally. 

  • Set or re-establish expectations

  • Gain alignment and agreement with the other person

  • Establish expectations on behavior change and follow-up timeline. 

Don’t take all dissent that happens as a personal mark against your effectiveness as a leader. It’s part of a leader’s journey to address from time to time. Understand what you are dealing with and then address it in a way that all parties can move forward from. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Bouncing back from a layoff

Bouncing back from a layoff

Facing a layoff can be a challenging and emotionally overwhelming experience. It can rock your financial stability, self-esteem, and career trajectory. To make matters worse they can also come out of nowhere at times, taking you at a total, unwelcome surprise. Setbacks like these can also be seen as opportunities for growth and transformation. Today, we will explore how to bounce back from a layoff and turn adversity into a springboard for personal and professional development.

Embrace Resilience and Prioritize Self-Care


Losing a job can take a bigger toll on mental and emotional well-being than you may want to recognize. It’s easy to get into a mindset of just grinding out a job search until you land something.

It’s crucial to allow yourself time to grieve, process the loss, and acknowledge the associated emotions. Practicing self-care during this period is essential. Engaging in activities that promote mental and physical well-being, such as exercise, meditation, spending time with loved ones, and pursuing hobbies, can help reduce stress and maintain a positive outlook. Cultivating resilience in the face of adversity is the first step toward bouncing back. There is a good chance that your journey may not be a sprint or a marathon, but somewhere in between. Pace yourself and take care of yourself as you go on this journey.

Assess and refine your skill set


A layoff can serve as an opportunity to reevaluate your professional skills and identify areas for improvement. If you’ve been in your role or industry for some time, there is no doubt that things the needs of business and your role changed around you. Use this time to engage in self-assessment, identifying strengths and weaknesses. Upskilling or reskilling through online courses, workshops, or certifications can enhance your qualifications and make you a more attractive candidate in the job market. Learning new skills not only boosts your confidence but also demonstrates your adaptability and commitment to personal growth. 

Look online at jobs, roles, and careers that you may be interested in and look to understand what types of skills people are looking for for those positions. Some organizations will list their required skills out while it is more challenging to easily see the skills in others. Combine your aspirations with your detective work to understand what kind of skill catalog you may need to invest in strengthening. 

Networking and your personal brand

Building and nurturing a strong professional network is essential in today’s job market. Reach out to former colleagues, mentors, and industry contacts to inform them of your situation and seek advice or opportunities. Online platforms like LinkedIn provide excellent avenues for expanding your network and showcasing your expertise. Crafting a compelling personal brand through an updated resume, a well-crafted LinkedIn profile, and a professional online presence can significantly enhance your chances of being noticed by potential employers.

Have a look at your online social media profiles and posts. Switch your view to public view and have a look. What do you look like to the general population? If you see misalignments, make notes and go back and clean up your profiles. We all grow and evolve over our career journeys. There may be posts, and viewpoints that you shared that you may no longer align with. 

Explore and set realistic goals


While returning to a similar role might be the ideal scenario, it’s a great opportunity to keep an open mind and consider exploring new career paths. Identifying transferable skills and industries that align with your interests can lead to exciting opportunities. Set clear, achievable goals for your job search, breaking them down into smaller steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Celebrate even the small victories, like securing an interview or attending a networking event, as these steps contribute to your progress.

Bouncing back from a layoff requires a combination of emotional resilience, skills development, networking, and goal setting. The journey can be challenging, but it also presents an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Remember, a layoff is just one chapter in the larger story of your career, and with the right mindset and strategies, you can author a remarkable comeback.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How to create an irresistible pitch to your leader

How to create an irresistible pitch to your leader

Whether it’s trying to gain additional resources, implementing a new strategy on the team, or asking for a raise, one crucial that you will need in your toolbox is the ability to create a successful pitch that not only captures your leader’s attention but also persuades them to buy into your ideas. Today we’ll walk through how to master the art of crafting a pitch that resonates with your leader and paves the way for successful collaboration.

Understand your audience


A successful pitch begins with a deep understanding of your leader’s preferences, priorities, and communication style. Research your leader’s background, goals, and the organization’s current challenges. Tailor your pitch to align with their vision, using language that speaks to their values and aspirations. If your leader is data-driven, provide compelling statistics and facts. If they are visionary, paint a vivid picture of the future your idea can create. By showing that you’ve invested time in understanding their perspective, you establish a strong foundation for your pitch.

Additionally, consider how you present your pitch. What setting works best for the situation? Perhaps an informal setting works best, or maybe the situation calls for a full presentation with a PowerPoint deck and including others to help present. 

Craft a compelling story


People are wired to respond to stories. Weaving a compelling narrative around your pitch can engage your leader emotionally and intellectually. Start with a relatable problem or scenario that your idea aims to address. Then, guide your leader through a journey that highlights the challenges, solutions, and potential outcomes. Incorporate anecdotes, metaphors, and personal experiences to make your pitch memorable. A well-told story not only captures attention but also makes your proposal easier to remember and support.

If you need help crafting a perfect story check out show 359 (4 elements of a great story) and show 124 (Be the storyteller)

Focus on value and benefits


Leaders are ultimately concerned about how an idea benefits them, their goals, and the organization. Clearly articulate the value your proposal brings and how it addresses specific pain points. Highlight both short-term gains and long-term advantages. Demonstrate how your pitch aligns with the organization’s goals, whether it’s increasing revenue, improving efficiency, or enhancing customer satisfaction. Quantify the potential impact wherever possible, showcasing the return on investment your leader can expect. When the benefits are crystal clear, your pitch becomes much more appealing.

Anticipate questions and concerns


Leaders often ask probing questions and express concerns before committing to an idea. Anticipate these queries and prepare well-reasoned answers. Address potential challenges your proposal might face and offer solutions to mitigate them. Show that you’ve considered various perspectives and have a comprehensive plan in place. This not only demonstrates your foresight but also your commitment to the success of the idea. Being proactive in addressing concerns shows your leader that you are prepared and committed to the success of the proposal.

Crafting a successful pitch to your leader is a blend of art and strategy. By understanding your audience, telling a compelling story, emphasizing value, and addressing concerns, you create a pitch that not only captures attention but also resonates on a deeper level. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Situational Leadership – Delegation

Situational Leadership – Delegation

“They need to delegate more,” is a phrase we often hear when gathering feedback about leaders. While it may be easy to point out, the statement may not be as simple as it looks to act on.
 
Delegation is the pinnacle of situational leadership and leaders can miss the mark here as they enter this exciting phase of leadership if they haven’t brought the person through the other stages of leadership first.

What is Delegating and when do you use this style?


Your ultimate goal in delegation is to have create an empowered individual that has the capacity and confidence to take the task, assignment, or project to successful completion with little supervision. They are highly motivated, driven, and competent to get great results on their own.
 
Just like Supporting, this is very much a follower-driven stage of leadership. You are still “Inspecting what you expect,” but with little follow-up needed. While still need to Champion Success and celebrate their wins, you no longer need to praise every task or achievement.
 
With Delegation, you’ll want to start the process in less stressful times with lower risk in order for them to get comfortable and have a higher chance for success. You will also share more context about organizational goals and constraints so that they can make informed decisions and develop the best approach to reach the goal.

Why is Delegating an important part of your overall leadership?

Delegation is important because at this stage you have a highly skilled person who is very committed and well-developed in their role. As we’ve talked about building bench strength and the one-level-up concept getting people to the delegation phase is seeing this thought come to life.
 
A person at the delegation stage is highly effective in what they do and often contributes in a larger way to the team. They are also downright fun to lead and you have a high confidence that things are going to get done and get done well.
 
As we said at the open, you do need to delegate in order to realize your own full effectiveness and potential as a leader. These people will help take a load off you and act as multipliers in your influence over others.


What are some of the cautions of Delegation?


One of the main cautions of Delegation is that leaders sometimes want to jump straight to the delegation phase of leadership without taking the person through the previous three stages first. This is one of the reasons why someone can struggle with delegation. They may not have the relationship equity, confidence, or capacity to well in their role to be ready to excel at the delegation phase yet.
 
While many people have heard of micro-managers – leaders that are in every nook and cranny of your daily work routine, there is also a less talked about style at the other end of the spectrum; under-managing. Delegation is the go-to style for people who under-manage their team. “Say it and forget it” would be a way to sum up these leaders.
 
Be sure that you’ve walked through the other levels of leadership before arriving at delegation. Once you lead someone in this style, make sure that they have the full support and resources that they need to be successful.

Think back to your time as both a leader and follower. One of the most inconsistent things that a leader can do is to treat everyone the same. Your approach and style should adapt to the nuances and needs of each individual and their unique set of circumstances.  Use situational leadership styles to raise the level of excellence with all your team as they grow towards the future.
 
 
Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Situational Leadership – Supporting

Situational Leadership – Supporting

Have you ever worked with someone who has all the talent, skill, and know-how in the world and yet still doesn’t believe in themselves quite as much as you do?

While the person could be dealing with Imposter Syndrome, they likely just need more support as they begin to settle in as a subject matter expert and leader in their own right. You’ve built a great foundation with the person through the first two stages. It’s now time to help stand them up to be great on their own.

What is Supporting and when do you use this style?


The supporting level of leadership (sometimes called participating or sharing) happens when the associate is very competent in their role – they know what to do and how to do it, and they collaborate with the leader on decision-making. Associates have a strong hand in determining outcomes at this level.  Associates at this stage are often able to do the job but may be insecure in their role or unmotivated at times to fully buy into a direction or strategy.

Supporting is fundamentally different from both Directing and Coaching. Both of the previous levels are “leader driven”, meaning you are heavily involved and setting the direction and strategy for the person. Supporting flips the dynamic and is “follower-driven.”

Your ultimate goal at the supporting stage is to create alignment with the individual so that they grow in confidence and commitment as well as making sure that they are prioritizing the right items as they do more work on their own. Tap into the person’s desire for impact and sense of meaning or purpose.

Why is Supporting an important part of your overall leadership?


Supporting is a critical stage to help your team through the change in leadership style in order to make it to your ultimate goal of delegation. This is also the juncture where your people are standing up on their own ability to get the job and task done.

You’ll focus less on the assigned tasks and more on the relational aspect. How can you help them grow their confidence in their role? What part of their professional network do they need to grow? Where do they need to step out of their comfort zone in order to reach a new level of excellence?

What are some of the cautions of Supporting?


The supporting style of leadership provides the person with more freedom and less oversight but also comes with quite a bit of change. Their interaction with you is changing, their proverbial safety net is made smaller as you begin to spend more time on other important issues. The dynamic of the relationship begins to change as well. Yes, there is more trust and personal equity together, but with a tradeoff of less face-to-face time.

Associates can get to this stage and then regress back down to the lower levels of leadership. You want to support the person’s growth at this stage, just be mindful to not give them so much space that they feel like you aren’t invested in them anymore. This is one of the main reasons why someone’s motivation and engagement can drop at this level of leadership.

Also, remember that some personalities love the higher touch and recognition from the lower levels of leadership. Be sure to Champion Success as the person continues to grow stronger in their role.

Be mindful to not skip or shorten the Supporting stage of Leadership. The person may have a crisis of confidence as a result and as a result, will second guess themselves even more and carry a higher stress level. Remember that the follower dictates how much time the leader needs to stay in each phase of leadership.

As you continue to grow in adaptive and situational leadership styles, know and understand your default style. This will help your self-awareness to know when you need to push yourself out of your leadership comfort zone in order the lead the other person in the most impactful way.


Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Situational Leadership – Coaching

Situational Leadership – Coaching

People love coaches. Think of the numerous films and shows that tell the story of a great coach acting as the North Star that guides the team or individual to the initially improbable victory. On a personal level, you may have had a coach in your academic career or hobby that left a lasting impact on you.
 
Coaches are great and the coaching style certainly has its place in your leadership toolbox. While coaching can be fun, it can be a little different than what is portrayed in the movies that we love.

What is Coaching and when do you use this style?

Coaching is for people who have shown some competence and capability in their role and their commitment level to the organization continues to strengthen. The associate is not totally confident in all that they do, but they are getting there.
 
Just like directing, coaching is a very leader-driven stage. Coaching is less telling like in the Directing Stage and is instead more suggesting. Instead of giving all the answers to the person, you are instead offering multiple paths and letting the person think through the best course of action. 
 
Coaching is also a great stage to begin leading by answering questions with another question. Let’s say a person comes to you and asks a question about billing. Instead of giving them the answer you may reply with, “How do you think we should handle the situation?” While coaching in this way takes longer in the moment, it has a high level of payoff because the associate will start thinking through challenges themselves and become proactive in finding an answer.

Why is Coaching an important part of your overall leadership?


 Coaching is a critical stage to ensure that the associate continues to show growth and development, and it’s also a critical juncture in determining their likelihood of sticking around on your team.
 
While we talked about the importance of directing last week, once the person gains enough knowledge to do the job on their own for the most part, they may feel like your directing style is micromanaging them. Feeling micromanaged can lead to disengagement while their commitment to the organization is still forming. This combination can lead to losing good people that should have stayed on the team.
 
It’s important to switch to this style of leadership as they gain a bit of confidence and knowledge. You’ll begin to expand your leadership to building a trusting personal relationship with the person, and while you are still highly involved with the person, it’s a little less than in the directing stage, which means you are starting to get some of your time back to do other things.

What are some of the cautions of Coaching?


The main caution of coaching is that some people get to this stage and don’t want to leave. The person may have a great relationship with you and thoroughly enjoy all the time that you spend together as you coach them. It’s tempting for you as a leader too. In fact, many leaders think of themselves as “coaches” of their teams.
 
Be willing to continue to push for personal and professional growth as you invest in your team.
 


Associates at this level are really starting to come into their own and are beginning to show their potential to be great in the role and contribute in a larger way. Recognize that they have made progress and spend the time necessary with them so that you can develop them to the next leadership style of Supporting.
 
 
Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Situational Leadership – Directing

Situational Leadership – Directing

We are all on different points of our personal leadership and life journey. It’s important to remember those differences as you coach, develop, and lead others in a positive way. A great leader changes and adapts their style of leadership and communication based on the needs of the individual that they are working with.  Take a blanket approach to everyone and you’ll likely leave the majority of your people longing for a more engaged leader.
 
The Situational Leadership Model covers four styles of leadership that help you understand what the appropriate style of leadership is for each unique person on your team.

The four styles of leadership in this model are Directing, Coaching, Supporting, and Delegating. Today we are going to look at the Directing Style and understand what it is when to use it and how it can make an impact both positively and negatively on others.

What is Directing and when do you use this style?


Directing is the most basic and entry form of these leadership styles. You are typically highly involved with this person in giving direction and feedback. You’ll want to focus on directing work instead of relying on a trusting relationship because it’s very likely that there is not a relationship built with this person yet.
 
These people typically have a lower comfortability of depth of knowledge because they are either newer to the company, their role, or geographical location. Other associates who may be in the wrong role and need remedial help will fall into this kind of leadership style as well. Both types of associates will come to you for direction and need or want more attention from you as they go through their daily work.

Why is Directing an important part of your overall leadership?


There is a reason why some people need this type of leadership. It’s highly likely that they don’t know all of the information in order to do the job to their fullest potential yet.
 
Have you ever started a job and the company just immediately threw you into the work with no direction? How did you feel? Probably overwhelmed, and lost and you had no sense of grounding whether you were doing a good job or not.  It’s imperative that newer associates be led with more of a directing style so they feel equipped to take on their role and know that they have a safety net in you as they grow in confidence.
 
For those that have been around a long time, that require a high level of attention and follow-up, it may seem frustrating to stay in a directing role with them. Shouldn’t they know the direction if they have been around for a long time? It is true that they should in fact be able to handle their role, refusing to direct them, will only compound their shortcomings and they will continue to struggle.  Instead, lean into directing them and work to get to the root cause of why they need the extra attention. As you continue to provide this level of support for tenured people requiring this type of leadership, you may need to do some tough self-reflection to determine if they are in the right role.

What are some of the cautions of Directing?

You certainly don’t want to lead your whole team with a directing style, otherwise, you’ll quickly be known as the micro-manager of the team.  Give your individual people the Directing Style as needed, but be aware that your ultimate goal is to support them so you can begin leading them in a new style (Supportive, Delegation, Coaching)
 
Some leaders like to stay in the Direction phase of leadership because they like to know what’s going on in all aspects of the business. Be willing to change and grow your connection as each individual grows as well.
 
 


Although associates that need this type of leadership typically have a lower knowledge level, they often have a high commitment level. Encourage them as they learn new skills and grow their understanding. Champion Success as they make progress. Remember that your goal is to help them raise their ability and capacity so you can move on to the next phase of leadership: Coaching.
 


Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

Reasons for Leaving: Unsustainable work expectations

Reasons for Leaving: Unsustainable work expectations

Have you ever been through a slog of work and thought to yourself, “When is this going to let up?” It may be due to layoffs where you are now taking on an additional workload. Perhaps the team is already short-staffed, or maybe you are going through a major culture change/re-org at your company. Regardless of what the reason is, Unsustainable work expectations may be able to be met for a short time, but shouldn’t be something that you deal with for the long term. 

How to address unsustainable work expectations


While you may not control who and what is thrown at you from a work perspective, there are some ways how you react and respond to those situations. 

Set (and reinforce) boundaries
As much as we want to blame a leader or the organization for unsustainable work expectations, we play a part in the issue as well. When having coaching conversations where the leader shares about their team, it’s not uncommon to hear something like, “They need to learn to say no more,” or “They always take on anything that is asked of them even when they are at capacity.” 

Servant leaders and those aligned with company values like helping others. It’s part of their DNA. Setting boundaries is important to you as an individual and as a leader. If you continuously take on too much, your team suffers because it’s more time away from them, and you suffer, because you are now likely out of balance with your work-life rhythm. 

When someone asks something of you that you know you don’t have the time or capacity to take on, respectfully respond that you can’t take on the ask and give some context as to why. Next, offer some guidance or feedback on how they may get some help in getting the task done.  “I’d love to help, but we are currently at capacity with this project that is due in the coming weeks. Scott’s team may be able to give you a hand with this though. I’d be glad to give you an introduction if you haven’t met him yet.”

Setting healthy boundaries is just as important to you as it is to everyone that you work with. 

Connect to your leader’s intention and give feedback
Unless you have an awful boss, more than likely they have positive intent when they come to you with an ask. Realize that they are coming to you because they have a need, and likely feel confident in your ability to get things done. 

There is a good chance that your leader may not fully realize or understand what your current workload looks and feels like. Be courageous and have an honest conversation with them and share your perspective. If you have a good level of trust and respect with them you may even share some of your struggles and concerns. They won’t know there is an issue until it’s too late if you don’t give them feedback and share your insight and feelings. 

Manage up to your leader
Part of being a holistic leader is the ability to not only lead the team below you but also your peers and those above you as well. Just as you reinforce and encourage your team as they show good behavior and positive impact, do the same for your leader when they give you or help you have a manageable workload and expectations. Show appreciation to your leader during those times to reinforce and influence them as the work continues to evolve. 

In addition to influencing your leader through relationship management, you may also need to drive consistent communications. If your leader doesn’t communicate with you effectively or consistently, you’ll want to be proactive in reaching out and communicating with them. Ask focused questions to understand their expectations and again share your feedback if you feel that there may be a gap or misalignment. Doing this consistently, helps you understand your role better and helps your leader understand what kind and type of communication they need to provide to help you be successful. 

Create a timeline or workflow outline to support your perspective
Sometimes a new work project is thought up and created with positive intent, either for the customer or for the employee. When you are seen as a high performer they may bring you things without realizing what all the ask needs to be successful or how the ask connects or impacts other areas. They just see how you get things done!

Take some time to create a quick timeline or workflow starting from the due date and working backward to the current day. Doing so will help illustrate the extra complexities, prep, alignment, and other resources needed to be successful. It could also be helpful to create a version with realistic expectations or how additional resources would be needed to accomplish the task on the original timeline. 

Prioritize well-being and celebrate success
As you make it through big (and small) projects and workloads, be sure to celebrate your team, and yourself, as part of the process. Your work-life rhythm is just that….a healthy rhythm from one to the other. Sometimes it leans a little more work-focused and other times frees up to allow more personal time and space. Be sure to schedule self-care and personal items and to-dos on your calendar to ensure that you are taking care of yourself well. 

Don’t fall victim to long-term unsustainable work expectations.  Lead your team, yourself, and your leader, to ensure that proper expectations and resources are in place in order for you to be successful. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of meaningful work

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of meaningful work

Meaningful work is something that we crave, whether we think about it and realize it on a daily basis or not.  According to a McKinsey and Company study, 31% of people would quit their job due to a lack of meaningful work. Another study showed that people were willing to give up an average of $20,000 in salary if it meant that they could have a true purpose and meaning in what they do. 

What is meaningful work anyway?


There can be the tendency to think of meaning and purpose in work and gravitate toward service roles such as healthcare where people are on the front lines literally saving lives every day. While those roles can certainly carry a lot of purposes, the reality is that true purpose and meaning varies greatly from person to person.

A study by KornFerry asked people about roles and jobs that found meaning in. 44% of jobs listed as meaningful were identified as meaningless by other people. On the other end of the spectrum, 55% of roles that were identified as meaningless, were identified as meaningful by someone else. 

Meaningful work really comes down to you, but it does often share some themes – A purpose larger than your own, alignment to things that you hold as important, and the empowerment to accomplish that work.  

Connecting to meaningful work impacts the employee and the business


Connecting to meaningful work doesn’t just impact the employee, it’s also profoundly important for the business as well. 

  • A sprinkle of extra effort – Those who identify themselves as having meaningful work, will work an extra hour a week. They are also more likely to take extra training and stretch assignments to broaden their horizon. 

  • They stay longer – People who connect with meaningful work are nearly 70% more likely to stay around in the next 6 months compared to those that aren’t. 

  • Less likely to hit burnout – Those with meaningful work also build a natural resistance towards burnout. Only 6% who are connected to meaningful work experienced burnout in the previous 6 months compared to 75% of their peers. 

  • A better employee experience – A study by IBM and Workhuman showed that a person’s connection to meaningful work had the highest impact on their employee experience.

How to connect people to meaningful work

Connect work to their values –  A lot has been said in our previous shows about the importance of true Values at your company that you speak about on a consistent basis, integrate into performance evaluations, and make a part of your daily work routine. While that practice is essential for a healthy organization, many people don’t share company values in exit interviews when there is a disconnect here. Instead, they’ll share how the company and work are disconnected from their personal values. The gap can often be summed up as the tension between efficiency (or profits) and quality. Ex. care of a patient vs. moving the patient on early to free up a bed. Be aware and help your team balance the tension between the quality of work and business goals. 

Keep things focused on the work they love – People hate busy work and tasks that don’t add much personal value. In health care, clinicians generally don’t enjoy doing all the administrative paperwork. It’s tedious and it takes time away from either serving more patients or being home with their families. I currently work in healthcare and we are constantly looking for ways to leverage technology to decrease the time a clinician is spending on a tablet as much as possible. People find meaning in their work when they know what they should be doing. Eliminate as many barriers as possible between your team and the work that they should be doing. 

Empower your people for success – People can either feel empowered or disempowered by the way you run your business and lead your team. When people feel like they aren’t being listened to, trusted with their expertise, or valued for their experience, they will feel a sense of disenfranchisement that leads to a feeling of meaningless work. Be open to feedback that they share around this topic and take it to heart. You hired that person for a reason, and you both want the same thing – to meet the goal that was set out ahead of them in an impactful way. 

Connect them to others – I was once assigned a project to help turn around the retention rate of a key clinical business position. After many feedback sessions and focus groups, the results were clear. It wasn’t the pay or education, but a sense of isolation and disconnection from the organization that led people to leave. It’s hard to sustain work-life on a proverbial island. Be intentional to connect your people to peers across geographical locations and help them build collaborative relationships and connections with others across teams and businesses. People will find more meaning in their work as they have opportunities to connect and lean on others for support and insight. 

Remember purpose is in the eye of the beholder. Help your team members connect the work that they do to their personal values and priorities. Your people will be more fulfilled, give you more effort, and will stay around longer. 

You can find more information on finding purpose in your work in episode 312 – Four Ways to find purpose in your work

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Reasons for Leaving: Uncaring and uninspiring leaders

Reasons for Leaving: Uncaring and uninspiring leaders

Have you ever heard the term that people don’t leave companies, they leave their leader? It’s true, 34% of people would leave their job because of uncaring and inspiring leaders, and according to a McKinsey & Company survey, it’s one of the top reasons that people quit their previous job. 

Some managers are just truly uncaring and have little interest in changing their style or pursuing personal growth. At the end of the day, they likely see their employees as a commodity and number that can be replaced rather than a person to invest in. If that is your current situation, run! Find somewhere else that will value and appreciate you. However, maybe you know a leader or are one yourself, that could benefit from raising your level of care with others to keep them around longer. 

Taking care a level deeper


Some leaders may consider being friendly and courteous to their team as being a caring leader. While that is part of it, a good caring leader takes it a layer deeper with their people. 

  • Caring for someone is more than just being cordial, smiling, and asking how their day is going.
  • Caring leaders listen without the intent to respond.
  • Caring leaders truly know their people. Get to know three things about each person. Interests, hobbies, and family are good places to start.
  • Caring leaders are curious. They ask their people for their insight and opinion.
  • Caring leaders understand without having to agree or prove a point.
  • Caring leaders share information and are as transparent as possible.

Showing wise compassion for those who are struggling


A great caring leader can get tough things done in a human-focused way. That means pairing and prioritizing well-being with your expectations. 

Help them prioritize (and re-prioritize) the work – Roles are constantly being reshaped and reformed as layoffs happen, reorganizations occur and the business adapts to new needs. The team will feel your care as you help them prioritize the continuing change in work. Be an advocate for your team and help them understand when to say no to help protect their capacity and boundaries. 

Lean into empathy to show appreciation – When times are challenging or when people are struggling, a part of the equation likely involves the amount of extra effort that they are putting into the work. Let people know that you understand the amount of effort that they are putting in and the sacrifice that they are making in order to get things done. Feeling like they are recognized and appreciated goes a long way for people to feel like their leader cares about them. 

Create a community and safe space – Going through tough times are obviously not fun, but it can be more manageable when you have others to lean on and share your thoughts and feelings with. Build trust and transparency with a team (Shows: 323, 307, 305) in order to build a space where people feel safe to share their true feelings and vulnerabilities. A community inside the team can often be built without a caring leader, but it also excludes the leader and leans more negative and cynical in nature as a result. Get out in front and lead a positive work community for those you lead. 

Safeguards


Just like everything else in life, balance is the key to being a caring leader for others. Be mindful of the relationship level and guard yourself against going too far. You aren’t called to be someone’s counselor (unless that’s your job). For the chronic complainers, have them write down their problems and solutions so can discuss them together. This puts the action of solutions in their court. For those who are angry, listen but don’t encourage the conversation. It will burn itself out quickly.  Lastly, you want to handle every relationship and person with a great deal of integrity.

How are you doing as a caring leader? If polled, would your team call you a leader that truly cared for them? For many leaders, this is easier to master once they realize there is an opportunity to increase their level of care with others. Showing care to your team is a must-do in today’s environment.


Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of career development and achievement

Reasons for Leaving: Lack of career development and achievement

A recent McKinsey & Company research study showed that the most common reason a person quit their job wasn’t money related, but due to a lack of career development and advancement. It makes sense for those that are still in the growth phase of their career. They see time as a commodity that never replenishes. Without a clear line of sight at a clear career path, they feel their time, and potentially their earning potential is wasted. 

Here are some tips to help you lead your team to meet their individual career development needs. 

Help them see the rock wall

Often times organizations, leaders, and employees think of careers in terms of ladders. They are something that you climb. Especially if you are in a larger organization, help your team think of their career as a rock wall. They can move to the right or left as they gain new skills and experiences or diagonally as they promote up into different parts of the business. 

If your mindset is stuck in terms of ladders, it can be quite frustrating when you have a leader that has been around for 20 years, sitting in their sweet spot of their capability with no intention of vacating anytime soon. A rock wall approach opens up those blockages and allows the person to continue to grow and develop in the process. 

Employees at this stage of their careers appreciate progress and movement. Think differently and help them see a new future that they may not have considered. 

Help them learn the business and skills needed


You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s hard to fully understand the business or know what skills you need to work on if you have no idea where to even begin. There are many ways that you can help your employees learn and grow in their knowledge and engagement in the larger organization.

  • Invite them to larger group meetings, town halls, forums, panels, etc. so that they can begin to see a larger picture of how things work. 

  • Have them work on stretch assignments that pair them with different parts of the business.

  • Look for ways to elevate them among their peers on projects or special assignments. This raises their awareness up a level and helps their peers see the person as a leader. 

  • Look for opportunities to embed the person in another team. It may not be a full-time opportunity, but even less formal connections help the person learn, grow their network, and pick up new skills. 

Support them as they chase curiosity

Ambitious employees are often like sponges that soak up whatever new training or opportunity is thrown at them.  When you see an employee that is showing curiosity about the team, skills, or continuing education, lean in and support them.  If they are working on continuing education, find things that they can do at the company that aligns with what they are learning and studying.  If they are curious about a skill set, partner them with a mentor that can help them learn those skills and send them to specialized training if any is available. 

Recognize them right where they are


A secondary frustration for people in this category is that they often feel like they are going above and beyond and aren’t recognized, or appreciated for their efforts and impacts. 

Be sure to stop, recognize, appreciate, and encourage those that are stepping up in a big way for you. Remember that you can never do these three enough and you are more than likely overvaluing how much you give our appreciation, recognition, and encouragement in the first place.  Recognition, appreciation, and encouragement also don’t have to be big monumental moments, experiences, or gifts. Be mindful to check the box in one of these areas consistently as you interact with others. Small and continual reinforcement of how much you care for and appreciate the other person goes a long way.

You may not have an open role today, but if you are recognizing the talent around you and are proactive to support their curiosity, actively helping them learn the larger business and skills, and unlocking the potential of the rock wall approach, your people will feel more engaged and will stay around longer. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

You’ve hit your goal. Now what?

You’ve hit your goal. Now what?

I love this time of year. Not only is it my birthday week, but it’s also the beginning of a run of several holidays here in the US. It’s also a time of year when my teams and I are taking stock of the accomplishments of the year and starting to solidify what our goals are going to be in a way in the next year. 

Hopefully, you’ve hit some (or all) of your goals for the year at this point. Today we’ll dive into the topic of “What do I do now?” 

Celebrate


First things first, you’ve got to celebrate your wins! Take some time to celebrate yourself and your team as you hit your goals. 

  • Be specific in who you recognize as you celebrate. Call out those individual achievements and contributions that were made in order to reach a shared goal. Sure it’s fine to recognize the team, but people really appreciate it when you recognize their hard work and dedication. 

  • Be timely when you celebrate. A good celebration definitely has an expiration at which point it loses its impact. Book it on the calendar and make it happen. 

  • Switch up how you celebrate to keep things fresh and memorable. If it’s just for you, perhaps it’s a special trip or getting something off your wish list. If it’s a team celebration, maybe it’s a different experience or location that others will enjoy and don’t frequent.

Remember both the personal and professional


It’s tempting at times to let one set of your goals fall off during the year. Sometimes I focus too hard on one side or the other and neglect the other side in the process. If you’ve hit your personal or professional goal(s) for the year. Look at your other set of goals for the year. How are they faring? Perhaps there is some room to give them some extra attention in the time that is left to make as much progress as possible between now and the new year.  

Reassess what’s left


Not all goals reach the finish line at the same time, and honestly, not all goals even reach the finish line. As you celebrate the goals that you’ve hit, look at what’s left on your proverbial goal checklist. How are things going? Here are a few things to think about:

  • What goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps the goal was a bit too lofty or you didn’t fully account for the amount of work that it would take to reach the level that you initially wanted to. Regardless of the why of the gap, can the goal be adjusted to achieve some level of victory? 

  • What goals need to be deferred? Life happens. What goals need to go ahead and be booked for the next year? It doesn’t mean you are giving up on the goal. Instead, use the time between and the next year to reflect on what you can do differently to engage in a way that ensures success. 

  • What goals need to be removed? Sometimes things change so dramatically over the year that the goal longer makes sense in the new world or circumstances. This could be due to things like a new job, a company reorganization, or a major life change. Don’t feel guilty to take off those goals that just don’t make sense anymore. 

Gear up for another round


The new year is right around the corner! Begin putting some thought into what those next rounds of goals should look like. 

  • Are your goals part of a multiyear commitment? What does the next layer look like?
  • What deferred goals if any need to be pulled over to the next year?
  • Did you conquer an area or topic that you had been working on? What’s next and new that you can turn your efforts towards? 

Now is a great time to lean into your curiosity and imagination as you think about what those next goals can be. Remember to keep them to a realistic number and begin thinking of what your plan would be to achieve those goals. 

Take some time to rest a moment and celebrate with yourself and those involved in the wins. Step back and look at your progress in other areas and begin gearing up for another successful year. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Guiding your team through uncertain times

Guiding your team through uncertain times

These days, it seems like we are always living in uncertain times. The biggest one in recent memory is obviously COVID, but ever since its peak, there have been constant shake-ups in the business world and in life in general. It doesn’t help that the uncertainty has been coming at up in extreme swings: Some of the lowest unemployment rates pre-COVID, to unprecedented layoffs in COVID, massive hiring after COVID’s peak, to now very large layoffs in certain sectors while others continue to boom. 

And that’s just the big picture. Think about all the change and uncertainty that happens in the org or team that you are a part of. People hate uncertainty so much that they would rather know that bad news is coming than be uncertain if it will occur or not. 

Don’t wait for (or count on) further guidance and training


During times of uncertainty, there is a greater need for good communication that connects with the team in a way that matters to them. The problem is that most companies don’t provide leaders with enough training. Studies show that the majority of managers wish they had more training when they first became people leaders and in general want more ongoing training. Strangely enough, many leaders can become resistant to new training programs, because they feel their experience in a role is enough. 

Don’t wait for training, because it may not come.  Be proactive instead. Look at the things that you do own, control, or influence and act on them today. Communicate more, anchor into the Why or purpose of the work, and celebrate the team. Pull in closer to your people with more frequent and less formal check-ins. If you know an impending time of uncertainty is ahead (company acquisition, re-org of the team, etc) get ahead by reading up on and studying the topic of change.  Two books that we recommend on the topic are Leading Change and You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. 

Be aware of and acknowledge people’s emotions


There is a near certainty in uncertain times and that’s that your team is likely going to respond to the situation differently. As a leader, begin slowing down and listening to your team as they share their feelings, concerns, and any frustrations that they may have. The team will be more likely to trust in your direction during these difficult times if they feel validated and understood in their emotions and feelings. 

It’s also good to be aware of how your own emotions translate over into your communications. Does your tone or delivery change as you get stressed out? Do you pass on that stressed-out feeling to your team? Having a good level of self-awareness is key in achieving balance here – You want to know yourself well enough to filter your communication when it gets challenging for you, but at the same time vulnerable enough to share your own concerns with the team as well. Putting those two things together makes you a stronger leader that others will see as more reliable. 

Check the energy of the team


You can feel a good culture in a room. There is a certain element of positivity, interaction, and care & respect. Take a proverbial step back and assess the energy of the team. Do things feel like they normally do or is it more gloomy or solemn than usual? Seeing and understanding this dynamic change will help you see that you have more work ahead of you in helping the team navigate the uncertainty or if you are doing a good job. 

Remember that is often very difficult to over-communicate during these times. In normal times, people will likely complain about being overcommunicated with, but these are not normal times. Even numerous change updates will help the team feel like they are looped in and aware. 

Even if your organization has done a fantastic job in communicating information during uncertain times, these core principles will still serve you well and you reinforce and lead your team. Take the time to strengthen your own change management skills to keep people engaged well through the transition.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Create authentic professional presence

Create authentic professional presence

I’ve completed thousands of talent calibrations and talent reviews in my years as a talent leader for organizations. One common theme that comes up year after year regardless of leveling in the organization is the idea of having a good professional or executive presence. 

Leaders are right, having an authentic professional presence can help you stand out, build a stronger network, accelerate projects, and accelerate career growth. Here are some tips to help you dial in your executive presence in the work that you do. 

Be yourself


I think that this is the most important thing to remember for yourself as you work to strengthen this skill in your own leadership toolkit or as you are coaching others through this topic.  Just because you have room for growth here doesn’t mean that you need to become someone you are not. 

If you try to push your professional presence outside of your identity – coming into a room or conversation that doesn’t match your personality, it will fall flat with others. They’ll see your efforts as fake or inauthentic. 

Authenticity doesn’t mean that you need to change how you speak and present yourself. It’s adapting to the level of the room, position, or need while being true to who is in the process. 

You can find a deeper dive into the importance of being authentic at our previous show Be Yourself (Show 127)

Be consistent


Consistency means being reliable and dependable across all channels of communication. It also means delivering on your promises and following through on your commitments. Related to authenticity; are you one as one way while “on stage” and totally different when you interact with others? Inconsistency can also show up in how you communicate. Are you a great presenter or coach, but your emails are off-putting? Do you come across as confident and an expert in written communication, but unsure of yourself in difficult conversations? 

Inconsistency can come from any number of areas and forms of communication and interactions. Check with your leaders, peers, and those on your team to get feedback on how consistent you are. 

Hold their engagement

One of the secrets to good executive presence is the ability to grab, and keep someone’s attention and engagement. It means having something valuable and relevant to say or offer. You need to be able to communicate your message clearly and persuasively. It’s very important that you know your audience, your purpose, and your value proposition.

You can also hold someone’s engagement by leveraging data-driven storytelling and using different channels, mediums, and illustrations to reach your audience. Break up how you communicate to keep things fresh for the audience. Also remember where your audience is coming from and their perspective and knowledge, that will help you cater your message in a way that connects with them. 

Areas to consider as you adjust to dial in your professional presence

  • Language: What words are you using as you communicate with others? Are there colloquials that you should avoid or industry speak that you need to stay away from or gravitate towards?

  • Your physical appearance: Do you look the part? In live settings, do you match what the expected audience is or are you over or under-dressed? For virtual environments is your lighting good and background complimentary?

  • Reading the temperature of the room: Having a good read on the room is vastly important as you strengthen your professional presence. Is the group lively or serious? How heavy of a topic or message are you trying to convey? 

Be open to feedback as you continue to strengthen your professional presence. You’ll be a more effective leader and communicator as you interact with others.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Embrace differences in those that you develop

Embrace differences in those that you develop

In sports, a good coach knows that each member of their team needs different focuses and development in order for them to play at their best. We often forget that in the business world as we launch general leadership or on-the-job training and expect the same results across the board.  Today, we’ll dive into tips and reminders and why and how you should be developing your teams as individuals. 

Don’t treat them equally


We are champions and supporters of equality and inclusion, but to be a champion and ally you’ve got to avoid treating your people equally. 

Think about creating a space where everyone has an equal shot at a promotion, or even just to be successful in the that they are currently in. Let’s look at a team of people in similar roles, for our example. You may find a person who has trouble stepping up to difficult conversations, another who is not great at selecting talent, and a third who is rigid in how they communicate. They are all people leaders so your company puts them through some hiring skills training. They all got equal training, but only one has had a chance to fill in their leadership gap. 

Think of your team as a set of amazing engines that have the capability to run at the same speed. Your development opportunities, connections, experiences, and other offerings are your toolkit. Each engine needs a little something different to get it completely tuned up. Back to our team dynamic, that may mean the one that struggles in difficult conversations, needs to take some coaching training, have time to do role play with you, and needs extra support as those moments come up. For the communication example, maybe you buy them some books and send them to an emotional intelligence workshop and then follow through with additional verbal communication and executive presence training. 

Treat your team members differently so that they are all tuned up and running at their most efficient. 

Take feedback and opportunities deeper


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in feedback sessions where a leader will make a statement like, “They need to work on their communication skills,” or “They need to step up.” Only for the leader to come back in 6 months to a year and question why the person isn’t a better communicator or has elevated their performance. Besides they told them exactly what to do right?

Open and broad feedback actually holds very little true value, outside a broad, over-arching area of focus. Make the feedback valuable by digging in and understanding what the person really means. For the communication example, Is it written communication, how they give feedback, or executive presence or presentation skills? Those all legitimately fall under “They need to work on their communication skills”, but they are all vastly different in focus and support. 

Being intentional as you dig into feedback and opportunities will help ensure that you are providing an individual and impactful plan for someone who makes good use of their time and yours. 

Your teams are runners in a race

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that throwing training at something (or someone) fixes the problem. We should know better by now! Just as you think about everyone’s development journey as an individual also remember that their arrival is going to be different as well. Just like runners running in a race, you have people at all kinds of different paces out there at the same time. Do they all get to the end? Hopefully, that reminder should help you not to become too frustrated when everyone doesn’t make it across the proverbial finish line at the same time. 

Some are going to need you to go out on the course and give them some encouragement. Others will need even more resources to give them the fuel to push through. Set proper expectations with your team and yourself as you think about your individual development plans for your team. 

To be a successful people leader remember that you’ve got to treat your people differently in how you think about their development, dig into feedback for actionable takeaways, and set proper expectations and follow-up as they start their journey.  Putting these three habits together will accelerate your team’s growth and make you a more impactful leader in the process. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Habits to improve your EQ

Habits to improve your EQ

Emotional intelligence is one of those universally needed skills that transcend industries, leadership levels, and educational backgrounds. Everyone benefits from having stronger EQ skills as they navigate relationships with others as well as how they manage much needed self-care. 

Today, we’ll cover some tips to help you dial in and strengthen your EQ skills in your day-to-day interactions with others. 

Learn to rehearse what you’ll say


We all have unique quirks that we are not aware of, especially when it comes to how we verbally communicate. Emotionally intelligent people have a good understanding of this and are mindful to understand what their quirks are and are intentionally building in new phrases as a habit to connect with and inspire emotions. 

A common phrase that people use as others share hardships or challenges that they are going through is “I know how you feel.” There may be positive intent in the statement, but the phrase doesn’t convey understanding like you may think that it does; it communicates completion. “I’ve heard and acknowledged you. Now let’s move on.”

To take the response to the next level you may say something like, “I hear you and I think what you are saying is …..” This shows that you are actively engaged with the person and gives them a chance to correct your understanding or continue the conversation. 

Positive intent is great, but without putting thought into how you communicate, you may never reach your goal of having a meaningful connection.

Learn to leverage the 5 whys technique on yourself


Self-awareness blind spots don’t conform to levels of leadership or personality profiles. Everyone has them in some form or another. Going back to your childhood, when you were wide-eyed and full of curiosity about the world around you, ask yourself the question “Why?” as you reflect on your motives, desires, needs, and actions. 

Sure, you could answer the first “Why?” fairly superficially, but that’s why you leverage the power of the 5 Whys Technique which says basically that you can get to the root of any problem or concern by asking the question “Why?” as a response to quickly get to the root of the matter. 

  1. Why do I want that new role?
  2. I want the title, extra benefits and pay that go with the role. (Ok, why is that?)
  3. The pay would help relieve the pressure at home and I really want to be a director. (Why is that?)
  4. It validates my hard work and who I am to others. (Why is that important?)
  5. I have a high desire for affirmation and recognition.

And there it is. In 5 whys we got down to the root of the personal situation and a view into our own self-awareness. If you use this technique on yourself and you can’t articulate a compelling answer then it is likely a sign you are misaligned with what you are trying to accomplish or it’s an unexplored area of self-awareness that you may need to take more time to reflect on. 

Stay mindful of your pace


As leaders, we are often action-oriented. Do the thing and do it now! I’m often the same way. I’d rather knock something out than need to go back later and follow up on additional items. While that action-orientated stance can be very beneficial in eliminating additional meetings as well as freeing up time for your future self, it often serves you well to pause and not immediately respond to external stimuli. 

Those that pause before responding to those external stimuli, think email, messages, complaints, or even good things like opportunities, will often come out with the upper hand. Emotionally intelligent leaders appreciate that slower reaction times give them space to be more strategic in their thoughts and protect them from emotional knee-jerk reactions. 

End connections with gratitude

The feeling and demeanor that you leave a conversation with is often what others hold on to. Leaders with strong emotional intelligence know this and often go out of their way to find something they can express gratitude for, toward the end of every conversation. Some examples may include:


Easy examples:
“I really enjoyed our time together today.”  “Thank you for taking the time to talk.” “I really appreciate your feedback and will use it to help influence how we move forward.”


Tough examples
: “Thanks for listening and understanding.” “Thank you for coming around to my way of thinking.” “I appreciate the compromise here.” These all build a bridge halfway to the other person but aren’t necessarily a feel-good moment that someone wants to build the other half back with you.

Take it to the next level: Learn to express thanks for something you know the other side will agree with, rather than something that might trigger an undesired emotional reaction. In tough conversations it may look like, “I know this wasn’t comfortable to talk about, but I really appreciate the opportunity for us to come together here. I’m going to take your feedback and get you the resources that you need by ( agreed upon date).”

If this isn’t a regular practice for you, be mindful to insert this sentiment as you close out the conversation. Those virtual meetings with a flurry of goodbyes at the end are a great place to begin to step into this behavior. Are you going to stand out with your gratitude as everyone else goodbye? Probably not, but you are putting it into practice, and that helps build repetition and behavior change. 

Growing your emotional intelligence is a process that is a journey as opposed to a course that you become certified in once you complete the training. Continue to work on practical ways to grow your EQ to make you a more impactful leader to those around you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Three ways to influence impact

Three ways to influence impact

We all have different motivations when it comes to our work. Some are driven by titles and prestige, while others value money, flexibility, or a zen-like balance of work and life. No matter what your motivations are, most people want to have an impact in what they do and contribute to meaningful work. 

Today we’ll cover three tips to influence your impact at work. 

Look past the storms of the day


The Swirl. That’s what we call the chaos, situations, and circumstances that derail your plans and ambitions for the day. We often talk about The Swirl in terms of how outward items influence your ability to get things done and we emphasize building strong time management skills and systems in place in order for you to manage your day instead of your day managing you. 

There is also an internal swirl as well. This kind of swirl happens when we focus too much attention on our own fear, pride, and insecurities. When we do this, we allow our internal swirl to influence our decision-making ability. Think about that influence on your impact. If you focus inwardly on your pride fear and insecurities, then your decisions become self-serving. It also leads us to become preoccupied with what we want and think that we need to advance our own agendas and aspirations. 

Release that inner swirl and storm and focus outwardly instead. Seek diverse opinions and take time to step back to look at the larger context of those things that are feeding your inner swirl. I find when I get in this place to pause and take stock of things that I am thankful for and perhaps have been taking for granted as a help to reframe my train of thought. 

Own transparency


If trust is a house that we build for our team to live in, then transparency is the door that everyone enters from. It’s hard to have an impact without trust and it’s hard to have trust without transparency. 

Be honest with yourself: You first have to be open to yourself before you can be open with others. That means raising your self-awareness to a healthy level. It also means having an understanding of what your understanding of what you hold close to the vest and why you do that. Continue to challenge yourself and those limitations that you may be putting on yourself and your leadership walk. 

Open yourself to others: Often when people think about transparency, they think about a person’s willingness, or lack of, to share with others. It’s not always black or white either. Maybe a leader shares about the business well enough, but they are intentionally closed off when it comes to anything personal. Being transparent doesn’t mean you have to share everything, it just means you are free and open to sharing the right things personally and being vulnerable to sharing appropriate personal information. 

When you are transparent in these two ways it allows others to help you with personal biases, experiences, and objectivity. 

Be flexible and adaptive


Another way to influence impact at work is to be flexible and adaptable to different situations and people. Influence is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it requires adjusting your style, tone, language, and tactics according to the context and audience. For example, some people may prefer direct communication, while others may prefer indirect communication; some people may respond well to logic and facts, while others may respond well to emotions and stories; some people may be motivated by rewards, while others may be motivated by recognition. To be flexible and adaptable, you need to understand the needs, preferences, expectations, and goals of different people and situations.

Adaptability not only strengthens your influence and impact, but it can also give you better satisfaction in your role. I coached and mentored several leaders because they were hired for X and the work turned into Y. The lack of adaptability certainly impacted their most effective self, but it also had a deeper personal impact by eroding engagement and a sense of accomplishment and belonging in the role they held. Having a mindset of adaptability, moving, and changing to the circumstances around you gets you engaged and always relevant to the team that you serve. 

Influence and impact are essential for achieving success and satisfaction at work. They enable us to make a positive difference, achieve our goals, and advance our careers.  Combine these tips with a strong passion and purpose for your work and your team and you’ll have a compelling value to offer to others. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Finding Leadership in the Matrix

Finding Leadership in the Matrix

Bullet time. Red pill, blue pill. Simulation vs. reality. The Matrix series was a cultural phenomenon in the late ’90s and early ’00s. It’s the story of Neo, a hacker who discovers that the world around him is a simulation created by machines to enslave humanity. With the help of others, Neo frees his mind and leads a fight against the system. The movies are full of metaphors and lessons about society as well as lessons on leadership. 

It’s time to plug into the system and pull out some leadership lessons!

Seek alternate realities


One of the main themes of the film is the contrast between the false reality of the Matrix and the harsh truth of the real world. Morpheus challenges Neo to question his assumptions and beliefs and offers him a choice: to take the blue pill and remain ignorant or to take the red pill and see the truth. is the truth any less true for those still trapped in the matrix?

You may ask yourself, “How can these people believe what they believe when the truth is so obvious?” Perception is reality. A person that is all in on misinformed data, and solidifies the perception by isolating themselves to only include others who share the same view, doesn’t view themselves as wrong. 

As a leader, you need to be willing to seek and accept alternative views of reality or the situation at hand, even if they are painful or uncomfortable. Be curious, open-minded, and courageous to explore different perspectives and possibilities. A well-rounded leader challenges their own perception (reality) at times to check themselves, “Is this the right take, or am I missing something that would make me more informed?”

There is no spoon


When Neo visits the Oracle, he encounters a young boy who appears to have the telekinetic ability to bend spoons with his mind. The boy tells him: “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth… There is no spoon… Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

The kid is going deep on Neo!

This is a metaphor for how Neo can overcome the limitations of the Matrix by changing his perception and mindset. Too often, leaders hear the phrases, “That’s impossible,” or “This is not going to work.” Very few things are impossible to accomplish in leadership if we don’t look at challenges as strictly black or white or right and wrong. 

As a leader work to become flexible, adaptable, and creative in facing challenges and opportunities. Look for small wins instead of big wins if needed, “Well if we can’t do this, then what can we do to move forward?”

Overcome imposter syndrome


Throughout the film, Neo is presented with the idea that he is “The One”, a prophesied savior who can end the war between humans and machines. However, he struggles with self-doubt and skepticism; he doesn’t feel special. It’s not until he finally accepts his role that he is able to release his full potential.

Imposter syndrome can feel like you are stuck in your version of the matrix with no hope of getting out of it. It’s the deep-rooted feeling that you are not good enough, not qualified enough, or not worthy of leading or owning a particular thing.  Not only are there 5 types of imposter syndrome (PTB 224) but the environment that you are in and the connections that you make also heavily influence this area. 

Just like Neo, you can break free and reach your fullest potential as well. Here are some tips to begin working through imposter syndrome. 

  • Talk it out with someone. Imposter Syndrome loves to live in isolation inside yourself. Talk out your feelings and thoughts with a trusted friend, advisor, or mentor. 

  • Be kind to yourself. I have seen some of the kindest people beat themselves up for their perceived shortcomings. Give yourself the same forgiveness that you give others and be kind to yourself. Let someone besides yourself be your worst critic. 

  • Understand that your thoughts and situation are not unique. Remember when you run into a bout of doubt that others are likely going through the same. Know that it’s not just you and that it’s temporary then step up and do well.

  • Learn from failure. To our Baton Carriers that are perfectionists; It’s okay to fail. You need to fail to keep learning and growing. Use failure as a learning opportunity and move on. Don’t dwell on failure for failure’s sake. 

  • Go small. Focus on the smaller tasks and the accomplishments that come along with them instead of focusing on the larger issue. It can help you stay focused in a positive direction. 

Challenge yourself. Take another look at how you perceive a particular topic, a body of work, or even other people. Adapt and be nimble as you make things that make the impossible, actually quite possible. Never forget, you are not an imposter. You were put into your role for a reason, and you are worthy and capable of stepping up to the challenge. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Finding Leadership in Seinfeld

Finding Leadership in Seinfeld

Seinfeld is a great comedy show from the 90s that is known for its observational humor and the absurd situations that the group of four friends find themselves in. The show was hugely popular when it first aired and today finds itself in a new renaissance thanks to the popularity of streaming. 

What leadership lessons can be learned from a show that claims itself to be a show about nothing and includes amazing leadership quotes like, “It’s not a lie if you (yourself) believe it.”

Be confident and own who you are


Jerry Seinfeld, the main character and stand-up comedian, is often seen as the voice of reason and sanity among his friends. He is there to be a listening ear and they bust through his apartment door unannounced. He’s also confident and authentic in his style and personality; he’s not pretending to be someone he is not.

Jerry reminds us that we need to be comfortable in our own skin. Avoid the trap of trying to change who you are to gain the affection and attention of others. It’s a facade that is not easy to keep up and you’ll only find yourself less happy and fulfilled as a result. Being confident in yourself also gives you the space to express your opinions and insight, which Jerry was certainly an expert at. 

Learn from the mistakes that you make


George Costanza, Jerry’s best friend is…… a loser. Some of the most memorable moments of the show center around George and how disastrous he is in life and the ability to make the right choice. George is insecure, dishonest, lazy, and selfish, and sabotages himself more than anyone he encounters. If there is something positive to be said about George, it’s that he is resilient. He is willing to try new things, experiment with different strategies, and learn from his mistakes and failures. (Sometimes just to turn around and make another new mistake.)  

Everybody makes mistakes, hopefully, a little less than George, but it’s a part of our regular path to personal and professional growth. Be open to feedback, criticism, and change, and use them as opportunities for your own growth and improvement.  Mistakes hold value too if you are willing to take the lessons that they teach. As you reflect on a recent mistake, what is the lesson learned and how could you be resourceful to come to a different conclusion the next time the situation presents itself?

Keep things in perspective and enjoy the funny things in life

Elaine Benes, Jerry’s ex-girlfriend, and friend, is a smart, independent, and successful woman. She is also incredibly witty, sarcastic, and humorous, often making fun of herself and others. She doesn’t take herself or life too seriously and knows how to have fun and enjoy the moment. Perhaps the most memorable example of this is the famous Elanie Dance where she dances so horribly that George describes it as a “full body dry heave set to music.”

Having the right perspective, and understanding of the larger context is important in both leadership and life, so you don’t overreact or underreact to everyday challenges. Be willing to laugh at yourself and the situation that you might find yourself in.  For more information on this pairing, check out Humor (PTB 44) and Finding Perspective (PTB 111). 

Sometimes you have to deal with the weirdos


Cosmos Kramer. What a name and character. He always came bursting through Jerry’s door like an out-of-control washing machine shaking and bouncing from an uneven load of laundry. Kramer was full-on weird, but often stole the scenes that he was in and somehow became a friend in Jerry’s small inner circle. Jerry didn’t have much of a choice but to deal with and interact with Kramer. Even if he kept the apartment locked at all times, Kramer lived across the hall, so no doubt he would still have run-ins and interactions with him. 

It is guaranteed that you are going to have people that you would consider weird and out there come across your path, both at work and in your personal life. Regardless of the situation, treat them with the respect and friendliness that you give to others. Even though Jerry could have been dismissive and rude to Kramer, he chose to listen to him and go along with his crazy line of thoughts. In the real world, you may be making a mighty impact on the other person, because there is a chance that you are the only one that shows them any respect and attention at all. 

Jerry’s circle of friends is an unlikely group that found themselves together. Be true to yourself, embrace and own your mistakes, keep it in perspective, and care for the weirdos in your life. You’ll be a better leader and friend as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Passing the Baton’s 8th Anniversary Show!

Passing the Baton’s 8th Anniversary Show!

Thank you so much for supporting the show over the years! We love to receive and answer your questions and hear how you are passing the baton to others in your own leadership journey. Whether you are a first-year Baton Carrier or have been listening to us since the beginning, we are honored to be a part of your leadership growth.

-ZH