The benefits of pausing before a response

The benefits of pausing before a response

“I want it right now” is the expectation that has become ingrained in our desires in all parts of our lives – from that order that you placed online today, to health goals, and expectations in your business. Instant gratification can be a difficult and sometimes unwise goal to chase. Hasty decisions can lead to costly mistakes for you and others. As you take in a request or are asked for your opinion and direction here are some reasons why you may benefit before giving a response. 

Avoiding your impulses


One of the common signs of a person with low self-management skills (Show 147) is that they will react emotionally without thinking clearly. The reaction just comes out for better or worse. This trait can also lead to a lot of regret on the person’s part, apologies that need to be made, and damaged relationships as a result. Taking time before a response is important especially when the topic is critical towards you, your team, or the work you do. It’s natural to get defensive during these times. 

Take the time to cool off. Find a trusted advisor or friend to bounce your frustration or potential response off of. Put some effort into understanding where the other person is coming from. They could still be totally wrong, but their perception is their reality. Craft your message so that your response is factual, understanding of their position, and doesn’t do harm to the relationship. 

Consider additional options


There are times when you aren’t afforded the luxury of time when it comes to giving a response – think emergency situations or critical errors in customer service.  Many times though, we quickly throw out a response just to get the issue off of our to-do list or to prevent it from hindering more of your day. 

Taking time to gather your thoughts and perhaps the thoughts of others will help you come to a more holistic and well-rounded solution. That pause may seem unnatural or forced at times when you stop work that is currently going on, but the benefit of fully understanding the situation and potential solutions is worth the effort. 

Let your active listening skills and empathy take the wheel


A pause in conversation also gives you a chance to showcase and use your active listening skills.  Rushing to respond may result in missed cues, overlooked emotions, or subtle nuances in the speaker’s message. Pausing doesn’t always mean sitting in silence in front of the other person (although that may be appropriate at times). Pausing could be asking reflecting and follow-up questions back as you take in what the person is, or isn’t saying.

Slowing down your response in order to listen more also shows empathy and understanding, and creates space for a genuine connection. When you pause before responding, you are also acknowledging the speaker’s perspective and responding in a way that reflects a true understanding of their thoughts and feelings. We’ve covered empathy quite a bit over the years and a great place to start is with our short series beginning with Understanding Empathy (Show 245-247)

Be sure to check yourself when a quick response is being asked of you. Ask yourself “Do I need to take more time on this for the business or the person?” You’ll find yourself creating better solutions and stronger relationships as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Manage your energy

Manage your energy

There are days when you wake up early, get ready for the day, and knock out a few important things off of your to-do list all before mid-morning. And while you take a moment to give yourself kudos, “Wow, I’ve gotten a lot done this morning!” there’s probably nothing too special about it, you just get things done. 

On the flip side, when you are having a tough day, a stressful day, or one that stirs you emotionally, each little thing adds up sucking your energy away. You may find yourself struggling to pull out enough energy to make it through the day.  

It can be difficult to balance the ever-changing starting balance of your energy as well as all the surprises that pop up through the day that further impact your energy. Today we’ll look at sugar, containers, and spoons to help you understand your energy and how to manage it. 

A spoonful of energy


Think of your day like a clear container in your kitchen that holds something like flour or sugar. The container is your actual day and the item represents the amount of energy that you have in a day. A great day may mean that your container is fully or nearly at the top. A challenging day may mean that your container is only half full….. or even less.

Your activities throughout the day are represented by a spoon. every time that you do an activity, you reach in with your spoon and scoop out a little of what your container is holding. That’s your energy being depleted for the day, bit by bit. Some things like getting out of bed or taking a shower, may only an even spoonful out of the container while your upcoming 2-hour meeting on camera about a stressful topic may take a heaping spoonful out. 

It’s important to realize two things; 1) What the starting volume is in your container. Are you starting off with a full container or do you already know that it’s a half-full kind of day? 2) That unexpected things happen throughout the day that pull from your energy reserve. That could be an unexpected ask from your leader to present a project later that day or a difficult conversation that needs to happen when you get home. 

It is also important to communicate your energy levels, as much as you are comfortable with, with your co-workers, family, and friends to manage expectations. If you are going out for dinner after work, you may let them know that it was a long day at work and you are worn out. Letting the other party know when you’ve hit a low spot in your energy level helps manage expectations for both of you as you interact. 

Keep track of the spoons


To gain a better understanding of your energy levels and what impacts your reserve, keep track of your spoon patterns and pay attention to what contributes to a lot of use. What adds energy to your reserve? Did you hang out with your friends? Did you spend some dedicated time on your hobby? What on your to-do list energizes you?

What contributes to removing a lot of your energy in a day? Do you have a heavy meeting day that involves you being on camera for long periods? Family members have a tough day at school or work? Rehashing a recent personal conflict in your head over and over?  The National Safety Commission lists the time of day, sleep deprivation, time on tasks, work, and personal factors as the top five categories that deplete your energy. 

Having a good understanding of what adds to and takes away from your energy reserve helps set expectations for yourself and as you interact with others as well. Again, communicate those low moments to others, and if they aren’t getting the hints that you are laying out there, be blunt and tell them that you don’t have the energy or capacity to take on more at the moment. If you find yourself in a long season of low energy reach out for professional help or seek medical attention. 

Additional ways to boost your energy

Harvard Health has a short list of four ways to help boost your energy throughout the day. 

  • Eating a protein-rich diet. The study says that increasing your protein intake helps tremendously in increasing your energy. Also splitting your meals into smaller snacks throughout the day can help as well. 
  • Drink your water. For men, the recommended fluid intake is 15 cups a day, and 12 cups a day for women. The study does call out certain fruits as a way to get your liquids including melons, strawberries, and citruses.
  • Sleep. One we all probably need more of. 
  • An exercise routine. We all know exercising boosts our energy among its many benefits. Along the same lines, a good morning routine (Show 236) can give you a boost as well. 

Managing your energy can be hard, but having a good understanding of what contributes to your reserve in a positive and negative way can go a long way in helping make sure that you aren’t running on fumes. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Create a culture of leadership

Create a culture of leadership

I love a team that has a strong culture of leadership. There is a maturity there, where everyone is putting others above themselves, letting go of egos, and while always looking at ways to go above and beyond to service the team, their customer, and ultimately the larger business. Leadership is for everyone regardless of title. Today we’ll dive into tips and strategies to help elevate the culture of leadership in your team.

Infuse the Values into what you do


At the heart of any leadership culture lies a set of core values that serve as the organization’s, and your team’s, compass. Leaders must articulate and embody these values, providing a foundation for decision-making and guiding the behavior of every individual within the community. Think of your Values as the shared agreement on the behaviors that each of you have. It shows your team how to do their work and lead themselves and others. If you need help understanding your personal values or how to ingrain your work values into yourself check out Living Your Values at Work (357) and Living Your Values at Home (358)

Shift the mindset of what leadership is

Leadership is not just about being in charge. It’s about building and sustaining relationships. It’s about understanding the impact of our words and actions on others. It’s about being intentional about how we show up and inspire others to achieve their goals. Does everyone on the team see themselves as a leader? Talk about leadership regularly in your talks with your team, and especially about their leadership in your shared success. As you build a culture of leadership, there is a likelihood that some don’t consider themselves leaders. Perhaps no one has ever told them that they are leaders and shown them that extra layer of respect.  Show them that a culture of leadership is inclusive of everyone. 

Promote open communication and collaboration


Communication is the lifeblood of leadership culture. Establish open channels for dialogue and encourage a culture of listening and understanding. Leaders should be approachable, and feedback should be viewed as a valuable tool for improvement. Strengthen collaboration by breaking down silos and creating opportunities for cross-functional engagement, both big and small. A culture of shared ideas and diverse perspectives breathes life into a culture of leadership.

Recognize and celebrate achievements


Acknowledging and celebrating achievements, both big and small, is a regular part of sustaining a positive leadership culture. Recognition reinforces the desired behaviors and motivates individuals to continue striving for excellence. Publicly acknowledge contributions, express gratitude, and celebrate milestones to create a culture where achievements are valued and rewarded. Recognition should highlight both the small things and the small moments of progress. You can find more tips on how to celebrate and recognize your team at Celebrate! (Show 140), Create Disney Magic with Lee Cockerell (Show 200) and Prove Me Right – Positive Reinforcement (Show 267)


Imagine a workplace where everyone is encouraged to take on leadership roles, regardless of their job title or level of experience. It doesn’t have to be a dream; this can be your reality! Embrace leadership for all, and create a space where collaboration, innovation, and creativity thrive because everyone feels empowered to contribute and make a difference.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Work backwards to hit your goal

Work backwards to hit your goal

Dreaming big and setting lofty goals can seem intimidating. At home, a personal goal may seem extremely difficult or impossible in your current situation. Mobilizing different groups to execute towards a work project may seem like an insurmountable game of cat herding. Today we’ll help you break down those big goals in a way that makes the work and stress manageable so that you can hit your goal. 

Start from the end


Before embarking on your journey, clearly define your end goal. Whether it’s a career milestone, a personal achievement, or a project completion, having a well-defined objective is what everything else will be built on. Be as specific as possible when thinking of and dreaming of that end goal. Instead of losing weight, have a specific amount and a date to achieve the goal. With a project, be specific on what you want to deliver by a certain time. “I want to have $3,000 saved in 6 months for emergencies.” “We want to run a pilot on mobile-friendly technical support for our employees in 16 weeks.”

Identify your milestones


Once your end goal is established, break it down into key milestones. These are significant achievements or checkpoints that, when reached, signify progress toward your ultimate objective. Each milestone should be distinct, measurable, and representative of a distinctive advancement towards the goal.

In the pilot project example above you may identify your key milestones as designating the pilot group, vendor selection, securing funding, completing integration work, training and socialization, and rollout.

Looking at the breakdown above you’ll see that they are significant achievements that signal progress and accomplishment. Each milestone becomes a strategic stepping stone, allowing you to gauge your progress and adjust your course as needed.

Determine necessary actions


With your milestones in place, identify the actions required to reach each one. Consider what needs to be accomplished at each step and the resources, skills, or support necessary for success. This detailed understanding of the necessary actions transforms your goal into a series of manageable tasks.

Let’s take our first milestone from above of designating the pilot group and break it down into actions. We’ll first need to determine how large of a pilot we want to run to get a clear indication of if it’s successful and scaleable. Next, we’ll want to pull data on where the most calls for support are coming from. We then need to partner with the business leader to align on the pilot group. They may have requests or changes based on their better understanding and context of what is going on. 

Create a timeline


Establish a realistic timeline for achieving each milestone. Working backward requires a strategic allocation of time, ensuring that you have adequate resources and opportunities to complete each task. A well-structured timeline provides a sense of urgency and helps you stay on track. Many organizations break down the work into two-week sprints. This injects a sense of urgency to get the work done and keep the work going at a quick pace. 

Set your timeline for each milestone and then add up all the time. How did you in relation to your initial end goal? We stated that we wanted the pilot to roll out in 16 weeks, but let’s say that after we dig into the milestones and actions we come up with a timeline that is 20 weeks long. They must equal the same amount so now you have a choice: do you condense some of the work or extend the project?

Time to execute


With a clear roadmap in place, prioritize your tasks based on their importance and dependencies. Execute each step, focusing on one milestone at a time. Prioritization ensures that you allocate your energy and resources effectively, minimizing the risk of feeling overwhelmed.

Starting out with your goal and drawing a plan backwards, is a great way for you and others to see the work in manageable sections and how they stack on each other to reach your ultimate goal. Remember, success is not just about reaching the destination; it’s about the meaningful steps you take along the way.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

What to do when business relationships aren’t working

What to do when business relationships aren’t working

You can’t be successful on your own, no matter how hard you try. Your success as a leader, and as an individual contributing to your company’s larger success depends on how well you build good working relationships. There will be times when those relationships slip or break down causing issues for you and the business to now overcome. Today we’ll look at some areas to consider as you evaluate relationships and tips on what to do if things have started going off the rails a bit. 

Lack of mutual respect and value


Experiencing a lack of mutual respect or value added to one another is one of the surest ways to see if a business relationship is not working. In a healthy business relationship, both parties should benefit and contribute fairly equally. However, if you find that one side is constantly benefiting or not contributing while the other is not receiving equal effort, priority, or attention, it may be time to reassess the relationship.

For example, if you are part of a project team, and an individual shows up consistently late, is unprepared, and doesn’t seem engaged in the work, while the rest of the team continues to push the progress forward, you may have a problem. Another example would be a client asking for more and more without being willing to adjust their payment for the product or project. 

Lack of or broken communication


Solid communication is key to building a strong business relationship with someone else. Shakey or inconsistent communication can also lead to an erosion of trust which of course impacts your relationship with the other person. How is your communication with the other person? Do you feel left out as updates and decisions are made? Do you find yourself following up more than normal with the person? Perhaps you are communicating less with the individual because of a personality rub with them. 

A drag on business or progress


Another sign that a business relationship is in trouble is when it has a negative impact on the results or it is a drag on the business. For example, if a coworker or vendor consistently fails to deliver on their commitments, it can impact timelines that ultimately flow down to impact the business itself,  There is also other residual fallout that can occur including a hit to their, and your, reputation, among other things. Another example is when a business partner makes decisions that are detrimental to your business without informing or consulting with you.

Tips to work through business relationships that aren’t working

  • Open Communication Channels: Establish open and honest communication with the parties involved. Clearly express concerns, expectations, and any issues that may be affecting the relationship. Encourage others to share their perspectives as well. Effective communication lays the foundation for understanding and resolving issues. Have an open and honest conversation with the other person to discuss your concerns and explore possible solutions. The issue may have nothing to do with you personally and could be rooted in the other person being over-stretched or under-resourced. 

  • Seek Mediation or Facilitation: If communication breaks down, consider bringing in a neutral third party, such as a mediator or facilitator, to help navigate the challenges. A neutral party can provide an objective viewpoint, facilitate discussions, and guide the parties toward finding common ground. This external perspective can often lead to constructive solutions.

  • Define Clear Expectations: Ensure that all parties have a clear understanding of expectations and responsibilities. Misalignments in expectations often lead to conflicts. Regularly revisit expectations to make sure that they are still relevant. Clarity in expectations can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more collaborative environment.

  • Establish Boundaries: Clearly define boundaries and professional limits within the business relationship. Understanding each party’s roles and responsibilities helps manage expectations and reduces the likelihood of overstepping boundaries. Setting clear guidelines for communication, decision-making, and collaboration can contribute to a more harmonious working relationship. Consider if you have a toxic co-worker (Show 205) and respond accordingly. 

To be successful in your work, it’s essential to have good working relationships. Evaluate those connections to determine what the gaps are and then work to establish deeper and more meaningful connections when needed. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Be the farmer

Be the farmer

I find farming to be a fascinating industry. There is a beauty and calmness to be seen as you drive by a field of growing crops. Underneath that calmness are highly skilled workers, complicated machines, and a focused plan and team to bring it all to life. Today, we’ll look at how our leadership can benefit from being more like a farmer. 

Successful farmers lean into diversity


As a child, I grew up down the road from a peach orchard. Every couple of years there would be news stories of the family and workers starting controlled fires in barrels around the orchard in hopes of keeping the blossoms alive when a severe cold front came through. Sometimes they were successful and some years there were virtually no crops at all. Their entire success or failure rode on one crop and its return on investment was totally out of their control. 

Many successful farmers leverage the power of diversity to better protect their income and also strengthen and increase the value of the land that they own. An example of this is crop rotation. A farmer may plant corn, and they know that the corn takes a lot of nitrogen out of the soil as it matures. Instead of using valuable resources and money to replace the nitrogen after the harvest, they may plant beans in the same spot after the corn is harvested. Beans add nitrogen naturally back to the soil and produce a second layer of income from the same plot of land. 

In the same way, a leader gets more value out of their team when they invest in diverse thoughts and experiences in others. A team composed of the same life experiences, talents, and behavioral traits as each other is like the peach orchard; susceptible to critical failure with just one misstep. A diverse team on the other hand fills in the gaps of the other person, adding value in their own unique way. 

They pull crops at the right time


The time to pull crops can be tricky. Pull too early and the crops haven’t matured/ripened enough and you lose a good bit of value. Wait too late and the crop can be ruined. We all know the speed of business is extremely fast in today’s market and everybody wants things now, including leaders with their expectations for their employees. I could share many examples where I’ve seen a leader promote a person or expand their responsibilities too early resulting in that person leaving the organization and a mess behind them. 

Remember that your people are all growing at a different pace and a timeline that worked for one may not work for another. Slow down, nurture, and support your people on their timelines to help ready them for that next evolution in their work responsibilities and careers. 

Farmers hate weeds just as much as you


No leader looks forward to the problems that happen on the team, just as a farmer hates seeing weeds pop up despite the amount of work that they put in beforehand to prevent them from sprouting. Weeds (problems) are going to happen. Just like a farmer must remove the weeds to maximize their crop, a leader must remove obstacles and problems so that a team can thrive. 

It’s important to be proactive in addressing issues that you see – communications, behavior, and performance among the top themes before they grow into larger, work-stopping issues. Think back to a time when you had to deal with a big conflict or issue involving another person. More than likely you can draw a line back to when the issue had presented itself but had not yet manifested itself into the big issue it was when you finally addressed it. Farmers also know checking on weeds, isn’t a one-time activity, they have to constantly check for new ones that pop up overnight. In the same way, it’s important to consistently check in on your team and do health checks to make sure things are running smoothly, and new problems haven’t popped up in a new spot. 

Farmers are disciplined


On the surface, farming may seem easy – throw some seeds in the ground, wait, collect the crops, and make money. In reality, farming is hard work requiring a very disciplined person who is strategic, a master of time management, and a good people leader in order to turn over a successful crop in a season. If you remove any of those three traits from a farmer the likelihood of being successful drops significantly. You’ll also serve yourself and others well by modeling the same disciplined mindset and leadership style. Previous shows that can help with strategic thinking, time management, and people leaders include:

Follow the farmers’ way of life by being a disciplined leader who is patient and caring with your team, while making sure that you have a diverse mix of talent. You’ll see your team grow and mature in a healthy way and will reap the benefits of your leadership for years to come. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Be a song

Be a song

Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house that had hundreds of records and there was constantly music being played somewhere in the house. Songs can hold a lot of power too. Hearing a certain song can bring you back to a specific place in time, it can create an emotional response and it can help you focus and motivate you physically to get things done. 

Today we’ll look at the parallels between a great song and fantastic leadership.

Every song has a structure


Every song out there is held together by multiple layers of structure. You have the tempo, which drives the speed of the song, the time signature which dictates the feel of the song, and the key which rules which notes to play. Without those things you don’t have a song, you have noise. 

Think about times that you’ve worked on a team where there wasn’t much formal structure. More than likely there was a little, or a lot, of chaos. Certainly, there was a lack of direction and accountability, and more than likely it either slowed down the team’s ability to get to an objective or perhaps you never arrived at the conclusion that you wanted in the first place.

Here are some tips to ensure you’ve got a strong foundation for your team to make a great impact

  • Be clear on who the leader is, and what everyone’s role and responsibilities are. 
  • Lay out a clear timeline on due dates, progress updates, and meeting cadences. 
  • Communicate where to go for questions and support. 
  • Make yourself available for questions from the team. 
  • Check-in on progress and learn of pain points and hurdles. 
  • Adjust the structure as needed for the team. 

 Don’t beholden yourself to a set structure with no willingness to deviate. One of my favorite kinds of music is math rock. It’s a music style where the musicians are heavily knowledgeable about the rules and structure of music and use that knowledge to mix things up in new, exciting, and unexpected ways. Be willing to mix things up to keep them fresh and relevant while your team rocks its way to success. 

A great song connects emotionally to the listener


There are songs out there that people connect with on a very emotional level. Maybe they connect with the lyrics as it gives them comfort. Perhaps the song represents a specific memory or moment you had that was very important to you. The music itself can even stir or elicit an emotion from you by itself.  A great song connects with your soul in a special way. 

A person’s connection to their team and the work that they do is very influential in whether that person stays or goes somewhere else. In fact, it’s one of the leading reasons why a person leaves their job (SHOW XXX) 

As a leader, you find the ability to connect with others and to emotionally connect people to what they value will serve you very well. Here are some other shows and resources to help you continue that journey.

We’ve talked about the power of storytelling as you are leading and influencing others. Doing so with data is huge. It validates what you are saying. Couple that with an emotional pull and you have people drawn in and connecting to what you have to say. 

A great song is an anthem for others


My wife and I go to a lot of live shows. (Over 125 bands since 2022) No matter who we see there is always a crowd screaming the lyrics back at the singer. Hands in the air, fists pumping, jumping up and down….. the song is their anthem. It’s inspiring to them and drives them on multiple levels. They are all in!

Connecting with a person’s Values to their work is critical. how are you supporting that connection for their success and the success of your business? You’ve got to be a leader worth following – you got to be their proverbial anthem as they march to greatness in their work. Here are some self-reflection questions to help you determine how much of an anthem you are for others.

  • Would people follow you to another job or company?
  • What is your turnover compared to your peers?
  • Do you bring excitement and positive energy into a room or take it away?
  • Do people on your team feel empowered to do what needs to be done?
  • Do people emulate your style and practices?

Remember as your leadership becomes that song that everyone loves to listen to, to make sure that others have a chance to shine and be recognized as well. All the instruments knowing when to step up and when to step back and support also help a great song become even better. 

For another look at the power of music in leadership be sure to check out Show 107 Finding Leadership in Music and Show 367: Be the Record

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Teach your leaders to be empathetic

Teach your leaders to be empathetic

In an ever-changing work dynamic for your team, the skill of empathy has become an important tool in caring for your people so they feel respected, valued; and stick around longer as a result. Rarely does a command to a leader to “be more empathic,” stick in a meaningful way. 

The term is dependent on the person’s experience and definition

People’s understanding and definition of the term empathy are really all over the place and are highly dependent on their personal journeys and experiences. Some people think of empathy as simply active listening. Others may classify it as transparency and fairness, while additional leaders may consider empathy as being inclusive and supporting mental health. 

With all the confusion on what empathy is, it can cause misalignment between you and others if you define the term and expectations differently. Take time to learn and understand what empathy means to the other person and have them share some examples if possible. If there are gaps, help the person see the opportunities so that you are starting from the same place and can align on the next steps and measure growth and success. 

Help them stay other-focused


Showing empathy is a great way to build social connections, trust, and rapport with another person. It’s important for your leader to have awareness and understand that as they feel empathy for another person, they understand that the feeling that they resonate with is the other person’s and not their own. There are strong examples of this in the healthcare and medicine fields. Connecting with a family member after someone passes away, or a vet who euthanizes a family pet are times when the person likely understands and can relate to the grief and pain – “I know how you feel” but they also understand that what they are connecting with someone else’s emotions and they are not their own. 

Help your leaders protect themselves from empathic distress


When the line of other-focused becomes blurred in empathy we take on the feeling and internalize it as our own pain and epatetic distress occurs. In the veterinarian example, if they can’t distinguish between the grief of the family and their own grief in a similar situation, the vet may rush the family through the process and pull themselves back and away immediately afterward as a result. 

The result is that the vet has negatively impacted the already sensitive situation and is now a burden that both parties will carry going forward. This will also likely impact the vet’s quality of work for the rest of the day if they continue to hold onto the emotion. 

Coach your leaders to make the connection, but to be aware and protect the boundary between other-focused and internalizing and taking on the emotions of others. 

Additional Resources


Here are some additional resources from the show and site to help you continue to explore the topic of empathy:

Empathy, Sympathy, and Pity (Show 261) We break down the difference between the three words and how and when you leverage them as you engage with others. 

Roadblocks to empathy (Show 247) We cover three common barriers to hold us back from being truly empathetic with others. 

Tips to grow your empathy (Show 246) Actionable and tangible tips to grow and strengthen your empathy with others. 

Understanding empathy (Show 245) Here we discuss what empathy is, what it isn’t, and the three different types of empathy. 

Remember that empathy is about connecting with others on an emotional level and demonstrating that you care about their well-being. It’s a skill that can be developed and improved over time with practice, and it’s essential for building more meaningful and supportive relationships. When you help your leaders become more empathetic in a healthy way, everyone wins. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How to create luck for yourself

How to create luck for yourself

I’ve always been a lucky person. At nine, I won a mountain bike from a gas station (that was too big for me) and later won a chest full of Disney merch in a separate drawing. Since then I’ve won clothes, cash, food, concert tickets, VIP experiences, and more. I’m also the lucky charm for folks. Once my in-laws learned about my streak they went down to a car dealership to enter a contest and walked away with a brand new car. Another friend also took up contests and has won countless things. 

Most people think of luck as something that happens to you. Maybe you are born with exceptional talent, or your career is fast-tracked. Perhaps you know someone who wins things like I do. It can seem like the stars just align for certain people. The truth is that you can actually manufacture luck if you know how and where to look for it. The book Chase, Chance, and Creativity: The Lucky Art of Novelty explains the four types of luck and how to utilize them to become more lucky. 

Blind Luck


Blind luck is generally what people think about when they think of the term luck. This is the one category that is purely chance. There’s not really much you can do here to influence it; it happens or it doesn’t. Think of things like getting the perfect hand in a game of cards or hitting the lottery. You are receiving whatever is thrown at you. 

Luck from Motion


Let’s take it back to grade school physics. An object at rest will remain at rest until an outside force disrupts it. An object in motion will remain in motion until an unbalanced force interacts with that object. That same type of thought is applied with luck from motion. Doing nothing, and remaining still, will never positively impact your luck. However, as you put yourself in motion you are increasing the surface for luck to occur. 

This kind of luck can be increased through physical motion – putting yourself out there at meeting conferences, and meeting more people. Think about a time when you ran into someone or met someone that you walked away feeling really excited about. It can range from a new client to a person that you have admired, a potential new partner, or someone who has the knowledge and skill that you were looking for. You were lucky to meet them because you put yourself out there in the first place. 

It doesn’t have to be just physical motion either. It also includes putting yourself out there virtually. Inc Magazine tells a story about increasing your luck through writing and sharing about your work. Your thought and ideas are in motion as well and you are more likely to run into the right person for you as you share those with the public. 

Luck from Awareness


Studies show that luck is heavily influenced by behavior and not just chance. Situational awareness plays a big part in your luck. Let’s say you go to an event, but you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you and you head home at the end of the night having made no meaningful connections. On the other hand, let’s say that you looked at the guest list beforehand and recognized the name of someone that you wanted to meet. Then you intentionally seek them out at the event. Later, you hear someone talking about A.I. and a program that you have a good amount of interest in, so you walk over and make another great connection. In the example, it’s the same night but you walk away with vastly different experiences and value. 

I’ve shared over the last couple of years about how my wife and I have gotten into the local art scene in the Atlanta area. We’ve got a list of artists that we hope to own original pieces from. We have been extremely lucky to obtain several pieces that are visually stunning and amazing deals financially. Some costs were 75% less than what a similar piece would go for. That luck has been a combination of both Luck of Motion and Luck from Awareness. We go to gallery shows and have now established friendships with many of those artists. I know what the market price is for these pieces (awareness), so when I go to a show or event (motion) and see an unusually good deal, I will scoop it up if that artist is on my list. 

Curiosity, openness, optimism, experience, and perhaps a little courage also help influence your Luck from Awareness. When you put these together, you’ll start to see luck manifest itself around you.

 Luck from Uniqueness

Luck from Uniqueness favors those who have a standout mix of hobbies, experiences, lifestyles, and behaviors. Steve Jobs spoke several times about his advice for growing a person’s intelligence – it’s typically centered around the idea that the person break the mold of what the typical profile looked like for that person. “You have to not have the same bag of experiences as everyone else does, or else you’re gonna make the same connection and you won’t be innovative.”

By offering the public, your company, and new connections, a unique combination of skills, experiences, and interests, you’ll make yourself more likely to stand out and attract others and new opportunities. Your uniqueness makes you luckier. 

Put yourself out there, dial in your awareness of what’s going on around you, and stand out from the crowd by showcasing your uniqueness. Your luck will only increase and maybe you’ll be called the lucky one as well. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

More tips to improve your EQ

More tips to improve your EQ

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a skill set that you can always benefit from growth, and it’s one of the few areas in which you don’t experience a ceiling as far as capability. We’ve covered the foundations of leadership on shows 145-149 and you can find many resources for supporting your EQ here.  Today we’ll give you even more tips to help you continue to drive for further growth.

Run toward conflict instead of away from it


Conflict, like a sunset, is inevitable.  You can’t prevent conflict from happening in your work or personal life any more than you can prevent the sun from dipping below the horizon. As a leader of people and leader over an area of responsibility, you’ll better serve your team and the business by courageously stepping toward a conflict and addressing it early. 

It’s certainly not an instinct that everyone possesses. You’ll find leaders or co-workers who are passive-aggressive or conflict-adverse. The troubles only build up for those folks as the problem or situation further deteriorates. As you stand out from the crowd in your leadership (and EQ) skills, approach the conflict with active listening skills to understand the other person to get to a positive and agreed-upon resolution.

Be mindful of communicating outside of work hours


Email Ugency Bias is a phenomenon caused at least in part by the fact that response speed has increasingly become a proxy for dedication and hard work. It’s the feeling, whether it’s warranted or not, that you need to get back to the other person ASAP. This can also be heavily influenced by who the person is or what the role is. 

An emotionally intelligent leader realizes this and considers their communication with others outside of working hours in order to not impede on their downtime and help to encourage a healthy work/life balance. Include expectations with those who have a tendency to get back to you no matter the hour or struggle with prioritization. 

“Please don’t feel the need to respond today. We can talk about it on (X Date).”

“I know you have a busy morning tomorrow, so if you can get back to me by the end of the day that would be great.”

“We’re presenting next Friday, so let me know this week what you think.”

Even if you do this, there are going to be some folks who are just wired to ignore your date and next it back to you as soon as possible. The implication is that it doesn’t matter what you say, if you send messages during off hours, you’ll be denying those people a chance to connect. Leverage scheduling your emails or have them in your drafts to send after it’s time to get back to working hours again.

Show a willingness to share what you are feeling

Some leaders are just not comfortable expressing their emotions to those that they work with. While this doesn’t give the person a free pass to be unprofessional and succumb to outbursts and fits of rage, it does mean that you show up as your honest and true self. In your environment, this may mean sharing both the good news and the bad. It also means celebrating the wins while acknowledging the tough days and losses. 

Our fears, insecurity, internal visual of what a leader looks like, and uncertainty in direction can all put up barriers As a result, we put on a facade that hides who we truly are. Help strengthen your emotional intelligence by taking small steps here to open yourself up to others. 

You can find a deeper dive into this topic at How Transparency Helps Your Team and Career (Show 305)

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. 

Continue to hone your emotional intelligence skills to bring better balance into your work/life rhythm, and a healthier environment for yourself and those that you serve. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

What leader shadow are you casting?

What leader shadow are you casting?

Good leadership cascades out and impacts the team long after a leader leaves the room. Like a shadow, it follows a person and can be even larger than the person themselves. As you can imagine, that shadow can have both a positive impact and a negative one. 

During the pandemic, the CEO of REI,  Eric Artz, announced that he was suspending his pay and refusing any additional incentives as stores closed across the nation. The board also took pay cuts as well. Those funds were diverted to help keep paychecks going for people in the field during uncertain times. 

Absenteeism (Show 173) Micromanaging (Show 314) or leading like a seagull (Show 260) can all lead to a negative shadow that demotivates others, fosters a culture that is counter to what is productive, and does additional damage long after you are gone. 

What kind of shadow are you casting? Today we’ll look at four areas to reflect on as you think about what type of shadow you cast on your work and on others. 

What am I saying?


Your people more than likely want to do right by you and your organization. As a result, they are highly influenced by what you say and communicate to them.  For example, if you say things like “I know the policy says this, but we actually do this” or “I know what my leader said, but this is what we are going to do,” the shadow you are casting is telling your people not to trust or take policies too seriously and not to trust what other leaders are saying. 

How are you communicating priorities? Are they one-off conversations or are they ingrained in the regular expectations? An easy example here is diversity. Is there a discussion once or twice a year or is it a part of the regular conversation?

Self-reflection tips for your communication

  • Does my communication align with the larger direction and vision?
  • Is my communication inclusive of others?
  • Is my humor appropriate?
  • Does my communication instill trust and confidence?
  • Is my communication clear?

How do I act?


Actions truly do speak louder than words. A popular saying goes, “People won’t remember what you say, but how you made them feel.” Yes, your actions are the ones that people tend to remember the most, but inactions can communicate just as loudly. 

Self-reflection tips for your actions

Fulfill your commitments and show that you care for the team’s well-being in order to help strengthen and lengthen your leadership shadow. 

What do I prioritize?


This is a category that is highly emulated by those that you lead and includes both business goals and well-being efforts. When I worked in a senior-level operations role, I discovered that no one could recite our Values or knew the mission statement. How could we ground our work if there was no foundation? I made it a priority and had everyone recite them together during the daily team huddles. In a few short months, hundreds of people across a large geographical area were doing the same thing. Having that foundation, made other conversations around accountability, expectations, and care easier because they aligned with the Values that everyone knew. 

What you prioritize, will be the same things that your team will prioritize as well. Much in the same way as your actions, your team will not likely highly prioritize things that you don’t yourself. 

Self-reflection tips for prioritization

  • How supportive are you in prioritizing other’s well-being?
  • Do your priorities align with the larger business goals?
  • Are you making the priorities a part of your everyday conversations?
  • What items or topics do you engage directly with your team about?

What am I measuring?


Lieutenant General David Morrison AO, Chief of the U.S. Army said, “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. I knew I had to be clear and direct about what was unacceptable behavior in the Army and that there would be tough consequences for anyone found to be in breach”.  If you as a leader don’t embrace accountability, then your words can mean next to nothing to your team. Accountability is the culmination of your words, actions, and priorities and determines how strong your shadow is. 

Self-reflection tips for accountability

Your Leadership Legacy is what you leave for generations to come. Your leadership shadow can be a huge influence today. Focus on these four areas and watch your influence grow beyond your expectations. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

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