When I was in college, I had a roommate who had a goal to eat a bicycle. Every evening he would take out a file and file himself a teaspoon of bike. In the morning he would place the shavings in his cereal which he ate. During the year that I lived with him, he managed to eat half of his bike.
May 1st in the United States was Loyalty Day. It is a day when citizens acknowledge and affirm their allegiance to the country and to their heritage of American freedom. The U.S. Congress designated May 1st as Loyalty Day on July 18, 1958.
This year’s annual observance gave me cause to reflect on the loyalty that leaders and employees have to each other. One of my clients recently finished their analysis of the annual employee opinion survey and discovered that if employees had the opportunity to take another job they would do so. The survey also identified that upper management was aloof or estranged from their team members. It isn’t hard to interpret that the lack of connection among leaders and their teams or the individuals who work for them would result in various forms of discontent that would impact morale and performance. This situation seems to be even more prevalent today as more emphasis is placed on the bottom line and less on the manager-employee relationship.
With recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, Maryland, among other places around the country, and with the election of Donald Trump, people’s positions and opinions have become more and more polarized. Civil discourse and meaningful dialogue have been replaced by rancor, accusation, disrespectful language, and wild speculation unbefitting a civil and democratic society.
During the last several weeks, I had the opportunity to speak to a wonderful group of leaders at a very large company in the Midwestern United States about how to increase innovation through collaboration. This singular organization is trying to change its culture by involving its individual associates in making a difference to the success of their business by improving any process that directly impacts their customers. Such an endeavor is not only admirable, but absolutely essential to their future viability in the marketplace.
Any change of this magnitude is always fraught with challenges because people often meet change with resistance....
During my years as a consultant, I have often had people say to me, “I wish my leader knew …” to which I would encourage the individual to speak up and raise an issue of real concern so things might improve. When I did this, I often got the following responses:
“It won’t make a difference.”
“I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“It will just make them mad.”
Whatever the excuse for not speaking up, I noticed that most people were afraid of the consequences. Perhaps they thought negative things would occur because of the team atmosphere. However, I found that it didn’t...
Years ago during my first job in corporate America, I experienced firsthand the power of presence. There was a woman in my department that everyone referred to as "Crazy Mary." I thought the reference was uncalled for--until I had an experience with her.
Once day she called me into her office to review the progress I was making with a project she had assigned to me. She was more than cordial as we discussed my work and review the milestones of the project. I remember thinking as I left her office how kind and considerate she had been. The very next day, she came into my cubicle and demanded I follow her immediately into her office. When I entered her office, she began to yell and belittle me for the very accomplishments that she had complimented me for on the previous day.
Will had worked hard for the company for about two years. Not once in that time had his manager spoken with him about his development. Somewhat concerned, Will approached his manager and asked if they could discuss his career development. The manager said, “I’ll have my assistant reach out to you next week to schedule some time together.” Nothing happened, so Will brought up the issue with his manager again. This time the manager scheduled the appointment himself about two weeks out. When the time finally arrived, the manager canceled the appointment about an hour before the meeting. Frustrated, Will...
The challenge for leaders is that they are frequently unaware of how their behavior negatively impacts their people's performance. Because of the continuing emphasis on results, many leaders really don’t focus on how they achieve results as long as they obtain the desired results.
During our leadership training, we often ask participants to identify past leadership behaviors they have experienced that have frustrated their efforts and negatively impacted their results. What starts out as an amusing exercise usually turns to quiet introspection as individuals consider how they treat their supporting cast.
We realize that sometimes work simply becomes so hectic that leaders...
You talk about issues and challenges until you are blue in the face, but you still don't get results. People promise they will do this or that, but they don't. So you have a decision to make: "Do I bring up the tough issue, their lack of commitment, their poor performance--or not?"
In our leadership development training, we like to start out by asking people to list as many characteristics about their former leaders that they both abhorred and adored. This tends to start out as a fun exercise, but takes a more serious turn as people then start to look at themselves and their own leadership skills and behaviors.
Ten Leadership Traits That People Adore
1. Has a clear vision of how people’s work meets the leader’s expectations
2. Provides timely, clear, constructive feedback
3. Expresses appreciation and gives credit where credit is due
4. Actively listens and answers questions
5. Treats others with respect and kindness
I was recently asked to write a piece for a magazine on developing presence. Because of the short deadline, I was disappointed that I had to decline the opportunity. However I believe this to be an important topic for not only leaders but also anyone who works with people to carefully consider because it impacts the influence and positive effect you can have on others. With more time to reflect on the topic, I couldn’t help myself.
I would define “presence” to be the vibe, energy, frequency, or power that emanates from us. When I think of presence, I think of...
Many organizations and leaders highly espouse transparency and openness in an attempt to improve their organization’s effectiveness. Even though this may be part of what an organization portends to support, the question still persists, “Do they really want to know the truth or do they just want to hear what they want to hear?” Unfortunately, a consultant friend of mine had a poor experience with a leader who said he wanted the truth, but really didn’t.
Jill had been hired as an outside consultant to help improve an organization’s systems and processes. One day during a training class, a senior leader...
I attended a leadership conference a few weeks ago at which I had been asked to speak. In one of the sessions, I was surprised when a senior executive stood before a group of newly promoted leaders and said, “I want to remind you of the importance of really loving the people who work for you!” I have long believed that leaders who truly care for their people become the leaders who are able to help others to create extraordinary results. I just had never heard anyone express this sentiment so directly or openly.
Caring for others really does have an...