LeadershipTips

Transformation begins with small but mighty changes.

Anticipate Conflict

High performing teams, and teams of individuals who are just getting to know each other may have different ideas, visions, and opinions. As the team leader, be prepared to manage all voices and conflicts that may occur as teams are beginning to build trust and execute together.

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Commit to Connecting

If the months keep passing and you keep forgetting to connect with customers, use your calendar to establish a cadence for connecting. Set a 30 minute appointment on the same day of each month and use that time to schedule your connections. Then, treat the appointments as sacred events on your calendar. Avoid canceling and adjust the number of appointments each month, as you learn what works best for you.

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Model the Culture You Want

“You create the culture in your environment.” – Dr. Natalie Harder.

If you want a positive culture in your organization, as the leader realize you set the tone for the culture of your organization. Hold up the mirror and reflect on how you can model the culture you want for your organization. Culture change happens one interaction at a time and causes a ripple through an organization from person to person.

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Form a Pack of Leaders

Surround yourself with other individuals who lead their own work, and exchange ideas and best practices with one another. You can connect in person or create a private group or community on social media. If you interact through a group or community online, your conversations, documents, tips, and best practices will all be saved in the group so anyone invited can refer back to it later.

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Investing Your Time

As leaders working with individuals to support their growth and improvements it’s important to be aware of the time you are investing in each individual compared to the outcomes. There are some individuals that will reach the high-solid performance level but may not achieve the high performer level. Leaders have to decide if they can accept performance at the solid performer level, or if they have more time to contribute to investing in the individual.

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One at a Time

After an initial communication of all organizational goals, consider focusing on one goal at a time during the next few team meetings. Use this time to help team members see how their roles connect to the larger aims and identify actions the team will take to support achievement of the goal.

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Win Vs. Loss

When we’re trying to accomplish really important goals, it’s easy to forget to celebrate progress. For one week, keep a tally of the number of times you point out a set-back and a tally of the number of times you celebrate a win. Do the wins win? If you proclaimed the negative more often, try again next week. Build a habit of celebrating wins that matter.

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Develop Awareness

Track your actions for one week to develop an awareness of how you stack up in the area of modeling standards and expectations.

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Use “But” to Improve

When you find yourself describing a supervisee as “a great employee, but lacks punctuality,” use what comes after the “but” as an opportunity to improve that individual’s performance. Instead of accepting the one bad behavior because you think the person is a high performer, try providing support to correct the problem and help the individual become a  true high performer.

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Be Serious

Don’t start the low performer conversation with a greeting such as, “How are you?” This is not the time for a positive, friendly conversation. Stay focused on the talking points you prepared, and let your low performer know they will have a chance to speak after you’ve finished.

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Become an Active Mentor

Reflect on your current connections and pinpoint someone you think would love to establish a mentor/mentee relationship with you and set up a meeting to talk about the possibility.

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Get Back to the Fundamentals

What tactics do you have in place to create better alignment in the workplace? Are you training your leaders in basic competencies? Are you using a common agenda for all of your meetings? Reflect on what you could implement or do better.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do we get people to trust? We start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Change Can Be Uncomfortable

The initial reaction is to slow down and back off because leaders tend to be uncomfortable with discomfort. This is the most important time to keep the throttle down.

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Strive to Inform

Executive leaders should constantly strive to keep their team informed, as well as the entire organization. Be certain your executive leaders have the necessary tools to make informed decisions in order to share out accurate information.

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Reflect on Turnover

Is your organization or department retaining talent? Is there room for improvement in your hiring process? Chances are there is ample space to make stronger hiring decisions. Apply just one new method to your next round of interviews.

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Schedule Time for Note-Taking

Set aside specific time in your schedule after meetings to take notes. You’ll be meeting with many people and you’ll want to remember the valuable information you learned about the organization and them personally. Looking back on these notes will help you take action after your first 100 days have passed.

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Non-Dominant Hand Practice

Time yourself writing your name with your non-dominant hand. Then, time yourself writing your name with your dominant hand. Relate that to the time wasted when we, or our team members, are asked to work outside of our strengths. Think about how you or your team members can spend more time working within their strengths.

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Grow Daily

“Make a commitment to intentionally grow. Identify the areas in which you want to grow. There should be at least two and no more than five. Invest one hour a day in those two areas. Preparation. Practice. Reflection. You do it every day.”

– John C. Maxwell

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Lead by Example

Be aware of your actions as a leader but also be aware of the actions of the leadership team. All eyes in the organization are looking to you to commit to excellence and lead by example.

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Values Start from the Top

Team members look to the leader to set the expectation. Leaders must lead by example and align their actions to the values of the organization. To become a credible leader, you must genuinely and consistently stand up for your beliefs and principles.

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Planned Communication

Pre-planning for conversations with employees is the sign of a high-performing leader. Preparation is necessary for identifying a clear outcome from the communication, as well as the specific feedback we want to share. Identify the Key Words you will use during the conversation as well as any recent accomplishments or recognition to highlight.

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EQ is a Must-Have for Leader Success

“Emotional intelligence, not knowledge, education or experience, is the key driver in leader success. To excel in personal competence, one must exercise high levels of self-awareness and self-management. To achieve at high levels in the area of social competence, one must be skilled in social awareness and relationships management. Gaps in any of these 4 EQ skill areas could contribute to individual performance gaps that will negatively impact employee engagement and organizational results.”

Source: Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry & Jean Greaves

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Grow Your Own Program

Set up an exploratory pipeline program for new leaders interested in building career options within the organization. Partner a potential successor with the leader serving in a position soon to open to complete current projects, especially ongoing or challenging projects, to learn about the position and processes. Conduct ongoing talent review discussions to keep options and opportunities open for rising talent. Invest in talent development training for rising successors.

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Build Strong Relationships

When you consistently treat people with respect, transparency, fairness, and gratitude, you’re building a strong emotional bank account with them. Our own happiness and success are largely dependent on the relationships we build with others. Having a good friend in the workplace increases satisfaction at work according to Gallup. Take one action today to build a stronger relationship with your coworkers.

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Getting Comfortable with Compliance Conversations

Compliance conversations are often uncomfortable. It’s important to be clear and direct about expectations and steps for correction. Avoiding the discomfort of compliance conversations by not having one only makes matters worse for you, the employee, and the team. To get comfortable and ensure you have the right words, consider scripting and practicing your compliance conversation.

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Break the We/They Habit

We/They is easy to do and often undetected. Bringing the practice to light and learning how to spot statements that paint others in a negative light is the first step to eliminating We/They from your organization. Model the expectation of eradication by admitting when you We/They throughout the week. The team will respect this open reflection and be more willing to hold themselves accountable.

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Tell Your High Performers You Want Them to Stay

Retaining high-performers is absolutely key to the success of the organization. Top-performing employees drive the culture and achieve quality results. When conversing with these employees, try saying, “We want to make sure you are with us for a very long time. Is there anything that would cause you to think about leaving? Are you satisfied with your work here? Are you moving in the direction you want to go?”

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Rolling Out Results Builds Trust

Rolling out results with employees is a powerful form of transparency that breeds trust among employees. When employees trust their leader, they become more deeply connected to the work they do. Moreover, when the direction and goals of the organization are clearly communicated, employees take ownership of their work and set their own individual goals to achieve overall results.

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The Value of Note-Taking

Set aside specific time in your schedule after meetings to take notes. When meeting with many people you’ll want to remember the valuable information you learned about the organization and them personally. Looking back on these notes will help you take action after your first 100 days have passed.

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Seek Out Experts

Professional organizations and industry events are a great way to meet experts in your industry. These are people you can reach out to for advice and feedback, who may even become a mentor of yours at some point. To build relationships and your own credibility, make a commitment to attend specific industry events or a specific number of events per month.

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Reflect on Performance

Ask employees to reflect on their own performance:

  • What’s working well & why?
  • What’s not working as well as you would like?
  • Why isn’t this working? What do you think?
  • What about the work plan is helping you achieve the results? What is not working?
  • What adjustments could you make?
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Lead Your Work

Leaders are present in all roles of an organization. They meet deadlines, live the organization’s values, foresee and prevent obstacles, focus on what’s important, and take pride in their work. Are you a role model of leader behaviors, can your colleagues rely on you?

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Do You Really Need to be Doing That?

It’s common for high performers to continue to volunteer for additional responsibilities, to the point where they may become burned out. To prevent this, it’s vital to pause and think, “Do I really need to be doing this? Is there someone else on my team that would like this opportunity? or Is there a way to automate this task?” Consider whether you are delegating responsibilities as you continue to take on new ones.

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Focus on Growth & Development

When crafting a job description and searching for highly talented candidates, it’s important to focus on how this person will contribute to the overall success of the organization. Don’t create a list of endless responsibilites. What opportunities will they have to grow and develop their skills? How will the candidate’s achievements in this role align to business objectives and advancement opportunities?

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Build Advocates

Not everyone has a leader that is willing to advocate on their behalf when it comes to a new position, promotion, or career change. It’s beneficial to develop relationships with other leaders and individuals in your industry, or with more experience than you, to advocate on your behalf. Identify at least 1 person you would like to develop a relationship with.

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Fulfill a New Passion

Identify an area within your organization about which you are passionate. Have a conversation with your leader about ways to incorporate this passion into your work.

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Use High Performers to Guide

Low solid performers are committed to the organization, but can also be easily influenced by negative, low performers. To best support a low solid performer, partner them with positive, high performers for skill development opportunities.

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Encourage Solid Performers

Solid performers want to build relationships with their leaders, have opportunities for professional development, and hear feedback that inspires improvement. Identify the solid performers on your team, and help them grow by identifying one skill or area for improvement at a time. Ask engaging questions to gain reflective insight and possible solutions from the employee. Ask how you can support their growth and professional development.

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4 Steps to Re-Recruit High Performers

  1. Thank them for their contributions.
  2. Ensure that the employee is informed of the direction of the organization.
  3. Review the characteristics that make the individual valuable to the organization, be specific.
  4. Ask what can be done to ensure you do not lose the employee as a member of the team; reiterate that person’s importance to the organization’s mission.

Listen carefully and follow through with any requests for support.

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Daily Gratitude

Take 30 seconds out of each day to record one thing you are grateful for. You can use a gratitude journal, a word document, or even a voice or video recorder on your phone.

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Use Key Words During Results Rollout

While seeking feedback on your lowest scored survey items, using Key Words like those in the example below can be useful:

“I want to tell you I am disappointed that our results did not improve in this area. I’m committed to working with our team to create a great work environment and need your input to know the best actions to take to support our team. Help me understand, what did you specifically mean when you scored item__ a ___? What things can I or we do to improve this area?”

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Turn Aspiring Leaders into Mentors

To encourage the development of aspiring leaders, offer them the opportunity to mentor the organization’s newest employees. Not only will your aspiring leaders learn how to coach others, but the organization will see a variety of benefits from reduced turnover to increased morale.

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Communicate by Listening

Individuals want to be heard and able to share their ideas. Leaders who are able to develop good relationships with their employees are likely good listeners. To become a better listener, be attentive, ask open-ended questions, ask probing questions, request clarification, paraphrase, be compassionate and empathetic, and summarize back the information you heard to ensure its accuracy and let the communicator know they are heard.

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Clarify Decision Making

Be open with all employees in the organization about the decision-making process. The more information an individual has about why and how a decision was made, the less anxious and uncertain they may feel. During conversations with your teams this week, make it a point to be transparent and start by explaining the why.

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Drowning in Data?

The quality of the data is much more important than the quantity. Are you collecting the data that is most important for the organization? Are you using the data that’s being collected? Align the data to the organization’s goals to focus on what matters most and eliminate unnecessary data collection.

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Use Probing Questions

Rather than risk alienating a team member with constructive criticism, try probing questions to initiate improvement. Start with: “Have you experienced any barriers to achieving results recently? How did you work through that?” Then, probe: “Can you think of a time you’ve experienced a similar barrier? What did you do?” Offer suggestions by explaining what has worked for you in a similar situation. Close by asking: “What actions could you take to grow and develop your skills? How can I help you?”

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Meet with Leaders First

Ask the leadership team to participate in a Leadership Forum prior to the organization-wide employee forum. Explain what the employee forum will look like and gather feedback to ensure it’s successful. Include the information needed for leaders to continue to reinforce the message with their teams over the next 90 days.

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Get Aspiring Leaders Involved

While supporting the development of an aspiring leader, involve them with real-life situations that present an opportunity for decision making or problem-solving. New leaders can also develop skills in these areas by conducting role-play scenarios and reviewing case studies.

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Support Succession Planning

Consider what a leadership development program would look like for your organization. Picture a process for developing aspiring leaders and supporting growth in areas such as communication, performance conversations, talent management, and continuous improvement. This may include leadership development retreats, learning tools, or a partnership with a mentor.

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Stop and Celebrate

Some projects take years to complete, others are never complete due to consistent advances in technology. Take time to stop and reflect on the projects that you lead. Have you celebrated the small wins along the way? Have you taken time to recognize and appreciate all of the work that has gone into the project? Leaders who reflect on the team’s progress, recognize it and celebrate it, keep the team motivated for the long run.

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Accurately Distinguish Your Emotions

One way to increase emotional intelligence is to get really specific about what emotion you’re experiencing. Instead of using ‘happy’ consider if you’re really ‘ecstatic’ or ‘blissful’ or ‘cheerful’. Are you ‘angry’ or are you ‘irritated’ or maybe ‘resentful’? The more accurately you categorize your emotions the better you will become at regulating them.

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Sleep On It

Writing and sending an emotionally charged message can be a costly error. When tempted to respond to a situation or person in such instances, it is best to wait 24 hours, review the message, and decide whether it is still appropriate to send.

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Identify Who is Next

Who will be in their current position 5 years from now? Who will be promoted? Who will have moved on? Part of a great leader’s organizational strategy is to create a plan for succession and the development of new leaders. Identify one person this week that can be developed to succeed you.

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Develop Yourself to Develop Others

Choose a skill you need to develop further as a leader and set aside 30 minutes each day to practice. We can only take someone as far as we’ve taken ourselves.

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Get Your Game Face On

A leader must consistently display their game face. Regardless of the situation, no negative emotion or expression can show. Leaders communicate with body language. If your stomach is churning, your expression stays calm.

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Leading Change

Do one thing today outside of your comfort zone. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

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Authenticity Creates Followers

Make pausing a practice in your communication. By taking time to consider what we are communicating, we become more authentic and those we lead are more likely to trust us.

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Take Time to Reflect

When was the last time you reflected when things went wrong? Learn from your mistakes by taking time to reflect on the cause. This week, at the end of each day, reflect and identify your mistakes and where you can improve. Before you plan next year’s strategic actions, reflect on what results weren’t reached in the past year and what can be done differently.

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