Every Leader is Different
Sports and athletics have offered many of us an opportunity to develop critical leadership and life skills. This podcast episode features a special guest who faced a unique set of circumstances requiring him to remain agile and authentic throughout his childhood and young career.
5 Ways to Lead and Work Differently
A leader's most important challenge is to keep the organization from falling. To continuously improve and continuously adapt to change we need a fluid, dynamic, agile strategy and a workplace focused on continuous learning. Listen as Janet shares 5 ways to lead and work differently as learning organizations of the future.
Are We Over-Generalizing the Term Micromanagement?
When we think of micromanaging, it typically has a negative connotation. But the reality is, extra supervision and coaching are sometimes necessary before some individuals are ready to leave the nest. What can leaders do to help employees feel supported, rather than micromanaged?
Ready to level up your leadership?
What skills do we need to cultivate now to lead our organizations into the future? In this podcast episode, Dr. Janet Pilcher challenges the solution of reorganizing the hierarchical structures within our organizations and recommends we focus on increasing agility to manage through consistent and continuous change. As leaders our most important job is to develop and coach employees to work across boundaries, transforming people into leaders.
Maximize Rounding in Your Organization
There isn’t a wrong way to conduct rounding – unless you are avoiding it all together. When we round, our goal is to build relationships with our stakeholders. It doesn’t matter if we approach rounding in a formal or informal fashion. Its true value is in the connection itself.
Do We Always Ask the Same Rounding Questions?
When leaders round with employees on a routine basis, they harvest valuable information and form a trusting relationship. Although we like to start with 4 specific questions, it can be helpful to personalize your rounding conversations over the course of your relationship.
What Do All Leaders Have in Common?
We all have preconceived notions of what a CEO should look like, or act like. But the truth is, the best leaders have a variety of qualities and no two are the same. In this podcast episode, Quint Studer and our host Dr. Janet Pilcher discuss why leadership is an inside job and how we can develop greater self-awareness to remove the baggage preventing us from becoming great leaders.
We All Reach Crossroads
It seems sometimes there are no easy decisions. It can be uncomfortable for us to lead in a place of uncertainty. However, as this podcast guest explains, leadership isn't comfortable. In order to create better organizations and communities, we’ll need to embrace the discomfort of doing what’s right.
Leading During Uncertainty
Leaders in organizations are often facing multiple decisions and are balancing serving multiple audiences. As continuous change becomes a more constant reality we are commonly faced with uncertainty. In this podcast episode, a Superintendent shares how their district is proactively planning communication and preparing for the unknown.
Vulnerability is a Strength
For years, people have felt the need to “shut off” or conceal their emotions in the workplace. Now, we are realizing, effective leaders tune into the emotions of their employees to provide support, motivate teams, and create deeper connections between individuals.
Innovation Isn't Always What You Think It Is
Innovation is a topic we hear a lot about in the workplace, but it’s often misunderstood. Being innovative means more than just coming up with cool things to do. Innovation doesn’t have to be big and different, and it’s not something only geniuses do. In this episode, listen as Dr. JoAnn Sternke discusses with our host how true creativity and innovation can emerge as we focus on adding value.
How Can Leaders Develop their Teams?
In this podcast episode, listen as Studer Education Leader Coach, Dr. Melissa Matarazzo shares some game-changing practices that have helped her best support the coaches she leads as well as valuable tips leaders can put into action right now to help grow and develop their teams.
How Resilient Are You?
A resilient organization does more than respond to change, crisis, or threats. To establish a culture of resilience, leaders model resilient behaviors, use the language of resiliency, and inspire teams to keep moving forward. Review the four critical characteristics of resilient leaders.
What is the Outcome?
In times of crisis or disruption, it's rare for anyone to have all of the answers. The best leaders are most impactful by focusing on what needs to be communicated first and how to be intentional with that message. In this episode, JoAnn explains why your communication should always start with why.
Bring Teams Together
In this podcast, a school district leader describes how his team came together to solve problems amid disruption. Corey credits his team's success to their culture and guiding principles established across the system to make decisions and collaborate for the benefit of their students.
What Does it Mean to be Authentic?
As a leader, authenticity increases the likelihood that those we lead will believe us and follow our requests. Becoming an authentic leader is not necessarily easy, but the concept is simple. During this episode, Janet connects to the foundation of authenticity: self-awareness. She offers 6 actions to practice if you want to become an authentic leader.
Always Be Forward Thinking
When leaders face periods of disruption, teams count on the leaders to guide them towards success. In this episode, Dr. Natalie Harder discusses how her team successfully navigated through intense change and the effects of a strong culture and values while leading during times of uncertainty.
Communicate Decisions by Connecting the Mind and the Heart
Nothing stays the same. In fact, if we keep doing things the same way we’ve always done them, it’s likely our performance will decline. Change is the only constant in our organizations and in life, and for most, change is uncomfortable. Here are 3 leadership characteristics necessary for managing continuously changing organizations.
Expectations + Accountability = Shared Vision
Leading an executive team is no easy task. Leading an executive team that's comprised of new executives can be even more challenging. How can leaders of executive teams bring individuals together to execute on a shared vision while also maintaining a focus on developing each individual?
Trust: The Foundation for Successful Teams
As the pace of change continues to increase, the demand on individuals and teams to become more agile is higher than ever. Whether you have a mixture of new and old team members, or a completely new set of people working together, it’s critical to build trust as a team before goals can be accomplished together.
Treat all employees fairly and consistently
To show we have taken all the right steps to support an employee’s success, it’s necessary to document performance problems and conversations. This documentation may not only protect the organization in the case of a lawsuit, it ensures all employees are treated fairly and consistently.
How do you know it's time to let go?
As leaders we care about the individuals who make up our teams. However our reluctance to address low performers can actually be doing more harm than good for our teams. For an organization to become great, leaders need to dig deep, find the problems, who the problem people are, and address poor performance and/or behavior.
Bring Problems Forward
What can leaders do to create safe environments for teams to bring problems forward, while avoiding being bombarded by complaints? In this podcast episode, Dr. Pilcher encourages team members use key words, take ownership, and bring complex problems to their leaders for guidance.
Are coworkers driving you crazy?
Many of us are in frequent contact daily with a number of colleagues, some of which are easier to work with than others. Working with a difficult colleague undermines productivity and happiness in the workplace. Learning to deal with difficult people is vital to our success, both individually and as teams.
Refocus the Conversation
As leaders conduct monthly meetings and regular check-ins with the employees that report to them, it may become apparent that some individuals are more difficult than others. If you find yourself dealing with an employee who frequently guides meetings to an unproductive place, anticipate this behavior and develop a plan to refocus the conversation.
Motivate Colleagues to Grow & Improve
Moments to provide feedback aren't limited to leader-employee interactions, oftentimes it's necessary to deliver feedback to colleagues while working together. In this video, Mandy and Tatiana meet to discuss a project and engage in a collaborative feedback conversation with a positive outcome.
Positively Improve Performance
Think about the last time you received constructive criticism. Did it actually prompt you to change your behavior? Maybe not. Yet we know learning new skills and improving performance is something our peers and direct reports desire. The key is to reshape your feedback conversations to focus on achieving a positive outcome together.
"Here's what you should do..."
On the surface giving feedback seems simple; just tell someone what they did wrong and how to fix it. The problem is this type of constructive criticism rarely inspires improvement. The way we provide feedback makes a difference in how people receive and act on the feedback.
Problematic coworkers initiate conflict
While working with other people it’s not uncommon to encounter a difficult colleague. The better prepared we are to handle situations with difficult coworkers, the happier and more productive we will be at work. Use this video clip to practice responding to a difficult coworker.
Address Employee Needs & Ideas
When an employee reveals a needed resource, barrier to a process, or an idea for improvement, leaders have the responsibility to act on that information. Following-up and following-through after conversations or receiving feedback from employees builds trust and increases engagement and productivity. For this leadership challenge, determine follow-up actions to take as the leader after each leader connection scenario.
Connections Require Follow-Up
Scheduling and conducting monthly connection conversations with employees is a giant step towards increasing engagement on your team. Just as important as the conversations you’re having, is what you do with the information you collect. How can we ensure employees know they’re supported?
Is Your Team Engaged?
Sustaining high levels of employee engagement can be achieved by building relationships, affirming the individual’s value, removing barriers, and providing development and growth opportunities to employees. Use the following questions to analyze the employee experience for your team.
Engage Teams While Improving Processes
One of a leader’s greatest responsibilities is to ensure teams are engaged and productive. People are motivated to increase productivity when leaders take time to get to know them personally, make them feel comfortable, and help remove barriers in the workplace.
Are Your Priorities Clear?
After a strategic plan is in place, it’s important for the executive leadership team to meet and discuss what the priorities are and what they are not. These agreed upon priorities shape the daily actions of our teams, who work consistently to achieve results.
What's eroding your team's morale?
Employees and leaders suffering from low morale are the ultimate silent killers for an organization. Actively disengaged employees are costing the American economy billions per year in lost productivity. How can leaders recognize low-moral and re-engage team members before the organization's success is jeopardized?
Reacting too fast?
Have you ever found yourself regretting an answer, reaction, or outburst? Have you ever sent an email you wished you could get back? Learning to pause, gain a new perspective, and learn about the process can help leaders regulate their emotions, make better decisions, and respond to difficult situations in a positive way.
Less is More
After leaders spend time developing strategic plans for the organization, they connect with their teams about what actions matter the most. Using a narrow focus, leaders align the organization's larger goals to individual quarterly goals, and conduct regular progress monitoring to maximize results.
Who Has Leadership Potential?
Proactively identifying people in your organization that have leadership qualities helps the organization stay agile in the event that some leaders will retire, give notice, or abruptly leave. Chances are some of the high performers on your team are also aspiring leaders waiting for the right opportunity.
Become A Lighthouse for New Leaders
As you notice employees who are committed to your team, it's important to think about the future of the organization. Do you foresee any open leadership positions? How can you help develop the skills your aspiring leaders possess to fill any upcoming voids in the organization?
Confronting the Leader
The act of providing feedback to coworkers or a supervisor helps the organization be more successful. For some, it can be uncomfortable to approach a team member with anything other than positive feedback. With practice you can prepare to have a difficult conversation with your colleagues the right way.
Do You Know Who Your High Performers Are?
Identifying the performance levels our team members allows us to tailor our support specifically for them. The differences between high performers and low performers may seem simple, but it's possible that some low performers on your team are disguised as high performing individuals. How can you tell?
How Do We Really Know They're on Board?
All team members crave alignment to the overall direction of the organization to accelerate performance. People are counting on leaders to model the right behaviors, including the organization's most senior leader. It's the responsibility of this senior leader to engage employees, by keeping all of the executive leaders aligned to the goals, and to address any behavior that may be out of line.
Strengths and temperament
The majority of people focus on fixing their weaknesses, rather than growing their strengths. In this video, Wendi Ochs tells us about her journey to strengths discovery and how leaning into our strengths and temperaments can bolster a team's performance.
Saying Nothing IS Saying Something
You may observe repeated behavior from others that is not in line with your organization's culture. Talking to that person about their behavior and the impact it has on the team and the results can help them become more aware and correct their actions. Plan for having an impact conversation with your colleagues by following these guidelines.
What You Allow Will Continue
Addressing behaviors and actions that are not aligned to the organizations' values and policies is crucial to improve organizational performance. Before high performers and other employees become distracted its important to initiate a conversation to correct the non-compliant behaviors with a focus on improvement.
How do I connect with employees?
Leader connections provide employees with opportunities to give feedback and contribute to decision-making. In this video, one Human Resources employee catches her leader up on process improvements, professional development, and a colleague who has been especially helpful.
Know what you're going to say
Before sitting down to speak with your employees, it can be useful to prepare for the conversation. Preparation allows us to convey the information we intend, and build the best relationship possible with our team. Here's a guide to help you prepare for these conversations.
Factors forcing change
Change is inevitable. Major forces which contribute to continuous organizational change include technological, economic, social, legal and international. Being aware of the factors affecting change allows us to be proactive in predicting important changes and developing tools to lead organizational change with confidence.
Call It How You See It
Values and standards of behavior are essential to high performing organizations. They only work when respected by all team members. Having conversations with a colleague you feel has violated your organization's values is one way to assure everyone stays on course and their is continuous respect of standards.
Sad v. Forlorn: How accurately do you describe your emotions?
Studies show we lack consistent emotions from person to person. This lack of consistency shows emotions aren’t universal and improvement is possible. By digging deeper into our emotional development and expanding our vocabulary, a greater range of emotional flexibility can be achieved.
Build positive and productive thinking
The way leaders construct questions will either open or narrow minds. To get more of what we want out of our teams and increase positive outcomes, it is important for leaders to ask questions that encourage high levels of reflection and creative thinking.
How should I collect data?
High-performing leaders realize the importance of using data for reflection and improvement. Reflecting on the right data is important across the organization. Three operational leaders explain how they use data collecting throughout the year to reflect and plan for annual improvements.
I know each employee's performance level. Now what?
Moving an organization forward requires appropriate levels of leadership support and feedback for improvement. This begins with a clear determination of employee performance levels. This leadership challenge is designed to guide leaders through a process of differentiating staff performance levels.
How do I know where my employees land on the performance curve?
The first step in providing the most effective leadership support is to determine the performance level of each employee. The purpose of grouping employees is to differentiate the approach for feedback and improvement. This tool assists leaders in differentiating employee performance before having conversations that move the organization to excellence.
You say "barrier." I say "opportunity."
Plus/Delta is a formative assessment process that asks team members what worked well and what could be adjusted for improvement. This exercise is designed to provide teams with an opportunity to brainstorm strategies for improving a situation, process, or event.
Skill vs. Will
The first step in supporting low performance is to assess if the low performance is a result of low skill or low will. This requires observation, and even documentation, related to the lack of task or job performance. High performers expect leaders to deal with low performers, and high performers will exit the organization if poor performance is not addressed and corrected.
The High-Stakes Impact of Failing to Re-recruit
The research from this educational context is certainly transferable to any sector. In this article, we learn how a simple question could have convinced an irreplaceable employee to stay. Top performers are more likely to stick with leaders who actively re-recruit them.
What do I say to my top performers?
A re-recruitment conversation is one of the easiest ways to retain a high-performing employee. The High Performer Re-recruitment Conversation Template guides leaders through the structure for this dialogue. During the conversation, this tool reminds you to tell them specific ways their contributions are valued.
High performers want conversation.
Re-recruitment of high performers requires intentional and thoughtful dialogue. Melissa Matarazzo leads a re-recruitment conversation with a high-performing employee, JoAnn Sternke. The conversation begins with gratitude and progresses to defining opportunities for advanced contributions.
Stop the Meeting Madness
We spend a lot of time in meetings. In fact, our research has found that some of us spend as much as 50% of our time just attending meetings. While they are a great way to keep teams connected, wouldn't it be great if we could structure these meetings to be more efficient and effective to give us more time back in the day?
Are you fully invested?
High performing organizations want to fill their employee ranks with owners and effective leaders seek to recruit employees who exhibit ownership, while at the same time strategically developing ownership in current employees. Fortunately, leaders can find, hire, and retain owners within their organizational ranks.