Friday, August 31

Are You Betraying Yourself?

Self-betrayal happens when you have the sense to do something for someone or say something to someone, then for whatever reason, you choose not to do or say it. Think about the following scenarios:

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where a colleague needed some information for a project and you didn’t share this with him even though you knew it was crucial to the project’s success?

Have you ever not held the elevator for someone who was obviously rushing to get to it?

Have you ever thought about telling someone that you admired something about them but just never did?

These simple acts are acts of self-betrayal. In their ground-breaking book, Leadership and Self-Deception, The Arbinger Institute highlights seven principles of self-betrayal:

1. An act contrary to what I feel I should do for another is called an act of self-betrayal.
2. When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal.
3. When I see a self-justifying world, my view of reality becomes distorted.
4. When I betray myself, I enter the box.
5. Over time, certain boxes become characteristic of me, and I carry them with me.
6. By being IN the box, I provoke others to be in the box.
7. In the box, we invite mutual mistreatment and obtain mutual justification. We collude in giving each other reason to stay in the box.

Take the time this weekend to think about your actions, or the lack of the actions you thought to take.

Why did you not take the actions you thought you should take?

How did you feel after not taking the action?

What changes can you make in order to not betray yourself the next time?

Check out Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute. Your life will never be the same.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Tuesday, August 28

Leadership is Influence

People are first influenced by what they see. If you have children, then you've probably observed this. No matter what you tell your children to do, their natural inclination is to follow what they see you doing. For most people, if they perceive that you are positive and trustworthy and have admirable qualities, then they will seek you as an influencer in their lives.

When you meet people who don't know you, at first you have no influence with them at all. If someone they trust introduces you to them, then you can temporarily "borrow" some of their influence. But as soon as they have some time to observe you, you either build or bust that influence by your actions.

From Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell and Jim Dornan

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Sunday, August 26

Leadership and Self-Deception

This week, I would like to plug a book that has been revolutionary for me. I have read many, many leadership books. This one was a bit deceiving, because of the title. But it is not just a great leadership book, but a great communication and relationship building resource that everyone should have on their shelves. When I say that this book has changed my life, I am not just trying to gas anyone up. This book is da bomb!

Written by the Arbinger Institute, a worldwide institute that helps organizations, families, individuals, and communities solve the problems created by self-deception. Arbinger is the ancient French spelling of the word “harbinger” as in “foreshadowing what is to come.” The institute has chosen the name Arbinger to symbolize its role as a forerunner, a “harbinger” of change. Their goal is to break new ground in solving the age-old problem of self-deception, or what was originally called resistance.

The institute asks: “How can people simultaneously
1) create their own problems,
2) be unable to see that they are creating their own problems, and yet
3) resist any attempts to help them stop creating those problems?”

According to the Arbinger Institute, this phenomenon is at the heart of much organizational failure.

Leadership and Self-Deception, written as a fable, portrays the efforts of the leadership team of the fictitious Zagrum company to teach a new team member about their unique management style. The team members use examples of their own family conflicts to demonstrate how the new member has been “in the box” with his co-workers.

Here’s an example of self-betrayal from the Arbinger Institute:

You’re the husband in this story. Jill is your wife. You’re sound asleep after a hard day. At 4 am, your young daughter’s cries wake you.

Your thoughts…
“I’d better get up and take care of her … but I’m tired, I’m so comfortable … Jill can do it … but she’s not getting up … doesn’t she hear the kid? …. I work hard all day, I did the kid last night … what’s wrong with her …? I’m a good husband … she’s still not up! She’s being lazy … she’s a lousy mom.”

Bang. You’ve gone from sound asleep to condemning your wife in a few seconds flat.

Self-deception is likened to being in the box because it seems that you’re shut in a box with no other external stimulus coming in except your own closed perspective. This inability to see that the problem lies within you carries its weight on the relationship you have with your peers and ultimately translates itself on the performance of your group.

It is the case of everyone in your organization thinking you’re the problem except that you’re not even aware or are even in denial of such a possibility. Here, you will find that self-deception or being in the box is the main reason, albeit unknowingly, why leaders fail.

Are you IN or OUT of the box?

The most basic test in determining whether you’re in or out of the box is when you try to be interested in knowing the people under you, or at least even match their names with faces for starters. Your lack of interest in something as basic as this keeps you IN the box. You don’t regard them as people - only as objects within your organization. You decide that your needs come before anybody else’s and that basically these needs should be satisfied first and pity for those who come in second.

Being OUT of the box means you’re placing your needs as well as the need of others on the same level. You are all equal. If it’s as simple as people treating others as people (including all the hard work and training that go with the job), most companies will have a shot at reaching the top. The motivation for smart people to be smarter and for skilled people to be even more skilled is for them to be treated in a straightforward manner, and to give them the respect and dignity they deserve.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Wednesday, August 22

Rock Stars, Bloggers, and Leadership

In her post on The Blog Herald, of which I am an avid reader, rock star Liz Strauss of Successful (and Outstanding) Blog, writes about rock star bloggers. You know, the bloggers that get all the attention? She talks about those who were rock stars in the beginning, with passionate posts and could make you swoon all over everything they wrote. Then, their hair starts to fall out, they get that "tire" in the middle, and they aren't so pretty anymore. Now, you just snore whenever you read their stuff. You wonder, "what happened to the passion, let alone the looks?"

Well yes, the looks may go, the middle may puff out a bit, but the content doesn't have to follow suit. I love this analogy to leadership. Becoming a leader is fun, it's prestigious, it's got all the pomp but very little circumstance; unless you are authentic. Leadership, like rock stars, isn't about the position, it's about influence. Yes, there's that word again!

One of my favorite quotes is by Carl Buechner, "People may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel." Leadership, influence, is about a lasting impression. How does your team feel after being around you all day? Are they happy to be away from you, or does a little piece of you travel with them?

Liz ends her post with three ways to make sure a little piece of you does travel with your followers:

1. Be attentive to your readers’ needs for great content.
2. Be consistent and transparent. Be grown up with self-respect.
3. Be authentically you in service to them.

Brilliant! I couldn't have said it better myself; which is why I borrow from rock star Liz.

Make sure your leadership is attentive, consistent, transparent, and authentic -- and you will always be a rock star!

Read the rest of Liz's article at The Blog Herald.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Tuesday, August 21

In Memory of Fred Smith

This past week, Fred Smith, Founder and CEO of FedEx, died at the age of 91. Fred was a businessman, consultant, active Christian, and public speaker much in demand. He was a consultant to such corporations as Genesco, Mobil, and Caterpillar. He served on more than twenty boards, including Youth for Christ and Christianity Today, but later in life he no longer accepted such invitations, because "at this stage of my life, I'm more dedicated to individuals than institutions."

In memory of Fred's lasting legacy in the business community, here is one of his many articles on leadership and habits.

Good Habits
Fred Smith lists eight habits that he proposed to the Printing Industry of America in a 1961 keynote address.

Nearly every organization runs on habit, just as you do. Nearly everything you've done today, you've done habitually. If you didn't, you couldn't do it. This is one of the problems in reorganization. You upset the habit structure it slows things down tremendously. Successful reorganization requires time to rebuild habits. This may take awhile.

Here are some good habits to cultivate in your business:

1) Create a spirit in your organization that will be acceptable to challenges. Don't let people come in and tell you why something can't be done. When they do, simply say, "I know that. Tell me what we will have to change in order to do it."
2) Change is all right ---- status quo is no good. "status quo" is Latin for "the mess we are in."
3) Accept ideas. You as a leader will have to accept a new idea before your organization will accept them.
4) Don't delay failures. I have a friend who says, "I don't ever delay cutting short a failure that is funded with my own money."
5) Get management on the offense. How many times do you see management fighting back instead of leading?
6) Develop the habit of good work. The President of a pipeline company said, "This is one of the habits I get my organization into --- to step back from their job and say, "That's good." I believe that there is a pretty substantial Biblical basis for that habit. Recently a 12 year old boy was recognized for saving his infant sister from a house fire. He had learned rescue techniques in Boy Scouts. When asked what he thought about his actions he confidently responded, "I did a good job." Not bragging if you've done it!
7) Examine the things you're proud of. You have to watch this one carefully. I was in a company the other day and they were telling me some things they had done and were proud of. We examined them. Some of these things should have been stopped long ago. But because they were proud of them they continued doing them long after they became obsolete.
8) Work smart instead of hard. Some people give credit to a guy who works hard. I give him no credit at all unless he works smart. I know of a small company who lets his company be a guinea pig for the local university's engineering department. He is working smart ---

I know that I haven't told you anything that you don't already know. My job is always the same thing. My job isn't to tell you anything new. When someone asked me "How do you earn your money?" I tell "I earn my money by reminding people."

I hope that I have reminded you that good habits are a key to successful living. Find one that works for you and make it real in your organization.

Read more about Fred Smith's lasting legacy at Breakfast with Fred and Leadership Journal.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Monday, August 20

A Tip from Brian Tracy

Need help on setting personal or professional goals? Take this simple tip from motivational speaker and author Brian Tracy.

Wednesday, August 15

Leadership and Listening

One of the principles and most important skills of servant leadership is deep and active listening, yet it is also one of the most neglected. It is said that we spend 75% of our waking time communicating: 40% listening; 35% talking; 16% reading; and 9% writing. Yet typically people hear less than 25% of a conversation. In an article in Fast Company, Ruth Sherman writes:

Becoming a good listener is a terrific way to gain attention and win people over, precisely because it is so rare to find someone who does it well. Human beings find great comfort in being listened to. When we find a good listener, we take notice; we advertise this fact when referring to the person or recommending them to others. We look for opportunities to be around this person.

As a coach and counselor, most of my time is spent listening. And though extremely draining as a discipline, it is one of the most rewarding things one can do for another person. Clients leave with a sense of validation after being actively listened to. Sherman goes on to share some techniques for what she calls intent listening, which she says takes some discipline:

• Give your full attention.
• Resist planning your answer while someone is speaking.
• Resist the urge to interrupt, except to ask for clarification.
• Leave your value judgments at the door.
• Don’t allow interruptions. Usually, whatever it is can wait.
• If your mind begins to wander, exercise discipline and bring it back. Ask the person to repeat anything you might have missed.
• After being introduced to someone, listen and try to remember the name. (Most of the time, we’re so focused on the impression we’re making that it goes in one ear and out the other.)

Think about when watching a movie or a play. We listen intently so as not to miss what is going on and to be an active part of the plot. Our lives and work are the greatest storyline we have going. Should we not give as much, if not more, attention to the plot of our own lives?

Read the rest of Ruth Sherman's article in Fast Company.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Monday, August 13

Leadership as Sacred Calling

Came across this great article and thought I would share it. Check out Brent's website, Action Leadership for this and more leadership articles and resources.

You can greatly improve your job and career performance when you embrace leadership as a sacred calling.

The global marketplace is creating historic changes in human circumstances as broad and deep as those originated by the Industrial Revolution. But one significant change that observers are overlooking involves leadership.

From the outset of the Industrial Revolution, order-giving has been the standard of leadership. The word "order" comes from the Latin root meaning to arrange threads in a woof. In the Industrial Revolution's early years, workers were "ordered" or ranked like threads in a woof of textile production lines.

But globalization is creating a need for new leadership. Instead of ordering people to go from A to B, the new leadership has people want to go from A to B.

This simple, even simplistic, difference illuminates an enormous leadership opportunity. Clearly, people who "want to" are more competitive than people who are simply responding to orders, given their skills are commensurate. Your arousing want-to in others can be accomplished most effectively when you see your leadership as a sacred activity.

Sacred is commonly defined as being devoted or dedicated to a deity or some religious purpose. But the emergence of the global marketplace has necessitated a new meaning for the sacred. The sacred I speak of is not connected to any principle exclusive to a particular denominational religion. If it were, it could not be applied universally throughout the global market's interplay of many languages, cultures, and religions. Instead, the sacred aspect of leadership is based on the undeniable fact that all humans everywhere are interconnected through their relationships in profound, practical ways. The sacred flows from the well springs of those deep, human relationships.

Paradoxically, this "new" leadership has been manifested since time in memorial. After all, when people needed to accomplish great things, a leader had to first gather them together and speak from the heart. In that gathering, in that speaking, in that sharing something truly sacred was established.

To examine the sacred, we must understand the stuff that leaders' activities must be made of: results. If you're not getting results, you won't be a leader for long. Results come in countless forms and functions. But one thing all results share is they are the outcomes of the relationships people engender to take action.

The word "relationship" comes from a Latin root meaning to "carry back." To be involved in a human relationships is to both give and get. Such relationships are best realized in leadership when you engage in what I call the Leadership Imperative. The Imperative states: "I will lead others in such a way that we together not only accomplish our needed results but we grow professionally and personally."

The Leadership Imperative is the rough, organizational equivalent of the Golden Rule that most religions, in one form or another, urge; but don't confuse it with a guide for conduct exclusively; it's also a way of getting great organizational results. When people understand that your leadership will improve their lives, their jobs and their careers, you'll establish a sacred bond with them, and they'll be more likely to be motivated to accomplish extraordinary things for you

In our time, order leadership has held sway in all sectors of business and government. However, order leadership has nothing sacred to offer. Orders are sent, orders carried out or not. Deep, human, "sacred" connections are superfluous, even antithetical, to giving orders. And because order leadership can't get the consistently great results that the new leadership triggers, the order way of leadership is destined for history's scrap heap.

Don't be put off or discouraged if you can't immediately see the sacred in your leadership today. First, align your words and actions to conform to the Leadership Imperative. When you do, you'll see the sacred in the very practical necessities of your daily life. It's been there all along, waiting for you to find it and realize it. You may be in a bureaucracy that at first blush seems to have nothing to do with the sacred. But I submit that no matter what organization you're in, what job you hold, you'll get the best results when you work to manifest the sacred in your leadership. In fact, the sacred is the true reality of what you do, where you do it.

When you're realizing the sacred calling of the Leadership Imperative, everyone you encounter, every challenge you face, is invested with special meaning that can boost results.

The exigencies of the global economy are demanding a change in the standard of leadership. Your understanding and realizing the new leadership but also its sacred dimensions will notably advance your job and career performance.

2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – and for more than 21 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results.

Brent has a great website, Action Leadership, lots of cutting edge leadership tools, and even a white paper and ezine to opt in to.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Friday, August 10

Leadership and Respect

Writing in The Blog Herald, Conversation Agent Valeria Maltoni, shares five ways to get respect as a blogger. I think her points can also apply to the leader.

1. Make innovation part of your creative habit; put aside some time every day for “what if” thinking.

2. Reward the hard questions. When a reader challenges your thinking, take that as an opportunity to address their questions, make sure they know they’re heard. You get respect when you give it.

3. Work on the quality of your writing constantly. Practice, practice, and then practice some more. It’s also a good idea to read a lot. Read the classics; read good writing.

4. Think design as container of experience. How can you have a visual impact? How can you communicate your value through design?

5. Be transparent and trustworthy. Conduct a personal audit regularly to keep yourself honest.

These points not only make for a great blogger, but also for a great leader.

Check out The Blog Herald to read Valeria's entire post. It's well worth applying to one's leadership style chart.

To lead is to serve,

Coach Carolyn

Thursday, August 9

Conflict Competent Leadership

This article is from the Leading Effectively Series of the Center for Creative Leadership.

Is conflict creating trouble in your organization? As a leader, how equipped are you to deal with conflict?

Conflict at work may be frustrating, but is it worth the effort to change? Authors Craig Runde and Tim Flanagan suggest taking a close look at the financial and human costs of conflict incompetence.

In their book, Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader, Runde and Flanagan write, “When conflict is mismanaged, costs mount. Some out-of-pocket costs like absenteeism and lawsuits are relatively easy to see and compute. Others, like poor decision-making, lost opportunities and diminished quality of working relationships, can prove more costly, but they are more difficult to quantify.”

To identify the cost of conflict in your organization, consider the following factors:

Wasted time. How much management time is wasted dealing with conflict rather than addressing more productive issues? Not to mention the lost productivity when employees spend time complaining to coworkers about the conflict.

Employee turnover. When conflict is severe or ongoing, employees are likely to seek a better place to work, particularly when the job market is strong, according to Runde and Flanagan. “The replacement cost of finding, training and bringing a new person up to speed can often exceed the annual salary of the employee who leaves. It certainly costs more than addressing conflicts in the first place so employees do not get frustrated and leave.”

Grievances, complaints and lawsuits. If problems are handled effectively at the start, many issues can be resolved informally with much less cost. If problems are ignored or not handled well, “then the conflict spirals out of control and becomes a dispute that requires a more formal third-party intervention, which can increase the time, effort and cost required for resolution,” note Runde and Flanagan.

Absenteeism and health costs. Employees may stay away from work to avoid dealing with conflict or to delay a confrontation. Others may take time off to address the physical and emotional stress of conflict. Health care costs, in connection to stress-related illnesses, are part of the price of mismanaged conflict.

Workplace violence. Conflict can escalate way out of control. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health estimates that more than one million workers are assaulted each year at work, report Runde and Flanagan: “A significant number of these assaults come from disgruntled customers, patients, coworkers and employees. The emotional toll on the targets of the violence as well as on their coworkers can be enormous and can increase the costs associated with retention, absenteeism and health care.”

Poor decision-making. Destructive conflict disrupts the organization's ability to function effectively. People begin to lose their energy and creativity. They pull back, stop sharing information and take fewer risks. The result can be poorer quality decision-making.

Poisoned workplace. Conflict causes all sorts of unpleasant emotions that poison relationships and the workplace. Anger, fear, defensiveness, negativity, hurt and embarrassment, combined with misunderstanding and distrust, will lower morale and strain working relationships.

The Benefits of Conflict

Not all conflict spells trouble. Disagreements and diverse perspectives are needed for organizations to adapt to change and find solutions to challenging problems. When leaders can encourage different views, ideas and approaches in a non-combative way, conflict can:

~ Stimulate creativity and problem-solving.
~ Foster teamwork and improve social relationships.
~ Encourage listening and perspective taking.
~ Promote reflective thinking and open communication.
~ Yield information about people and situations.
~ Signal that changes are necessary in relationships or the organization.
~ Provide the means for expressing emotions, which can ultimately clear the air and reduce tension.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Tuesday, August 7

Leadership and Resolving Conflicts

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with the important matters.” ~ Albert Einstein

Max Dupree once said that the responsibility of a leader is to define reality. Reality includes speaking the truth. Part of the problems with leaders and their teams is that no one wants to “hurt anyone’s feelings,” or “step on anyone’s toes,” or create conflict. In our society today we are conflict-phobic. We are afraid of creating conflict, not knowing that progress is stifled when we try to avoid conflict.

According to Wikipedia, conflict is “when two or more parties, with perceived incompatible goals, seek to undermine each other's goal-seeking capability”. The word to focus on here is “undermine.” In speaking our truth, the goal here is not to undermine, but to lay all the cards on the table and come to a mutual agreement. If I have been wronged or offended in some way, I must speak my truth about this injustice, so that resolution can happen and then back to business. I find it difficult to work on a team when I have experienced one of the players as not being a true team player. It is then my responsibility to right the wrong, so that we can move on.

The biggest problem we have about conflicts and the work around resolving them is that we have not been taught the language around resolving the conflict. We only know a language of aggression and anger, instead of a love and peace. We also must remember that when these conflicts arise, to not take them personally – even if they have our name on them. What I mean by this is that when a co-worker is not getting her needs met, then an altercation is likely to erupt. Of course, it will take the form of a work-related project. But it probably has nothing to do with you or the project, but your colleague’s own unmet needs. When she lashes out, know that this is not about you, but about something outside of you. You just happen to be in the line of fire. Start by asking some questions: “You know, we are on the same team. We both want the same outcome. Yet, I feel that you are needing something different. Can you tell me what that is?”

Yes, it will take time. Yes, it does seem touchy feely. Yes, it is about treating the other as other and not as object. Obviously, when a conflict arises, someone is hurting. Take the time to find out what the hurt is. This is also about building trust among the team and building a solid foundation for the future. Then, when a conflict arises in the future, it will be easier to resolve because trust has been cultivated.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Saturday, August 4

Leadership and Great Communication

"Skill in the art of communication is crucial to a leader's success. He can accomplish nothing unless he can communicate effectively." ~ Anonymous

"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others." ~ Anthony Robbins

"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place." ~ George Bernard Shaw

"Years ago, I tried to top everybody, but I don't anymore, I realized it was killing conversation. When you're always trying for a topper you aren't really listening. It ruins communication." ~ Groucho Marx

"Communication works for those who work at it." ~ John Powell

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

Wednesday, August 1

Good Followers Makes Great Leaders

Writing for the American Chronicle, Dr. Adalat Khan shares the qualities of a good follower which, in turn will lead to being a great leader. Dr. Khan writes: “Behind the success of every great leader is the support, hard work and invisible struggle of many unknown people who are known as the ‘followers’”.

Dr. Khan goes on to state, the critical role which followers can play in the success of a leader necessitate them to have, acquire, and practice certain qualities. These qualities are:

Understand, Support, and Work for the Leader’s Vision
Followers should understand and accurately comprehend their leader’s vision. They must also commit themselves to support that vision. One difficulty which could crop in this regard is the possibility of conflict between the followers and a leader’s vision. To plug this gap, followers should align their vision with that of their leader’s.

Help the Leader to Succeed
Followers can either be like fuel providing energy or roadblocks creating hurdles for the efforts of a leader. Good followers however help the leader to succeed and do whatever it takes to achieve success. Having a winner’s mentality and deriving pleasure form the leader’s success is a quality to be possessed by them.

Provide Open, Honest and Accurate Information
Most of the leaders base their decisions on the information provided to them by their followers. If these information are accurate and honest it will lead to good decision. Conversely, inaccurate and dishonest information will lead to terrible decisions.

A Positive and Can Do Attitude
The phrase ‘recruit for attitude and train for skills’ is highly relevant for all followers. Sometimes when faced with difficulties even great leaders lose hope - during which times the followers could help them by reminding and reassuring them that they could succeed. It is a fact that all human being are capable of doing anything but only those succeed who possess the can do attitude.

Learning Attitude
Learning, the ability to understand one’s limitations, the courage to unlearn negative ideas and beliefs and the desire to acquire new knowledge, skills, and attitude is yet another quality necessary for good followers. To keep pace with the fast changing world of today people need to update themselves with new knowledge.

Dr. John Maxwell always says that the leader that thinks he leads and has no one following, is only taking a walk. In order to be a leader, one has to have followers. The followers are as good as the leader, and what Dr. Khan is stating is that if the followers are good then they become great leaders.

Dr. Adalat Khan is visiting professor to the American Central University and director of Mina Management Institute, a leading Malaysian Management consultancy and educational organization.

Read the rest of Dr. Khan's article at the American Chronicle.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn