3 Skills To Become a More Powerful Giver

3 Skills To Become a More Powerful Giver

Powerful Giver? As I wrote it, the word oxymoron came to mind…

In my last post, I introduced you to Give and Take by Adam Grant and his presentation of the styles of giver, matcher, and taker. To conclude that givers will find more success is not accurate, because like any strength overused, it can become a weakness and negatively impact effectiveness. Here are the three traps for the giver style:

  • Too trusting
  • Too empathetic
  • Too timid

One of my favorite parts of Adam Grant’s book was his section on the learnings that will make givers more effective, based on the outcomes they and their businesses achieve.

Here they are:

  1. Sincerity screening: Givers need to keep trusting most of the people most of the time, and become skilled at recognizing fakers and takers. I am always looking for collaborators, and once I was connected with an individual with an idea and decided to partner with him to make the idea a reality. After four meetings a pattern emerged – we left every meeting with assignments, and every time we got back together he presented his work without ever asking for my input. Finally, after about 40 hours of work, I stopped following up with him and stepped away. He was a taker. I have learned to watch closely for someone to accept the ideas of others, as a test for recognizing fakers and takers. This is a key skill for givers, and I have learned it.
  2. Generous tit for tat: Givers do so without expecting anything back, and yet the strong empathy they possess can create a forgiving nature that gets in the way of accountability conversations. In this case, creating an environment where their roles and deliverables are clear is essential. This allows empathy (forgiveness) to be present, but it is balanced by clear expectations. Having clear deliverables helps temper the desire for endless second chances. It is one reason I love the EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System®) as a tool for leadership teams, because expectations stay clear.
  3. Learn to negotiate (assertiveness and advocacy paradox): Both this book and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg share research that concludes women are less effective at negotiating than men, and this contributes to salary discrepancies with male counterparts. When you equip a giver with this skill, outcomes change. I am a giver, and recently two friends mentored me on my ability to negotiate project rates with clients. The simple skill we practiced together? State my normal rate – and stop talking. Seems simple, but I found myself trying to justify it or soften it because it felt awkward. The outcome? I am more assertive, and it increased my ability to get what I am worth. I still serve, and I do it more strategically and intentionally, instead of by accident.

Are you a giver? If you are (based on the assessment), which of these skills would make you more effective as a people-centered leader?

I believe that Learning + Doing  = Growth. Give and Take is a great book because it makes my value come alive, and this is a leadership lesson that will make you a more powerful giver.

Listen . . . Lead. Repeat often!

Documize: 1 Tip for creating and leading a safe environment for your team

Documize: 1 Tip for creating and leading a safe environment for your team

Documize.

Last week, I was leading an EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System®) session and this word came out of my mouth. I did not know I did it. Within a minute, one of the leaders I was working with said “Scott, what is documize? You just said it.” As I paused, another leader spoke up and said he heard it too.

Have you ever said something stupid, or uttered words that in hindsight did not accurately represent what you really meant?

That’s exactly where I was. One of the desired outcomes of my work with teams is to help them become healthy and smart together, which requires a high degree of trust. Since I teach it, I challenge myself to model the things that are the big contributors to trust and safety.

So, I held back the urge to say “I did not say that . . ” or “Yeah, but . . . . ” and just smiled and thanked them for making me aware of that. I then made up a fictitious definition that conjoined ‘document’ and ‘systemize’, and asked the team for the intellectual property rights. Then we moved on to a productive day of learning and planning.

In a world where people are increasingly attacked for what they say, and less emphasis is put on conversations around “What did you mean?” or “Just clarify and apologize and move on….” – safety is a gift. This leadership team provided it for me, and I accepted it.

How safe is the environment in your leadership team? Creating it takes some diligence, but the open debate and unmeasured/unedited comments that people share could be the difference between a successful year and a cash or quality emergency that takes months to fix.

Documize – It is my constant reminder that I get to work in special, safe places. Are you creating such spaces with your actions?

Listen . . . Lead. Repeat often!

A Friday thought for parents/leaders – Thank you Bob Goff

A Friday thought for parents/leaders – Thank you Bob Goff

I shared in my last blog about Bob Goff’s guarantee of answering his phone when called. I called and here is what it said “You have reached Bob Goff. I am sorry but I am in a place where I don’t have cell service. Please email me at bob@bobgoff.com and I will get back with you promptly.” So I did and here is what I asked:

I asked:

Your final call to action was Love Does – So what do I do?  Our oldest son graduates in the spring and my wife and I have been coming along side him to support him in making a successful jump to work and life after college. I know you have been in this situation, so what advice would you give us about what we can do to help his transition?

Bob’s response:

Our son is just out of college too. We keep telling him about who he is, and I bite my lip before telling him what to do.  There’s a lot of “You’ve got this!” happening, and not a lot of “Here’s what you need to do.” It’s kind of hard because you and I do know what our kids should do, but having the confidence of a father is better than all the advice.

For leaders – What if, as leaders, we focused on showing confidence and providing support vs direction and oversight?

For parents – What if we practiced some of the same things at home that we do at work?

Finally, Bob provided a guarantee that he did not hit, after all, he did not answer the phone like he promised. Yet he gave me a reasonable option and followed up as promised (< 5 minutes). I could have called out his error, maybe even went so far as to point out the hypocrisy of his promise. That would have taken energy and framed my relationship with Bob as an adversary. The cost of doing that would have been in missing some good advice that has the potential to take me much farther in a role that I cherish – father.

Don’t be afraid of what guarantees might cost you, but have the courage to move the balance of your focus on what they tell the world about you. There will always be ‘gothch’ customers, and over time a guarantee could be a way to ask them to go away.

I am still a fan of guarantees, and I have EOS® (entrepreneurial operating system® to thank for that.  I am now a huge fan of Bob Goff, and it is because of a guarantee and the conversation that happened because of it. Thank you Bob!

Listen . . . Lead/Parent. Repeat often!

(ps. Bob Goff approved me sharing his advice – and responded to my request within an hour. 🙂 He gets it!)

What’s your guarantee?

What’s your guarantee?

Every business does not have a guarantee. But should you?

Less than half of all businesses have a guarantee, and when I work with EOS® clients this is hard for them to do, because once you say it people might use it. Here are some guarantees that came to mind for me:

  • USPS has a guarantee on overnight shipments
  • Buffalo Wild Wings has a 15-minutes or it is free for lunch
  • Our local running shop, Gazelles, will accept shoes for return after you run on them if they don’t fit right
  • Bob Goff gives his phone number at the end of his book, Love Does, and guarantees he will answer

I use a strategic planning system my business called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) that I also use the clients. EOS® has a guarantee I use for the rest of my business – No contracts/No pay guarantee: If our work together does not meet your expectations don’t pay me. If it does, pay me when we are done.

Here is the thing about guarantees:

  • They tell people what you are serious about
  • The commitments make you better at what you do because you focus on meeting that pledge
  • It provides immediate feedback for something you need to fix

My personal experience is that I am focused on preparing with my client for planning sessions because bringing value for them is my guarantee, and it takes work. But it is work that I believe in, and making it fundamentally makes me work at improving my capacity to deliver excellence every time I work.

I think it is a question I will start asking all leaders – What do you guarantee to your team? Your peers? Your leader?

What are you willing to guarantee?

fyi – I called Bob Goff and he picked up. 🙂

Tip: Instead of asking your people what their guarantee is, ask:

  • What are the communication standards that guide you? (answer in terms of preferred method and timing of responses)  
  • When I work with you how will I know it is going well?
  • How will I know if it is not going well?

Imagine the power of everyone on the team answering these, putting them on the wall, and then determining a standard for working together? That is a guarantee.

 

 

 

Micro-manager or Micro-supporter? One tip for starting the change.

Are you a micro-manager or micro-supporter?

A leader recently admitted that she did not stay close enough to a new leader and let them make decisions that were harmful to the business.  Her thought was that she needed to direct the next person more in the beginning. Expensive lesson, and one that will make her a more effective leader.

Micro-managers . . .

  • Direct the work even if the person has (or should have) the capacity to do it.
  • Sometimes say (and always think) “If I want it done right, I need do it myself.”
  • Consistently lose the people who want to lead and keep the people who want to be told what to do.
  • Are either over-involved or not involved – they have no self-control for meddling.

Micro-supporters . . .

  • Ask for the details of the plan because they either, a) Are building confidence in someone’s decision or, b) Want to see the details so they know how they can help.
  • Frequently meet with their people to brainstorm, problem solve, and delegate.
  • Know when to say “I need to take this,” and don’t do it often.
  • More often say – “Let’s work close on this one because it will be good learning for you and me, and it is important enough that two brains should be working on it.”
  • Have teams of loyal, hard-working, energized people that know they have a great leader and don’t want to leave.

If you are not sure which one you are, just look at your teams and the significance of the problems that get solved when you are not there.

The good news is, you can change.  Pick someone who gets their job, wants their job, and has the capacity to do it and do more.  Tell them what your intent is (support vs do their job) and ask for help.  Then start practicing.

If you don’t get what it looks like, read the New One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard.  Then start practicing.

Wait Not – Waste Not

Wait Not – Waste Not

I attended a leadership team meeting for a company that started 15 minutes late.   Half the team was there on time and the ninety minute meeting ended up taking two hours.  The team laughed about it, and yet during the meeting they spent a considerable amount of time talking about waste around spending and labor costs.   The leaders all scampered off talking about the meetings they were now 30 minutes late to.

In the age of lean thinking waste has become a focus.  While the focus is often financial and physical waste, the waste to our organization of waiting is often overlooked.  Think about the impact of waiting on your organization and the opportunity generate waste in the minds of the people around you.  Ever thought this?

  • John is late again, his department must still be a mess. Is he the right leader?
  • Well, if the boss does not view this as important why should I?
  • We can’t make a decision until she arrives – another example of her micromanaging style.
  • All I can think about is being late to my 2pm stand-up with my team – I would vote for any solution now so I can leave.
  • If I share my opinion it will just make this meeting longer.
  • Just another reason why we should only meet once a month.

While it might seem counter intuitive, the biggest part of an effective strategy is building the discipline to meet weekly and manage all the change that is associated with a short term (90 day) goal.  One reason the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) focuses on starting and ending every meeting on time is to harness and focus the energy of everyone on the needs of the people and the business.  Think about “start and end on time” as is not as a military leadership philosophy, but the commitment to being a team that values the person next to them above all else.

No hugs needed.  Just be on time.

Simple but not Easy

Simple but not Easy

Simple doesn’t always mean easy.

Seth Godin shared this wisdom on February 28th, 2011 and I printed the post and hand it out every time I start an EOS strategic planning for an organization.

The reality, when we face decision points as leaders Simple but not Easy means – My options are clear, and . . . .

    1. I have never done what is being asked of me and asking for help seems weak, so I will think a little more
    2. I am a leader and it is important to be right so I need to think about it some more
    3. I wish there were one where the people, the business, and our customers all won
    4. My Strengthfinder talent is analytical, so I will keep using it and then switch to reason #2
    5. I am just plain scared of what I have to do

Simple blurs the resistance that keeps us from moving forward.  Seth calls it Shipping. Simple makes us feel like ‘I just need to figure this out.’ We move by the resistance by speaking the truth and using it to gain the support that will help us ship.

I sat with a leader recently that shared a story about a difficult conversation they had just had with an employee that was not performing and it was too important of a job to allow it to continue.  The employee agreed with the non-performance, and it looks like they will probably leave in the next 30 days or be let go.  Simple.  This conversation has been evolving for 12 months.  Not Easy.

Simple doesn’t mean easy.

Choose to ship. Encourage and support others to make the same choice.

trUTip – QuickTip:  Want to explore the concept of resistance?  Check out this video by the author of Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson.  I also like the book.

Friday Thought: Finding Your Growth Mindset – Is it there?

I work with high growth companies and growth focused leaders.  Daily I get to experience people that, in spite of setbacks, inspire me with their resiliency.  There is a name for it this – growth mindset.  In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck shares her research and belief that there are growth and fixed mindset individuals.

We all know these people:

  • Growth mindset people believe in their ability to learn and figure out almost anything.
  • Fixed mindset people are quick to point out ‘why not’ when faced with a challenge – and keep that voice throughout the work.
  • Growth mindset people have a mechanism to adapt when situations require them to make a personal change.
  • Fixed mindset people lead and/or end with That is the way I am.
  • Growth mindset people are quick to set aside their EGO, and ask a question.
  • Fixed mindset people are quick to protect their EGO, and make a statement.
  • Growth mindset people have feelings and get butterflies, they just don’t hide behind them or allow them to define their next step.

Which one do you see or hear in yourself?  Which do you see most prominently on your team?

Entrepreneurial spirit is a trait that is desired by both Fortune 100 and Inc. 5000 companies.  The powerful thing about this distinction is that it’s quickly displayed when the work starts.

It is one reason why a company in Ann Arbor called Menlo Innovations does a test in an interview where two people have to solve a problem with on pencil and one piece of paper.  It is why a strategic planning process I use (EOS) has direct feedback from your teammates in day 1 around whether you Get It, Want It, and have the Capacity to do the job the organization needs you to do.  It is the reason selection for a growth company first asks the question  – Right Person?  The Right Seat will show up eventually if it is not there already.

I have a formula in my book that urges people in the midst of change to manage their mental state so Hope > Fear + Anger + Frustration + Worry + Hunger + Weariness + ______ + _______.  NOBODY is always in balance – but I have watched growth mindset people bounce back time after time from tough situations where they were clearly in a Hope < Fear + Anger + etc. situation.

As you end your week – how is your formula looking?  Which label are you living into?  How can you support a shift in someone around you?

Leadership as a Buffer

Leadership as a Buffer

My job was to be a buffer between the media, the president, and all the other parties so General Schwarzkopf could do his job.”

I saw General Colin Powell speak last night, and this is the comment he made when asked about his relationship with Stormin Norman.  It made me think about situations I hear about and have experienced before, especially as I try and streamline decision making in high growth companies and help leaders create processes that support decentralized decision making and yet still help the organization effectively balance priorities.

I often here the word politics or territory in conversations about how work gets done.  One of my goals when working with clients around the EOS process is helping them lead more effectively by NOT making all the decisions, and yet giving up some instant access to everyone in the company.  You see – no matter what size the company, when the CEO comes in and says something most people will take anything they say as a ‘to do’ and drop everything.  I think back to a CEO’s surprise that his suggested reading list had become a must do item for new leaders and totaled 2,461 pages.  When executives speak, whether it is an order or a suggestion, it either becomes a deliverable or a source of extreme frustration for people who won’t object .  In my experience a majority of the time it becomes both.

It is hard to have an open and honest conversation between the top and bottom of the organization, and yet it is critical to figure out a way to make it happen.

  • What if we asked other leaders to talk to us before talking to our people not because we wanted to protect our people/agenda, but because we wanted to be a buffer so we could help our team re-prioritize work when needed?
  • What if we did it because we had an amazing performer that was a hot head, and being a buffer allowed us to work with them on not swearing when they get frustrated – and it was okay if they made a few mistakes with us for now?
  • What if we did it because you wanted to make sure our people knew how to constructively share their opinions with executives, and being a buffer gave us a chance to coach them on speaking up?
  • What if you had one of these three reasons above AND you shared them with your peers up front so they did not see your actions as SILO Building but TALENT Building?  It might also put you in a position to support their development on listening more effectively and clearly communicating the WHY behind their requests.

There are lots of reasons to respect and admire Colin Powell, and my 90 minutes with him last night certainly reinforced that.  He is definitely a leader worth listening to.

If you want to go fast, go alone . . .

If you want to go fast, go alone . . .

If you want to go FAST, go Alone.

If you want to go FAR, go Together.

go fast go far image

As a leader, have you ever wondered “Why can’t people do what I tell them?” or made the statement “I will just do it myself.”  I once wrote a trUTips to talk about moving past that to become a more effective and healthy person/leader.  Alone in leadership is not ‘without’ people, it is more just about leveraging the talent/resources around me to just do my work in the way I want it done.  From the outside, it looks more like dependence and less like a true team or relationship.

Going alone as a leader means adopting a method of leading where your ideas always trump others.

Going alone as a leader means having meetings where information is exchanged but nobody solves any problems together – after all, working alone as a leader means creating a culture where that is the norm.

Going alone means running into an invisible barrier repeatedly that serves as a cap to your business.

Alone is one way to do it, but it becomes just that – Lonely.

In a tool I use to help leaders and teams move past Alone towards really working together.

The fundamentals are simple, and yet hard.

  1. Start with asking the fundamental questions – “What are the roles we need to grow?” and “Who is willing, able, and capable of doing those roles?”
  2. The second piece is creating a vision for the next 90 days by establishing the BIG priorities for the organization – or ROCKS.
  3. Finally, commit to meeting weekly to connect, prioritize the work, solve problems together, and support each other in the work.

That is together, and to go FAR past where you want it is about learning to work together first (gain Traction) then defining FAR together (Strategic Plan) and learning to lead towards that point.

Leaders can go alone if they want, but that is not really leadership.  Look around – which part of this quote describes your team?