A Hmmm # for leaders – What’s in your mail?

From a USA Today article on February 8th breaking down what comes in someone’s mail.

  • 22% Standard mail (mostly advertising)
  • 17% Fliers and circulars
  • 8% Catalogs
  • 5% Financial statements
  • 5% First class advertising
  • 4% Periodicals (newspapers, magazines)
  • 3% Greeting cards
  • .7% Personal Letters
  • etc

Imagine how you could stand out as a leader sending a personal note to someone on your team?  A whole lot less competition than email.  Here is a link to the cards I use to say thank you or congratulations.  Having them handy makes it easy to write a quick note.

Email is better than nothing – if you want to measure yourself against nothing. 🙂

Universal truths: Leadership, Parenting . . . and conflict

I recently reviewed a book on these pages by David C. Baker, and in my interview with him he talked about parenting being a place where leaders can learn.  He related it to his own experience where the things unsaid often consumed more energy than the things that were said.  Reminding us, as leaders, parents, wives, husbands, and friends – we need to find ways to share the truths as we see them.

I was reminded how being a parent or leader is so similar, and the things we learn to be effective at both roles are the same.  It hit home for me when I want to a parenting seminar from celebratecalm.com and Kirk Martin talk about dealing with teen children.  First he described the boiling over of emotions that often happens in tense situations,  and for me and several friends it was a familiar reaction.  Then he talked about a more effective way to acknowledge what was happening, step back (find another place), and then address it.  He even talked about using the simple action of sitting to help put ourselves in a physical position to effectively deal with conflict.  It was obvious how these skills, used consistently, would alter the conversation and help create a more positive outcome on many levels.

It is important to recognize the roles we play in life (parent, leader, teammate, spouse, friend), our priorities for those roles, and the actions that need to accompany our commitments in these roles.  Too often we think we have to shift gears to play those roles, when in reality many of the skills that make us a good leader will make us a good parent, a good neighbor, or a good friend. 

And if we are an overbearing/directive leader – well maybe that is why teenagers were created. 🙂

Leadership: The Power (And Trap) Of Non-Verbals

We have been studying nonverbal communications in class and it is interesting how you can tell what people are thinking by their actions – especially when they are inconsistent with their words.  Is it important for leaders to know this?

I received this note from a leader who also loves to learn.  It reminded me of a couple of things:

  1. 60-70% of our communication is non-verbal 
  2. Great communicators have mastered non-verbal cues
  3. Stress behaviors for leaders (according the the Birkman Method) often shows up as us sending the wrong nonverbal signals

My big concern about teaching leaders how to read non-verbal signs is that we fail to teach them the skills needed to use it to have a great conversation about how a person really feels.

It is a slippery slope if we start taking a nonverbal cue as their statement.  Imagine the power of a leader saying “I heard you say you supported the decision, but I sense that support is not 100%.  What % would most accurately gauge your support? . . . . “ 

Understanding non-verbals gives leaders/individuals a tool to know when to hit pause in a conversation and allow someone space to share what they are thinking/feeling. 

My admission (I am supposed to be skilled at this) – Today I read a nonverbal (watery eyes) cue and my interpretation was someone is done reviewing their Birkman results after a 90 minute discussion.  They had absorbed all they could in one sitting. When I shared that perception it turns out it was allergies, and that launched us into 15 minutes of great conversation.  I was wrong, and I am glad I found out before I unilaterally shut the conversation down.

Read them – yes.  But remember that it is a cue to keep talking / listening.

An Interview and Book Giveaway with Leadership Expert & Author David Baker

As readers of my blog, you know that I like to meet intriguing people, and I share some of those meetings with you on these pages.  I met author David C. Baker first through reading his book, Managing Right For the First Time:  A Field Guide For Doing It Well.  I liked his book because it was focused on providing managers with tangible tools/knowledge they needed to be successful.  I could also see this as a tool a mentor could use in helping a manager learn and grow in their role. 

 

A little about David (although a full bio can be found on his website) – He was born in Michigan, but lived in San Miguel Acatan, Guatemala with a tribe of Mayan indians until he was 18, after which he moved to the United States.   He went on to earn advanced degrees in ancient languages and theology.  He has consulted with more than 650 firms, and has written three books, including Managing (Right) for the First Time and Financial Management of a Marketing Firm. His work has been discussed in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fast Company, Inc., Forbes, CBS Business Network, MarketingProfs, and BusinessWeek. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife Julie. David plays racquetball, rides fast motorcycles, loves photography, and enjoys aviation (as a helicopter and airplane pilot).

It is a worthwhile read and a great addition to any leader’s toolbox, which is why I interviewed David.  My only advice is that this book is best read in a group of two or three so the peer/mentor support can be used to help apply the things that you will learn about management and leadership.  As I was preparing for the interview, Inc Magazine recognized David/his book as a 2011 Best Book for Entrepreneurs.  Now I cannot say I found him first. 🙂

Book Giveaway:  In addition to the interview, I am giving away five (5) copies of his book.  (Information below on how to qualify)

Here is my interview with David . . .

You have worked for a long time helping people become better leaders and managers.  What moved you to write this book?

I was speaking at a conference in Atlanta to 700 new managers, and I began to ask them what they were struggling with, thinking I might adjust my presentation to address those particular needs. Then at the end of the presentation I said, “You know, this seems like such a big issue with so many common themes, that I ought to write a book about it.” I then gave them my email address and asked them to submit their struggles. I received about 150 emails.

Since your book was published in 2010, what are some ways you have seen it used by individuals and organizations?

It’s been a little surprising, because the primary audience was intended to be the person who was managing others for the first time. But from what I can tell, it’s had more impact on existing managers who would like some guidance on how to do it well.

What is the biggest mistake you see new managers make?  What is your message to them?

The biggest mistake by far is to misunderstand the fact that a promotion means that you “do” less and “manage” more. Someone who is not so much promoted but “sentenced” to management hides in the “doing” and ignores the managing. That’s the fatal mistake. What makes it particularly sad is that very few people complain about bad management—what they complain about is no management.

What is an emerging trend you see around the role of managers in the last 5 years?

One would be learning how to manage remote teams, either permanently living/working somewhere else or just working from home from time to time. Another would be the flexibility that employees value in their jobs, to attend a soccer game or a doctor’s appointment. Finally, I think the culture in an organization is far more important than it used to be, especially as benefits are stripped away, pay increases are curtailed, and the workloads have increased.

You mention parenting being a part of your experience as a manager.  What is a personal example of how a parenting experience helped develop your skills as a manager?

I think primarily it’s been about just talking over things. It’s easy to live in the same house but never really talk about meaningful things. As a friend of mine says, you only feel tension about the things you DON’T say, not the things you DO say. So addressing things in an honest, straightforward, truly listening sort of way as a parent has helped me a lot as a manager.

A discussion of competency building is often the focus of new manager training, but not a big part of what you share in this book.  Where do you see it fitting in?

There are tools out there that help a manager first be self-aware, and then if they are successful, they will transfer to that developing a management style that matches the style the managed employee prefers.  It’s a shame, really, but there’s a criminal lack of attention to management and leadership skills in undergraduate work. Yet you have graduates who want to “change the world,” not realizing that their best chance at doing that is through their management style, one by one.

From a technical standpoint, I don’t think managers need to be super competent, and I certainly don’t think they need to be the most competent person in the department. That’s a huge fallacy. Some of the most well-run (and largest) companies in the world are led by good leaders, not competent technicians.

If you were going to make sure a new leader read two chapters of your book, which ones would they be?

Chapter 12 on a performance review you might enjoy, and chapter 14 on being a leader they want to follow.

You end your book with a compilation of advice from current managers.  What is the best advice you have received in your career and who provided it?

I invited a friend, Michael Gerber, the author of “The E-Myth Revisited,” and I’ll never forget his emphasis on working on the business instead of in it. To me, managing is about working on the business.

Thanks David for a great interview.

If you would like to win a copy of David’s book, Managing Right For The First Time, here’s what you need to do to qualify:

  1. RT this post on Twitter or Share on LinkedIn
  2. Comment on this post
  3. Make sure I have a valid email address (I ask for it when you post to my blog)

All posts made by the end of this week(week of Jan. 16) qualify – and from that I will randomly select the 5 winners.

Universal truths: Relationships and Leadership

I can remember his face and his words like it was yesterday.  He stood up in a leadership class during a section where we were exploring leadership and how to manage the talents of a team and said “I am a very different person at home.  I have a work personality and a home personality.”  If it were only that simple. . . .

In the book How Full Is Your Bucket(p. 55), a study is shared that explored the connection between how we talked to each other and marital success.  They spent 15 minutes with each couple, logged in positive and negative interactions, and then used that to predict marital success.  They were 94% accurate, and the magic ratio was 5 positive to 1 negative.  When they looked at how that applied at work, the magic ratio was 3 to 1. 

Relationships at work and at home need the same thing – interactions and a healthy balance between positive and negative comments.

A lot has been written about one event that has been tied to helping kids grow up healthy (less drug use, depression, etc.).  The conclusion, families that eat together more often and use the time to talk/debate has a postive impact on kids. (link to story)   Gallup had a similar message with their Q12 when they proved the significance of people answering the question “In the last 7 days I have received recognition or praise”. 

So presence and the right conversations make a difference whether you are parenting or leading. 

Becoming an impactful leader is a lot like becoming a great parent or a great friend.  Be there, speak the truth (good and the bad), and keep doing it.  At least that is what the research says.

It takes a lot of energy to keep up work me and home me.

They asked: Hi Po selection, Hiring the right people, Succession Planning

For my blog readers – this is a second post inspired by questions received from HR leaders that I talked with yesterday.  It was great to see a packed lunch meeting with 100 busy HR leaders taking time to talk and go through my Talent Scorecard.  Great questions, and I was happy to get my development plan template in the hands of so many HR leaders who can hopefully use it to impact their people.  

I will start back with more normal posts next week – 150 to 300 words.  Also, I apologize for any spelling /grammar issues.  I work hard to scrub a normal post, but at 1000 words the editing to perfection is not a battle I will fight.  Remember that trUe conversations are not always done in perfect english. 🙂

How do you effectively identify high potential employees based on data rather than who the manager likes?

I am guessing this comes from a negative experience trying to convince a group of leaders that they were wrong. 🙂  First of all, HR has to argue enough with business leaders about things like compensation that do not make this conversation an argument, but make it a collaboration.  Here are a few tips to make it happen.

  • Start the process with this question:  What do we look for in a successful leader here? (Hi Pots by definition are people destined for a significant leadership role – 2 moves up in a larger organization).  Take the list and prioritize it to a top 5 critieria.
  • Insert into the conversation the definition of learning agility from the book The Leadership Machine (by Lominger).  Use that description to help the group make sure the pieces of that definition are captured in your criteria.  (I am assuming you are using a 9 box of some sort somewhere in your process)
  • Make sure there is a section called Accomplishments as part of the Talent Profile you are creating for each candidate.
  • Have the discussion and air disagreements and capture(write it down) any concerns or questions people have about this person.
  • Action Plans / Next Steps should include having leaders questioning the inclusion find an opportunity to work more closely with this person and for the leader supporting them to find ways to showcase this person’s skills in projects, presentations, etc.

I have a post talking about how developing people is like cooking in a crockpot.  Here is the link.  Do not try and microwave this process and feel like ALL the answers have to be clear at the end of the process. 

Other than personal referrals, what have you found to be the most effective way(s) of determining those who will end up being high quality employees?

This is a big one, and there are endless vendors out there ready to sell you their silver bullet solution to this problem.  My favorite solution is outlined in TopGrading, but know that it is not an easy implementation.  It will be a live long skill(that will be marketable and useful) once you master it.  I have worked/networked with lots of startup/early growth companies and here are a few tips based on what they say made a difference and a few hints from me.

  • Divide interviewing into Skills/Experience to do the job and cultural fit for your organization.  Spend some time defining your culture (values, beliefs, mission) and be purposeful about evaluating people based on that.
  • Find ways to work with people first – via contracts, projects, including a ride along with someone as part of an interview, or maybe even giving them a real problem to solve during an interview.  Too many people think interviewing starts with the posting on monster or has to be confined to questions in a room. 
  • Do a 30 day, 90 day, and 6 month review of hires to determine “Good Choice?  Bad Choice? What did we learn?  How do we apply the learning?”  Over time this will make your process better.
  • In hiring decisions center the discussion around answering three questions:  Are the willing?  Are they able?  Are the manageable?
  • Give it time.  If you only have 30 minutes to interview a hire you will likely get a 30 minute hire.  If that is good enough for the leader then move on to a manager/leader who cares.  (sorry that was a bit blunt, but there is no other way to say it.)

If we are not able to have a formal succession planning system can you please provide some other ways and/or tools that we can informally work through this with leaders we support within our organization?  Thank you!

I left the Thank you in your question because I wondered if it would still be there after I gave my answer.  🙂  My answer is No, not yet.  I say this because Succession Planning is such a big topic and really the culmination of doing the basics of Talent Management well that if it is too hard, the reasons are you are not doing the basics well and the relationships within the leadership team are probably not trusting enough to make it work anyway.  The number one barrier to this happening well at the leadership level is ego.

I do have a couple of bits of advice that hit me as I talked with the 100+ HR leaders yesterday.  Stop calling it succession planning and use the terms Most Valuable People and Most Critical Roles to identify your efforts.  I did that in my Talent Scorecard because I wanted to communicate it in more ‘non HR’ language.  Leaders might balk at the ‘valuable’ or ‘critical’ labels because they will exclude people.  This process is meant to focus scarce resources (time, money) on the most critical areas(roles) and most valuable resources(best people) in the business.  I guess the question is whether the leader proposes spending a little bit on everyone?  Another thought is “Do we want our talent management efforts to resemble socialism or capitalism?  On second thought, better hold that one back unless you want a real ideological argument.  🙂  I commit to trU Tips #18 to focus on that, so sign-up for trU Tips  and I commit to addressing this for you and others that are asking the same questions. 

In the meantime, the basics I reference are already out there on my resource page.  Check it out.

If you want clarification on any of this feel free to post a question on this blog and I will gladly do my best to answer it.

trU Tips #16a – One on Ones and Leadership

Since you are my faithful readers that want to engage with me daily/weekly to talk about leadership – both of groups and self, with a splash of developing culture in organizations, I thought I would add some thoughts that did not make it past the 430 word trU Tip limit. (here is a link to trU Tip 16 if you missed it).

There are three things that are critical to making a One on One really work:

1. What is my job?  I am still surprised how hard it is for people to define this.  The list is either really long and detailed, or so generic that it would be impossible to use to recruit a new candidate or help with guidance/accountability for anyone in their job.  My goal over the next couple months is to create a tool to help people do this – – – if you have any input or want to help let me know.  I think it could be very cool, but maybe a bit scary to unleash a bunch of people with a clear sense of purpose or asking for just a little leadership from their manager.  More to come . . . .

2. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER Reschedule:  This might be impossible, but can we all agree on one thing – it is important that people Trust you as their leader, right?  In Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, he makes the point that People judge themselves based on their intent, and judge others based on their actions. 

Here is a scenerio:  Leader tells everyone in a staff meeting how important they are and he/she will start doing one on ones to make sure they are getting support they need and any issues/changes that are happening get clarified quickly.  In first six meetings, three get cancelled.  Leader thinks:  We are doing one on ones just like the book!  I really care about my people.  People think:  He/She said it was important, but must not think it is that important.  Just another example of . . . . .   

3.  Make it a Followership tool:  Remember the ownership of this conversation rests with the individual, not the leader.  The leader’s job is to:  1) Show up  2) Follow-up (on commitments) 3) NOT Gobble up time (ie.  show some restraint from making their agenda the most important.

Recently I was talking to a leader that was kicking off an organization wide effort to help managers become coaches for their people.  The barrier I saw – they had no habit around one on ones and generally people did not have enough clarity in their roles to ask for help.  If they had this form/habit, their vision has a chance to be real.  Without this form/habit, it will be still be great training, but as for the ROI . . .

If you were going to add one thing to my list or one piece to my one on one form what would it be?

My Top Shelf – Books that I love

Everyone should have a top shelf – the one you share with people at work when they ask for a reading recommendation.  A few caveats on my list:

  1. I generally only recommend books <200 pages, with a few exceptions.  (I favor authors who have mastered clarity, passion, and brevity)
  2. These are around business and/or personal development books.
  3. I will explain any selection, but not apologize or argue about it.  It is my shelf – so build your own if you disagree. 🙂
  4. I do not loan these out, but will often buy people a copy.  They are marked up and I would hate to lose them.

It has expanded over the years, but my general rule is that the number has to be limited.  Now to add one I have to take one off.  I had a shelf with about 8 books for many years, then I got a bigger shelf. 

Here is my top shelf:

(they are in no particular order – but left to right in the picture)

  1. The Mindful Coach – Doug Silsbee
  2. Co-Active Coaching – Whitworth/Kimsey-House, Sandahl
  3. Sway – Ori/Ram Brafman
  4. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
  5. All Things New, A Fable of Renewal – Rodger Price
  6. Confessions of a Public Speaker – Scott Berkun
  7. Good to Great – Jim Collins
  8. First, Break all the Rules – Marcus Buckingham/Curt Coffman
  9. Fierce Conversations – Susan Scott
  10. Linchpin – Seth Godin
  11. Strengthsfinder 2.0 – Tom Rath
  12. How Full is Your Bucket – Tom Rath/Don Clifton
  13. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits – Verne Harnish
  14. Drive – Daniel Pink
  15. One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard/Spencer Johnson
  16. For Men Only – Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn
  17. Mastery – George Leonard
  18. Let Your Life Speak – Parker Palmer
  19. Rework – Jason Fried/David Heinemeier Hansson
  20. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick Lencioni
  21. Death By Meeting – Patrick Lencioni
  22. The Will of God As A Way of Life – Gerald Sittser
  23. Season of Life – Jeffrey Marx
  24. The Servant – James Hunter
  25. Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson
  26. Into The Wild – Jon Krakauer
  27. HalfTime – Bob Buford
  28. Tribes – Seth Godin
  29. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
  30. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach
  31. Do the Work – Steve Pressfield

Some are great books, and some have achieved significance for other reasons.  In the end, I will recommend other books on occassion, but I love these selections.  In addition, I also have 2-3 Harvard Business Review articles I love for people not having time to read.

Looking for a good question to ask your new leader?  What two books stand out in your mind as great?  (might be a good idea to read them – it will often explain how they think and what they value)

Submit a question to this posting if you want a more detailed explanation on any of these selections.

How long do you listen?

I make it a habit of spending time with people smarter than I am.  This past year I went to see a neuropsychologist named Tim Royer talk and within a few seconds I knew I was in the right place. 🙂

He shared a startling fact:  On average, doctors diagnosing a brain disorder (ADD, ADHD, Depression, etc.) spent just under 7 minutes with their patients before making the diagnosis?

Really?  I was actually relieved because the other statistic I knew from a study was that when you visit the doctor’s they spend an average of 23 seconds listening before making a diagnosis. 

Good news:  The brain is complex so physicians spend more time (maybe 18x) before diagnosing you. (assuming the 7 minutes is spent listening, questioning, and observing)

Bad news:  Is that really enough?  For an organ that has 10,000 miles of neurons, 20 terrabytes of storage, and consumes 80% of the energy your body produces – is 7 minutes long enough?

People are complex.  Teams are complex.  How much time do you spend listening or trying to understand peers?  Your leader? People on your team?

Activity:  At your next staff meeting or one on one – Keep track of the following things: 

Number of questions you ask vs # of times you tell people something 

Time spent listening vs time spent  time talking (fyi:  doodling or answering texts is not actively listening)  

What does it tell you?

3 Habits To Help Great Leaders Be Good Managers

Managing is about being face to face with people and helping them work through the steps to success.  Great leadership is often draped in words like vision, inspiration, and determination.  But even great leaders have to put on the manager hat and address the needs of their direct staff.  Here are three habits that will make that happen.

1.  Get to know your people:  Building trust starts with knowing someone.  When I walk into start-up companies it is common for people to hire friends and family first.  They do that because the relationship is there, and with relationships comes speed in decision making and patience with stress behaviors/poor decisions.  One tool I use with all clients is what I call a Team Member Fact Sheet.  Use this in your onboarding process(after you hire) to get to know your people and for them to get to know you. 

2. Commit to regular/uninterrupted One on One Time:  At least monthly you should be sitting down with every direct report and checking in.  30 minutes is ideal, but 15 minutes is acceptable.  Two key things about these meetings.  First, you do not allow interruptions.  Show them your commitment by delaying calls from anyone (including spouse and CEO).  Secondly, give the agenda to them.  I will be publishing a template later this month to enable this, but this being their time is key.

3.  Memorize these questions: What do you need from me?  Outside of this task list, what other significant things are happening for you?  The focus of one on ones from a manager perspective is in the first question.  If the tasks are well defined and the success measures are in place the celebrations (getting things done) or problem solving (getting stuck/behind) will happen.  I NEED are two very powerful words for followers to say, and very difficult because too often NEED = WEAKNESS in the minds of people.  The second question allows you to learn what is happening outside of work.  Don’t be surprised if they start asking you this question.

Robert Hurley shared 5 principles leaders can adopt to demonstrate trustworthiness and increase trust across their organizations.  Here is the full post, but the 5 points were:

  • Show that your interests are the same.
  • Demonstrate concern for others
  • Deliver on your promises
  • Be consistent and honest
  • Communicate frequently, clearly and openly

These principles are embedded in the actions I shared. 

Lead well!  And manage a little along the way.