How to Help When Team Members Struggle

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We all struggle from time to time for all sorts of reasons. Though most leaders aren’t trained as therapists, we are all very well trained as humans. Privately, matter-of-factly remarking to a team member that they seem to be struggling then listening without trying to fix or solve is a very good start.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Brian Smithson cc

tool

Leadership is Simple

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Our job as leaders is to build an environment where others get valuable stuff done together. Our job is made easier when we coach people to become masterful at doing this valuable stuff together.

Simple, yes?

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Funny, there’s no mention of having to be the one with the answers, the one making the decisions, the one telling people what to do, or the one jumping in to do the work because “it’s just faster if I do it myself!”

 

Today’s photo credit: Kate Ter Haar cc

dropping the ball

Leadership Rule #1

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading
Reading time: 2 min.

Never do for another what they can do for themselves.

Often we see people dropping the ball and we think, “If you want something done you gotta do it yourself,” or, “It’s just faster if I do it for them.” So, we jump in. We figure things out. We solve the problem. This works for us because the task at hand gets done and we get to tick off that box. And getting things done is what we’re good at.

But we then become the bottleneck. We do the work and the others learn to rely on us to get their things done. We burn out and they feel underutilized and undervalued. Yuck.

Instead, let’s apply the rule, “Never do for another what they can do for themselves.” Rather than jumping in, we coach with questions and encouragement. “I am sure you can do this. How will you go about it? How confident and competent do you feel? What do you think you need? Will that solution work completely? What else can you try? What are some milestones and target dates? Who needs to know about this or give input? How can I help?”

The leader’s job is not to do the work but to build the environment and capacity for others to do the work very well.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: vic_uu cc

know

Leader, Know Thyself

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As great leaders, we understand ourselves. We know our strengths, blind spots, and biases. And we consistently grow ourselves. We do all this for three reasons.

First, self knowledge and growth are valuable in their own right. Life becomes more and more rich, beautiful, and fulfilling as we learn about and become more of ourselves. Second, by knowing and growing ourselves, we keep pace with our organization. Otherwise, we’d run the risk that its needs would outgrow our abilities. Third, our self understanding helps us understand, appreciate, and grow new leaders.

Know thyself.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Today’s photo credit: Erik Daniel Drost via photopin cc

a question

The Right Question to Ask After We Have Delegated Something

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading
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When we are concerned whether another person can or will follow through on a task she or he has committed to, we often pick the wrong next questions to ask. We ask, “What happens if they don’t? What’s the risk? What’s the exposure?” And so we tend to jump in, try to control things, or do it ourselves.

Of course, we are allowed to wonder whether someone may follow through. But we need not pick up the responsibility ball. For the long-term health and sustainability of ourselves, our organization and our relationship with this individual, the best next question to ask ourselves is, “What does this person need right now in order to fulfill this commitment?”

In your corner,

Mike

 

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strawberries

You Can Give Me a Strawberry…

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Leading
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Just for today, let’s use the word ‘strawberry’  to mean a solution, an answer, an idea, or a bit of advice.

If the object of our work is to come up  with strawberries, we as leaders tend to jump in and give people strawberries. Strange as it may sound, people would rather we didn’t. It turns out that it is far better to help them discover how to produce strawberries on their own. This relieves us of the burden and they’d much, much rather do it themselves anyway.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Why strawberries? I like them better than fish.

 

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A Few Rules and Some Strong Coaching

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
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Out of concern that things will go wrong, we make ever more complex rules, procedures, and policies.

Or, out of concern that rules, procedures, and polices will suffocate our work, we wing it.

What we really need to keep our organizations running smoothly are a few rules and some strong coaching. For rules, think of Disney and the way they guide all their interactions with clients through four simple rules.

For coaching, be willing to ask, “What is the difference between current and desired behaviors/results? What can you/we do to gain those results? What obstacles exist? How can you/we surmount those obstacles? How can I help?” And be willing for the others to own their answers and accountability despite our temptation to provide answers.

slow to speed

Why Telling ’em to Do Stuff Stops Working

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
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We can tell people what to do (or ask them forcefully) and it can cause them to act or to change their behavior as we had wished. But it won’t work for very long.

People may go along with our demands, at first, because we are the authority and because they, like all of us, prefer being polite. Soon, though, people’s resistance will wear down their senses of duty and decorum. They may get aggressive, belligerent, or direct. They may passively ignore or minimally comply. Or they may check out or leave altogether.

Why? Because none of us wants to be told what to do. We just don’t like it and will resist it any way we can.

Despite the temptation to just tell ’em, it’s actually more effective and efficient to slow down and coach them through it (as here).

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: And, yes, this applies even when the other person clearly should know better and just do their job.

PPS: Go for win-win.

 

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listen

How and Why to Get Coaching for Leaders

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter, Will=Our inner game
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We leaders (with or without title) have some significant and often unmet needs. We need to know we are making good decisions. We want to work through our thoughts and options. We need an unbiased sounding board. In other words, we need a coach. Without this support, we can feel a little or a lot isolated and unsure.

It is not easy get this type of support. Most of the people around us–employees, bosses, peers, friends, and family members–either have vested interests in what we decide or just aren’t familiar enough with our situation.

With a bit of effort, we can get the coaching we want. Here are three ways. First, we can hire a coach. Good coaches are great thinking partners. Second, we can cultivate a coaching relationship with those around us who have the talent and who can see then set aside their biases. Third, we can start of join a group of like-minded leaders from outside our organization. Sometimes called a mastermind, this group offers listening and coaching to all members.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

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heads together

Getting People to Do Stuff When What You Really Want to Do Is Knock Heads Together

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, We=All Who Matter
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As leaders (with or without title), we sometimes just want to knock heads together. Where we should be celebrating great results, we see mistakes, reactivity, passivity, infighting, lack of follow-through, and lack, it seems, of common sense.

Of course, we know we shouldn’t knock heads together (or yell or curse). If we do that we know we will get active or passive resistance and prolong the problems.

What we really need to do is take the time to teach, coach, and truth-tell. We teach when they don’t get it and lack confidence. We coach (mainly by asking open-ended questions) when they mostly get it and lack confidence. We truth-tell (“You seem to be struggling with this.”) when they don’t get it and think they do get it (over-confidence).

We need not do these things forever. As soon as they get it and are confident, we can set the goals, encourage them, and let them run with it.

So much better than knocking heads together.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Sequoia Hughes via photopin cc