How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others

influence

Bring Out the Best

As leaders, we are often wondering what the best way is to bring out the best in our organizations. We want to help people exceed all expectations and accomplish more than they thought possible.

Yet, the current feedback mechanisms and performance appraisal processes in our organizations often don’t work toward that goal. In fact, Tim Irwin, author of Extraordinary Influence: How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others, argues that they do just the opposite. Tim Irwin, PhD is an author, speaker, and leading authority on leadership.

I recently asked Tim to share his perspective on negativity and criticism at work.

 

“Leadership is influence-nothing more, nothing less.” -John Maxwell

 

What are a few things we often get wrong with criticism in the workplace?

Our brains are hardwired to detect anything that threatens our physical or emotional safety. When a person senses criticism, it engages a “negativity bias” in our brains and generally shuts down the parts of our brains responsible for creativity and problem solving. This is just one reason the often-used term “constructive criticism” is such an oxymoron.

 

Research: Science has revealed that affirmation sets in motion huge positive changes in the brain.

 

Avoid Words of Death

What are Words of Death?

The workplace, and society in general, are filled with critical words and phrases. For example, in some organizations, the phrase “One Throat to Choke” is used to describe the need for accountability on a project or other initiative. While maybe colorful and entertaining at some level, the use of these words and many others diminish us, at least at an unconscious level. Leaders routinely use statements such as, “I’m going to hold your feet to the fire,” (a torture method in the middle ages) to motivate employees and presumably to get them to work harder. Our brains thrive on affirmation not threats.

 

Research: Affirmation activates areas of the brain associated with calmness and openness to new ideas.

 

If we are on the receiving end of them, what can we do to limit their impact on us?

If it’s our present boss, we may learn some valuable lessons about how not to lead and motivate others. If a “Words of Death” culture prevails in our organization, we may need to consider, “Do I want to spend 40 to 60 hours a week or more in such a toxic environment?”

 

Share an example of “alliance feedback” that works to bring out someone’s highest potential.influence

Recently I met with a senior officer of a company who had some significant deficits in “Emotional Intelligence.” I could have said, “You have the empathy of a fence post, and no one trusts you.” Those were actually true statements. Would he have heard my feedback and acted on it in a conscientious manner? Doubtful. Instead, I said, “I know you aspire to a larger role in your company, and I think that is a worthwhile and achievable goal. In order to realize that aspiration, I recommend you work on collaborating with your peers more effectively by appreciating the challenges they face in reaching important goals.” What ensued was a very productive conversation about specific actions he could take to collaborate more effectively. He was eager to learn and not defensive in the slightest. The research is compelling that connecting feedback to personal hopes and aspirations bypasses the part of our brain that stays in hyper defense mode.

 

3 Faces of a Leader

4 Commitments of a Winning Team

Advice from an NBA All-Star

 

The very first thing you notice when you see Mark Eaton is his height. At 7’4” that’s to be expected. (That’s not a typo.)The Four Commitments cover - highres

His career in the NBA is well-known: NBA All-Star, leading the league in blocked shots in four seasons, a five-time member on the NBA all-defensive team. He has two records including the most blocked shots in one season (456) and career average blocked shots (3.5).

His career continues as a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and now, author.

His book, The Four Commitments of a Winning Team, is a blend between his intriguing personal story and his principles for teambuilding. Even if you don’t follow professional basketball, I am certain you will enjoy it.

In our interview, you will learn:

  • What Wilt Chamberlin told him in five minutes that changed everything
  • Why he dreaded his height for much of his life
  • How an auto mechanic who wasn’t interested in basketball became an NBA All-Star
  • How the never-ending persistence of a coach changed the course of his career
  • What a winning team looks like
  • Why teamwork is misunderstood

 

The Four Commitments of a Winning Team

Commitment #1: Know your job.

Commitment #2: Do what you’re asked to do.

Commitment #3: Make people look good.

Commitment #4: Protect others.

 

Quotes

“A team is a group of people who commit to each other.” -Mark Eaton

 

“Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight. Actually, getting something too easily or too soon can cheapen the outcome.” -John Wooden

 

“You can’t always control who your boss is or your work environment, but you can control your approach to personal preparation, teamwork, and dedication to your job.” -Mark Eaton

5 Tips to Increase Your Freelancing Future

gig is up

Thriving in the Gig Economy

Speaker and marketing expert, Olga Mizrahi has a new book, The Gig Is Up: Thrive in the Gig Economy, Where Old Jobs Are Obsolete and Freelancing Is the Future. She looks at what it takes to win as a freelancer in a world of increasing choice.

In the book, she shared five tips that help you not to get trapped in the digital marketplace. As I read these tips, I realized that they aren’t just applicable to those freelancing. These five tips are important for us all.

Here are five important ways to be ready to compete:

 

Keep your resume, portfolio, business cards, website, and portfolio up-to-date.

Just because you’re not looking for a jobby job doesn’t mean you can let your PR slack. Make sure to keep your resume on the cutting edge, put your most recent work in your portfolio, order business cards that reflect what you currently do, and add everything new you do to your professional website. Make sure that your online presence contains: a thorough overview about what you do and why you’re the best at it; your current resume; a list of services and pricing; testimonials and reviews; a past client roster with logos (if appropriate); an introductory video; and a contact page that lets potential customers reach you a number of different ways. When you actually show up on someone’s radar, you’d better make sure they’re seeing you at your best.

 

Digital Tip: When you show up on someone’s radar, make sure they see you at your best.

 

Memorize your elevator pitch.

The elevator pitch is what you say to Richard Branson (or whatever billionaire is most interesting to you) when he shakes your hand and casually mentions he’s looking for a superstar. What exactly do you do and why are you the best at it? Learn how to say it in under two minutes. If it’s good, a potential contact will ask you to elaborate. If they’re not interested, then hopefully, your pitch will be memorable enough to pass your name along to the next billionaire.

 

Career Tip: Be ready with a superb elevator speech at all times.

 

Practice juggling clients by juggling apps.

If you’re good at repairs, why not keep active profiles on Handy and TaskRabbit? Not only will you be meeting a diverse clientele from different platforms, you’ll also be able to pick up insight about how much people will pay for particular jobs when you strike out on your own.

Turn Your Day Job into Your Dream Job

 

Day Job to Dream Job

 

86% of the population wishes they weren’t at their job.

That’s a startling statistic shared by Kary Oberbrunner. Kary is an author, speaker, and coach who left his day job to pursue his dream job several years ago. His personal story is compelling, overcoming severe stuttering, depression, and self-injury to becoming a community and business leader.

I recently spoke with him about his work and particularly about his book, Day Job to Dream Job: Practical Steps For Turning Your Passion Into A Full-Time Gig.

 

“Sometimes stories cry out to be told in such loud voices that you write them just to shut them up.” -Stephen King

 

In our video interview, we talk about:

What it takes to pursue your life with purpose and meaning.

Kary calls people who pursue this “dream jobbers” and says only 14% of people are truly excited about their jobs.

 

Clarity. It starts with clarity. And with that clarity comes action.

 

 “Clarity attracts and confusion repels.” -Kary Oberbrunner

 

“Clarity has rough edges. Clarity is sharp. People are scared of clarity because they will either be accepted or rejected.” -Kary Oberbrunner

 

The importance of surrounding yourself with the right people.

Never Stop Learning

never stop learning

Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself, and Thrive

 

Almost every conference I have attended in the last ten years has highlighted the rapid changes that we are experiencing in every aspect of society. Companies need to evaluate digital futures, new technologies, and global strategies. Individuals need to develop plans to keep developing their skills.

How do we best deal with this constant pace of change?

Brad Staats is an associate professor of operations at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. His new book, Never Stop Learning: Stay Relevant, Reinvent Yourself, and Thrive, provides the framework to help all of us become dynamic learners. He says that, “If we fail to learn, we risk becoming irrelevant.”

He also says that we aren’t so great at learning.

I recently spoke with him about his extensive research into learning.

 

“One of the most powerful ways we can learn from others is to ask, ‘What do you think?’ and be open to the answer.” -Bradley Staats

 

Learning is a Key Differentiator

Why is learning more important today than in past generations?

Learning has always been a key competitive differentiator. What has changed is that things are moving faster and increasingly we are in a winner take all (or at least most) environment. There are four factors I’d highlight that are driving these changes. The first is routinization. Through the use of technology (information and otherwise) we can knock out repeatable tasks. That means our attention can turn to new things where we can innovate. If one looks at job changes in the US over the last 30 years, the data reveals that routine jobs are flat and growth has only occurred in the non-routine settings.

jobs

The second driver is specialization. Knowledge around us is increasing, often exponentially. It is estimated a physician would need to read 29 hours a day to stay current on all the necessary knowledge. So we are forced to pick areas to dig in. The third driver is globalization. In the 1990’s, in particular, the global economy opened up as countries like India, Russia, Brazil and China flooded the global labor market with talented individuals. Success is no longer a local affair, it is a global one. Finally, we have digitization. We can capture knowledge digitally and share it around the world. All of these factors mean that great products and services can quickly capture markets and squeeze out others—so we have to learn if we are going to stay relevant. As Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, has said, “Ultimately, the ‘learn-it-all’ will always do better than the ‘know-it-all.’”

 

“Whatever we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” -Otto Rank

 

Why are we so bad at learning?