This is a guest post by Zoe Anderson. Zoe is part of the team behind StudySelect. She’s interested in finding new motivation tools and branding strategies. After one of my recent posts on words, this submission grabbed my attention.
The Power of Words
Words have power. Just ask any successful leader. Whether in business, politics, or life, the right words can open the doors of opportunity, while the wrong words can get that same door slammed in your face.
With this list of phrases that you will never hear a successful leader use, you can benefit from the wisdom of others and avoid having the doors of opportunity and success closed to you.
“That’s not my fault.”
Good leaders always take responsibility and would never dream of throwing their subordinates under the bus by trying to shift blame. If you always take responsibility, you will gain the trust and loyalty of your team.
“I’m the boss.”
If you have to keep reminding your team who is in charge, then you are showing your weakness as a leader. Confidence, rather than arrogance is the attitude you should be aiming for. People naturally follow confidence, while arrogance invites contempt.
“I’ll do it myself.”
This shows a lack of confidence in your team and sends the message that no one else is as good as you are. If you find that your team isn’t performing up to standard, it’s your job to guide them through and get them the help they need. The first attempts at doing something will rarely yield stellar results. You may need to give people a little space to fail at first so you can give them the feedback they need to improve.
How to Help Your People, Team, and Organization Achieve
In the Seven Disciplines of a Leader, Jeff Wolf explores what leadership looks like when done right. Jeff has coached hundreds of leaders and offers his disciplines in order to benefit leaders at all levels of the organization. I recently talked with Jeff about the leadership disciplines discussed in his book.
“Companies place the wrong leadership in the job 82 percent of the time.” –Forbes
What advice do you give to someone who wants to stand out and get noticed as a leader in a large organization?
Learn what your company looks for in its leaders. See if there’s a competency model that identifies successful leaders’ strengths and characteristics. Study this model and be sure to practice the competencies. If no such model exists, seek out successful company leaders and talk with them to gain a better understanding of how they became successful.
You should also volunteer to lead small projects, which will provide useful leadership experiences and exposure. You’ll gain confidence and enhance the skill sets that are weak.
Always be curious. Seek new opportunities and experiences, and always be open to trying something out of your normal comfort zone.
I would encourage budding and aspiring leaders to create a plan, put it in writing, and then “work it.” Research proves that people who put their goals in writing are usually more successful.
Read as many books and attend as many training courses as possible, both within and outside of the company. Vary courses so you can experience a broad spectrum of leadership skills.
“A leader’s upbeat attitude is contagious and lifts morale.” -Jeff Wolf
There’s another important challenge to overcome: Learn the areas in which you must improve because we all have blind spots. We see some of our weaknesses, but it’s truly impossible to identify all of them.
It’s important for leaders to be positive and have a great attitude because they can either impart or sap energy. A leader’s upbeat attitude becomes contagious, lifting the morale of those around them. You can always teach skills, but you cannot always teach people how to be positive; they either have a great attitude or they don’t.
Be sure you are striving to work well with others and be aware how other people view you. When you stand up to speak in front of a group, do you exude confidence, present articulate, clear messages, and carry yourself well?
Coaching for Success
What is the most common reason someone calls you for coaching?
Coaching used to be thought of as a tool to help correct underperformance or, as I often call it, the “broken wing theory.” Today, coaching is used to support leaders, employees with high potential, and top producers in an effort to enhance individual capabilities.
We work in such a high-speed environment! Organizations are finally beginning to recognize the importance of helping leaders achieve critical business objectives in the shortest possible time, so they’re hiring me to speed personnel development.
I’m often brought into organizations to deal with a number of leadership issues. Providing feedback is one key area. As leaders move into greater levels of responsibility, they receive less—perhaps even no—feedback from others on their performance. The unfortunate consequence is stagnation. Critical leadership and interpersonal skills often reach certain levels, and the leader is given no opportunity to become an even better leader. Working one-on-one with an objective third-party coach offers these leaders a trusted advisor who can focus on behavioral changes that organizations are ill equipped to handle. Coaching develops extraordinary leaders. Extraordinary leaders produce extraordinary business results.
If you are a new manager, what are a few ways to have a quick impact?
Leadership is not rocket science. It comes down to living and leading by the golden rule: Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.
People make companies. As leaders, we often spend most of our time on strategy and improving bottom-line results, but what about our people? It’s our job, as leaders, to guide them, help them develop more skills, and increase productivity.
I think Walt Disney put it perfectly: “You can dream, create and design the most wonderful place in the world….but it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
For a quick impact, work to understand what your people want, not just what you want, and act accordingly. Ask your staff for their feedback with questions such as:
What can I do to make you happier here?
What do you find challenging about your work?
What’s energizing about your work?
How can I be a better leader for you to be successful?
What resources do you need that you currently don’t have?
What motivates you to work hard?
Do you feel appreciated and receive the praise and recognition you feel you deserve?
Often times a new leader’s first inclination is to become too friendly with people. After all, everyone wants to be liked. But by trying to become everyone’s friend, leaders run the risk of losing respect and influence. If your staff considers you to be one of the group, they may not respect your judgment on important issues.
Additionally, they may lose their motivation to achieve goals, fail to work hard, and assume deadlines are soft when they believe their “friend” will never reprimand them. That’s why leaders must avoid falling into the trap of becoming too friendly with their staff. The bottom line? You’re the boss—not a best friend! You cannot be objective and unbiased when staff members view you as a work pal.
“It takes people to make the dream a reality.” –Walt Disney
If you met me when I was in my 20’s, I have no doubt you would label me an extreme extrovert. If I spent time with people, my energy level soared. If I walked into a restaurant, I would meet the people all around me. Now married to an introvert for over twenty years, I think I am still extroverted, but much less so. My wife is also less of an introvert than she once was. We become like the people we are most often around.
I’m often asked about the qualities of a leader and where extroversion and introversion fit in.
Extroversion and Leadership
The perception is that extroversion is a requirement for the corner office.
A USA Today poll indicated that 65% of executives indicated introversion was a barrier to rising through the corporate ranks. This is often because introverts are perceived as shy, unable to articulate issues quickly, or unable to make quick decisions.
Are You and Introvert or Extrovert? Take our test below to find out!
Extroverts are known for their public speaking and networking skills. They are often able to communicate under pressure and are known as natural sales leaders. They are often more forceful with ideas, able to motivate a team to action.
“An extrovert looks at a stack of books and sees a stack of papers, while an introvert looks at the same stack and sees a soothing source of escape.” –Eric Samuel Timm
I wasn’t surprised by her research because, as I said, I am married to an introvert. She is a deep thinker, the world’s best listener, and extraordinarily creative. Add my introverted daughter into the mix and it doubles down on the argument. Both of them have the ability to lead regardless of how much they shun a neighborhood party. The introvert often can take action, even unpopular, because she has less concern for what people think. That can be a significant advantage and one I learned from my wife, enabling me to make unpopular-but-necessary decisions.
Poll: 65 percent of executives say introverts are less likely to advance at work.
Unless you have taken a vow of solitude and have absolutely no interaction with the outside world, you need to learn to work with both extroverts and introverts. Unfairly ascribing attributes to someone creates an unnecessary gulf.
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Here’s an interesting guest post perspective on the strengths that introverts might not realize they have. And, yes, I’m sure some of the extroverts in our audience might have some counterarguments to share. This post is written by Jacob Shriar, Growth Manager at Officevibe.
Often, I avoided getting into a sales or manager role simply because I thought there was no way that I could handle it. I was convinced that you needed to have that “used car salesman” attitude to be good, and I definitely didn’t have that.
What I’ve learned recently is that you don’t need to be an extrovert to be good in a leadership role. In fact, there are a lot of qualities about introverts that make them great leaders.
1. Introverts Plan Properly
One of the CEO’s that I respect the most is a close family member. One of the things I’ve always admired about him is that every company-wide speech he gives is always made up on the spot. I never understood how he was able to do that. I require much more planning and preparation.
An introverted leader will be good at documenting and preparing employees for whatever they need help with.
2. Introverts Are Attentive
I’ve noticed this about introverts, and it’s something I really respect. When someone is talking to us introverts, they have our full attention.
That’s really just common courtesy, but I find introverts are much better at this. They also usually pick up on social cues and body language much better. Also, the fact that introverts are naturally quiet makes them great listeners.
3. Introverts Push Themselves Harder
Introverts would make great leaders for this reason. It might be because of our insecurity, but we’re very hard on ourselves, and we’re never satisfied, so we always push ourselves to be better and better.
This striving for excellence is a great quality for any leader to have.