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Nightmare Teams: Four ways to prevent your department from being the next Game of Thrones

Nightmare Teams: Four ways to prevent your department from being the next Game of Thrones

In a discussion with my leadership class this semester, a topic of “Nightmare Teams” emerged, and faster than a Targaryen dragon looking for his next meal, a list of terrible team members emerged:

How many of these have you seen on your team? By identifying these characters on your team, you can start to understand the best methods for bringing them back in the direction you’ve set:

  • Egotist – Arrogant – believes he/she is the smartest person in the group and is open with that opinion, closed to other perspectives – disrespectful
  • Polarizer – actions or behaviors create factions or divisions among team members – social destructor
  • Soloist – constantly jockeying for center stage, self-centered – takes full credit for team success but no responsibility for failure, displays a ‘better alone than together’ attitude
  • Pyromaniac – starts fires (problems) so that he/she can put them out (solve)
  • Saboteur – disingenuous, disloyal, untrustworthy – disrupter who works against the team’s success
  • Free-rider – team hitchhiker, not here to contribute, just along for the ride
  • Undertaker – gets results but leaves behind lots of collateral damage in the process
  • Ostrich – low tolerance to stress or ambiguity – buries head in the sand at the first sign of trouble (propensity to duck and run)
  • Distractor – personified speedbump – chronically disrupts progress with unfounded or pointless sidetracks – counterproductive obstacle (roadblock)
  • Catfish – morally or ethically compromised – actions reflect/discredits the integrity of the whole team

What happens if you experience multiples of these – at the same time. Here are 4 specific actions to attack your nightmare dragons now:

  1. Communication – this is the #1 reason, time and again, that people turn into a version of Cersei, or your own nightmare. How well do you know your own communication style? How well do you know others? Do they match?
  2. Delegation – is there a chance that your employees don’t have enough to do – or don’t feel they have the recognition they deserve? How well are you able to give them the things they need to feel empowered & part of the group?
  3. Conflict – will happen. Actually – conflict is good – it means that you’re challenging yourself, and the status quo. However, with your team members, and left unchecked, it can become worse than a night with the Night King, and a place you wish you had another place to run. What is your primary conflict style? How do you best manage the situation? Find out here.
  4. Motivation – The root of every person. It’s why we do what we do – and it can go well beyond Maslow’s pyramid. Do you know what motivates your team – or on the flipside – what doesn’t motivate them? How do you harness their motivation to move in the same direction – instead of the opposite?

Note: Special thanks to @Arnold Kaluza & @Rob Saunders who created the original discussion on this topics!! If you want to join us in future projects, please Like and send a PM.

Want more? Learn how to slay all these dragons with Leadership 9 Box skills within 1 month

Fostering Leadership: Kimberly Ross, BluSkye Consulting

Fostering Leadership: Kimberly Ross, BluSkye Consulting

Fostering leadership in any organization is fundamental. Companies who foster a culture of leadership set the tone for a positive, empowering work environment. Leadership must drive this vision and lay the ground work to cultivate a positive result. This starts with attracting like-minded talent and nurturing ‘leaders in the making’.

Some people are born leaders, while others are ‘leaders in the making’. Leaders are those who step up to the challenge. They practice active listening, are open minded, creative and think outside the box. Great leaders communicate effectively, are decisive, and empower those around them. They are honest, loyal and have integrity. Leaders are part of the solution!
Researching what makes a person a good leader has led me to three core competencies – interpersonal skills, time management, and organization.

Interpersonal Skills
The first of these competencies is possessing and practicing good interpersonal skills. Leaders are active listeners, reliable and self-confident. They show empathy, have a positive attitude, and are team players. These leaders have a positive influence on others, often without knowing it. They motivate and inspire others around them. Leaders are creative problem solvers. Most importantly – they communicate effectively!

Time Management
Secondly, a good leader practices time management. This includes focus, self-awareness, goal setting, prioritization and more. Example: Having 30 plus years of sales experience and worked for several Sales Managers, it has been my experience holding team calls or one-on-one meetings at the beginning or end of the day frees up sales personnel to reach more clients during peak hours. Hosting ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions is another great way to communicate with your team, yet not taking them away from precious selling time. This is also leading by example and unconsciously mentoring. By encouraging the sales team to focus on administrative tasks during times when clients are typically not available, you are fostering good time management.

Organization
The third core competency is organization. The goal of any company/organization is to ensure work flows smoothly. Implementing deadlines, creating tasks/deliverables and managing milestones establishes a plan for achieving the desired outcome. This includes creating general work tasks for yourself and others. Set a goal for every meeting. If you do not establish a goal, you are wasting your time and that of your team or your client.

Practicing the three core competencies – improving interpersonal, time management, and organization are the foundation for a’ leader in the making’! The principals of leadership are simple when you think about it. They can be applied to any leadership role. Consistency and practice are instrumental in becoming a great leader.

Finding a mentor is key in learning and gaining experience in applying these skills effectively. A mentor can be someone you know or work closely with on a regular basis. It could be a business professional you look up to at work or a coach you have employed through a leadership training program.
Mentoring is based on relationships and communication. This is an exchange of knowledge, advise, and insight. Mentors offer invaluable skills and knowledge like storytelling, candid feedback, tips and tricks on how to handle different scenarios, and more. Often mentoring is a learning experience for both the mentor and mentee.

As a mentor, I found there were areas in my skill set I needed to improve upon as well. Mentoring afforded me the opportunity to learn more about my own leadership style. I gained a wealth of knowledge (including a few lumps) through client facing, sales and customer service management roles in my 30 plus year career. Sharing this knowledge has provided a sense of fulfillment. I hope by sharing, others will benefit from my experiences in a positive way, as well as enable them to tackle the challenging situations.

‘Leaders in the making’ may be self-motivated to take the next steps in improving their soft skills for personal or career reasons. Others are encouraged by peer leaders to continue building their foundational skills. These peer leaders see the potential in others and nurture them, sometimes simply through their actions – much like a mentor. Leadership cannot be taught; however, it can be fostered and developed through experience. The team at BluSkye Consulting recommends the leadership training solution Leadership 9 Box by Square Peg Solutions to all our clients. The program offers an eLearning experience in the core competencies of leadership, as well as mentoring by SME’s.

Zig Ziglar is quoted as saying ‘Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation’. This rings especially true in leadership. Preparation is a trickle-down effect. Companies where leaders share the organizations vision, focus on customer success, and empower employees are building a strong foundation for the future and ensuring success. Organizations employing mentoring programs are ensuring their future by essentially creating what is commonly referred to as succession planning.

As a ‘leader in the making’ or someone who already holds a leadership role, improving your skills and practicing them are the building blocks to success. You hold the key to future opportunities. Foster success for yourself and others. Find a mentor (most great leaders have a mentor), seek a great leadership training program to sharpen your soft skills, and practice those skills regularly – there is always remove for improvement!

Kimberly Ross – Entrepreneur and President, BluSkye Consulting

Born or made: Three areas of leadership you don’t have

Born or made: Three areas of leadership you don’t have

Summary: Learn 3 areas of leadership that you are probably not aware of and should improve

Where are you challenged, personally, as a leader? Do you (accurately) know the areas that you can improve on as a leader?

Good leaders recognize there is always room for improvement, and learning skills is a key part. They know they are not infallible and should continue learning to improve their breadth of experiences. To admit you are still learning is not a fault – it’s a desirable trait that strong, confident leaders such as Bill Gates and many other CEO’s admit freely.

So… if we all agree that we should learn as leaders – how do you do it?

In school? Perhaps … but at best, you can only be taught leadership – you can’t learn or absorb it that way. You have to experience it. There’s no feedback loop – until you practice it.

In OJT – on the job training? Yes – this can be done – if you have the time, and the other individual training you have the experience to develop those skills you need.

In online training? If you don’t have time, this is the fastest and most flexible track to boost only the leadership skills you need to improve on the job. This is a short circuit way to download information quickly.

Or do you? Do you know what areas your leadership abilities are the strongest – or they areas that need work? How do you know you really know it?

Henry Mintzberg developed 3 areas of leadership that many people overlook:

  • Administrative – the ability to lead through management of tasks and duties
  • Interpersonal – the ability to lead through interacting with others
  • Conceptual – the ability to lead through vision and insight
Managerial Roles: Interpersonal, Decisional, Informational. Ashley Prisant
Managerial Roles: Interpersonal, Decisional, Informational. Ashley Prisant

In general, many leaders overlook their skills in these areas because they see their skills as a whole – or believe that leaders are made – and you’re built with the skills you have. Or.. they feel they have been “trained” without demonstrating their abilities. Perhaps it’s to themselves as leaders or others, and they falsely believe they have leadership skills they don’t. They end up falling grossly short – resulting in missed goals, missed opportunities, and failing employees.

Ok… so this is great in theory (literally) – but how do you practice? How do you – or your managers – know – you understand these concepts?

  • Developing your skills is an ongoing process. You can do it on your own time – but the importance is getting it done. Leadership 9 Box helps develop your skills AND give you the feedback in the most important leadership skills – such as conflict management, motivation, innovation, communication and delegation. You get immediate feedback and are guaranteed to improve your skills because you build on the experiences you have, with the knowledge you build.
  • Get a mentor – or 2. Reach out and get feedback on the skills you need to develop – and listen. Feedback is the best form of flattery. Good leaders value feedback as a way to learn and improve – both themselves and their team.
  • This week – aim to get feedback from 3 different sources about a specific leadership skill (such as communication, delegation or conflict) and reflect on their differences or similarities. How can you build on what you’ve learned?

Get exclusive pre-release access to our upcoming Leadership 9 Box online leadership and training – create your FREE account in the next week and get 3 free leadership assessments and access to 3 courses, activities & discussions with Leadership SME’s (subject matter experts)

Published on LinkedIn

Are you too “big” to care… as a leader? 3 ways to help you reset… before someone does it for you

Are you too “big” to care… as a leader? 3 ways to help you reset… before someone does it for you

  • Have you been in your position for more than a year? More than 2? 10?
  • Do you have trouble remembering the last time you sat down with someone from your team and talked about something OTHER than the next project or task that is due?
  • Could you share 3 facts about each individual on your team – that is NOT work related?
  • Do you know what your employees want to do next in their job? For their careers?

Take a look… if you answered “yes” to more than one of these, you may have (knowingly or not) become too big to care as a leader. (Picture by Abbey Pansy)

Or… does this classify someone that you know? Someone… that you WORK for (or try to) on a daily basis? In one of the lowest points of my work career, I became “too big to care”. I focused more on what I needed to do to fix the overall problems – then on my team that could actually fix the problems.

It’s 2017. No time for lamenting where you are. Let’s move forward and get it done.

So how do we tackle our situation here? We now have managers that have potentially grown so big in their job that they have become comfortable, complacent, callous, careless, confused, or even just cranky … too big to care as a leader. Leaders have been recognized as those with the responsibility to lead others. Here is a few ways to help you (or a leader you know) get back to what’s important.

  • Have a real conversation. One that doesn’t include work. It can be difficult, and for some, it seems remote to talk about things other than work but don’t forget – they are people too. They aren’t just a number. You hired them because they added value to the company – at some level. What value can they add to you? Your team? What are their interests? Find a few ways to help them open up and the work may open up too.
  • Find out what makes them tick. Really. Pop Quiz. What is the motivation style for each of your employees? Is it the carrot? Stick? Do they do their best work alone? With periodic checkups? Take a few minutes to find out. Ask them to complete the free assessment the Talent Engagement Zone (TEZ) or buy the book Strengths Finder – and talk about the results. How can you give them more of what they already have… and one? How can you build that into the goals and critical needs of your organization and team? Ask.
  • Share about what makes you tick. REALLY. It’s important to know the things that make your employees want to work harder – but your interests, strengths, and motivations are just as important.  Where do your interests and theirs align? Where do they want to go… that’s similar (or even parallel) to where you want to go? How can you go there together?

 It’s understandable that not everything will align. You may want to run the company, and an individual may just want to do a good job (and securely KEEP the good job). What doesn’t go together? How do you break the two up and resolve those differences? Sharing stories about yourself makes you a little vulnerable, but it also opens your employees to the REAL you… which will help them better understand and better relate to you. No one’s perfect, right? It’s ok to let them see it, too.

The year is young and the snow is still cold. Focus on your 10% and show you’re not too big to care.

 

I didn’t quit my job, I fired my company: Lessons to leaders on saving the best assets you didn’t know you had

I didn’t quit my job, I fired my company: Lessons to leaders on saving the best assets you didn’t know you had

A few months ago, I asked a simple question – have you ever quit a job? The responses came in fast and furious – but what was more interesting – were the reasons why people quit their jobs – and how many of them would have stayed if given the chance. In the pilot study, one of the key statistics that stuck out was….

92% of people said they quit because of management.

Think about it. It wasn’t the food, the benefits, the salary, or even their coworkers. The top reason that people quit was because of the management team. What’s even more scary than that? (Artwork by Rachel Christine Nowicki)

60% said that they quit because of their immediate manager.

Think about that for a second. Let’s say that you and 9 other people in your company have a $50,000 job. Your company is large, greater than 10,000 employees, and 10 of you quit in the year. No big deal, right? The average cost of turnover for someone in your range is about 150% – so that’s going to cost the company $750,000. If the average turnover in a company is 15% – meaning up to 1500 people would leave in a same year – well, you get the picture.

In the pilot survey, it didn’t matter what position the individuals were in (approximately half managed others, and half were individual contributors) or how long they had been with the company (20% had quit with less than 1 years’ experience with the company, > 50%  had been with the company 2-4 years, and 25% had been there more than 5 years).

I hear what you’re saying… I know this. I don’t want my (good) people to leave my company. What can I do about it?

First, congrats. No, I’m not being condescending but the fact that you actually want to do something about it – from your chair, from your position right there – puts you ahead of half of the crowd. There is a lot you can do about it…. And the first step is recognizing that your employees may not feel like they NEED you as much as they used to.

  1. Participate in Career Advancement with your employees = developing Career Engagement

Employees don’t want to be another cog on the wheel, something slightly better than a glorified robot. It doesn’t matter if it’s a manual labor construction job or a VP. More than 25% of employees said they wanted to have career engagement – an ability to engage at different levels of their career, and have both input and output about what they can do.

One senior level manager mentioned that he had been moved several times into positions that he had “no input or choice”.  He didn’t feel in control of where he was going, and thought leaving for higher ground was better than staying and waiting for what happened next

 

  1. Listen to your employees. That’s it. Just listen.

It’s amazing what someone will do when they know someone else is listening. When someone is paying attention to what their strengths are, where their problems are, and whether the manager really understands what they are saying.  One person said she quit because the manager had unrealistic expectations, and were not given the tools needed to succeed, despite repeated requests of the employees.  Another mentioned the regional managers couldn’t “effectively communicate company goals” and instead of listening to understand what was going on, they “blamed local managers for performance”. It can be uncomfortable to hear what your people have to say. It is even more uncomfortable to lose the person because they fired YOU, their manager.

  1. Know who you are. And know who your people are.

This may sound a bit wishy-washy, but it’s not. Nearly 40% of those polled said that the environment and/or the culture of the firm led them to handing the shoes to their companies and saying “fill these”.

You hire people for a job description. Accountant, buyer, sales rep. You may even have several – 20, 30 or more in each position. Each one of them are different. They have their own talents, their own strengths – and ones that are outside of their job description, but INSIDE the company’s strategic goals and values. Finding out what their strengths and talents are and using them to the company’s (and employee’s) advantage is called Talent Engagement and it is a very powerful tool that helps you as a manager and leader of your company get more out of your employees by giving them more.

Most of the time, people do not look forward to quitting their jobs OR firing their companies…. And are looking for ways to stay.

Understand your assets – help them stay – help everyone win.

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