Articles tagged with: People Champion

The Leadership Journey to Authenticity

What happens when you get where you think you want to be, only to realize it is not the right place...or you find yourself compromising your values or passions to succeed in a new more senior position? If you are a leader and have not experienced something similar, hold on to your boots, you probably will. Is the school of hard knocks the only option? Many of us have a graduate degree in learning from failure, which is OK. As John Maxwell says, “success stands on top of a pile of failures”.

Although I have not found a way to eliminate mistakes (and frankly do not think we would ever want to, as it a good teacher) I do believe there is a way to help leaders navigate through moves and decisions that maybe less painful. The “new” title given to this sort of awareness is authentic leadership. Often, leaders, through years of experience develop this but it has not been defined with a  name until  recently.  The book , “True North” by Bill George and summarizes what I had been  personally striving for as a leader. Throughout the last few years, I have engaged in much of what I have  learned through this process as well as coaching others to their own personal authentic leadership style. If you have read the book, you will notice some of George’s passion threaded throughout this article.  We have tried for many years to develop the perfect model for leadership but the truth is, leaders come  in all shapes and sizes. That is because we are all different and bring our own set of experiences,  personalities and passions into our leadership.

Certainly, we can learn from other’s experiences but we cannot  live through and lead through another’s experiences. In the book titled “The Enemy Called Average”  was the quote, “we are all born originals but most die carbon copies”. Others can mentor and influence your authentic leadership style but only you can determine what it is. There is only one you with your  personality inspired by you unique set of life experiences. Although there may be other people like you,  only you have lived your life.

A leader can develop their authentic leadership by focusing on seven areas:  self awareness, personal  values, balancing extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, developing a trustworthy support team, staying  grounded, integrating life and empowering others to lead.

Being self aware is not as easy as it may appear. Self awareness is birthed out of one’s own life story and how their story affects their leadership. Often leaders do not tap into this goldmine of discovery. They may not go through this process for several reasons.  Some of these reasons may include:  not knowing how, lack of understanding in the value of their life story, it is too painful or they are unwilling  to invest the time. This journey is worth the investment however.  A study from Stanford  Graduate School of Business’s Advisory Council recommended self awareness as the most important  capability for leader’s to develop. Learning your authentic leadership will require not only honesty but  also courage. The process can begin in through different areas of self discovery such as: writing out  your story and listening to feedback to more formal methods such as: 360 profiles, personality profiles,  strength finder and emotional intelligence.

Reflecting on and learning from your life story is the starting point. One’s personal life story allows a  leader to better understand themselves. It also opens their eyes to their passions, values and principles. Reviewing life experiences that go back as far as can be remembered encourages a leader to discover  what drives their passions and then learn how to channel that passion to their own leadership. The  difficult challenges faced in life often define who a leader is and give direction to what they will become.  A leader’s understanding of their values becomes even more relevant when tested under pressure. Having a strong foundation of values that are tried under fire enables a leader to develop the principles  they will apply in leading others.

A leader’s values help them to gain insight to their motivations both intrinsically and extrinsically. The  common response in measuring a leader’s success is extrinsically. When the measuring stick for success  is the “world’s view” it creates a void that is never satisfied. This view encompasses tangible things such  as:  money, home, cars, titles, etc. The challenge is that these things are not sustainable and more often  than not leave a leader unfulfilled with lack of meaning in life. Intrinsic motivations on the other hand  lead the person to pursue more meaningful success that is congruent with their values thus balancing  the fulfillment of their extrinsic motivations. Discovering both your extrinsic and intrinsic motivation takes self evaluation, honesty and a willingness to explore how to bring balance between the two.

Leaders cannot succeed on their own. It takes support and advice. Authentic leaders build a support team to help them stay focused. This team provides feedback, balanced perspective and has earned the  right to speak into the leader’s life. They will help with focus and correction when the leader needs it. This support group also gives a leader a group of individuals to authentically be themselves with and to  rely on to coach and challenge them. This group may consist of peers, family, colleagues, mentors  and/or friends.

Staying grounded as a leader can be a challenge. Leaders that are able to integrate all areas of their life  find the journey to authenticity become a reality. True authenticity comes when a leader is balanced  and consistent in work, faith, family, community and friends. The challenge is balancing effective  leadership at work and maintaining a strong personal life. Those who achieve authentic leadership are constantly working to maintain balance and stay grounded through holistic lives. This allows for  accountability, spending time with family and close friends, physical exercise, community service and a  commitment to spiritual practices, remembering where you came from, what values drive your values  and passions – all allowing authenticity to be sustainable.

Once a leader has worked through self awareness (which is an on going challenge), they now have  earned the right of passage (so to speak) to empower others to lead. Authentic leaders create a culture  of trust and loyalty. This culture enables the leader’s organization to retain and attract top talent that  aligns team members with shared values and goals. Team members are inspired at all levels to step up  and lead and/or take on greater challenges. Thus, authentic leaders are able to produce sustainable  results for themselves and their organization for a long term period. At MSBCoach, we are dedicated to coaching leaders to become authentic leaders. For more information please contact us at: .


4 Tips to Unlock the Potential in Millennials and Unify Your Workforce

We are embarking on a time when we will have five generations in the workforce including: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials (Gen Y), and the newest generation about to enter the workforce, Generation 2020. Many say they have had difficulty leading such generational diversity, especially with Millennials. This is illustrated by the countless negative articles, discussions, and blogs on the dilemma of hiring and working with Millennials, also known as the “Entitled Group”. Concerns are so widespread and misguided that Strategy + Business magazine published an article titled, “Five Millennial Myths: Forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employee”. The article provides insight into the many disparaging myths that shroud this generation.

Each generation grows and adjusts with the dynamic world in their time, facing different events and challenges as they make their way into adulthood and the workforce. One’s world experience is a major part of the fabric that makes everyone authentic. This combination of generations, experiences and uniqueness make it an incredibly exciting and challenging time to lead!

Here are 4 tips for leaders to help unlock the potential in Millennials and unify your workforce:

  1. Unlock their passion. Assign a mentor who will show them the ropes, help set goals, and help them understand boundaries and expectations. Spend quality time with them and learn what motivates and excites each individual. This can be done by administering behavior/personality assessments and conducting regular coaching sessions geared toward helping them find their place in your organization – (for more information on human behavior assessments, contact me at ). By allowing Millenials to feel comfortable and welcome, you give them the freedom to express themselves and find passion in their work.
  2. Promote contributions. Renowned psychologist B.F Skinner said, “You can build a society entirely on the basis of positive reinforcement”. Encourage and promote their insight and ideas by acknowledging and celebrating great input, solutions, and accomplishments. Use positive reinforcement instead of negativity when they don’t quite hit the mark, taking care not to squash creativity.
  3. Ignite creativity and innovation. The Millennial generation is more technically savvy than any before them. They were practically born on the computer and use social media to connect with people and information all over the world. We need to align our businesses and relationships to accommodate their level of connectivity. Maximize the authenticity of the Millennial generation to ensure we do not get left behind or become status quo. Allow them the opportunity to do for you what they do best.
  4. Encourage teamwork. “…there is nothing more important than teamwork. It gives people a sense of connection and belonging, which ultimately makes them better…”—Patrick Lencioni One of greatest contributions of this generation is their ability to function as a team. This is a result of receiving constant (and as the parent of two teenagers, I’m told, annoying) parental guidance and support as well as the trend of recognizing teams’ accomplishments by promoting the “everybody wins” approach to competition. Millennials know that they are never alone in their endeavors and associate being a part of a team with winning. They ask for help when they need it and do not take issue with being a follower. Leaders building highly effective teams would do well to learn from Millenials.

Working with Millennials and untapping the many talents they bring to your organization should not be difficult for good leaders. Their talents are a gift to us. The ultimate gift that you can give to your organization is to identify all the strengths and invest in those you lead. The returns are boundless! It is our time as leaders to mold and prepare younger generations to be tomorrow’s leaders.

How are you making a positive difference unifying your Millennials with all the generations in your workplace? Share your comments!

Also check out, Do Gen-Y’s make good Leaders? by Michelle Braden and Five Millennial Myths: Forget what you think you know about your Gen Y employee”,   written by Jennifer J. Deal.


Developing Emerging Leaders

THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMERGING LEADERS (ELS) IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED OR THE EL IS NOT GIVEN THE ENERGY NEEDED FOR HEALTHY GROWTH TO SUSTAIN LEADERSHIP.

To explore why it is important to invest time, energy and funding into ELs, we have to understand their challenges.

Let's first identify the EL.The EL is typically a star performer. This is why we choose them for leadership. They show the ability to excel in a given area, be it sales, technology, customer service, etc. Star performers are used to being on top. Often this personal success has won them affirmation, bonuses and autonomy. Managing oneself to accomplishment is quite different than bringing an entire team to success. Herein lies the first mistake seasoned leaders (SLs) make. SLs assume because an individual is a star performer they will make an excellent team leader. They then proceed to promote them, give them the keys to their new office, print business cards and think they are good to go... thus, unintentionally setting the EL up for failure.

There are ways to make this transition more successful for everyone. A good starting point is exploring with the candidate if leading people is what they want to do.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Do you realize your time and energy will now go from your technical skills, you have excelled in, to interpersonal skills?
  • Your time and energy will be divided (this will depend upon all this position they will oversee‐‐such as: long‐term planning, strategy, budgets, motivating the team, keeping numbers up, hiring, meetings, etc)
  • How do you see your days being different?
  • How do you plan to transition from peer to manager?
  • Do you have leaders, mentors or family members you trust and whose advice you value, to be a sounding board for you during this transition?

I am sure you can come up with many other questions. The principle here is to go through this process before promoting someone into leadership. There is nothing more demoralizing than to go from a star performer to poor leader. It is our responsibility as senior leadership to ensure this doesn't happen.

Once you feel comfortable promoting the EL, it is important to help them begin their leadership journey. They will make mistakes and need to know this is part of the process. The goal is to learn from mistakes and then move forward. If the EL is not comfortable coming to the SL for advice, it is important to make sure they have someone to talk with. Often, although the EL says they will come to the SL, be aware they most likely will not. Do you remember your first leadership position and the challenges that came with it? An EL fears if they show uncertainty it will be perceived as weakness and their ability will be questioned, creating doubt. A coach or outside mentor is often the better choice. The goal is to create a safe environment where the EL can get sound advice and a sounding board to work through their challenges and opportunities.

It is important to help EL first develop self-leadership.

In order for a person to lead others, they must have:

  • self-awareness
  • know their personal values
  • motivations
  • work life balance
  • a network to support and be honest with them
  • be grounded as an individual.

Once this foundation is built, an EL can move on to team leadership to empower others. A SL needs to teach self leadership before team leadership.

As a new team leader, an EL will need to learn things such as:

  • how my self-leadership affects my team leadership
  • communication
  • conflict resolution
  • meetings with purpose
  • motivating your team
  • no favorites
  • hiring smart
  • networking

A SL should not take for granted the EL already knows this information when they usually do not. Leaders are not born, they are taught.


Are You a Bad Teacher Because You’re Too Smart?

I was recently reading the book, “Brain Rules” by John Medina. In the book, Medina teaches us that in order for learning to take place we have to connect with those we teach. He gives several examples of how to do this, but one in particular stood out to me. This example is that we have a tendency to forget that the information we are sharing is NEW to those we are teaching.

This hit me like a brick when I began to realize as leaders, mentors, and teachers we take for granted the information we have accumulated and how long it took us to master it. I first reflected on this insight within myself. I realized that I often move very quickly when teaching and coaching new concepts to those I am working with. I have a tendency to just assume they “have it” and are ready to move on; often I do not want to “bore” them (or myself).

According to Medina our brains:

  • can only process 10 minutes of information at a time and
  • can only focus on one thing at a time.

He also provides proof that our brains

  • do not pay attention to things we are not interested in
  • are inspired by emotional arousal and it helps the brain to learn.

This book enhanced and brought validation to concerns I already had. I began developing ways that I can more consciously connect with my audience – even if it is an audience of one. I also began to think about the executives I work with and how frustrated they get when people do not “get it” like they do, do not “get it” quick enough, or make mistakes.

Here are some of the tools that I use to connect with my audience. I encourage other executives I work with to do the same. Hopefully they will help you too.

  1. Create interest – people do not pay attention to what is “boring” to them
  2. Reduce multi-tasking – especially when new information is being learned
  3. Help those you are training to connect to the big picture first and fine tune the details later
  4. Tell a story (or something) to emotionally connect your learners/staff to what you are teaching
  5. Only teach 10 minutes at a time and then pull your audience or staff back in by creating a hypothetical situation they can connect to – even better if it involves their emotions
  6. Create an open environment for learning. Make sure your staff or audience are comfortable making and owning their mistakes and asking questions, otherwise, people will tell you they “get it” when they do not.

The next time you are coaching, training or mentoring someone, remember people need time to learn, process, store and practice the new information. Everyone learns differently and at a different pace, so get to know the person you are training and adjust your style accordingly.

Do not take for granted the learning process and reflect on how long it took you to master the subject matter you are teaching. Remember that while you may be proficient with a certain subject, it might not be your audience’s strength. This is vital if you really want people to learn and not just a perfunctory process to check off the list.


People are Motivated by Passion not Money

It is an interesting and a false understanding that people leave their jobs for money. In fact, people are motivated by their passions and not money. People will spend all kinds of money on their passions. If you don't believe me, look at people's hobbies and recreational spending. One thing is for sure, money follows passion, and passion does not follow money. If you can tap into your people's passions, you will find them making money for you and themselves.

Here are a few questions you can use to help you tap into people's passion:

  1. Are your employees in the right job position?
  2. Do they need extra training, feedback and/or coaching?
  3. Is there an opportunity for advancement or continued learning?
  4. Do they feel unappreciated, devalued, or are their opinions respected?
  5. Do they have poor work/life balance, and do they trust their leadership?
  6. Is stress a factor (stress can sometimes stunt creativity and passion) involved?

I encourage you to meet with your team and find out what they think needs to be done. Get them involved with the recovery plan. People buy into what they create, so let them help to create the solution.


Tips For Better Company Reviews

  1. Steer clear from annual reviews, they don't work. Historically they bring too much anxiety and take up too much valuable time. There is also too much time between reviews to measure progress or work on developing anything.
  2. Do monthly or quarterly reviews depending on the size of your staff.
  3. Have each team member set quarterly goals that are smaller and easily evaluated and are attainable.
  4. Have team members complete their own review and bring it to the meeting. The leader will then assess the review, giving their thoughts and feedback to how to reach their goals and steer the team member towards helping the company reach it's goals.
  5. Use behavioral tools (assessments) such as EQ and DISC or Emergenetics to help you connect with your team member. Strength Finder is good too.
  6. Ask team members what motivates them. Help each team member to discover their own flow and internal motivations so their work is inspiring and not drudgery.

Do Gen-Y's Make Good Leaders?

In my experience as a coach to emerging leaders from this generation and as a parent of a Millennial, there are challenges and strengths just like any other group. We see in this generation a creative ability to multi-task and use technology to get things done more efficiently. They tend to see everyone as being on the same playing field. Organizations should be flat and everyone has the right to speak and to be taken seriously and judged on their merits, not on status or position. The challenge is that the greatest strength can become the greatest weakness. We know that multi-tasking can actually create an inability to focus and more mistakes in the long-run. We know everything cannot be solved via text or email, that human interaction, soft skills, the ability to read and express proper body language is imperative to business success. We also know that even in a flat organization a leader will rise even without a title. So I think as with any generation, this generation brings amazing skills to the table. They will also have the challenge of the school of hard knocks, which all of us will agree is a powerful teacher.

I will share a story with you. I have always believed in everyone pulling their weight whether in a business or a family. When my son was 16, I was having a difficult time getting him to keep the yard up. I was a full time, single working mom (not to mention he needed to do this anyway to be responsible) and needed his help. I was so frustrated with “nagging”. I then began to think a little more, How can I motivate this kid, what inspires him? Well, he likes to be in control, he wants to make his own decisions, he likes positive feedback and he likes to spend money. I made him the yard director for the summer, gave him a budget, and told him to spend it however he chose but the outcome was to be a great looking yard. This fed all his needs. I could not believe the pride he took in our yard. What this means is that if you are leading a Millennial, you are going to have to think deeper than “just do this because I said so”. “That dog don’t hunt!” I don’t know if this is any different than it was with any other generational cohort. The difference is this cohort is not afraid to ask why. They want to attach meaning to their work – purpose. Truth is, there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone does not get the trophy at work but you can build a relationship (which is very important to Millennials) and mentor them to greatness. This may be the next great generation. Our ceiling should be their floor! I think they can make amazing entrepreneurs. They have funding money, technology, relationship support but they need to develop their interpersonal, leadership development and long term thinking skills and they can create success. I believe all funding organizations should require a year of leadership/business coaching to be included in their funding to help ensure their success rather than handing over money from a good business plan to make better widgets.