Showing posts with label Effective Leadership Skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Effective Leadership Skills. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jeff Wolf and Seven Disciplines of a Leader

When I was first put in a position of supervising others, I received no formal training in leadership. I had excelled as a teacher, and a natural progression was to move into an administrative position. I made a lot of mistakes as I tried to discover the best ways to motivate and empower people to give their best effort.

This is not unique to the field of education. Many outstanding individual performers – whether it’s in sales, engineering or accounting – are often promoted to supervisor or manager because of their technical expertise.

The problem is, in far too many cases, they aren't adequately prepared to lead others. They know how to complete the technical aspects of their work, but they have no clue how to help those now in their charge to become outstanding, too.

I wish I’d had Jeff Wolf’s new book, Seven Disciplines of a Leader: How to Help Your People, Team, and Organization Achieve Maximum Effectiveness when I got promoted.

There’s no shortage of books on the topic of leadership. But many are theoretical and don’t give specific “how-to” advice. You can learn about leadership, but you don’t get a clear roadmap for exactly what to do.

Seven Disciplines provides those kinds of specifics…and so much more.

Jeff Wolf’s advice is credible and practical because he draws from his own experience as a senior executive and his decades of work coaching hundreds of leaders in all kinds of industries. The client stories he shares throughout the book bring each of the 7 disciplines to life.

These disciplines as well 11 related practices can be developed and applied whether you’re a leader in the workplace, a volunteer organization, or a professional association. The skills carry over into effective parenting, too.

Jeff serves as your personal coach for leadership development. That’s because of the book’s structure. You can select a chapter that deals with a skill you want to develop. You’ll find out what to do and how to do it, with real-life examples. And then he guides you to take action steps through a “Takeaway” section.

He also tells you the truth about what’s required to actually change your behavior. With his Daily Discipline Activities, you schedule 30 minutes each day to focus and practice that one skill until it becomes a habit. Based on our company's experience with clients during the past 25 years, I believe his advice is spot-on.

“Practice 3: Understand the Value of Coaching” was a favorite chapter. Too often, what’s taught in training doesn’t “stick.” Even those companies that invest in leadership development programs typically overlook a key element for ensuring a lasting impact. They lack “a coaching component to reinforce the skills learned in these classes. Why is coaching so important? Because personal coaching not only changes the behavior of participants, but aids them in real-time on-the-job situations.”

Whether you’re a novice or veteran leader, you can use Seven Disciplines of a Leader as a blueprint for your development. If you follow the specific guidelines and complete the thought-provoking exercises, you’ll become more conscious of the behaviors required to inspire others to do their best work.

“The world will belong to passionate, driven leaders—people who not only have an enormous amount of energy but who can energize those whom they lead.” 
- Jack Welch, American business leader (1935- )

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Portable Generator Lesson

When Hurricane Irene came through our area in southeastern Virginia, we felt like we had dodged a bullet. The winds were far less than predicted, and we never lost power when the storm was at its worst.

But around midnight, I could still hear the wind howling, and I noticed the light was gone from the digital clock on my nightstand. Our power was out. When we got up the next morning, we still didn’t have power, so my husband Lee said he was going to run our small portable generator for a while, to make sure the food in the refrigerator and stand-alone freezer stayed cold.

We went out to the garage and he rolled the generator out to the driveway close enough to the house to plug in all the cords. And then he said, “I’m going to show you how to do this so you can do it yourself if you need to. It’s really easy.”

That was my first clue that it wasn’t going to be easy…for ME. Because, as I pointed out in an earlier post, my husband is a technical genius. He’s been taking things apart and putting them back together his entire life. There is no mechanical or technical problem that he cannot fix…at least none I’ve seen in our 29 years of marriage. He could easily have his own TV show and put This Old House to shame. He’s that good.

So when he said this would be easy, that should have been my clue to go back in the house and grab a pad of paper and pencil to take notes. But I didn’t. Instead, I decided to simply watch and listen, hoping I’d somehow remember all the steps.

First is this thick gray cord that connects the generator to an outlet that’s installed outdoors. That sounds simple enough, but each of them has to be grounded and so there are actually FOUR connections at this point and they have to be done in a very specific way.

Then there are buttons to turn on and off, a choke to turn on and a pull-start like a lawn mower to get it started. And you have to pull it HARD, I noticed. Inside the garage is a separate emergency panel with its own set of breakers. And there are different ones you have to turn to the off and on position.

See what I mean? 

I could feel my stomach tighten up as I thought about how easy it would be for me to forget a step or do something out of sequence and maybe blow up myself in the process.

As I was standing there watching him and trying to absorb what he was saying, I resolved to make sure I do everything I can to keep my husband healthy. I don’t ever want to have to do this myself.

And of course, like magic, after Lee made all the connections, pushed all the right buttons and moved all the right switches, the power came on in the zones he selected. The freezer and refrigerator were soon humming along. And I breathed a sigh of relief that I have him in my life to handle tasks like this.

How does this relate to you?

You’ve learned how to do a lot of things well in your life. And now they’re automatic. But not everyone in your life has these same skills.

There are many occasions when you’ll be in a position to teach others what you know – whether it’s introducing your teenager to the world of driving or a coworker to a new software application.

In such instances, you’ll need patience and understanding. Try to imagine the thoughts and feelings they may be having….uncertainty, fear and doubt. But they probably won’t tell you. They don’t want to look bad or appear foolish.

Just remember that it’s going to take time, practice and lots of repetition for someone to acquire the ability that now comes so naturally for you. You may have to go over the directions more than once. Your job here is as much about helping the other person gain confidence as it is about showing how to do the skill. When you keep that in mind, you’ll take an approach that helps the other person relax. Your patient, compassionate attitude will facilitate the learning process and strengthen your relationship at the same time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Leadership Skills Are Also LIFE Skills

“Almost everything in leadership comes back to relationships." - Mike Krzyzewski, American NCAA basketball coach
When you think of someone who is truly a great leader, chances are that individual is also an outstanding human being in every area of his or her life. That’s because the people skills required to be effective in leading others are also needed when you relate to those outside of work.

Whether or not your title places you in a formal leadership position, you need to get things done through others. That means you’re trying to get people to follow you at some point – whether it’s a colleague, client, significant other or child.

Your ability to listen, receive feedback, and resolve conflict, for example, come in handy whether you’re dealing with a coworker who’s upset or responding to a child who doesn’t want to carry out instructions you’ve just given.

In this 7th segment of my interview series with Denny Coates, you’ll learn how both people skills and personal strengths are used in every aspect of a person’s life.

Do you find it easy to transfer the skills you use at work over to your home life…and vice versa?

In case you missed the first six videos…

#1 – 4 Vital Things Every Leader Must Do

#2 – Why People Usually DON’T Give Their Best Effort

#3 – Leader Skills Are NOT Enough

#4 - Leaders Learn Best ON THE JOB, Not in the Classroom 

#5 - Why Leadership Habits Take Time to Ingrain

#6 - Learn from Experience with 5 Magic Questions

Monday, October 4, 2010

5 Questions That Help You Learn from Experience

Not long ago I was at an out-of-town conference that included an evening networking event. All of us in the room had 60 seconds to introduce ourselves and explain how our product or service could benefit the others. Even though I had given thought to what I would say, after I had my turn I wasn't pleased with what I communicated.

When I returned to my room, I was disappointed in myself. But then I remembered the five questions that Denny Coates describes in this interview. I wrote answers to each one. That process not only helped me analyze the experience. I was also able to let go of any negative feelings I had about what I did and maintain a positive attitude during the rest of the conference. If I hadn't made the effort to do that, I might have wasted valuable time replaying the scene and criticizing myself. That would have robbed me of the opportunity to focus on positive interactions with people during the rest of the event.

These are the most important questions you can ask yourself to learn from the positive and negative experiences you have in your life.

Next time you have an experience that doesn't turn out the way you'd hoped, take time to answer these five magic questions and you'll gain valuable insights that will help you in future situations.

In case you missed them, you can watch the first five videos in this interview series here:

#1 – 4 Vital Things Every Leader Must Do

#2 – Why People Usually DON’T Give Their Best Effort

#3 – Leader Skills Are NOT Enough

#4 - Leaders Learn Best ON THE JOB, Not in the Classroom 

#5 - Why Leadership Habits Take Time to Ingrain

Monday, September 20, 2010

How Do Leaders Best Learn New Skills?

When you’re trying to learn any new skill, there’s a big difference in reading a book or watching a video and actually using the skill in a real situation. Even if someone is coaching you or showing you exactly how a specific procedure should be done, the first time you try to do it, the action will feel awkward and uncomfortable.

Mastering leadership skills is no different. You can’t become proficient by sitting in a classroom, even if it’s taught by the best instructor on the planet. There’s a critical step that every person must follow in order to become really good at any skill.

In this fourth interview, my business partner Denny Coates explains what’s required for leaders to ingrain a skill so it becomes a natural behavior pattern.

What works best for you when you’re trying to learn a new skill, whether it’s on or off the job?

In case you missed the first three videos, you can watch them here:

#1 – 4 Vital Things Every Leader Must Do

#2 – Why People Usually DON’T Give Their Best Effort

#3 – Leader Skills Are NOT Enough

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Role of Personal Strengths in Leadership

Having strong people skills is absolutely critical to being an effective leader. You’ve got to know how to give and receive feedback, listen well, and resolve issues that arise between individuals on your team. But there’s another element that’s equally vital, and it’s not addressed in most training and development programs.

In this third video in the series of interviews I conducted with Denny Coates, you’ll discover what personal strengths are and why they matter. It’s not easy to exercise patience with others who aren’t like you, have perseverance when you encounter difficulties, or maintain focus when there are so many distractions in a single day. But the ability and desire to grow stronger as a person will be a key to your success in getting things done through others.

Think of the personal strengths you need to exercise in your work and personal life. If you could become stronger in just one area, which one would make the greatest positive difference for you and those who interact with you?
“All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me….You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you." - Walt Disney, American movie producer 
“Change not the mass but change the fabric of your own soul and your own visions, and you change all.” - Vachel Lindsay, American poet

“The key to success is to keep growing in all areas of life – mental, emotional, spiritual, as well as physical.” - Julius Erving, American professional basketball player

“Life is a quarry, out of which we are to mold and chisel and complete a character.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet
In case you didn’t see the first two videos, you can watch them here:

#1 – 4 Vital Things Every Leader Must Do

#2 – Why People Usually DON’T Give Their Best Effort

Monday, September 6, 2010

Why People Often Don't Give Their Best Effort at Work

I once worked for a boss who brought out my strengths. I looked forward to going to work every day because he'd created an atmosphere that inspired my best efforts. At the time, I didn't analyze what was behind my strong motivation.

In this second segment from my interview with Denny Coates, I realized exactly what this manager did. Denny explains why most people do not typically contribute everything they're capable of in their jobs...and what leaders can do to engage their team members so they want to give 100% each and every day.

If you're in a position to influence others, it's a good idea to ask yourself on a regular basis, "What am I doing to inspire each person to give more than the minimum that's required?"

In case you missed my first interview with Denny, you can watch it here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

4 Key Actions An Effective Leader Must Take

There are many ways you can serve in a leadership position – whether you’re a business owner, a manager in a large company, on the board of a non-profit organization, a classroom teacher, a parent, or any other position where you need to get things done through others.

I’ve had my share of leadership roles over the years, and each had its own set of challenges. I’ve studied the topic of leadership extensively, and I’ve learned a lot from Denny Coates, one of my business partners at Performance Support Systems. In fact, today marks the 20-year anniversary of my first introduction to Denny. We met for breakfast on August 30, 1990, and ended up spending three hours in deep discussions about topics such as effective leadership and how the brain learns. We’ve continued having these creative exchanges ever since!

I recently sat down with Denny to capture his thoughts about what’s really involved in developing effective leadership skills.

In this first segment of this 8-part interview series, Denny shares the four key actions a leader must do to get people to perform at their best. As you watch, ask yourself if you use all four when you need to influence others to accomplish an important goal.

“I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.” - John D. Rockefeller, American business leader

“A mediocre person tells. A good person explains. A superior person demonstrates. A great person inspires others to see for themselves.”
- Harvey Mackay, American author

“The world will belong to passionate, driven leaders—people who not only have an enormous amount of energy but who can energize those whom they lead.” - Jack Welch, American business leader