Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘trust’

Leadership Is Difficult: 8 Lessons For New Leaders

Leadership is hard. Being a new leader is even more difficult.

About half of those hired into a leadership position fail. Reasons for this colossal failure rate are many. Sometimes the issues are organizational in nature, such as a lack of leadership training,  feedback, mentoring, or a poor hiring processes or dysfunctional culture. Others are caused by personality attributes ill-suited to leadership including arrogance, control issues, insensitivity and selfishness.

“The greatest leader is not necessarily

But most of the time, the reason for leadership turnover are subtle and spring from a lack of organizational- and self-awareness, as well as the needs of your employees.

The following are leadership lessons I wish someone shared with me 20 years ago before learning them the hard way.

Two Under-appreciated New Leader Issues

First, many new leaders do not know how leadership performance is measured. Front-line staff (and some managers) performance is based largely on “doing” activities such as sales, the number of news releases written or videos produced. New leaders who remain in a “doing” mindset (rather than leading) prevent their team and their organization from reaching its potential.

Leaders are graded on a matrix of factors such as the performance and satisfaction of their team members, political proficiency, emotional intelligence, effective communication and many other “soft” skills.

A second key lesson was: the only person whose behavior I can control is mine. It is a powerful myth that a new title means your every wish will be carried out without any additional effort. Effective leaders communicate objectives, motivate their team to action and direct progress without over or undermanaging. Leaders unable to figure this out will become frustrated and angry that their team members are not mind readers, and end up overmanaging.

6 Additional Tips For New Leaders  

Self-awareness.  A mentor, coach or therapist (or any combination of the three) is a must for new leaders to help build self-awareness. In order to lead others, you must know yourself, what makes you tick, you blind spots, what drives your best and worst behaviors, and how you appear to others.

See the big picture.  Cultivate an understanding how you and your team fit into the organization’s mission, vision, values and business outcomes.

It’s Not About You. If you can’t get the best from your team, you will never reach your potential as a leader.

It’s All About You. All eyes are on you at all times. Leaders must walk their talk. Those who don’t will never be fully trusted by their teams, peers and their own one-up.

Listen. Resist the pressure to jump to solutions when there is a problem. Listen to your team and let them create or co-create new, better ways to do their work.

Remove obstacles.  Poor leaders are an obstacle. The best leaders remove them whenever possible to unleash performance and build trust.

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting LLC, and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and Marcom consulting.

5 Ways To Manage A Micromanager 

No one benefits when a leader turns into a micromanager (although I prefer the term overmanager). It creates strife for leaders, employees and entire organizations.

A short and sweet definition of micromanagement/overmanagement is a leader/supervisor who gives excessive direction to employees. Another crucial point is overmanaging is not mentoring. The latter increases the skill set and self-reliance of employees, and the former creates paralysis.

Why Overmanage?

While leaders overmanage for many reasons, the following are frequently cited in literature.  micro-blog

  • Starting a new position, she lacks trust in team members
  • Intense pressure to reach goals
  • Insecure in her leadership skills
  • Believes no one else can do the work as well as she
  • Fears being blamed for the mistakes of others

In practice, the overmanager physically or virtually hovers over her employees as they work on projects. She dictates instead of mentors, finds fault rather than encourages, and assigns blame in place of learning. Other hallmarks of overmanagers include poor delegation skills, requires she makes all “significant” decisions (usually a moving target) and makes criticism personal.

Leaders and organizations are hurt by overmanagement because it damages productivity, creativity, trust, communication and engagement. Even from a selfish perspective, leaders should recognize overmanaging has no positive value. Being a helicopter leader chews up a lot of time, creates additional work for yourself, adds stress to your day and shifts energy away from other pressing projects.

Overmanaging can be a hard habit to break. For many leaders it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As employees learn to fear punishment for making “wrong” decisions, they will stop making decisions. When this happens, the overmanager’s belief that no one else is good or smart or skilled enough to complete a project is reinforced. Many replace “problem” team members only to start the same process with new employees.

A Better Way

Experience has taught me that when I fully communicate expectations and goals, as well as provide the required resources, and check in on a scheduled basis to monitor progress, the completed project exceeds expectations 100 percent of the time.

In addition, there is usually more than a single “right” way to approach a project. My team members often have deeper insights than me, thank goodness, so why move forward with “my” solution instead of a better solution?

How To Work With An Overmanager

For those struggling with a overmanager, here are five tips that may make your life easier.

Thank. This is not always easy, but thank your leader for his interest and guidance.

Listen. When being corrected or criticized, do not become defensive. Listen to learn what your leader expects – not to respond. Seek patterns in his comments that create a greater understanding of his thought process.

Explain. After you begin to understand your leader’s thought process, explain yours and emphasize similarities.

Share. Sometimes creating or increasing check-in meetings to review progress can relax the overmanager.

Look. Does your leader overmanage others? If so, recognize you are not the trigger for his overmanaging behaviors.

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting LLC, and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and Marcom consulting.

 

6 Ways To Deal With A Narcissist Leader

There seems to be at least one narcissist leader in every leadership group. In short, a narcissist leader is a person with an unrealistic or inflated sense of self-importance, lack of empathy, unable to see others’ perspectives, and is hypersensitive to what they perceive as criticism. For the official American Psychological Association definition, click here.

When the narcissist is the CEO or they are peppered through the ranks of leaders the culture is going to be much harder to manage. If that describes your workplace, you are excused from reading the rest of this column, because you need to quit as soon as you possibly can.

From Tolerable to Toxic59ee4e7eba7ca4a9c4eb3eb8938b2066

Narcissists often make very good leaders – for a while. When the good times are rolling, they can be easy going and charming. However, when the accolades dry up, they begin to feel challenged or threatened.

I once worked for a senior leader who pitched a screaming fit about twice a year when she wasn’t getting her way with a peer or team member. We never knew when it was coming, but the message was always a variation of “it’s your fault I am not reaching my goals.”

At this point a leader is toxic. Instead of accepting responsibility when a project fails to perform as anticipated, he will blame and then sacrifice followers as necessary to protect his self-image and position in the company. Trust among team members in the leader then evaporates and people become very task oriented in an effort to keep their heads down and not be noticed.

The Need for Loyalty

Many narcissist leaders are more concerned with how they present themselves than their actual effectiveness. When they feel others are turning on them (by “making them look bad”), they begin to demand loyalty. If someone has to ask or demand loyalty, they don’t deserve it.

I worked for a senior executive who pulled his direct reports into his office on a regular basis and asked us to help him “get the goods” on the current target of his ire. If you didn’t appear to be interested in helping him gain revenge by ruining someone else’s career, he took it as a sign you were not loyal. Needless to say, many “non-loyal” people simply “disappeared” from work.

What To Do

This list will help you, for a time, make peace with a narcissist leader.

  • Set your expectations low
  • Make them look good
  • Don’t demand or expect credit
  • Whatever hurtful thing is done or said, remember that it is not about you
  • Don’t give negative feedback – even (and especially) when asked
  • Line up a new position

If you need help managing a narcissist leader, please reach out to me via my website to schedule a free, no obligation one-hour Power Session.

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting LLC, and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching and Marcom consulting. Learn more at http://acceleratedcoachingandconsulting.com

Want A Promotion?

For decades psychology and sociology researchers have used the Five Factor Model (FFM, also called The Big 5) to study what dimensions of personality positively correlate with workplace success.

The Big 5 are (you can take a free Big 5 test here):Some people regard discipline as a

  • Openness (or intellect)
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism (or emotional stability)

Why Conscientiousness Often = Success

The two dimensions proven to have the strongest connection to success at work are conscientiousness and extroversion. In Monday’s blog, I will cover extroversion, so the focus for the moment falls squarely on the broad shoulders of conscientiousness.

Conscientiousness is the predisposition to be disciplined, organized, goal directed, thorough, efficient, deliberative, and able to delay gratification. In the office, these are the people who have spotless desks, are reliable, and get desired results. Over time, they gain the trust of both leaders and followers. This allows them to keep stretching the goals of teams or organizations to reach goals that would have initially seemed far fetched.

Conscientious leaders excel at juggling multiple projects and priorities. The best keep team members focused on shared goals. Given the rapid pace of change and high expectations, it makes sense that people who create value and trust through goal attainment are picked for promotions or remain in executive positions.

How To Develop Conscientiousness Behaviors

If your desk is a mess and you struggle at times with projects hitting your inbox in rapid succession, there are behaviors related to conscientiousness that you can adopt to increase your effectiveness.

Find and consistently use a system to stay organized. This can be a white board, checklists, sticky notes, electronic calendar, spreadsheets, color coded filing system, or whatever keeps your mind uncluttered and tracks progress

  1. Understand the goal
  2. Understand why the goal is important to the organization
  3. Explain numbers two and three with everyone who needs to know, repeat often
  4. Communicate expectations and progress regularly

By keeping you and your team in front of projects, you are much less likely to be derailed or run over by new projects or competing priorities.

Caveats

Without emotional intelligence, conscientiousness may not move the needle of personal or organizational performance. And, when work is artistic or social (such as sales), creativity and spontaneity are often called for rather than a by-the-book approach.

Still, for most of us, behaviors associated with conscientiousness will take you a long way toward reaching your goals.

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting, LLC., and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching.

8 Ways To Banish Self-Doubt And Restore Confidence

By Gregory Alford, MS. PSY.

When we trust ourselves, we remove doubt and open the door to greater achievement.

When we trust ourselves, we remove doubt and open the door to greater achievement.

Each day, many of us play an internal game tug-of-war with self-trust and self-doubt pulling us in opposite directions. When self-trust gives way,  a cascade of negative feelings rush in.

What is Self-Trust?

Author Steven Covey describes self-trust as feeling confident and secure in our lives. Strong self-trust results in deeper a connection to ourselves, our loved ones, co-workers and community. It also is an indispensable part of self-reliance, resiliency and your ability to overcome inevitable setbacks.

Another benefit of enhancing self-trust, is it diminishes doubt. When we give into doubt, confidence and self-esteem are stripped, and energy and momentum are lost. When your thoughts tell you, “no,” “not now,” or “this is too hard,” when you want to take action – it is doubt talking.

Fortunately, you can improve your self-trust in many ways, including:

  • Make and keep promises by setting small goals and tracking achievements
  • Focus on what actions led you to achieve previous  goals
  • Develop support structures and habits that encourage achievement (i.e., self-care, calendars, checklists)
  • Visualize success
  • Choose to believe in yourself!

There are also things you can stop doing as well, such as:

  • Paying attention to negative people
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Worry about what others think of you

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. We all need help getting unstuck every once in a while. Be kind to yourself and reach out people who love and support you, a coach or therapist to help your build self-trust and confidence so you can achieve greatness.

%d bloggers like this: