Category: Blog Roll

Adjusting strategic direction with change on the horizon

You have a strategic plan for your organization or your team, but what happens when an unplanned change is upon you and you need to adjust the course?

Communication is key but will be unsuccessful if it lacks direction or a cohesive message. That’s why it’s so important to think about who is delivering the message and how it’s being delivered.

From the moment you begin to plan or implement any type of organizational change, first clarify your objectives. Think of your objectives as the roadmap that will guide you to your intended destination.

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How to reduce resistance to change with communication

Change is happening in every facet of business today, whether we’re prepared for it or not. And, let’s be honest—99% of us weren’t. As a result, employees might be scared, resisting change because they don’t know what it means or how it will impact their own futures. It’s up to you to help reduce resistance to change.

Fear is not a good passenger for any movement, but often leaders forget that the single best tool to combat fear and resistance is communication.

One study found that the single biggest reason for organizational failure to successfully implement any kind of change is “clear and frequent communication.” When combined with your team’s natural resistance to change, this barrier makes sense. In fact, every reason for individual change resistance can be at least partially mitigated through intentional and proactive communication.

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Getting Past Change Resistance

Change resistance is natural for humans. Leaders struggle with it because they recognize change will create more work for their teams in the short term, they don’t want to take the reputation hit if the change doesn’t go well, and deep down they fear some loss of control.

Every change is inconvenient and taxing, but change is a necessary rung on the ladder of growth. Especially today, when public buildings are shut down and team members move to remote work in the wake of COVID-19.

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How Ethical is Your Organization?

In September 2016, Wells Fargo made headlines when allegations surfaced that its employees created more than 1.5 million fake deposit accounts and half a million fake credit cards while under pressure to increase sales numbers. Then in March 2017, it came out that the actual number of fake accounts was nearly twice what was originally reported.

How did this happen? Employees at Wells Fargo were strongly incentivized to grow their numbers regardless of how that impacted their customers and the customer experience. The organization as a whole became overly focused on a single, narrow metric (this many new accounts). People didn’t stop and think about the unintended consequences of having such a narrow focus.

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What 360 Feedback Looks Like in Your Leadership Journey

It’s rare that leaders get the feedback they need the most from their teams. Team members are reluctant to speak up, no matter how open the leader (you) say you are. Enter the formal 360 feedback process.

Think about the last time a direct report approached you and said, “I noticed you didn’t react when Janet started crying in the meeting. You may not be aware of this, but it made the rest of us uncomfortable because you seemed cold and uncaring. I think this is something I can help you with. Are you open to talking about this and may I make some suggestions?”

Subordinates rarely, if ever, will come to their managers to offer their observations and their help, especially when it comes to their manager’s behavior. Most managers say they want feedback in their team meetings, so they assume that if people have any actual feedback to offer they will share it. Unfortunately, declaring an open door policy does not guarantee anyone will walk through it.

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Why Humility in Leadership is so Essential

Humility is one of those leadership behaviors that is paramount to long term success. One can rise to become a leader without this quality, but he won’t necessarily continue to succeed without it.

I define humility in leadership two ways. One, modeling through our words and our actions the feminist perspective that all human beings are fundamentally equal and none should automatically be granted power over another on the basis of their inborn characteristics. Secondly, that we take full responsibility for our impact on others—including acknowledging and apologizing to them when we have made an error. When leaders do these two things consistently, they will show up as both more effective and as humble to others.

But why is humility important as a leader? Why do the work to ensure you’re humble? (Isn’t humility the characteristic of a weak person?)

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How to help your team members work on themselves

Leaders need to work on themselves and have a plan for development throughout their careers. That’s one hallmark of true leaders—their desire to continue to grow and develop.

But part of a leader’s responsibility is to facilitate growth in their team members as well, to encourage team members to grow professionally—into new roles and as part of a team.

Leading people to grow goes well beyond asking them to set goals and scheduling quarterly check ins. It requires a special kind of leader who is open to change, tolerant of some failures or missteps and ready to commit their time to support others.

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How to Work on Yourself While Also Leading Others

We’re forever toggling between different tasks, conversations and focuses. This is a challenge for our external work—what we are paid to do. But it’s even more so for our internal work, namely being mindful and exercising our emotional intelligence.

As leaders, we are charged with paying close attention to and developing other people at the same time as we are expected to be constantly self-aware and self-regulating—all while continuing our own growth. Developing this brand of bimodal vision isn’t easy and is even more difficult to carry out in times of stress and under pressure.

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Turn your vices into virtues & grow personally and professionally

As we head into a new year and new decade, you may be looking at your goals and personal vision to determine how the next year or 5 or 10 might look for you. I’d like to propose that we make 2020 and beyond about being bold and getting out of our comfort zone.

Many professionals today are focused on growing and continuous learning, but when was the last time you did something that you knew you should but it made you wildly uncomfortable? Something creative and out of character? Something you were truly nervous to do?

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Difficult teammate or intelligence agent? You decide

Often we look at challenging team members as people who annoy us—as people who enjoy rocking the boat or making other people’s work lives more difficult than they need to be just for the heck of it. They may ask a lot of questions, challenge organizational decisions and fixate or complain about details that seem minor in the context of the bigger picture.

It doesn’t matter if you’re part of the leadership team or an individual contributor, challenging team members tend to develop a negative reputation. The first instinct for most of us is to want to find a way to avoid, shush or redirect them.

But I want you to shift your perspective. I want you to look at those difficult team members as intelligence agents, people who are actually giving us information that we should be thankful for.

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