Tag Archives: influence

3 Ways To Give Feedback That is Actually Helpful

If you're an effective leader, you know that waiting for the annual review to give your employee feedback is an utter waste of time. Ongoing, in-the-moment feedback is the best way to provide your employees with information that

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3 Reasons Being A Mentor Benefits You 

I don't care how old you are or where you are in your career arc. You have the ability to mentor someone. Here's why you'll be the better for it.

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3 Truths for Emerging Leaders

I've seen a lot of potential leaders, and I've seen many of them derail over commonly held myths. Here's some truths I want emerging leaders to know.

  1. Leadership is about behavior, not title. Just because you have a bright shiny new title doesn't mean people will automatically follow you. In the same vein, don't wait for the title to lead. Leadership is about influence, and ultimately it is your behavior that will be the deciding factor for those who chose whether or not to follow you.
  2. You are going to screw up. And when you do, your team will be watching carefully to see how you handle it. Set the right tone by admitting your error. Talk about the lessons learned. Apologize if appropriate. While you may be concerned that these responses show weakness, they actually prove one's grace and grit - and will go a long way to building trust and loyalty.
  3. Leading and managing are two different functions. Managers rely on systems and rules. Leaders create a culture of accountability. Managers maintain. Leaders innovate. Managers rely on control. Leaders inspire trust. Managers give orders. Leaders steward ideas.

LeaderSips: 3 Reasons Your Career Is Stuck




Feeling stuck? Wondering why other people seem to magically find new opportunities and professional growth? You might actually be sabotaging yourself. Start off 2016 with a fresh outlook, and consider these 3 sips...

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Five Minute Favors

5 minute favors

"Generosity is luck going in the opposite direction, away from you. If you're generous to someone, if you do something to help him out, you are in effect making him lucky. This is important. It's like inviting yourself into a community of good fortune." - Twyla Tharp

Leaders who are "all in" when it comes to being generous and filled with love towards those they lead will receive benefits of this leadership style through stronger relationships, more engaged employees, and better results. But even the most committed leader has to guard against burnout and distraction. That's where "five minute favors" come in. Adam Grant, author of Give and Taketells us about uber-networker, Adam Rifkin, a master of paying it forward. He redefines giving by providing micro-loans of time, skills, and connections - the true currency of business.

Just as long term improvement needn't be about grand milestones but rather small increments, giving needn't be about grand gestures. So for example, if someone I've met is interested in learning more about an industry, and I know a captain of that industry, in five minutes I can dash off a quick introductory e-mail and get on with my day. Or if a family is coming to visit my city for the first time, it will take five minutes for me to make a list of family friendly restaurants to help with their planning.

Here's some other "five minute favors" that will increase your professional relationships, encourage those you lead, and in the long run make you more successful:

  • a congratulatory, encouraging, or sympathetic note to a colleague
  • send an article about an issue a colleague is struggling with or interested in
  • bring someone who is overwhelmed with work a smoothie, cup of coffee, or other treat
  • if you're a whiz at Excel or PowerPoint, spend five minutes helping a colleague with a formatting issue
  • Use a product and offer feedback
  • Write a LinkedIn recommendation
  • Share a blog entry on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other relevant social media platform (ahem...)

In the hospitality industry we are taught to end our conversations with guests with the phrase, "is there anything (else) I can do for you?" Imagine a world in which all of our conversations ended in this manner.


Six Key Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves

look at yourselfAs I mentioned yesterday, last week I spent some of my "Power Pause" time attending the 2015 Global Leadership Summit. Over the course of those two incredible days - the phrase "taking a sip of water from a fire hose" comes to mind - six themes emerged. I'll delve into each speaker's thoughts individually, however, put together, these six themes quickly become key questions we leaders should be asking ourselves on a daily basis.

Do I Cast an Inspiring Vision? Jim Collins calls them Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGS). The GLS calls them Grander Visions. I call them Big Thoughts. Whatever you call them - are you casting an inspiring vision that requires greater collaboration, greater sacrifice, greater commitment?

Can I Handle Feedback? Have you ever had someone ask, “Can I be honest with you?” or “Can I give you some feedback?” and you got that lump in your stomach? You're not alone. Done well, feedback is a powerful motivator, done poorly it can crush your soul. As a leader, can you handle feedback, both the giving and the taking? Can you see yourself clearly?

Am I Resilient?  An inevitable part of your leadership journey is failure. But it's not the failing that makes the difference in a leader. It's the getting up again. It's the lessons learned. It's the willingness to fail for the right reason. Did you fail because you didn't plan, didn't prepare?  Did you fail because you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone? Did you fail because succeeding would have compromised your integrity? Some of these are the right reasons. Some are not.

Do I Serve? Servant leadership is one of the most over-referenced, least understood concepts in business today. Giving power away, serving those around you, and sacrificing for the greater good are all antithetical to traditional power structures. But how can we expect our followers to serve and sacrifice for our vision if we are not willing to serve and sacrifice for them?

Am I Being Effective? Leadership is a delicate balance of giving and taking. It's about expanding your influence while protecting and growing your greatest resources: your confidence, your connections, your competence, your character, and your commitment.

Am I An Agile Learner? Are you a "been there, done that" leader or are you willing to acknowledge that you don't know everything -- that learning can happen at any time, from any one, anywhere?

No Title Necessary

leaders influence
Of the hundreds of books that have been written about leadership, one principle remains consistent regardless of philosophy or style: leadership is about influence, nothing more, nothing less. The greatest myth about leadership is that one needs to be at the top of the food chain to lead.
Leadership is about developing relationships, which in turn develops the influence you have on a person. No matter your title or position, if you have the ability to influence the people around you, you have the ability to lead.
Not everyone gets it. Recently, I shared the story of a management trainee for a software company in New York City who sat around waiting for a formal title and promotion so he could “get stuff done.” Problem was, he had never managed to win enough respect or influence from the development team to actually do things. So despite being smart and competent, he didn’t earn the leadership position he thought he deserved.
How does one grow influence?
Manage your personal brand.  
If you show up late for meetings, are not in command of the information you are expected to know, and have a sloppy appearance you are not likely to gain much traction. A little self-awareness goes a long way.
Take a positive initiative. 
Instead of sitting back and complaining about what others should have done, consider what you could do. Real leaders don’t have time to whine, they are too busy looking for opportunities that can be executed into successful results.
Cast a vision. 
Everyone has a circle of influence. No matter how large or how small yours is, you can always widen it by sharing your vision and challenging others to help attain it.
Show appreciation. 
People have many options when it comes to whom they choose to follow. And they will give their best effort to those who notice. A simple “thank you” goes  a long way to laying the foundation for trust and eventually, influence.

Managing Up

managing up

I received an email last week from a 20-something whom I've coached in the past asking me, "have you ever had to hold your boss accountable?" She's frustrated because a large part of her role is providing administrative support to a director who is, shall we say, less than effective in teensy areas like time management, prioritization, and communication. What I believe she was really asking me was, "how do I manage up?"

What is managing up? It's building a successful working relationship with your boss or superior so that everyone wins. Powerful people need powerful people surrounding them - ones who are creative, take initiative, and have their back. When you manage up, your boss feels supported, you feel challenged, and the organizational goals are met.

It's more than being a "yes" person. It's about creating a scenario in which you have the ability to influence, even when that means taking a hard line or delivering bad news.

Chemistry is key when it comes to managing up. So your first step is to build a relationship. While it is true that there can be instant chemistry, healthy relationships rarely develop overnight. As with any healthy relationship, this one must be one based on respect and trust, so start now looking for ways to demonstrate those critical qualities.

And before you start staying, "well, what about her? where is she in all of this?" keep in mind, this is about managing up. My views on effective leadership are well documented.

The next step is to learn and anticipate needs. Find out what her priorities and goals are. Find out what she values. Find out where she needs help. Find out what sends her over the edge. And then take these into account when managing projects, deadlines, and most importantly, your own behavior.

And finally, remember that leaders are people too. You have absolutely no idea what is going on in her world - both personally and professionally.  She has a boss that she reports to too, and she's probably trying to manage up as well. Don't automatically assume the worst. A little tact and diplomacy can go a long way in getting to a win-win result.