Part I. Leadership Research: # 1 skill for Becoming Extraordinary Leader

High-Resolution Leadership a research study conducted by DDI identifies that “the single most important skill of a good leader may not be what you think. Although it is important to be visionary and a strategic thinker, a new study suggests that it’s more rooted in their daily conversations and interactions with people”.

According to DDI research on leadership, the leader who’s most effective in having successful conversations is most likely to do the best in developing their team and creating a successful business. “By the end of each day, leaders likely have had multiple conversations with a range of their constituents,” DDI’s researchers write. “Each of these interactions will collectively determine their ultimate success as a leader.”

This conclusion comes from a report called High-Resolution Leadership, which is the result of synthesizing assessments taken by 15,000 participants being considered for leadership from the front lines to executive levels at 300 companies in 18 countries. DDI evaluated the data from personality and intelligence tests as well as from “day-in-the-life” simulations that allowed participants to demonstrate their skills.

 

Poem–On Kindness by MW Hardwick

ON KINDNESS    

Feeling safe with others and comfortable with self

Is a gift to remember and pass on…

Having a sense of trust to speak our minds,
Be open and not hidden behind a false persona

Feeling accepted –just as you are …
Warts and all,

Provides a model for being unselfish
Learn this lesson early in life …

By showing respect, kindness  and consideration for others

By honoring differences and uniqueness in self and others.

By giving others a break and expecting no returns

By learning kindness and living to give… but do it now …Don’t wait…

Remember what Dr Suess said:

“A person is a person, no matter how small…”                                                                                 

Everyone matters and deserves to be seen.

Never forget to respect each other’s differences.

We are all are just trying to figure this out …

figure this out…figure this…out…  

 

Sources: Inspiration for this poem came from George Saunders speech and book about kindness.

1. http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/george-saunderss-advice-to-graduates/?_php

2 . http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/24/george-saunders-commencem_n_5200836.html 

Avoid Derailing your Career: Pay attention to Blindspots and Other People’s Perceptions.

How other people see us impacts our identity, reputation and sense of worth. It can also derail a promising career. Here are some examples from my Leadership Coaching experience–Some people may see you as a “softie” because of your hypersensitivity to any comments that you perceive as criticism. This leads to less feedback because they are afraid of offending you and this leads to less feedback and others avoiding being straight with you. Others may see you as hot, impulsive, explosive, to quick to react emotionally or overwhelm them with your arguments. This leads to people seeing you as a bully or intimidating  because you are experienced as having always to  win with your idea or point of view. This type of style can be improved by being more open to other points of view and actively listening to understand people’s position and feelings.  Also, some withhold feedback because you are seen as to strong, rude or very opinionated; not getting feedback in any of these situations leaves you with many “blinspots” that can stall your career and raise undue tension and conflict in your management team.

These blindspots are not to be considered personality flaws but only areas for more training and development of your interpersonal communication skills. Blindspots generally signal a need for more self-understanding because people are experiencing you in a way that is not productive for you or your organization. A blindspot  area could also include issues that others are deliberately withholding information from you and this might lead to your inability to manage and lead the team.

Self-Coaching Challenge:  To reduce the blind spots that may de-rail your career or interpersonal relationships you need to seek more input and information from others. To do this you need to model and support more listening and less judgmental feedback. Modeling openness and support for  more individual disclosure, reduces fear and therefore encourages honest feedback to flourish.  The extent to which an individual seeks feedback, and the issues on which feedback is sought, must always be at the individual’s own discretion. Some people are more resilient than others – care needs to be taken to avoid causing emotional upset. The process of soliciting serious and deep feedback relates to the process of ‘self-development and growth as a leader.

If you are committed to seek more feedback the question becomes– how do you go about getting it?

Sometimes people describe blind spots as perception disconnects – when the people around us don’t perceive our words and behaviors in the way we intended. We might believe that our calm, composed demeanor is a serious advantage in a high-stress workplace. Unfortunately, our co-workers perceive us as robotic, uncaring and even bully. Our goal might be to appear decisive and candid, but others actually think we’re abrupt and insensitive. Are we energetic and driven? Or relentless and annoying?  Are we methodical and systematic? Or inflexible and overly cautious? Sometimes there’s a very fine line there. But, at the end of the day, perceptions trump intentions. Despite our goals and the impressions we intend to make, our career success is determined by our reputations and the perceptions of us held by others.

Over the next three weeks take time to inform others that you want more feedback. Ask a close associate to observe and provide feedback on your blind spots– Be careful to be concrete in your request–by saying something like this– during the next few staffing meetings would you mind observing and documenting my ability and manner of listening or not  with team members and after the meeting we can talk about what worked, what didn’t work and how I might improve my listening skills.

Remember in trying to get feedback and uncover your blind spots you need to be supportive when this person provides their feedback on areas for improvement. Good Luck and be sure and share with us how it your personal development goes.

Stuck on How to Design Your next Speech? Use the proven Design Framework Called R.A.T.E.R.

 

” A presentation is a sequence of concrete examples and stories that snap together to form a compelling argument…If you use only one tip, this is the one. The #1 mistake we’ve observed in presentations—and there is no close second—is that the message is too abstract. The presenter offers concepts and conclusions but not evidence. He talks at a high level about the big picture, but gives no concrete details that might make the big picture understandable and plausible. He may sprinkle in a few stories or examples, but they are treated like garnish. Most people communicate
with, say, 3 parts exposition to 1 part example. That’s exactly backwards. In a compelling presentation, examples aren’t garnish, they’re the entrée”. Heath Brothers from the article Presentations Made to Stick 

As a speaker and communicator, you are the one who is shooting the “free throw to win” the game. You must “stick it” to win. You must have the right mindset, relaxed muscles and arc to make the shot.  Every single day, you are delivering messages and trying  to make ideas stick and persuade others to change or behave in a certain way.  So how do you connect with and make messages stick? Trying using the R.A.T.E.R. 

  • RESPONSIVEchallenge your audience with something new or ideas they can use. Be responsive to their interest and needs. Answer questions as they are asked. Do not put people off by saying, ” I will answer it later”. Be “quick on your feet” and adapt to audience interest and needs. If you are not sure you are meeting their expectations ask them. For example, how are we doing here? Is this information meeting your expectations? If not change directions. Don’t ignore the disinterested looks or signs of boredom.
  • ASSURANCE- provide credible information and examples of idea or solution benefits and how it has worked in the past. Use powerful examples and stories to assure audience that your message has importance to their situation the ideas being presented are credible.
  • TANGIBLES-bring concrete ideas and provide pragmatic examples or metaphors that make the ideas less abstract. Avoid generalizations and professional jargon. Make message clear, concise and concrete. This is the spot to provide demonstrations or if possible physical prototypes, so audience members can see and touch what you are talking about.
  • EMPATHY-Show the audience that you care and understand their problems, skepticism, views  and ideas. Obviously, presenting facts and evidence in your speech are important, but connecting with the audience requires both empathy and an emotional message.
  • RELEVANT  information needs to be presented along with pragmatic audience-centered solutions and ideas that raise the audience members curiosity and interest in what you have to say. In addition, try to sprinkle your speech with supportive evidence and stories showing the benefits, viability and urgency of  your ideas so that attitudes can be changed and action initiated to improve their quality of life.

Importance of Empathy on Employee Engagement and Satisfaction

Empathy is a building block of one’s interpersonal connections.—for people to cultivate empathy skills, it helps if they can stop and take the time to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. It is also a key ingredient of successful relationships because it helps us understand the needs, priorities and desires of others. Here are some of the ways that interpersonal communication research has testified to the far-reaching importance of empathy. 

  • Empathy is good for bonding and team development: Managers who demonstrate empathy have employees who report greater job satisfaction and engagement 
  • Tied closely to empathy is the concept worker engagement and positive work climate this  recent trend towards positive psychology, where the concern is positive aspects of employees’ behavior. According to Maslach and Leiter (1997), when there is a person and positive job match, employees experience engagement with their work, characterized by high energy, involvement, and positive efficacy. As per Schaufeli et al. (2002), employee engagement is a positive, work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption. In this regard, attention is paid to human strengths, optimal functioning, and positive experiences at work (Seligmen and Csikszentmihalyi, 2000; Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004) not on negative feedback or focus on weaknesses. While, disengaged employees display incomplete role performances and task  behaviors become effortless, automatic or robotic (Hochschild, 1983). According to the author, disengagement may be result of employees who lack positive social interaction and support, who experience little autonomy in work roles, or who feel their work and contribution is unimportant to others.  

So the question is -How often do you stop to listen to and engage your fellow workers? Or Do you focus on the task and getting the job done? 

Want to improve social-emotion connections cultivate empathy in your relationships.

1 Model empathy. Show people what mens to appreciate them. Observe and show interest in the lives of others. Listen to other people’s experience and opinions. Talk about your experiences practicing empathy, and about the times you forgot to act with empathy.

2. Start with safety and security. Fear and self-centeredness interferes with the development of empathy. Learn to stop and demonstrate consideration and toward others.

3. Practice self-regulation skills. Self-regulation skills are the foundation for empathy. By learning to calm yourself, regulate emotions, delay gratification, persevere, and stay focused on the right things, fellow workers and family members develop the skills which allow them to look beyond themselves.

4. Notice other people’s feelings without judgment or put downs. Talk about these feelings and assure the other person they are okay to share and have these inner experiences. Learn to use words that focus on the so-called “soft things” in life and avoid only the “hard stuff” like project schedules, profit, or task activities.

5. Follow the Golden Rule of relationships and empathy  “ Treat others in the same way that they themselves would like to be treated because relationships matter. Relations emphasizing empathy are built on focused attention, active listening and demonstrated caring and trust. For example, most of us would like to be listened to and understood by others.

Poem: Living in the NOW. Now. Now.

 Poem: Living in the NOW. Now. Now. MW Hardwick

Listen for understanding.

Stop. Reflect. Act.

Explore other people’s point of view

Take an imaginative trip into their world.

Withhold judgments.

Be thankful for there willingness to share.

Try be more accepting.

Catch them when they are falling.

Embrace change.

Trust in yourself and others.

Do what you love.

Follow your own drummer.

Dance to your own music.

Be caring and thoughtful.

Let go of control.

Embrace the unknown and ambiguous.

Say thank you more often.

Be open-minded and flexible.

Be the change you wish to be.

Make peace with your enemies.

Play with a 5 year old.

Break the rules once in while.

Live and Life of No Regrets.

Do Random Acts of Kindness.

Forgive and let go even when it’s hard.

Compliment others.

Live a balanced life—time for work, for family and yourself.

Be creative –paint a picture, write a poem or throw a pot.

Don’t count the minutes enjoy the “here and now”.

Laugh, cry and smile more.

Be grateful for all you have.

Help others rediscovery there brighter side.

Enjoy being creative and playful.

Conquer your fears by “leaning-in”.

Learn to pick yourself up after failing or falling down.

Clean up your messes.

Take your first step to living your dreams—Now. Now. Now…

Daily Quote and Reflection: Critical question for Living a Fulfilling Life?

Quote: My grandson ask me a profound question that life asks of us all. And, that question is not “what is the meaning of my life?” It is “what meaning am I creating with my life?” 

Reflection: I am trying to live a life full of respect and support for others. This life is one of trying to care for others without judgment and with empathy for their goals and dreams for a happy life. This ads-up to be my definition of a living a life of meaning. 

Self-Coaching Challenge: How would you answer such a question from an eight year old?

Over the next 24 hours figure out your answer and share it with at least three other people. Good Luck and have fun with this exercise.

Coach Mark