"Everyday Leadership Acts Of Courage: To Lead, You Must Be Vulnerable" originally appeared on Forbes.com.
In my first article in this series, I wrote about 360-degree feedback, which, in and of itself, is an act of courage. After all, a business leader who agrees to receive feedback from everyone must be brave enough to face disapproval — and even harsh criticism. In other words, they must become vulnerable, and that’s what I’d like to discuss this time.
Often, 360-degree feedback can cause a series of emotional responses, including surprise, denial, rationalization and acceptance, which are natural because we’re all human. The key is to use the feedback to become the best you can be rather than retreating into old bad habits.
For example, say a CEO shares with her senior leadership team two areas of her 360-degree feedback that she's struggling with: clarity of communication and availability for face-to-face discussions. She explains why receiving negative feedback in these areas is hard for her — she’s always considered herself a great communicator with an open-door policy — and states her commitment to do better. She even goes one step further by inviting her team to hold her accountable if/when she cancels a meeting or is unclear in her communication.
Being upfront in this manner is a very courageous act because she’s made herself vulnerable and is sharing her imperfections with others. In turn, she builds even greater trust and understanding with her team members, who help her refine her messaging and spend more time interacting directly with her employees.
On the other hand, let’s say a newly hired CEO receives 360-degree feedback and learns that he’s too closed off to others. One of the respondents recommends that he share his personal history — be vulnerable — and tell others about where he grew up and how that contributes to his leadership style. So at a companywide meeting, he shares the challenges of his childhood, where nothing he did was ever good enough for his parents, and that to get to where he is today, he had to be better than others — smarter, faster and loyal to the right people. What his leadership team hears in his disclosure is not vulnerability but rather a message of his ego and perfectionism. Within a few short months, his behavior shows that he plays favorites, shuns or shames anyone who disagrees with him and openly bullies one or two members of his leadership team during meetings. This leader thinks he was being open and vulnerable with his team, but he only created a culture of fear and distrust. Eventually, all but two of his original leadership team leave, and the board who hired him starts to notice the decline in the organization.
This is an example of how becoming vulnerable isn’t always a good thing if a leader responds to that openness by doubling down on negative traits. Your response should be a move toward the positive — even if your initial reaction to feedback is hurt feelings.
When all is said and done, leadership isn’t necessarily a position or title. It’s about how one chooses to show up to work, demonstrate one’s values to others and, in doing so, lead an organization forward in an affirmative, productive direction. There’s no doubt that leadership takes courage, but remember, courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s feeling the fear of being vulnerable and stepping into it authentically in an honest effort to improve and grow.
I believe we all can be leaders if we choose to be. It’s a choice first, and only afterward can we learn and practice the skills to become better leaders. I believe leadership can be developed in three simple (but not necessarily easy) steps:
1. Choose it.
Sometimes even those in leadership roles, such as managers, executives and business owners, are reluctant leaders. They second-guess every decision they make and often look to those in even higher positions or outside advisors to make tough choices. Good leaders must first be able to look in the mirror and say to themselves, “Yes, I’m in charge.” Putting oneself in the hot seat is an act of vulnerability.
2. Learn it.
Being a leader isn’t simply giving orders; it’s developing a wide range of skills to gather information and make good decisions. This is an ongoing — even lifelong — process. Leadership development is also an act of vulnerability because it involves regularly admitting, “I don’t know everything” and “I’ve got to get better.”
3. Do it.
Leadership involves execution. You can only theorize and float ideas around for so long before you need to put tangible, practical plans into action. If those plans go awry, then you must take those lessons to heart and learn from them. Risking failure is — you guessed it — an act of vulnerability.
If you happen to be a fan of research professor Brené Brown, you might have guessed that she's one of my inspirations for this article. In an interview on CBS, Brown said, "Vulnerability is, I believe... the only path to courage, and it is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, trust, empathy."
While Brown was a doctoral student, one of her professors told her, “If you cannot measure it, it does not exist." I’ve always believed this to be true as well. In fact, it drove me to create our own way to measure leaders' confidence and competence. By measuring these items over time — at the beginning, middle and end of a planned development effort — you can often see measurable growth in courage, confidence, trust and empathy. Before measuring leaders' confidence and competence, I always congratulate them for allowing themselves to become vulnerable in this manner.
Ultimately, courage, openness and vulnerability are core strengths that every leader needs to cultivate to be more influential, inspire others and become more effective.
POST WRITTEN BY
Founder, Alliance for Leadership Acceleration and the LEAP Leadership Acceleration Program
"Everyday Leadership Acts of Courage: 360-Degree Feedback" originally appeared on Forbes.com.
“Leadership Acts of Courage” is a series of articles I started on Memorial Day 2018 as I reflected on my gratitude to those, past and present, who have chosen to be leaders in serving our country. While most of us may never serve as leaders in this way, I got to thinking about some of the leadership acts of courage that I see in the workplace.
So, this is the first article of the series for existing and emerging leaders on courage. Not the “lay down your life” acts of courage so common to those in the military, but the seemingly simple — though not necessarily easy — acts required to improve one’s organization and achieve important goals.
I’ll begin with Winston Churchill. Churchill was a world leader at a very difficult time in history. He was far from perfect and had quite a few leadership wins and losses during World War II. But historians have said that part of the reason Great Britain (and its allies) ultimately prevailed was that Churchill always sought and listened to the advice of his generals. How often do you ask for honest feedback from those who work with you? Have you ever?
Too many leaders/managers in business today still think they must have all the answers. The reality is you can’t. The people in the field, doing the work, are the ones who really know whether a strategic move is likely to work on a practical, doable level. Great leaders/managers have the courage to ask their opinions and use their expertise.
My company has been developing leaders since 2003. Our program is over 12 to 13 months and includes 360-degree feedback surveys at the beginning and end of their “LEAP Year.” When we sit down to coach them using this feedback for the first time, I always ask whether they have ever participated in a 360-degree survey before. Virtually all of them say no; this is the first time in their entire management careers that they have received any real feedback from not only their bosses, but also peers, direct reports and others such as key customers, board members or colleagues in other business units.
I can usually see the trepidation on a leader’s face, wondering what people will say, how survey respondents will rate them and whether they are doing OK. I always tell them that they are among a relatively few courageous leaders simply because they have asked for this type of feedback, and I promise it will be beneficial.
One woman remarked that it opened her eyes to a couple of blind spots that never would have surfaced otherwise and to a few strengths that she had no idea were so helpful to those she worked with and managed. She told me recently that she’s still using that feedback 10-plus years later and has achieved her greatest career desires.
So, what makes issuing a 360-degree survey, and acting on the feedback gathered, an act of courage? Well, some might say that undertaking such an initiative is an invitation to chaos. No longer are you adhering to the simple model of “supervisor reviews employee.” The process now involves many voices from a variety of perspectives. And it’s not hard to imagine a cacophony of feedback rather than a simple conversation.
What’s more, no one in leadership — or at any organizational level, for that matter — can say that they unconditionally welcome feedback on their performance without any worry. Everyone cringes at the notion of receiving criticism from those around us, even if it’s constructive. And it’s especially hard for long-time leaders who have never experienced 360-degree reviews before in their careers.
But, at the end of the day, a 360-degree feedback survey can be a powerful tool because it creates better leaders, improves organizational culture, and more accurately reflects the performances of individuals and teams. Employees have more clarity and feel empowered and confident. Meanwhile, the C-level executives guiding their people along the leadership journey report major increases in innovation, better problem solving and more effective overall management.
POST WRITTEN BY
Founder, Alliance for Leadership Acceleration and the LEAP Leadership Acceleration Program
Speaking with a colleague recently on the content for our Executive Briefing "Real Leadership Lessons from Steve Jobs" we were brainstorming how to simplify the 14 lessons presented in the original HBR content to make them simpler to "get on the field", aka make them actionable for everyone.
A common thread throughout the lessons? Jobs was high on agility and high on consistency. This is what made him such a strategic leader. It takes skill to be balanced in focus and consistency, but also be agile and responsive. But the misconception is that it takes a natural leader. That's really not the case. This is a skill that can be taught. Some leaders, like Steve Jobs, act this out naturally, but most of us need guidance to understand how to be agile without being unfocused, and how to be consistent without being rigid.
I learned early on as a CEO that engaged employees help to drive delighted clients, and delighted clients help to drive financial / stakeholder results and growth. We use the leading tool for measuring employee engagement - the Gallup Q12* employee engagement survey, to track our performance and find areas to celebrate and improve.
The big challenge today that I am hearing frequently from many peer CEO’s is that they are under assault from recruiters trying to poach away their key talent.
How do you “Poach Proof” your team, or at least make them “Poach Resistant?”
According to Gallup (and my own years of direct experience) engaged employees largely equal retained employees. According to the research, one of the top drivers of employee engagement (and thus retention) is the opportunity to learn and grow.
According to Gallup, 87% of Millennials said that the opportunity to learn and grow is a top factor in job selection and tenure.
Compensation, healthcare, and other benefits are also important tools for retention, but their impact on real engagement (and performance) is muted.
Here are a few suggestions to “Poach Proof” your staff with powerful opportunities to learn and grow:
Would you like to schedule a few minutes to use me as a sounding board for your ideas or situation? I am always available. Tim@ceomastersforum.com or 206.779.2021.
Being a CEO is a tough job and am happy to be a resource.
CEO Masters Forum
Why is employee engagement important? Top quartile business units in employee engagement deliver:
However, 65%+ of U.S. workers are not engaged at work (source Gallup, February 2017).
All too often we're taking a one-size-fits-all approach to management and as the numbers suggest, we're losing out on a lot of potential productivity, customer loyalty, and PROFIT.
It's not hard to drive up employee engagement, but it requires being thoughtful and, initially, it feels like more effort. But the effort produces far greater results. Read the article from Harvard Business Review on "What Great Managers Do" and if you're interested in having a facilitated discussion around what your managers can do to be great leaders, hire one of our Certified LEAP Coaches to present the full content and help you Accelerate Your Leadership.
Just want the slides? Let us know who you are and then download the slides.
Congratulations to our LEAP Certified Affiliate, and founding member of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration, Performance Dimensions Group (PDG) for winning the prestigious designation of a Top Leadership Partner from HR.com's 2017 LEAD Awards. Since 2002, PDG has worked with 69 companies in Western Washington to transform more than 302 managers into confident and competent leaders with LEAP® the Leadership Acceleration Program.
For the past 34 years, the LEAD Awards, formerly known as Leadership Excellence Awards, have identified and recognized the top leadership programs and organizations and their strategies and solutions in their yearly ranking. This year's award winners have been published in the February edition of the Leadership Excellence Essentials e-publication. Future issues of the Leadership Excellence publication will also feature interviews from select top award winners in each category. These interviews will outline each program's unique qualities that made them a LEAD Awards winner.
About HR.com and the LEAD Awards
HR.com, the largest global social networking and resource site for HR Professionals is committed to providing a deeper understanding of the HR function for over 290,000+ members by offering an annual global leadership annual event - LEAD, the LEAD Awards, HR Certification Exam Prep Courses, certification programs, a personal development app, monthly themed HR epublications, 4,500+ webcasts, 1,200+ eLearning credits, 230+ virtual conferences, blogs, community networks, industry news and advisory boards. See www.hr.com for more information.
Join us in Las Vegas and help your business THRIVE!
Lynda Silsbee will be presenting at THRIVE 2017 for the second year in a row. Join her workshop at the conference and learn how to Crack the Code on Employee Disengagement.
May 11, 2017
10:40 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
High levels of employee engagement translate into increased customer satisfaction and bring other competitive advantages.
During this workshop, you'll receive actionable and innovative instruction on:
* The #1 reason for disengagement
* The downward spiral of disengagement and reduced productivity and morale
* How to develop your leadership skills to encourage an engaged culture change
* 4 steps to take right away to re-engage a languishing workforce
* And much more.
SAVE $100 off registration
Use Lynda's exclusive discount code: SILSBEE
During our 1/2 Day Team Alignment Workshop, teams to step out of their day-to-day together, get to know each other, identify similarities and differences and explore tough conversations, and then learn how they can work together to be more effective -- ultimately driving to higher performance.
Here are the top three measured changes that participants collectively report after the workshop:
Do you see how these changes lead a team to higher performance?
What makes a high performing team?
A high performance team is a self-managing, multifunctional group of people organized around a whole process and empowered with full authority for their success. Characteristics include:
All teams do not fit the same mold.
Although all high performing teams share certain characteristics in common, there are also some important distinctions between them. Organizations need to recognize these distinctions. If you take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to teams, you very likely will experience some problems such as:
For example, these are four very different types of teams. Each type is differentiated by their need for specialization and coordination.
Key Points for each Type:
Type 1 – Swim Team: high specialization and low coordination. Work is divided between various specialties. Each specialty consists of a distinctive set of skills. There is little coordination needed between specialties. Examples: Geriatrics team providing care for elderly, High School Teachers.
Type 2 – Football Team: Made up of people from different disciplines. Requires a high degree of coordination. Examples: Product Development Teams, Hospital E.R., Executive Leadership Team.
Type 3 – Bowling Team: Low in both specialization and coordination. Team members share same skill set but have little need to coordinate or communicate. Examples: Telephone operators, Bill Collectors, Bank Tellers.
Type 4 – Volleyball Team: Members share common skills. High need for coordination. Generally organized around completing a “whole task” and cross-trained to do one another’s jobs.
What type of team do you belong to?
What about the other teams that you interact with? Are they the same, or different? How might the way you approach each differ?
Are you part of a team that needs alignment? Ask us about our 1/2 Day Team Alignment Workshop.
It’s a new year! We love the feeling of getting a fresh start and look forward to the year ahead. How about you?
As we reflected on the past year, we realized a distressing trend: people are stressed out, frustrated, and going home exhausted and depressed after work. Great organizations are losing top talent due to the frustrations of individuals who feel like their work-life is chaotic and people aren’t working as a team.
Every organization tends to put people in the “sandbox” together and expects them to “play” well and create great sandcastles. We know that doesn’t work because we work with larger teams and companies every day to resolve these issues and create high-performing teams. The problem is that smaller teams and companies often don’t get this kind of help – so with a strong desire to help smaller teams, we have created a half-day workshop on creating team alignment (best for teams of 3-7 people) by:
· Improving communication so frustrations are reduced and people enjoy working together.
· Clarifying who, what, why and how the team works which leads to greater productivity.
· Allowing people to have more fun individually and collectively as a team.
· Making work-life easier and more satisfying.
· Producing better, more consistent results.
What could you accomplish in 2017 if your team was in total alignment?
This workshop is structured as a half-day “team retreat” and will be guided by expert facilitators and consultants giving your team personal attention. Your team will walk away with clarity, alignment, and esprit de corps!
Interested in our next half-day team alignment workshop?
Note: registration fee is for your entire team to attend together (max. 7 people) and includes all materials as well as full breakfast and lunch with your team.
$2,800 per team ($2,500 for LEAP Alumni and Sponsor Companies)
Lynda Silsbee is Founder and President of the Alliance for Leadership Acceleration. She has spent more than 30 years creating and leading high performance teams. Along with the other LEAP Certified Coaches, she reports that helping managers make the LEAP to leader is one of the most fulfilling aspects of her work.