Are you anticipating versus being reactive?

I’ll never forget the time when I was witnessing a medical scenario and I watched the medical team respond to a situation which they appeared to be anticipating what their next steps would need to be. This was clearly achieved from having years of experience with either the same variables, or very similar ones. Watching them perform with ease and complete coordination was impressive, and the scenario was literally a life-or-death situation, and yes, they saved the person’s life.

Most people are not in life of death situations, and I would always express and remind people of this when they began to exhibit signs of going into either a panic, or reactive mode. When someone is going into being reactive in a situation, there is an opportunity to respond differently. However, it will take having an awareness of a few different factors. One of the factors is time. If you can slow down your immediate reaction and pause to think about what your options are, this will help to set you up to have more than one reaction choice. The more you do this, will also train you to think more strategically, and ideally, to respond in a way which results in a better outcome.

The second factor is confidence. When we are not confident about our decisions or the experience we can apply, we tend to under value and perhaps dismiss what our gut instinct response should be. A response that is both based on a survival instinct, and depending on the scenario, a sprinkle of including previous experience which resulted in a favorable conclusion.  

Certainly, when we are early in our careers or working our way up to the highest level of being on a sports team, there is typically a pattern or track we would be expected to follow to proceed forward. Some people are gifted with talent or knowledge they have attained earlier than others, and which will serve to fast track them. However, even with their advantages, they will still encounter occurrences when they will be faced with whether they can anticipate versus being reactive. Perhaps not as often as others with less experience or talent, but they will occasionally be in this scenario, and this is perfectly acceptable.

Depending on your outlook and approach to handling situations, you may be the type of person that looks at things not going well purely as a hassle. Not as an opportunity to consider how you can learn from it. Or, potentially have it result in a better outcome had the situation not initially been going in a less ideal way. I believe outlook and attitude are closely linked, and if you tend to be the type of person that is less inclined to anticipate a positive outcome, in my experience, the outcome isn’t as desirable. Of course, you might be surprised when it is, but this isn’t the norm.

If you find yourself leading others who are more often in a reactive versus anticipatory state, below are some examples of how you can help them to start working towards handling situations much more fluidly, with ease and better outcomes. Both for themselves, and the others who will be positively impacted from this new way of responding to matters they need to handle.

  • This won’t apply to every situation but doing a post-mortem on a situation that didn’t have a positive outcome or could have been handled better is always a great method which incorporates both a teaching and non-accusatory management approach.
  • Not every scenario can be practiced, but there are plenty which can be. Make sure you are putting in enough time to practicing and determining a variety of options of how you could better anticipate versus being reactive in that scenario.
  • You hear people in highly charged situations asking people to remain calm. Although not all situations are highly charged, you can borrow from this method and be intentionally focused on first calming yourself down, and then allowing yourself and your mind to have greater clarity on deciding and being more anticipatory about the next steps.
  • Yes, there may be an ideal way of responding or anticipating a better outcome, but if you can also factor in applying common sense, the result will be more desirable.
  • Doing this isn’t easy but do your best to quickly assess and think about what you want the result of the situation you are reacting to will be.
  • How you react, and whether you are an anticipatory or a reactive person is something others notice. If this matters to you, by choosing which category you are in is the first step towards switching categories. Hint: Most leaders fall into the anticipatory category.

Eventually with experience people if they are intentional about wanting to be in the category of being more anticipatory versus a reactive person will get there, but this will take time and experience for you to get there. If you are intentional about having this be your focus, I am confident you will achieve this attainment.

TAGS: #Business #Leadership #Communication #Management #Leader #Sports #Sportscoach #Teams #Confidence #Businesstips

Are you unknowingly disappointing others?

If you have been the recipient of ever hearing “I’m disappointed …” in any given situation, these few words can be worse than many other detrimental outcomes or experiences a person can have. Especially when the person hearing this news is being led by another. Or perhaps if they felt like they were caught off guard by this information.

Even if someone expects to hear they have disappointed someone, it can really sting, and hearing these words themselves can be worse than any repercussions that might ensue. Typically for this sentiment to be expressed, the message being conveyed shouldn’t be a surprise, but when it is, there are other unfortunate factors contributing to this reality. One of them has to do with the recipient being either inexperienced, or potentially not being given the initial support required to avoid this message being delivered.

Another leading cause to hearing you have disappointed someone is the fact you may be unaware of either how your performance isn’t meeting the requirements of your leader or Sports Coach. Or your perception is disconnected from the reality of how others are perceiving your expected performance output. Being unaware doesn’t give you a pass or excuse from how or why you have disappointed someone, but it does give you and the person you heard this from a place to begin your next conversation.

The conversation you would be having will likely entail a timeline of the circumstances which led up to hearing about you disappointing someone. It should also include discussing whether your performance outcome was clearly understood. For instance, in a sales contract scenario this would be called an “upfront contract”. Also included in this conversation should be what led to having you derail from tracking towards having a successful outcome? There may have been multiple contributors, but both parties knowing this can also add to better understanding why there wasn’t a checkpoint to catch this derailment earlier?

As many of us have painfully experienced at some point in our leadership careers, we may have assumed what we thought was clearly understood and expected from someone or a team we are leading, but it wasn’t. Either the information relating to what was expected was unclear, or the person or team didn’t ask enough questions to have the outcome be clear. In either of these instances, both sides are at fault. Especially the leader if they didn’t do their part of properly overseeing the person or team along the course of either a project or seasonal outcome.

We can appreciate that taking a hands-off approach is certainly a type of leadership style. However, there should be some well understood rules of engagement for this management style to work well. It is also the responsibility of the leader to potentially adjust this style if at some point it appears not to be effective. The adjustment doesn’t have to be a severe one, but it should be reflective of how well the person or team they are leading is responding to this style.

Many people will tell you that hearing or learning about the fact they have disappointed someone can be crushing to hear this emotionally. When they hear, learn about, or read about the fact they have done this, the next steps in this scenario are critical for both the leader and recipients. Especially if both parties are interested in changing the direction they are currently heading. Depending on the severity of the disappointment will influence whether there will be potential to change the future opportunities which may or may not be granted.

Taking an optimistic approach to a scenario where a person or team disappointed their leader or sports coach, it will be imperative for both parties to accept the fact they will need to hit the imaginary “reset button”. In other words, to give a clear restarting point. A place of neutrality and a realistic expectation that the “disappointment” can be turned around. I’m not suggesting this is going to be easy, as the element of trust was likely damaged due to this outcome. However, also taking the approach that there are plenty of circumstances for people to make mistakes and to be forgiven for doing so, and given another chance will need to be part of having a potentially better outcome.

If you are wondering where to start after you and the person or team has hit the “reset button”, below are some suggestions for you to consider.

  • After you have identified the point or points when the derailment caused the disappointment, come up with a plan which will both better support and prevent this from reoccurring.
  • Agree to having more open and honest conversations about expected outcomes. Any areas which are even slightly “grey” should be brought into the black and white clarity area.
  • Having regular times to communicate formally committed to on a schedule will be required for an agreed upon period, or it might need to become part of the “system” you craft to set others up for success as a leader or sports coach.
  • Being consistent in all areas of how people work together should be agreed to, and they should all be reasonably attainable and not put in place to be punitive.
  • Are there other people who should have been part of the success of the situation, team or person that caused the disappointment? If so, what will it take to reasonably include them in your “revised” success plan?
  • Factor in whether you need to toggle between being both a leader/sports coach and mentor to “course correct”? This will likely be required, particularly if the person or team was unaware of how they caused or contributed to the disappointing situation initially occurring.

When someone is unknowingly disappointing others, they may not be fully at fault for doing so. Then again, they might be. In either scenario, there is always an opportunity to learn and benefit from the professional growth that will occur from addressing what happened. Make sure you are also mentally in a strong place to support this growth for those you are leading when you need to embark upon this journey.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Business #Sports #Success #Professionaldevelopment #Leadershipdevelopment #Strategy #Teamdynamics #Coach #Sportscoach #Teams

Unacceptable leadership habits and behaviors. Have you seen any lately?

I’m not typically focused on the negative aspects related to human behavior and leadership attributes. However, I was reminded of this topic by someone who I’ll call my muse. I was surprised they brought this topic up, but since they did, I wanted to dive into it. Especially since over the last several decades some of the unacceptable habits and behaviors have either become tolerable, or people have become numb to their prevalence.

Although there are numerous less than desirable habits and behaviors that exist, I’m going to focus on some of the ones which in my opinion contribute to the demise of a leader, or the team they lead. The first habit is being self-absorbed. Or expressed in a politically correct way of calling this out, suggesting the leader is highly unaware of who they are, and how their interactions with those they lead are not positively contributing to the health of the team or organization they lead. Many of us have experienced this type of leader, yet the real challenge is, who can alter this behavior?

Ultimately a person’s behavior must be changed by them. Of course, they must first recognize their behavior is having a negative impact on those they lead, but often they are seemingly blind to this. Is it possible for them to understand or recognize this? It is, but unfortunately there will be a fair number of professional casualties involved before they do. Perhaps you have heard the expression “the last straw”? This will often be what contributes to the “tipping point” of redirecting the leader to be either reluctantly redirected or become aware they need to behave differently. This generally happens when they realize there isn’t anyone else they can point the finger towards contributing to the toxic environment they have created and found themselves in the middle of.

An inflated ego and putting yourself first in all circumstances is another behavior which left unchecked, will also contribute to the demise of a leader and their organization. There are several paths they could have taken to arrive at this point, and one of them is because others are afraid of confronting them. This of course doesn’t serve anyone well. The surprising thing is that when someone finally does confront this type of negative leadership behavior, the leader is often confused about who you are talking about. Or, they will become immediately defensive, which is more typical. Contending with either of these responses successfully will depend on the leader’s ability to be open minded enough to listen to what you must share with them. As challenging as this sounds, they must also appreciate you have their best interest in mind when you are having this conversation with them.

Another unacceptable habit is continuously interrupting someone. Yes, I get it. Sometimes the leader is really excited about what they have to say, but the bottom line, is that this is rude behavior. It also suggests what they have to say is more important than what you are communicating. When you continuously experience interacting with a person who behaves this way, it’s easy to shut down on them, and not want to interact with them. It can also be exhausting, and you get the sense they are not truly listening. My experience with this type of leader is that either they are unaware of the fact they are doing this, don’t care, or think they have the right to behave this way because of their title. They don’t.

One of the other unacceptable behavior areas I have noticed falls under the category of communication. What appears to seemingly become an acceptable practice, is that I have experienced leaders choosing to either use words which are offensive, derogatory or “dumbed-down expressions” (e.g., continuously using swears or slang words when there are plenty of other more impactful and intelligent words to choose from). What a leader may not be aware of when their communication “style” falls short of being professional, is that they are directly contributing towards degrading the respect from those they are leading and earned at one point. When you hear another person speaking disparagingly about another person, especially when they are a leader, it causes you to pause and consider whether perhaps you have been a recipient of this behavior too?

The final unacceptable habit or behavior which can contribute to a leader’s demise, and a toxic environment is being less than generous.  Less than generous with praise, your time, your mentoring ability and focusing more on the performance metrics than the health and well-being of those you are leading. Sure, not all leader’s emotional intelligence or empathy levels may be where they should be, but both areas can be either off set by others on their team, or the leader recognizing these are not strong attributes of theirs. In fact, they can verbally let others know this, and not as an excuse, but to convey they are aware of their tendencies. However, these tendencies shouldn’t be the overruling factor in terms of giving them a pass for being this way and that it is acceptable. It’s not, and they need to understand and appreciate this, and recognize the others on their team who excel in these areas.

The list of unacceptable habits behaviors can sometimes seem as if they are overtaking the positive ones that we would all rather be experiencing and focused on. However, if you are either realizing you might have some of these habits or behaviors, or know someone who does, I have some suggestions for you to consider.

  • If the team you are leading is struggling in any way, could you be contributing to why this is occurring? Perhaps it’s time to think this is a possibility.
  • Do you routinely think about what more you can be doing to help the people you are leading? Or are you more concerned about the optics in terms of how others are perceiving you?
  • When was the last time you paused to think about whether it might be time to overhaul or work on strengthening any of your leadership qualities? Hint. The next step is to come up with a plan to do so, and to execute on this plan.
  • Being defensive never serves anyone well. Are you willing to understand what your triggers are to acting this way, and working towards decreasing this behavior? Perhaps having the goal of striking it from your interactive repertoire?
  • Are there acceptable habits and behaviors you have which can help to offset your negative ones? This will factor in considering that you would be working towards addressing your negative ones, with the goal of eliminating them.
  • If self-awareness isn’t one of your current leadership abilities, can you commit to developing yourself in this area? It’s never too late to do so.

Sure, we would all prefer to be or have leaders and sports coaches who are guiding us who exhibit all the favorable traits and behavioral characteristics that appear to be “fairy-tale” like. However, there are achievable levels for leaders to strive towards and reach. Will you be one of these leaders or sports coaches?

TAGS: #Leader #Leadership #Leaders #Business #Management #Organizationalbehavior #Habits #Motivation #Awareness #Selfawareness #Teams #Teamdynamics #Sports #Sportscoaches #Performance #Success

Having choices and making decisions. 

I have always had a strong fascination with having conversations with others about the choices they have to make, and ultimately, the decision they make relating to their options. When I am involved with being part of this process, my intention is to guide, offer suggestions, but not to cajole the person towards a particular outcome. The exception to this is when they ask me, and truly want to know what decision path I would choose if I was in their situation. 

Being a trusted advisor, I have a role that puts me this “exception” scenario regularly. So, I have had to become comfortable with sharing my advice, but more importantly, providing in-depth details in terms of “why” and “how” I would go about this process. If I didn’t do this, I would be doing a disservice to the person I am advising, and this is independent of who they are. 

Although people ask for advice, we know it doesn’t always mean they will take it. Consider the expression “You can lead a horse to water if it is thirsty, but you can’t make it drink the water.” The same situation applies when advice is being given. It can be frustrating to the person giving advice when time after time their advice is dismissed, or bypassed, and the person they were advising ends up making either less than desirable choices, or has blatant and avoidable negative outcomes. 

Contrary to what seems obvious, sometimes people can benefit from these outcomes, providing the choices and decisions they are making are not going to be dangerous or permanently irreversible. In these scenarios, more often the person you are leading or interacting with is an experiential learner, so they need to find out and experience first-hand what the outcome of their decision will result in. 

Of course, some choices can be temporary, although we understand some may not be. Ideally, we are all better off when we have at least one or better yet, multiple choices. We usually do, but the challenge for some who are inexperienced, or perhaps stubborn, may be insistent that they know what is best for them. Yet, the outcome doesn’t result in what would have been best for them. 

When you are guiding and leading someone who appears to be asking for support, but your experience with them has resulted in them doing the opposite from what was discussed, you each have a choice to make. The choice is to let this person the next time they ask for guidance that they don’t appear to need your advice. You then calmly share with them that their “track record” or history of asking for your advice hasn’t been leveraged, and that time after time they determined that their choice and ultimately their decision should override your guidance. Since they appear to only be interested in hearing your advice, versus leveraging it, let the person know that you will not be offering advice to them. Or, not until you determine your advice will be objectively considered. Not blatantly and routinely dismissed. 

In the scenario of the person who continues to ask for advice, yet not take it, at some point they will come to a juncture of realizing why they were asking you for advice. Especially if they were not considering your advice. Or, the outcomes from their choices resulted in less than desirable results, and which impacted them negatively from a long-term perspective. Either personally or professionally. Often this individual’s pride or lack of “big picture” awareness and strategy is what lands them in this scenario. Yes, this can be very frustrating for both parties involved, but more so for the person experiencing the negative outcomes from their choices. 

If you are leading others who would benefit from your advice in terms of making better choices and decisions, yet they have determined they know better, there are other options for you to consider exploring. Here are some for you to think about. 

  • Letting someone fail can sometimes be the greatest “gift”, and for those that are “experiential learners”, this is often a productive technique to have them consider an alternative approach from you. 
  • When someone has asked you for advice, ask them upfront if they truly want your advice? You can also ask them if you are one of many people they are having conversations with relating to the topic you are discussing? Sometimes the person you are leading needs multiple options to choose from. Don’t take this personally, it might simply be the style that helps them to decide. 
  • During your conversation with the person you are advising, ask them to verbally walk you through how they perceive the choices they have will result in a favorable decision or outcome? 
  • Often people neglect to fully think through the full consequences relating to their options. When you play the role of guiding them to fully consider how their options can play out, they may realize that some are far superior to others. 
  • Despite the fact the person asking you for advice may assume you have experience relating to what they are asking you about, it is far better to let them know you do not have actual experience relating to what they are asking for you to advise them about. In this scenario, your advice is going to be based on an accumulation of other experience, and it may or may not be what they need to help them. In other words, it’s OK not to always have an answer, and you are more credible when you admit you don’t. 
  • If you know someone who could provide better guidance, ask the person you are leading or interacting with if it would be possible to consult with them first, and with the intent of circling back to them with more beneficial information. Of course, you would want to do this in strict confidence, and not breech the trust of the person you are advising.

Offering guidance and advice to others or teams (e.g., business and sports) is an honor. It should also be taken very seriously, and presented with great care and concern for the outcome of the person you are engaging with. When you take this approach, you will be doing both those you are advising an opportunity to benefit from your guidance, but ultimately to learn from it too.

TAGS: #Leadership #Sports #Sportscoaches #Business #Makingdecisions #Makingchoices #Teams #Teamdynamics #Leadershipdevelopment #Businessadvice #Awareness #Motivation #Professionaldevelopment #Purpose #Sales #Communication #Management

Think human, not gender.

I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about a variety of topics, and the subjects of diversity, equity and inclusion came up. Typically, when someone asks me about this topic, I am always curious about what this trio of three powerful words means to them? Interestingly, no two descriptions are ever the same, which could explain why organizations and their leaders struggle with putting the right resources behind them.

From a foundational perspective, I see these topics being about humans. Yes, we can all agree that as humans, we have many differences, but fundamentally we also have very similar and basic needs. One of these needs it to be offered an opportunity to be viewed not based on what our gender is, but instead as a person. A person who desires to be given opportunities based on what we bring to the proverbial “table” from a skillset perspective. Another need is to be given a brave voice, and to have someone listen to what we have to say. Even if someone doesn’t agree with our words. The third need is to be allowed to express from our view how and why we think the way we do, and without judgement.

The third need of being “neutral” and not passing immediate judgement on another human is particularly difficult to master. However, consider if it was something everyone worked on? I can imagine how our world would be a much kinder place to live in, and perhaps we would have the ability to also be more understanding of others, and less judgmental.

In the last six months, I have gone to three funerals. One of them was my Dad’s, and the other two were the Dad’s funerals of very dear and long-term friends of mine. None of our Dad’s ever met, and they were all quite different from one another. Especially from an ethnic and religious perspective. However, despite these factors, if they had met, I am certain they would have all really enjoyed meeting and getting to know one another. I say this based on the fact I had so much in common with their daughters, and I attribute this to the influence our Dad’s had on our formative thinking prior to us meeting.

When I think back to having met my friends multiple decades ago, and who’s Dad’s also recently passed away, I take great comfort in knowing our Dad’s would be proud of how each of us has and will continue to be contributing to our society. All three of us are women entrepreneurs, and I’m confident our Dad’s indirectly steered all of us in this direction. My Dad wasn’t an entrepreneur like my two friends Dad’s were, but a gift he gave me was to always let me know that I could do anything I choose to do. With one criterion that needed to be met. I needed to treat everyone the exact way I would want to be treated.

Although my Dad never overtly told me about his criterion, he demonstrated to me daily what it meant to be a good human. So, from this modeling, it made it relatively easy for me to put what I saw into action. Sometimes people would tell me “You are too nice”. When I would hear this, I didn’t take this as an insult, I took it as a compliment. I believe from their perspective they were concerned I might be taken advantage of if I was “too nice”. What they didn’t factor in, is that I was fully aware of how I was acting and was in complete control of how I behaved. More importantly, that based on my behavior of treating everyone I interacted well with, that I would never have to explain “why” I made the decisions I did.

Being “nice” doesn’t mean you are less capable or do not possess the inherent qualities of a leader. In fact, in my opinion, the best leaders and team’s I have been on have been led by a human who I would describe as “nice”. These leaders also had some of the most happy and productive teams, and it was an honor to support them. Can you think of a leader who you would describe this way?

If you are curious about how you might be able to increase your skills in “thinking human and not gender” I have some suggestions for you to consider.

  • When you first meet someone and find out what they do professionally, do you immediately think, what path did they take to get there? If you are not thinking this way, you have an amazing opportunity to learn what this path looked like to gain a new perspective on what it took to get there.
  • If you were able to hire someone who is the “best” person you could hire, could you honestly hire that person without any DEI biases?
  • Assuming you have some biases, how do you think they were developed, and why have you held onto them?
  • Take a few moments to be reflective on potentially biases you might have but haven’t considered the “why” behind them.
  • Is it possible for you to work on becoming more comfortable with the biases you have identified?
  • If becoming “Switzerland-like” (neutral) in your DEI thinking could be accomplished, what will it take for you to get to this place?

Independent of whether you are a leader, sports coach, or individual contributor on a team, having a personal goal of being first more aware of your biases, and then committing to addressing them with the intent of banishing them will serve everyone well. Yes, this is a generalization, but I am confident if more people took this approach, we could help to solve many of the DEI challenges we have been encountering for centuries.

TAGS: #DEI #Leadership #Leader #Humanbehavior #Professionaldevelopment #Teamdynamics #Motivation #Addressingdei #Solutionsfordei #Business #Teams #Sportscoach #Sportsteam #Humans #People