Timing your leadership conversations.

Overview:

For context, consider the last conversation you had with someone and whether you or they may have been prescriptive in terms of when, where and what they talked to you about. If there wasn’t any thought put into having this conversation, I am certain the conversation may not have gone well for either participant. Why? Because effectively communicating with others isn’t easy to achieve without having plenty of experience doing so.

When you are involved in a conversation with someone who has mastered the ability to communicate effectively, you might barely notice how the flow of the dialogue is going well, and how they were able to get their point across. Chances are good that this person also put some thought into what they were going to express, took the proverbial temperature of both you and the environment, and carefully curated the timing of doing so.

Now, consider a time when you were caught off guard by a conversation. Did you immediately become defensive and less capable of listening to what the person had to say? Perhaps you reacted by going into a passive aggressive mode and either used very few words to express yourself or told the person you didn’t want to talk to them. Perhaps not at that point, or possibly any future point. This may be unrealistic, because if someone was trying to have a conversation with you, particularly if they are a leader, there was likely a valid reason for them to do so.

When people become dismissive of having a conversation with either a leader, or someone they can benefit speaking with, this scenario will generally lead to one of two places. The first is that they will come upon an impasse and need to decide how to proceed, even if it is uncomfortable to do so. The second place is that both parties will have to agree to be willing to give equal time and attention to one another’s conversational points. If the person who is initiating the conversation is a leader, the person they are speaking with may or may not feel as if they have any choice but to listen to what the leader is conveying. Perhaps they will feel trapped into having a discussion they are not prepared to have, or that the result of the conversation will not be in their favor.

What if instead a leader or sports coach could master being able to have both productively neutral conversations? Ones that have the intention of having both parties leave the discussion better off than when they began talking. In a perfect world, it would be ideal to have people be able to look forward to having conversations with one another. Not only to learn from each other, but also to gain a better understanding of what both parties are thinking, and how they are interpreting the best go forward method.

A factor which can contribute to having a poor conversation is certainly bad timing. We have all experienced this, and it is not only uncomfortable, but seldomly results in a desired outcome. So, how do you course correct this situation, or avoid it entirely? It may not be possible to time your conversations perfectly, but there are some factors you can take into consideration to increase the favorability of a positive outcome. Here are some suggestions for you to consider, and this is independent of whether you are a leader, sports coach or are more often on the receiving end of conversations with these two categories of management personas.

  • Are you more concerned about ticking off from your list having a difficult conversation and not factoring in properly preparing for it?
  • Have you thought about the prospect of practicing having a conversation with someone, at what you would deem to be the ideal time to do so? Some people favor having difficult conversations in the morning, while others find that people could be more receptive later in the day when they are winding down.
  • If you don’t know the person well that you will be having a difficult or important conversation with, do some minor research to find out more about how they might react during your conversation. Knowing this will prepare you better to adjust your conversation accordingly.
  • How is your ability to read body language and perhaps the current mood a person is in? If the person you will be conversing with appears to be stressed, angry or distracted, the result of your conversation isn’t likely to produce the ideal outcome. Consider having your conversation when all three of these factors, or at least two of them are not going to have a negative effect.
  • Be sensitive to how you open your conversation, and make sure it is also done with consideration not to embarrass the person or put them into an uncomfortable position based on the location of where it is taking place.
  • Put yourself in the proverbial “shoes” of the person you are speaking with. How would you want a leadership type of conversation to progress, and how can you stage the conversation for maximum emotional intelligence being applied, as well as thoughtfulness of the persons feelings so that they can remain in as much as a neutral state at possible.
  • Conversations when they are well constructed and received well can provide immense leadership guidance, so take measures to ensure this will be the outcome you mutually experience.

Sure, there will be circumstances when your timing of your leadership-oriented conversation may not be ideal, but consider the alternative of not having the conversation at all? If the outcome of your conversation isn’t going to be helpful to at least one of the participants involved, factor in whether the conversation should be taking place. Or, at least whether there will be a more ideal time to have it.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Sportscoaches #Communication #Management #Effectivecommunication #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Mentoring #Awareness #Constructiveconversations #Leadershipconversations #Tipstohaveimpactfulleadershipconversations

Do something different. Leaders and coaches listen up please.

Admittedly there are a few things that frustrate me. One of them is based off a saying you have likely heard expressed. It is the expression of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink the water.” If you have been in this scenario before, I’m certain you understand the feeling of this proverbial horse standing near or over the water trough, needing hydration, but not drinking the water. Seeing this occurring seems senseless. Even counterintuitive, although we see this happening on a regular basis.

Who are the people that fall into this category of being “that” horse? Sometime surprisingly the people you wouldn’t imagine they would be. Yes, I’m calling out those of you who are leaders in the business world, and those of you who are sports coaches at some of the highest levels of competition. It’s very likely the scenario you are presently in is due to a combination of circumstances which have brought you to the place of inaction. Others may see your inaction as being stubborn, close minded, or worse, unaware of the fact the “water” is right in front of you.

Recently I experienced a leader who seemingly just realized they were not in a good place. All the data supports making this obvious, but ironically, they were behaving as if everything was fine. Better than fine. In fact, that they didn’t seemingly have any challenges at all. Sure, this may sound implausible, but if there were an “ignore button”, they were certainly pressing it often. Possibly without realizing they were doing so. However, others they are leading were absolutely noticing this, but didn’t feel empowered to do something, or know how to approach this leader.  

When I got the call from this leader, I was shocked. Upon speaking with them briefly, it was also as if time or the circumstances they were in didn’t matter. In fact, it was as if I was speaking to an individual that had little or no awareness of the reality of the situation, they were in. This may be their way of protecting themselves from reality, but the reality is, they will need to confront reality next week. Why next week? Because they will have a new boss who is going to want them to provide answers about how they will do things differently to obtain far better results. When I asked them what their plan was to have this conversation, I was less than impressed by what I heard.

The more difficult aspect of hearing that the leader didn’t think they needed a new plan was more disconcerting. Having the experience of knowing they were going to need to have a solid, well thought through plan to make the necessary changes to impact their current circumstances seemed obvious. Yet, this appeared to be the furthest thinking from what they were expressing.

Instead, what I heard was that they were going to be making tactical maneuvers. Ones that in essence would only apply a Band-Aid to their scenario, when what they needed was to have a surgical team in place to repair the damage. The lack of awareness of what was going to be needed to positively impact their circumstances partially contributes to the situation they are in.  However, the bigger problem is that they thought with the plan they had shared with me, that all the solutions to solve their challenges were going to be met.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this scenario is going to play out. At least not without doing something quite different than they are planning to do.

If you are a leader or sports coach who is currently in or may be in a situation which will call for you to do something different than you are doing, with the intent to get better results, below are some suggestions you can begin considering to apply.

  • Do you have a group of trusted advisors? Ones who will challenge you and not play the role of a “yes” person.?
  • Consider why you think that doing the same thing all the time is going to offer you the desired results you are seeking.
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how comfortable are you with change?
  • If your score isn’t close to a 10, you have some work to do. This can also offer insight into why you may be in the circumstances you are now.
  • How well do you listen to others? Chances are high that this is an area we can all improve upon. Consider testing yourself in terms of noticing whether you are listening or talking more. Practice listening more than you are talking and see what benefits you gain from this.
  • What is preventing you for doing something differently? If you don’t like change, what if you looked at change differently? Perhaps as being a positive maneuver versus one you find more comfort in resisting?
  • Stop kidding yourself. If your current circumstances aren’t where you want them to be, others are noticing. In fact, they are likely waiting for you to reach out and ask them for help.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to help others. If you are not asking for help yourself, this isn’t allowing you to fully embrace your role as a leader or sports coach. Taking actions to do something different doesn’t need to be perceived negatively. In fact, it might be exactly what you need to do. What will your doing something different be?

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Sportscoach #Communication #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Business #Listening #Change #Embracingchange #Management #Strategy #Success #Leadershipsuccess

Why the “how” of leadership isn’t often talked about.

Too often I see leaders in positions who are presenting an academy award level of acting to cover up their leadership deficits. Although they are not aware of how transparent their struggles might be, it is painful to see them struggling. Worse, is that many of them think they have either no one to turn to, or that they must figure out all of their challenges independently. They don’t. However, they often grapple with thinking they need to do so.

Yes, even seasoned leaders can struggle with coming up with the “how” to do something. This is occurring because of the unfortunate reality that although there is plenty of access to information both on-line and in person, the conundrum is knowing what questions to ask to sort out finding a solution.

Being able to articulate what challenges a leader may be having seems like it would be easy. It’s not, and this is because when leadership challenges are occurring, the outcome goes one of two ways. The first way is that the leader realizes they may not have the experience to soley come up with a solution. They then reach out to others on their team or their trusted advisors for help. The other way isn’t pretty. It’s when a leader thinks they independently need to come up with a solution on their own. They also don’t ask for help. Then the “situation” is ignored and festers. Often what then happens, is there is no longer the luxury of time, and the “situation” must be addressed under less than desirable circumstances.

Not only is it frustrating for the leader to be in the position of feeling they can’t ask for support to help them know “how” to address a situation, but it is also equally painful for those who are in supporting roles. Ones in fact that could help them. However, we have all heard the expression “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink the water.” When this is happening, the leader is typically in a crisis and will often resort to pressing the “ignore button”. Of course, they may not want to, but they have not been taught “how” to perhaps ask for help.

Having a leader who is comfortable asking for help or support is the optimal place you want to be as a leader. It’s important to recognize that doing so will not diminish your credibility. Conversely, it can diminish your leadership credibility if you don’t allow yourself to be open minded, and vulnerable enough to realize you don’t have to have all the answers. In other words, being a leader is a “team sport”. Picking a sport analogy to this thinking, is that you are either the quarterback or the coach of the team. You might be expected to know more than you do, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be progressively learning and being supported along the way. Spoiler alert. The best leaders are always evolving. They will also never tell you they know everything they need to know to be highly effective in their leadership role.

For context, consider someone you know who is a business leader or a sports coach. What are the leadership attributes you admire about them? Are these attributes they were born with, cultivated over time, or perhaps both? Now, think about the best leader you have ever encountered. They could be someone that led you, or perhaps were someone you witnessed their leadership in action. What are some of the actions they took which made them a strong leader? I’m certain you will have at least a half dozen characteristics you will be able to site.

As I was coming up the leadership track, I soon realized there are two types of people I would interact with. The first were those who were unwilling to share information with me, and the second type were those that were readily doing so. The first group withheld information because they were under the impression that giving away information would diminish their power. Conversely the other group freely dispersed information and shared it with you proactively. They were never concerned about whether sharing information was going to diminish their authority or power.

When I quickly realized that the second group was the type of people I wanted to be around, and also be a role model for, it opened up many possibilities to grow as a leader. Most importantly, to be able to ask others about “how” I could help them accomplish something.

Being able to ask others “how” to do something seems like an elementary concept. Yet, it isn’t one that is as readily embraced as often as you think it would be. Leaders and sports coaches who struggle with inquiring about “how” to do something are not in an enviable position. In fact, most that do not get to the level of being able to comfortably ask for “how”, or help in sorting challenges out, will find they have a reduced amount of time in their role. Or, they will be highly ineffective as a leader, and will eventually be asked to step down from their role.

If you or someone you know who is in a leadership or sports coach role that is challenged with being able to ask for support in any capacity relating to your role, here are some suggestions you can consider.

  • Ask yourself why you think you need to know everything? Are you answers reasonable or erring on being absurd?
  • Is fear contributing to being reluctant to discuss how you can succeed?
  • Break down your thinking about why you are resisting asking for help. Do you subconsciously believe you are not going to succeed?
  • On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, how aware are you of your strengths and deficits?
  • Are your deficits going to hold you back from being an effective leader if you don’t address them?
  • Realistically, are you honestly and completely tapping into your extraordinary talents yet?
  • Are your strengths and natural leadership abilities strong enough to lean on if you don’t further invest in them to be an impactful leader?
  • What are you doing to continually allow yourself to grow as a leader?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen if you don’t address getting the support you need to become a more effective leader?

Although leaders and sports coaches have the spotlight on them, at the end of the day, they are technically in a supporting role for those they lead. If a leader isn’t thinking of themselves in this capacity, it will be far more difficult than it needs to be for them to realize they can be a much more impactful leader if they were to adopt this type of leadership philosophy.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Sportscoach #Coach #Business #Communication #Motivation #Awareness #Effectiveleadership #Impactfulleadership #Teamdynamics #Management #Strategy #Success

Who are you?

You might think that it’s easy to describe to others who you are. Realistically, not everyone has to do this on a regular basis, but there are times when we must do this.  When we do, consider how important it is to get this right. Also consider how instead of feeling less enthusiastic about doing this, how wonderful it would be to be able to describe yourself with clarity and pride.

Being able to articulate who you are to others may in fact becoming an art. One that takes practice, and critical knowledge and deep awareness of who you are. Contextually, there may be times when you are describing yourself where you will need to provide greater details than other times, but imagine if you could do this with complete ease? In a way that feels authentic, yet not over the top.

Having the ability to understand who you are is analogous to having a solid home foundation. In the absence of having a strong one, everything else placed on top isn’t going to be supported as well, and this is a contributing factor which impacts many other areas in a person’s development. One of them is confidence. However, in my opinion, the most important one is having a clear and supportive awareness of truly who you are as an individual.

Independent of someone’s age, when people are in the process of discovering who they truly are, and given a language to support describing themselves, this is when I have seen incredible transformations in the person. This may seem like a simple process. It’s not. It takes time and requires the individual to be openminded to accepting truly who they are first. If there is resistance to this process, it will take much longer to achieve getting to the goal of having full awareness of who you are. Both as a person and how you are perceived by others.

Interestingly, I find that many people are surprised by how others perceive them. This partially has to do with the fact they do not have a full command themselves of their own self-awareness. In the absence of having this, it can lead to complications an individual will have in several different areas. One of them is the ease at which a person can comfortably interact with others. This includes being able to have productive and informal conversations with people. Sometimes the informal conversations are just as important as the productive ones, as they each contribute to developing the relationship you are having with that person.

On the theme of relationships, this is another area which is impacted by someone’s lack of self-awareness. Particularly the level of achievement which your relationships will be able to attain.  When someone is struggling with their awareness level, it will certainly impact how deep their personal and professional relationships will be. If someone who is in a leadership role is lacking self-awareness, this is going to severely also impact their ability to lead others. Namely because if a leader isn’t fully aware and in commend of who they are, realistically how are they authentically going to be able to impact others positively and productively? Yes, this is a rhetorical question, but one worthy of noting, as sometimes what seems so obvious can benefit from having the spotlight on it.

Having a spotlight on something can accomplish a few things. The first thing it does is to highlight either something strong, or an area that needs improvement. When an area needs improvement and is highlighted, it supports the theory or expression of the “squeaky wheel”. A “squeaky wheel” is more apt to get attention, and ideally action applied towards positively addressing it.

Since we realistically should know ourselves better than others, why is it that many people find it easier to answer the question about how others perceive who they are, versus having to describe themselves? I always find this to be fascinating. Often so do the people who are initially attempting to describe who they are, but then find it much easier to describe how others perceive them. However, a person’s perception of how others would describe them might in fact not be realistic, but there are generally hints with these descriptions about who they might like to be. Or, have others perceive them that way.

If you are or know someone who is struggling with articulating who they are, and who could benefit from having a heightened self-awareness level, here are some suggestions to offer support in this area.

  • Are you nervous about having others truly knowing who you are? Come up with a list of reasons you are nervous about this. Are they realistic? Or is your confidence level interfering with being able to allow you to embrace who you are?
  • Do you often feel like you must be someone else around others? Do you find this to be exhausting? Would you agree it would be much easier to be always yourself?
  • Have you made any prior attempts at truly understanding who you are, with the goal of being able to become more comfortable with who you are? Ultimately being able to communicate who you are to others when it would be beneficial to do so?
  • On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, how defensive do you become when you are asked to describe yourself to others? 
  • What have you done recently to invest in yourself? This applies to any area of your life (e.g., educationally, physically, etc.). If you haven’t made any investments, and they don’t have to be monetary ones, they could be time based, ask yourself why you haven’t done this?
  • What reasons do you have for not being comfortable with your own self-awareness? Write them down. Then see if any of the responses could be placed into a few different categories, or if you are seeing any patterns to your responses (e.g., I am overly critical of myself).
  • Think about how you could benefit from having an increased self-awareness level. Perhaps this isn’t something you have thought about before. If you haven’t, this is a great exercise you can benefit from to begin the process of investing in yourself, and which will positively impact many other areas in your life.
  • Consider who you could ask to help you with developing your self-awareness.

A common thread I see in the most successful and happy people (e.g., leaders and sports coaches) is that they have a full command of their self-awareness. Doing so provides them with the gift of being able to share their abilities confidently and authentically with others, who will benefit enormously from them in multiple areas.

TAGS: #Selfawareness #Doyouknowwhoyouare #Leadership #Sportscoach #Leader #Leaders #Communication #Motivation #Personaldevelopment #Success #Teams #Teamdynamics #Business #Sports #Confidence #Careeradvice #Management #Mindset #Sportsteams #Businessteams #Corporateteams #Perception #Strategy

Are you getting what you need from your conversation?

I was recently having a discussion with someone who inspires me. We were talking about how important it is conversationally to focus on making sure certain ones are productive. Realistically not all of them are, and that’s okay. However, there are going to be ones which you should be paying a higher level of attention to.

During this conversation, the person shared with me a technique which supports making sure the end result of the discussion can be mutually beneficial. It’s a relatively simple suggestion, and one that I can’t wait to “test drive”. The technique involves pausing during your conversation and asking the person you are speaking with if they are deriving what they need from their side? You might think they are, but as we know, conversations can sometimes veer off into unintended places, which may not result in the desired outcome.

Being able to ask the simple question to determine if the person you are speaking with is receiving the information they were asking you about, or conversely if you were sharing information with them that is helpful, can take your conversations to a new level of communication. Who doesn’t want that? Particularly if you are seeking advice or clarity on a topic.

If you were to ask others how they would rate themselves in terms of being a strong communicator, you might be surprised by their response. What you will find is that some people are not aware of their communication level, style, or that perhaps there is room for improvement in this area. Why? Namely because although communicating with others is something we are all accustomed to doing, doesn’t guarantee we have mastered being proficient in this area. Although mistakenly people will assume that many leaders or sports coaches are at a higher level then perhaps the reality of where they are.

When someone is at a lower level of communication than they are aware of, this presents challenges for both the person, and everyone they are communicating with. Interestingly, although someone might think they are a strong communicator, their lack of awareness is going to at some point begin to surface other issues for them. The most difficult part of this scenario is that often, and ultimately someone is going to have to bring this communication deficit to a leader or sports coaches’ attention. Doing so will require diplomacy and being prepared for the person to be defensive about hearing what is being stated.

Chances are also good that the initial conversation suggesting to someone they should consider working on improving their communication style is going to take the person some time to process and accept hearing this. However, once they get past having time to process what they have heard, and if they understand there will be significant benefit to them improving in this area, that’s when they can begin to move towards increasing their communication ability.

Now you might be thinking, who will help the person who has a communication deficit? Realistically they will need to embrace having an appreciation for how their current style may not be ideally working for them. One way to do this is to have the person start to listen more than they are speaking during all their conversations. They can also have a list of open-ended questions they can ask in multiple scenarios which will provide them with an opportunity to listen more and come up with additional questions based on the response to listen further.

A typical conversational challenge I have noticed with leaders is that they tend to launch into sharing a significant amount of information with others, but do not allow the other party to equally reciprocate. This can be quite frustrating for the listener, as they will be made to feel like conversations are too often one sided. Potentially that they are not given a chance to voice what they may want to convey. Sure, the listener gains lots of information from these conversations, but realistically, is it always beneficial to them?

If you are looking for some other suggestions on how to gain more value from your conversations, here are some ideas you can consider.

  • Prior to having a conversation, consider what you want the outcome of it to be.
  • During conversations with others, pay attention to the body language and verbal clues of the person or group you are speaking to (e.g., yawning, looking unengaged, folded arms, looking away or down, minimal, or defensive responses). If you see any negative clues occurring, ask the person or audience if they are deriving value from your discussion. Or, how they could be.
  • What is your energy level when you are speaking with someone? Is it the appropriate level? When your energy level is out of synch with the delivery of your conversation, the conversation may not end up where you want it to.
  • How is your tone of voice when you are in most conversations? Are you aware of whether you should or need to modify your delivery tone?
  • When you are speaking to others, are you attempting to be influential, yet coming across as dictatorial? There can be a subtle difference, and you need to be aware of which style you are trending towards. If you don’t know how you are coming across when you are conveying information, ask someone you implicitly trust, and make sure not to be defensive about what you might hear from them.
  • Are any of your conversations exciting? Or are many of them filled with negativity, or always serious information? Not all of them will be, but there should be a balance of the variety of types you are having. Are there? If not, this should give you additional insight into why and how others are reacting to conversing with you.

By giving both the leader and those they are conversing with a chance to pause during their conversation to consider if the conversation is providing each with what they need, this will ensure that both sides can gain the value they would ideally like to derive from their conversations. Pausing and asking, “Are you getting what you need from this conversation?” will also increase the likelihood that more beneficial discussions are occurring. As we enter a new year, consider factoring this thinking and technique into the next conversation you have. Better yet, I hope you see that the outcome of your conversations is more desirable this year.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Sportscoaches #Sportscoach #Communication #Success #Howtohavebetterconversations #Motivation #Tipsoncommunicating #Bettercommunication #Leadershipcommunicationtips #Teams #Awareness #Selfawareness #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Purpose #Business