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

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

Keep showing up. Even if it’s that last thing you want to do.

Without exception, I’m certain if you are reading this article now, you have experienced a time when you didn’t want to be where you were. Or, didn’t feel as if you could bring yourself to show up or that you couldn’t imagine one more day doing what you were going to do. This applies to both work and life scenarios, and both provide built-in opportunities to encourage you to hang in there. Sometimes for other people who are depending on you to do so.

We all have days, or sometimes longer periods of time when we are either re-evaluating our decisions or confused by them. Sometimes when we are in professional or personal scenarios that don’t appear to be in our favor, we question how did we end up here? You may not be able to pinpoint the time when your situation began to go in a different direction, as sometimes there is a subtle shift which makes it difficult to recognize. However, at some point you do realize that you are no longer where you want to be personally or professionally. This can either be cause for concern, or a wakeup call that you need to be doing something different.

Professionally I am always impressed by people who have what I’ll refer to as stamina. Stamina which seemingly allows them to remain in careers or on team’s which don’t outwardly appear to be working for them. Perhaps it is easier for others to see this, or potentially the person themselves is hitting the “ignore” button. Or, realistically, they may not feel as if they have a choice. Feeling like you don’t have a choice is a difficult place to be, and I’ve been there.

I remember the first time I wanted to quit a sports team I was on. My reasons for quitting had nothing to do with the other people on the team. I wanted to leave the team because I didn’t think I was able to significantly contribute to it based on my skills at that point in time. I was new to the sport, and it felt like everyone else was miles ahead of me.

On the day when I had made up my mind to leave the team, a funny thing happened. It was on this day that my coach approached me and told me he was really impressed with how hard I had been working to improve my skills on the field. For reference, the sport was soccer. I was shocked to hear him tell me this, as I internally was thinking I wasn’t progressing, and was dragging the team down. Hearing this changed my decision to remain on the team, and it made me work even harder so I could contribute and add more value to the team.

The lesson I learned from hearing just one dose of positive encouragement changed how I began looking at other choices I would later be confronting. Namely when I was working in corporate America. The industry I ventured into wasn’t my first choice to pursue, and I have often regretted having made the choice to remain in it for as long as I did. Although I was very skilled at what I did professionally, I always felt a bit like a fraud. Mainly due to the fact I felt like I had to outwardly appear as if I was passionate about the work I was doing, while in reality, I felt like my soul was slowly being chipped away at on a daily basis. When I finally reached a point when I could no longer tolerate this feeling, I made the decision not to quit, but to change the trajectory of where I was heading. It was one of the best decisions I have made in decades.

Making the decision to pivot and change the trajectory of where I was going to take my professional skills didn’t happen overnight. I also took the time to realize and appreciate that had I not endured decades of doing something well that I didn’t enjoy, there were aspects of what I did that I loved. What I realized I loved doing was developing people, and the team’s I was responsible for leading. Although developing others wasn’t always in the job description for my roles, being responsible for leading others was, and I took this very seriously.

As I began to transition into my new career, I was aware of the fact there were going to be people who didn’t agree with what I would be doing. Knowing this fueled my desire to succeed, and to demonstrate I could in fact also be successful going in a completely different direction. One that I felt was in much better alignment with my innate skills. Skills which I could finally leverage daily, and which allowed me to shine, and simultaneously help others to do too.

One unexpected yet hopeful outcome from my career transition, is I have found there is nothing better or more motivating than hearing from someone that they are happy I chose to pursue the type of work I am doing now. I’m also able to admit that I am finally proud of the work I have embraced pursuing.

Thinking back to the day I almost quit the soccer team I was on, but had my mind changed by a single comment from my coach, I realized the parallel comparison in that experience with the one I am professionally having now. The best part is I can authentically share with you that I am thrilled to show up to work every day, and that I am driven to become even more skilled and better at what I do. The best part for me personally in stating this, is that my top goal is in strong alignment with my top talent (e.g., Positivity). It’s because of this realized and applied alignment, that I have been able to focus and channel this talent towards having a widespread positive impact on others professionally. Yet, I couldn’t have imagined being able to do this just a decade ago.

If you are in a situation where you need some inspiration to keep pursuing what you are doing professionally, or potentially consider other options, below are some suggestions I have to offer.

  • Independent of what you have heard or think, you always have options. You might need support from a friend, mentor, or trusted advisor to help you to recognize what they are, so make sure you explore them.
  • There is no such thing as perfection. For those who are in constant pursuit of this, they will more often than not be disappointed themselves and by others until they realize that sometimes it is the imperfections in any given scenario that can make a job, team you are on an acceptable option for a short-term time period.
  • Often the most difficult challenges we will encounter are going to be the ones which will allow us to grow and progress towards the next level of where we want to be. Take time to gain perspective on which challenges you have encountered and grown from, and which ones you may be avoiding, or do not have access to experiencing yet, and which not having them, will prevent you from future growth.
  • Sure, everyone would love to have more stress-free days professionally or personally, but as the saying goes “we can’t appreciate the sunny days as much without the dreary and rainy days”. Experiencing less stress can generally be helpful, but at the same time, consider that a small amount of it can also fuel you to remain in pursuit and achievement of your goals.
  • There is another saying, “half the battle is just showing up.” Sometimes this is perfectly true, and often, the situation you are dreading going into, is much less dreadful than you make it out to be in your mind. Keep this in perspective.
  • If you find yourself in a professional situation or on a work or sports team that you don’t want to be on, please spare the others from your negative emotions and verbal statements about not wanting to be there. No one wants to hear this, and the more they do, the more it will have an adverse impact on both of you, those that you work with, lead, or interact with.

Some people appear to be more dramatic than others in terms of expressing their negative sentiments. Remember to leave the drama up to the professionals in the theatre profession, as this will serve everyone much better, and no one wants to be around a drama queen or king.

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #Business #Sports #Sportscoach #Motivation #Communication #Teamdynamics #Management #Organizationalbehavior #Professionaldevelopment #Personaldevelopment #dontquit #Perseverance

Growing and developing via adversity.

Growth and development are essential, but we know that experiencing this is often difficult. Sometimes painful, especially when you toss in the additional factor of dealing with adversity too. Is there an optimal approach to getting this right?

I’m not sure about you, but there are days I feel like during some conversations I’m living in the movie Ground Hog Day. If you are not familiar with this movie, it stars Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. The context of the movie is that each day is on repeat from one single day in time…Ground Hog Day. The reason I’m drawing this comparison, is because so many people appear to need support with better appreciating how they will absolutely need to put in more effort into their growth and development. Hint. Sometimes it’s not much fun to do this, but it is almost always worth it.

To set expectations, it will be necessary to go beyond the limits of where someone feels comfortable in order to experience growth. This applies to both a workforce team, as well as a sports team’s growth. If either of these team’s do not have a growth mindset, their performance outcomes are not going to deliver the results they are hoping for. In my experience, I have seen people have more growth during adversarial times. This isn’t to say it is impossible to have growth occur which is strategically planned out, and this is a preferable option. However, the reality is most development professionally and personally occurs during times of adversity.

As I was reflecting on this topic, I thought of a comment another leader I was speaking to recently made. They told me that their job is to be in charge of the “background music and atmosphere”. In other words, they were the person who was responsible for contributing to setting the vibe and base culture of their organization. They were also the leader of the organization. I loved hearing this analogy, as it made instant sense to me. I also started thinking about whether there perhaps is a song that is representative of setting this mood, but of course in reality there isn’t just one. It’s more of a feeling you get when you think of the organization. Of course, a good one.

This past week was a tough one for both me, as well as one of the team’s I am working with. They are going through a difficult transition period in the middle of their season. This would be equivalent to a mid-quarter transition if this was a workforce team. Most of us have experienced either an unplanned or anticipated transition, but independent of this, it doesn’t always make it easy to go through it.

If the transition is unplanned, there are both pros and cons to this scenario. Some of the cons are that you don’t know what to expect the potential outcome will be, and this can be from a lack of experience to know what the options could be. Another con is that the impact on the transition may not be in your favor, but then again, it might be. A pro to this scenario is that you will be learning from it. Perhaps not right away, as you will likely need time and perspective to be in your favor to do so. The other pro from an unplanned transition is that you will ultimately learn something either about yourself, your leader or your teammates. Perhaps all three categories. When you learn something about yourself, this is when growth occurs, and ideally, it enables you to take your experience with the scenario to the next level.

Upon speaking with individuals on the team about the transition they were going through, the emotion level was in some cases on red alert. Half the team was on the defense as we talked about how they are either negatively or positively contributing to the transition which the team was experiencing. There were some people during these conversations who were quite surprised by what we were talking about, and some of them were visibly not happy about segments of it. Perhaps they felt they were being verbally attacked, but this wasn’t the intent. The intent was to do what I often refer to “holding a mirror” in front of someone. However, this is done so you can verbally show and share with them how they are being viewed based on their body language actions and verbal contributions. Or, lack of them when they were being observed.

During one of the conversations, I shared with the person my own experience with having the first of a number of these conversations when I was on the receiving end early during my career. To say I elegantly processed the first of these conversations wouldn’t be accurate, as I didn’t know quite how to respond to what I was being told was constructive feedback. Actually, only some of it was, but it was the delivery method that left a lot to be desired. The result of having numerous of these experiences over the last several decades, has shaped how I would one day be in the reverse scenario. In a leadership role. I would also learn to deliver and handle very similar conversations dramatically differently. Yes, I learned and grew from this experience, and this was the goal for me. Was it difficult and hard to do? It truthfully was, but I know it helped me to become a better future leader at that time.

If you are looking for suggestions on what you, or others you lead can do to increase your opportunities for growth and development, especially during adversity, I have included them for you below:

  • Always trust your instinct. However, if you feel compelled to get a second opinion, I encourage you to do so.
  • Work on containing your emotions during critical conversations or scenarios. I’m not suggesting you act like someone else, but I am recommending you think about how you could come across more neutrally. This applies to both delivering and receiving information during a conversation or brief verbal interaction.
  • We don’t always have the right perspective, particularly in emotionally charged situations. When possible, take time to decompress before engaging with another person or the team you lead before you act and speak more based on emotion than logic. Sometimes a mix of both can work, but it’s an advanced communication and leadership skill that will take serious practice.
  • It’s possible you will have to come to terms with the fact that there are people you interact with, or lead, that are perfectly happy and even comfortable with their lack of growth. This may be hard to imagine, and depending on what role they serve, this may or may not be acceptable. If your team is growth minded, you will need to determine if it is possible for the individual in question to change. Or, not.
  • Excuses are easy to come up with to avoid doing something. What if you stripped away all of the excuses you could think of, and committed to the unknown, and ventured into being open to growing and developing as a person or professionally. This would be independent of the outcome and whether or not you are currently in a leadership role.
  • If you seriously want to develop and grow, you will need to understand that you are going to have to move potentially way outside of your comfort zone to do so.

There may never be a perfect time to experience growth, but if this is something you seriously want to accomplish, you know the saying… “there is no time like the present to do so.” Go make this happen. Especially during times of adversity.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Business #Strategy #Communication #Teams #Sports #Sportsteam #Sportscoach #Motivation #Awareness #Professionalgrowthtips