Are you a compelling leader?

The word compelling is certainly a positive one, yet there can be varying degrees of how compelling someone might be. It can also be highly subjective in the eyes of the person stating the word, but the word is one you will pay attention to when it is woven into a conversation. Particularly when it is offered in the context of describing a leader.

In my personal experience of both working for, collaborating with and advising leaders, there are a number of characteristics that most of them foundationally have. One of them is a presence that has the effect of commanding your attention. An energy that they exude which is similar to a gravitational pull towards them, and in a positive way. Another characteristic which I have commonly experienced is the person’s ability to articulate information succinctly and in a highly compelling way to what they are saying. Although they may not have earned your trust, you inherently place your trust in them.

Granted there are numerous ways to describe a leader, and you have a gut instinct when you are with someone who is a leader in the making, not everyone who has been appointed as a leader should be one. Unfortunately, there are innumerable examples of these type of leaders, and they often overshadow the leaders who are tremendous ones that don’t get the same level of attention or notoriety. This is often because of the fascination people have with spotlighting people and topics which are less than favorable, and which have a higher level of “shiny object” effect. Consider the mainstream news as a heavy contributor to this phenomenon.

If you are a leader, or potentially on track to be one, have you actually truly stopped to think about whether this is the path you want to be on? I offer this question to have you consider the point at which you either decided to pursue this path, or the time when other people placed you on it.

Let’s start with the assumption you solely decided to pursue being placed onto a leadership path. Of course, not all leadership paths are equal, so I’ll leave the interpretation of what type of leadership path you are on up to you to decide upon. Although you may think that you either want to, or deserve to be on a leadership track, I can assure you that you will have more detractors than supporters of this decision at the onset. Why? Because by nature, people can be skeptical about someones abilities until they have more proof of them being able to accomplish something. However, the conundrum with this thinking is that how can you prove your ability without being given any opportunity to do so?

This is where early leaders who decided they wanted to be on the leadership track were potentially either more creative, or influential. Possibly both in terms of seeking and finding opportunities to gain their leadership experience. Now, consider these people early on in their “training-wheel” leadership roles. I’m certain many of their experiences with their early leadership roles were less than ideal, and I’m fully confident they made many mistakes. With each mistake they made, they either learned from it, were extended forgiveness or continued forward without the benefit of being reflective on the experience. Hold this thought for a moment.

The early leaders who did not take the time to be contemplative of their mistakes, or who do not admit having made any, are not who would be deemed a compelling leader. Why? Because there is a certain level of needing to splice in having a dose of humility and humbleness to being a compelling leader. In the absence of these characteristics, a leader becomes far less compelling as someone you want to trust, or put your greatest efforts into supporting. This might not even be something you are consciously aware of, but when you are, the compelling leader is someone you will do extraordinary work to support.

If you are wondering what other aspects there are to being a compelling leader, or are wondering if someone you work for is one, or one in the making, consider these suggestions to make this determination:

  • Would you proverbially “run through a wall” to support your leader, or would you initially hesitate before doing this?
  • What makes the leader someone you are proud of supporting? If they are simply someone you derive a paycheck from, chances are good they are not a compelling leader.
  • Do you have confidence in your leader’s abilities to make the right decisions which will offer the greatest benefit for the organization or team they lead? At least 95% of the time.
  • How would you rate your leader’s likeability level? You might not support all of their decisions, but can you separate how you feel about their decision making qualities from whether you actually like this person? It’s much easier to support a leader that you like, and this is also one of the compelling characteristics you should look for.
  • Respect is generally earned, although there are plenty of circumstances when you need to grant respect upfront, and then determine whether the leader is compelling enough to sustain the respect they may not have earned, but that is granted to them.
  • Leaders are intended to be followed. If you have any hesitancy about following your leader, chances are good, they do not fall into the category of being a compelling leader.
  • Being a compelling leader and outcome performance may in fact be mutually exclusive. However, when a compelling leader is able to achieve performance factors which are favorable, and consistent, this is a highly desirable combination to look for and achieve. I want to underscore that this is not an individually achieved outcome, and takes many people into consideration to accomplish. A compelling leader will acknowledge this.

Not all compelling leaders will be able to tick off all of the boxes above, and there are certainly numerous other characteristics which contribute to making them one. The point I am emphasizing is that we will always have a need to develop and support compelling leaders, or people who are willing to step into the role of being one. Thank you if you are one currently, or are on your way to being one.

TAGS: #Leadership #Management #Howtobeacompellingleader #Inspiration #Motivation #Awareness #Teams #Sportscoach #CEO #President

Seeing the future. Can you?

About ten years ago I was out in Las Vegas at a technology conference, and one of the events I attended was headlined by someone I was surprised by. It was Sinbad, and he was there to provide both insights and predictions on how our future was shaping up.  Some of his predictions seemed far-fetched, but many of them were plausible.  In fact, the ones that were plausible were the ones I was most captivated by.

Although being able to see and predict what might be happening in the near or long term future, if you had this ability, what if it included both positive and negative information? Could you handle the potential negative outcomes? Or, would knowing this information allow you to potentially prepare to either mitigate the damage in advance, or altogether avoid it?

Now, let’s focus on looking at the positive side to being able to capitalize on being able to see into the future. Perhaps you know someone who has this ability, or possibly this is one of your skills? In reality, the majority of people do not have this ability, but when you come across someone who does, be prepared to have a fascinating conversation. In fact, some of what you might be hearing will either be tantalizing or put you into a state of having to suspend your skepticism to truly pay attention to what they are saying. If you are a good listener, this will be easier for you to do.

When I am in the presence of someone who has the ability to see what I don’t, I have always been thoroughly intrigued by the way they describe what the future looks like. Their descriptions are typically influenced by their level of both life and professional experience, but not always. In fact, I have been most surprised by younger people (e.g., sub 30) who are able to verbally paint a vivid depiction, and provide a highly detailed description of what they see happening ahead of where we are presently. The more questions you ask them about what they are seeing, the more details you will get about how what their predictions are.

Are people who have the ability to see into the future always accurate? Not always, but many of them have an uncanny ability to predict what the proverbial road ahead has in store for us. Upon reflecting back on conversations with the people who have the skills to offer predictive insights into our future, has offered me personally and professionally tremendous advantages. The trick is to pay close attention to what you are hearing, and not make assumptions and twist what you are hearing about to be in your favor. This isn’t always easy to achieve, but I highly recommend you heed this advice.

In terms of whether it is possible for those of us who don’t have the ability to see what lies ahead to help us, how do we know if there are people we interact with that have this skill set? Here are some suggestions to help you to do so.

  • The first step is to ask yourself if you are open-minded enough to allow these type of conversations to occur?
  • Consider some conversations you have had where the person you were speaking with had a completely different approach to how you think. Were you dismissive or intrigued by their thinking? If you were dismissive, it’s possible you were in the presence of someone who has a “futuristic” ability.
  • When you are conversing with someone who has the ability to see into the future, they might seem conversationally as if they spend a great deal of time thinking about what has yet to occur, and appear to be more comfortable with thinking ahead versus living in the moment, and being fully present.
  • A few key phrases that you will regularly hear from someone who has the futuristic thinking tendencies, is “Imagine if this was possible…” and then they venture into telling you about the vision they have which supports this statement.
  • There is a certain contagious energy people with a futuristic ability possess, and they generally have a positive outlook on what they are describing to you.
  • If you think you might have the ability to see into what lies ahead for the rest of us, work on fostering this ability by both verbally, in writing or perhaps both options with the intention of engaging and increasing your talent in this area.
  • For those of you who are leaders or sports coaches, I’m going to highly recommend you seek having someone like this on your team, or in your “trusted advisors group” who has this ability.

As a consummate optimist, I’m always excited when I come across someone who has a futuristic capability, and I’m delighted to share with you that I have the good fortune of knowing quite a few of them in my life. All of whom I treasure, and I hope you either have them in your life too, or will soon.

TAGS: #Future #Futuristic #Optimist #Optimism #Leader #Leaders #Leadership #Sportscoach #Team #Teams #Business #Success #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Trustedadvisor #Openminded

The benefits of losing.

If I have said this once, I have said it hundreds of times. No sports team ever shows up on game day and says, “let’s lose today”. This same sentiment can apply to work scenarios too, albeit there are some additional layers of complications that doesn’t make this statement as simple or straightforward. However, it is applicable. Although in work scenarios, this statement may not be applied one hundred percent of the time, much to the chagrin of those leading the employees.

The comparison between sports teams and work teams is something I truly enjoy doing. Yes, this is partially due to working with both team types, but also because there is so much to learn from both of them. Now toss in the cross-pollination from the learnings, and that’s where everything begins to start to become more interesting.

I chose the word interesting, because I am always pleasantly surprised by how similar sports and work teams are to one another. The obvious common denominator is that people are at the core of both scenarios, and both are led by typically a few leaders. Although where the people comparison differs, is in the age decade that the sports teams are in, compared to work teams. The sports teams age decade is more homogenous and typically all female or male teams, versus the work teams being far more diverse in both categories.

Another interesting comparative difference between the two types of teams is that there are more opportunities for less experienced leaders of sports teams. An exception to this would be that some work teams in the start-up phase, or smaller, family-owned businesses might have less experienced leaders. Are the less experienced leaders at a disadvantage then the more experienced leaders in both categories. Yes, and no. Yes, if they seek counsel from more seasoned leaders, and no, if the less experienced leaders are willing to admit they will likely require more support than they might realize.

Although work and sports teams have different metrics to determine their performance, the sports teams have a more straightforward method of determining their outcome results. Work teams also are generally working on quarterly based results, while sports teams may not all be playing in all four quarters of the year. This also has both advantages and disadvantages. An advantage is that the sports teams comparatively are operating on more of a “sprint” style, versus the work teams who are running marathons. Preparing for both styles is far different, and also comes with a separate mindset approach. One isn’t better or more favorable than the other, they are just different.

Having experienced for most of my career what it is like to be focused on quarterly results, I learned how to pace myself and ramp quickly for results at the beginning of a quarter. Typically, my team would then have to shift into maintaining and then potentially have to figure out a strategy to surge on the performance results in collaboration with the sales teams towards the end of the quarter. Admittedly, there were times that the frantic feeling of having to collaborate extraordinarily well with the sales team was something I enjoyed doing. Although it could also be exhausting and highly stressed induced.

Comparatively, sports teams are in this situation on a game-by-game basis, so their cycle to focus on what it will take to win is different, but also similar. The similarity is that like the work teams, they are extraordinarily dependent on one another to perform at their peak level in every game. We have all seen plenty of examples of some of our favorite college or professional athletes who exhibit being able to perform at a peak level consistently, but this doesn’t apply to everyone on the team. So, can one or two peak performers on both work and sports teams make a difference? Yes, I think they can, but this is where the concept of taking a look at the benefits of losing comes into focus.

As I stated earlier, no one shows up on game day and says, “let’s lose today.” The athletes may think their chance of winning is limited, but most of them are going to put all their energy into having the game outcome be favorable. Ideally with a win, but a tie in some cases will also give them points towards their final season performance numbers. Granted although we can agree that winning can be more desirable, teams can in fact equally benefit from losing. Here are some benefits to a team losing.

  • When a team loses, more emphasis is put into evaluating where were the trouble spots that prevented them from winning, versus a winning team focusing less on this.
  • Losing isn’t satisfying to anyone except the winning team and its fans. However, it can help the losing team to look for opportunities related to how they can work differently and more effectively together.
  • Experiencing adversity can be a great motivator towards change, and if the change is oriented towards being constructive, it can help a team to fuel its team dynamics in a positive way.
  • No matter how stubborn a leader is, eventually if they are consistently experiencing defeat, they will inevitably seek support from others to help them. Or, help will be given to them. Although this doesn’t always mean they will accept the help if the leader is reluctantly having to accept it. Even if it is in their best interest for them and their team.
  • Upon repeated defeats, some leaders will eventually figure out whether they are unselfish enough to admit they don’t have all the answers. This doesn’t always mean they will seek more experienced counsel, but it does offer a glimmer of hope they will admit their leadership approach isn’t working.
  • Although there are teams who have long stretches of losses, at some point, circumstances will change that will have others making decisions for the leader who they have lost confidence in. This doesn’t always happen at a desirable pace for most fans, the athletes, or the support staff of the team, but it will invariably get to this point.
  • The feeling and memory of losing can remain with you longer than the amazing feeling achieved by winning. How a leader and their team handle both aspects can be what separates them from heading towards the path of turning their performance results around, or continuing on the same path. Knowing how to achieve this is critical, with emphasis placed on the word “how”.

Even if you are not a competitive person, most people will agree that winning is far more fun than losing. Although, understanding and appreciating the benefits of losing can be far greater in terms of applying it successfully to other areas of one’s life.

TAGS: #Leaders #Teams #Motivation #Leadership #Business #Winning #Sportsteams #Sportsleaders  #Teamdynamics #Collaboration #Learning #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment

How to make communicating with colleagues or teammates easier to do.

There are clearly some people who have a gift of being able to talk to just about anyone, or about anything. When you experience someone who has this ability, it’s analogous for me to watching ice dancing. I chose this analogy because watching ice dancing at the highest level of performance is incredibly elegant to watch, and the skaters make what they do look so easy. Although we can only imagine how much time and practice it took to get to this level. Especially since they are always one small slip away from potential disaster.

Conversations can be fluid or awkward, and similar to ice dancers, are ripe for potential slip ups. The difference between how the conversations are navigated and the comparison to ice dancers diverges in one area. This area is that the ice dancers are practicing one dance, and most of the variables they will be contending with are stable. However, with conversations, the variables, even with a practiced conversation is where the divergence occurs. This is due to the fact there are so many additional factors which could contribute to making the conversation more difficult than the ice dancing, and which are out of the conversationalist’s control.

An example of a factor which a conversationalist can’t prepare for is someone else’s mood. Or, knowing how the other person’s history on this topic might impact the outcome of it. Another challenge for conversations is the level at which someone is able to converse. If one person is a highly accomplished conversationalist and they are speaking to someone who isn’t, the flow and outcome of the conversation is going to be much different. Now consider two other  factors which will contribute to making the conversation more challenging.

The first factor has to do with hierarchy (e.g., work or sports team), and where each person in the conversation stands in this part of the equation. In this conversation scenario, the lower hierarchy person may not feel that they are able to say truly what they want to express. Perhaps out of respect, but also potentially out of fear of saying something which will lead to them losing opportunities for advancement, or worse, their role on a team or in the organization. Yes, these are extremes, but they are legitimate concerns people have when they are not equals in a conversation.

The second factor has to do with influence. Although logically you would think that in a hierarchical conversation that the higher-level person might have the advantage, this isn’t always true. In fact, it might be that the junior conversationalist has a higher ability to be more influential in their conversation style. If they do, this will provide them with an interesting advantage. An advantage that can offer them the skillset to have a stronger conversation flow and outcome which results in them obtaining either agreement. Or, the results of what they were seeking to have the conversation accomplish.  

Being able to maintain the right emotional level during a conversation is also key, but not easy to achieve. Especially if the topic is highly emotionally charged. Managing through an emotional conversation is never easy, yet it’s one that everyone both personally and professionally needs to be able to navigate through. The key in successfully getting through this type of conversation is to be honest and let the other person know you may be emotional during it. By preparing the person you will be speaking with that this isn’t going to be a neutral conversation, each of you will be able to let down your guard to have a more open discussion.

I’m not in HR, but I recently read a statistic from the HR Review. It noted that 48% of Millennials reported they are having a hard time communicating with colleagues. Reading this stat was what prompted me to consider both reasons why this was occurring, but more importantly, to offer some potential solutions to consider addressing this difficulty. Below are some of my ideas to help making communicating with colleagues, or your teammates less difficult.

  • Do you have some standard questions you can ask your colleague or teammate to open up the conversation? These of course would come after you genuinely asked them about how they are doing, and you carefully listened to what they said, and then responded accordingly. Most people will say they are doing “fine”, but occasionally they will tell you they are having a tough day.
  • If you are tripped up by not knowing what standard questions to ask, a few of them might be to inquire about how their day is, or how their weekend went. You could also ask them if they are working on anything interesting right now, or working on improving some aspect of what they do professionally. Another question which you can ask is “What advice they have for maintaining the energy level they do?“ This question will likely throw them off, but in a good way. Why? Because it is intended to be both a compliment, and provides them with an opportunity to share something more personal about themselves which each of you can benefit from.
  • Even if you don’t sense your colleague or teammate needs any help in their role, ask them if there is some aspect of what they do that they wish they could spend more time on, or have a higher level of support on? Listen carefully to their response, as there might be something they share with you that potentially you can help them with, or know someone who can.
  • One of my favorite questions to ask anyone is what travel plans they have? If they don’t have any, you can ask them where they might like to travel some day? This will open up an opportunity to proceed with asking numerous follow-up questions relating to why they chose to travel to where they did? What did they like about where they went? What did they learn from their travel to that location? Would they recommend going there? What would they do differently relating to that trip if they were to go back?
  • Another way of easing into conversations is to make sure your question is open-ended. In other words, don’t ask questions which can be responded to with one word.
  • Seeking to find out what you have in common with someone is always an ideal way to easily have a conversation with them. Since so many people have pets, find out if your colleague or teammate has a pet. Perhaps they don’t have one now, but maybe they did, or perhaps they are researching to find out which pet they would like to add to their life? If you have a pet, you can also talk about the various aspects relating to your pet.

Ideally and easily being able to communicate with someone has to do with being open minded enough to find topics of conversation you can talk about with ease. Or, that are neutral enough so that even if you have nothing in common, there are plenty of topics that you both will have an opinion on. Being a strong conversationalist, like my analogy to professional ice dancing takes practice for the majority of people to master. So be kind to yourself as you begin the journey of learning how to communicate with ease. You’ll get there.

TAGS: #Communication #Business #Strategy #Howtocommunicatebetter #Teams #Colleagues #Teammates #Motivation #Conversationalists #Tipsonhowtocommunicatewithothers #HR #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Management #Success #Millennials #Leadership

Who are you? A simple, yet complex question.

When we are very young, it’s not uncommon to either have someone express to you what they think you will or should be doing professionally when you grow up. Perhaps you also had your own ideas of what that might include? Chances are also good, that what you thought you might want to do when you became an adult may have been absent of considering monetary factors.

In fact, when you were young and thinking about what you might like to “do” when you become an adult, it likely may have appeared to be slightly whimsical? Possibly even fun or exciting to think about the reality of being in that line of work. Some of the more traditional career options were potentially ones you thought about, and I’m going to venture to guess that your choice or choices had very little to do with concerning yourself about whether it would be a logical choice.

For a moment, suspend the idea of applying logic to a decision, and purely think about the emotional aspect of your thoughts. When you do this, you are far more likely to authentically tap into considering doing something that would make you happy. Perhaps even feel fulfilled, but when you are very young and thinking about potential career options, the beauty of this is that there are aspects of making these considerations which you were not second guessing, or heavily influenced by. Sure, there will be some exceptions, but do you remember the first time you told someone you wanted to do “fill-in-the-blank” when you grow up?

Personally, I distinctly recall telling someone what I wanted to do, and it was to design interiors. Specifically, campers or boats. For a point of reference, I didn’t have either of these items in reality, but I did have a version of these items in a toy format (e.g., my Barbie camper, and a small toy plastic boat). I would routinely take the boat to the beach and float it in the ocean and tidal pools, but I would leave the camper at home so it didn’t get sandy. I was fascinated with the possibilities of thinking about how much fun it would be to design the interiors of smaller spaces not traditionally used as a permanent home.

Now the question you might be asking yourself is why didn’t I pursue becoming an interior designer or architect? I actually did consider this when it was the right time to do so, but since math wasn’t a strong suit of mine at the time, this factor alone prevented me from pursuing this option. However, this isn’t where this part of the story ends, and in fact it is a great jumping off point to orient back to understanding who you are.

About ten years ago I had an experience which changed and provided me with an opportunity to re-think the question of who am I, what am I good at, and what do I want to do next? In reality, this is a lot to consider, and it takes both patience and persistence to pursue figuring out and determining an answer to this question. Yet, that’s exactly what I did. The best news is that I can precisely, confidently and credibly answer the question of “who I am” when someone asks me this question. Are you ready or willing to be able to do the same thing?

Before I proceed, I want to comment that I am I’m always surprised by how many people are hesitant to take the time to explore and navigate understanding who they are, what motivates them, what makes them happy and how do they want to apply their skills in a meaningful and purposeful way. Is this you, or someone else you know?

If you would like some tips to apply or share, below are some ideas I have for you to get started on helping you to be able to sort out who you are, or perhaps on your way to becoming.

  • Make a list of things that make you happy that you have control over applying to your life, and a list of things that diminish making you happy. From the second part of the list, what can you do to either reduce or eliminate that item?
  • Are there people in your life that contribute to enhancing or detracting from it? Is it possible to prune out the people who are not enhancing your life? Are you prepared to do this soon or now?
  • Can you credibly answer the question that you are 100% certain you know and can tell another person who you truly are? More importantly, do you know why, or can you factually back up why you are who you say you are?
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how important is it for you to be able to articulate, appreciate and understand who you are? If this is important to you, yet you haven’t done anything to support being able to both understand and explain to yourself or others who you are, are you willing to put effort into accomplishing this?
  • Looking forward, what can you do today to propel yourself towards being in a better place from a mental health perspective. No one is immune from improving this area of their life.
  • If you were to be interviewed with the purpose of aligning who you are, with opportunities in your life that would align well with who you are, how would you describe yourself?
  • Is it possible for you to help someone else describe or understand better who they are? When you can you offer to help them with this exercise? Helping someone else, might help you to get started sorting this out.

Understanding thoroughly who we are, what we are good at, what motivates us and makes us happy is something I wish everyone will be able to achieve in their life. As someone who has mastered this exercise of self-awareness myself, I can assure you it is one of the best and most empowering and liberating gifts you can give to yourself.

TAGS: #Selfawareness #Personaldevelopment #Confidence #Empowerment #Leadership #Business #Motivation #Helpingothers #Whoareyou #Understandingwhoyouare