Getting ahead. What does this take?

Are the proverbial goal posts for achievement in a constant state of being redefined? They potentially are, which makes it much more difficult to determine what it can or will take to attain achievement. Achievement in terms of being able to move up to the next level in a variety of different categories associated with both work and sports.

Upon listening to a recent conversation about how different generations define what it takes to get ahead in the workforce, one generation was implying you needed to basically be “on-call” and respond to communications 24-7. This included doing this during your official vacation time, with no exceptions to this thinking. The other generation wasn’t buying into having to always be available to get ahead and thought this was an unhealthy practice. Also, one they were not going to be subscribing to get ahead.

What was interesting about the generation that thinks you need to always be available, is that they couldn’t seem to wrap their minds about considering a different approach. Their method of always being in constant communication had seemingly gotten them to where they wanted to be from a career attainment level, but is this method sustainable? It seems like a solid recipe for overwhelm, burnout at some point, or resentment. Then what?

The generation who looks at what it takes to get ahead without continuous communication access has an interesting outlook. One that appears to be a healthier approach from many levels. Although arguably this hasn’t been completely time tested yet, as the generation which thinks this way doesn’t have enough experience or attainment in higher level roles to fully play out the outcome from their approach. However, I see strong merit in their thinking, despite the fact there may be some fundamental flaws. Flaws which could be modified to ensure a higher level of success for their model. This accounts for considering that extremes of any type are typically not always ending favorably.

When a person is in a scenario when they feel obligated to be responding to others continuously, it can quickly put them into a state of hyper reactiveness. I’m not a medical expert, but as a human, I know that maintaining being in reaction mode is exhausting. I also know that when a human is exhausted, they tend not to make the best decisions. So, if someone is in a leadership role and they are exhausted and making poor decisions, who benefits from this outcome? That would be no one.

We know there are a variety of different leadership styles, and some are more suitable and sustainable than others. Whether you are intentional about selecting your leadership style, or mimicking one or multiple ones you have seen is in general how most leaders end up with their style. If they are fortunate to have witnessed a variety of leadership styles, they are better oriented towards being able to pick and choose the best attributes. Optimistically thinking, they are also able to recognize the less desirable attributes and not adopt them into their style.

Although, like habits, leadership styles can be either further enhanced or modified or broken if they are not serving the leader well. This is typically accomplished with support, with the first step of the leader recognizing an aspect of their style may not be working well for them or those they are leading.

Circling back to the aspect of unspoken and unwritten rules to get ahead, do they really exist? In my opinion, they do, but they are more difficult to fully know what they are, and who is monitoring which ones are still in play. Especially since there are vast generational differences about which of the “rules” are being followed, embraced, or dismissed. Since there appears to be a disparity in terms of which “game of rules” is out there which is loosely structured to define someone’s ability to succeed or to get to the next level, below are some suggestions to consider how to make this arbitrary set of rules become more understandable.

  • Depending on what type of work or level of sport you are in, the rules for what it takes to get ahead will vary. What complicates this is the arbitrary nature of defining if the rules for one person’s level of achievement will apply to anyone else. Some of the aspects will, but you will need to consider which ones have more perceived value within the organization.
  • Metrics can be helpful to define achievement but achieving them does not guarantee you will be a strong leader, or able to apply your ability to achieve as an individual and then shift these same achievement tactics to leading others. Often the individual achievement metrics are different from the metrics a leader will be measured by. For example, this is why you often see a top salesperson being elevated to the level of sales leader, but their success as an individual contributor does not offer any guarantee they will have the same level of success leading others.
  • What’s your end game on achievement, and what are you willing to sacrifice to get there? What if you don’t make it? Will it really be worth it?
  • Working on increasing your emotional intelligence is one of the categories just about everyone can benefit from. Look for opportunities to flex and build this skill whenever possible. It will serve you very well to increase your ability from an achievement perspective.
  • Communicating effectively is a skill that can always be enhanced. The good news is that there are a variety of communication types (e.g., written, spoken, non-verbal and visual), and you don’t have to master all of them. Although working towards mastering one will be in your favor. Mastering two will be a bonus.
  • Manners. Yes, manners and treating others well will work in your favor and will allow others to favor you over other people who do not treat them well or are dismissive and are stingy with basic words such as “please” and “thank you”.
  • Having a willingness to help others, have and being open mind and unselfish while considering others will serve both future leaders and future head sports coaches well. People notice these behaviors, but don’t always comment on them, and are possibly keeping a mental score on whether you are participating favorably in these areas, or not.

If you have a willingness to achieve and to get ahead based on what your personal definition of this means, I’m sure you will get to where you want to be. I’m also hopeful that you will take into consideration also striking a balance towards both your personal and professional life, as I noted earlier that extremes tend not to serve anyone well.

TAGS: #Leader #Leadership #Leadershiptips #Communication #Success #Management #Professionaldevelopment #Motivation #Teams #Sports #Sportscoach #Teamdynamics #Awareness #Sales

The impact of when you are late.

This may not come as a surprise to people who know me, but there are not many things that bother me, but one of them is when people are late. I was taught that unless you are at least five minutes early to a time commitment, you are late. This was further supported as a concept when I began playing sports, as there were consequences if you were not on time. Ones I didn’t want to experience, so this positively reinforced my commitment to being early. 

When I began my corporate career, I was almost always the first one to the office. Perhaps because I liked the cadence of starting the day on my own terms, and the quiet and peaceful nature when you are the only one in a location. Being early also gave me time to be reflective, and to also plan my day strategically versus having others fully commanding my schedule. Yes, some of my schedule was driven by others who needed my participation in meetings, or to provide them with leadership support, but the concept of being early to the office launched my day well and I felt much more productive. 

Time management as a concept appears to be straight forward, and one of the aspects of it involves being on time. So, why do many people appear to be challenged with time management? Is it that they were not taught how to plan and maximize their time? Or perhaps it is because they are not aware of how long certain projects or commitments will realistically take, so this causes them to be late. Potentially some people are simply unaware of time. Which makes them come across to others as being cavalier and carefree about how they go about their day. Yes, this may be a choice, but a choice which will in my opinion be disrespectful of other people’s time. 

We always have a choice when it comes to making decisions, and this includes the decision about whether you prefer to be known as someone who is on time, or always late. For those of you who are consistently late, I’m curious about what you are thinking. Are you aware of how being late impacts other people? Do you realize the effort they put into and the respect they have for your time, resulting in them being on time? Do you care about the impact you have on another person or a group of people when you are late? Has anyone ever called you out on this? If they did, what impact did it have on you, and did you consider the reasons why you are consistently late? 

Let’s look at being late from a different perspective. If you were meeting with someone you deemed to be very important, or if you were going to be given a large sum of money or something else enticing to you, would you be late? Probably not, but what if there was a consequence to being late in these scenarios? The important person becomes unavailable to meet with you, and the money or enticing thing is no longer available to you. How would you react in either of these scenarios? Are several hypothetical, but potentially probable examples going to impact your time management, or address your consistent lateness? Not likely, so what will? 

If you are a leader a sports coach or know someone who is consistently late and you want to help them to address this matter, below are some suggestions you can pass along to them for consideration. Potentially eye-opening ones in terms of recognizing how their lateness is viewed by others, and the negative impact it has on them and others. 

  • From a manner’s perspective, being late is rude.
  • Being late is disrespectful of other people and indirectly signals you do not value their time as much as you value your own time. 
  • Consider why you are consistently late? What can you do to alter this behavior?
  • If you are consistently late, does it matter to you the perception others have of you for being this way? Hint: It’s not favorable. In fact, it could cost you from being promoted and considered for leadership opportunities.
  • Challenge yourself to be more aware of how you are investing your time, and how you are scheduling your day. 
  • Being late is a bad habit. What can you do to change this behavior? The first thing is to acknowledge this is an issue. 
  • For meetings, schedule them with a 10-15 minute buffer in time so you be early or on time to your next meeting. 
  • Many highly successful people are either early or on time to their commitments.
  • Practice being on time. Even better, being early to all, yes, all of your time commitments. 
  • See if people notice when you are on time, or early, and what the impact this has on both you and them. I promise you it will be more favorable. 

Being respectful of both your own time and others may seem like a small matter, but when you don’t it sends negative signals to others and will seriously negatively impact the perception others have of you and your “brand”. If your reputation and image is even minorly important to you, and if you want to show respect for others and their time and the value they have in your life, please be either early or on time. I know you can do this, and others you interact with will look forward to seeing the positive impact this will have on you. 

TAGS:  #Leadership #Leader #Sportscoach #Business #Management #Respect #Successtips #Awareness #Timemanagement #Teams #Teamdynamics #Strategy #Motivation

Mean girls…mean women. Didn’t they get the memo?

Yes, I’m charged up about this topic, because I’m tired of hearing about it, and even more exasperated by the fact the now “mean women” are persisting to behave in such an abhorrent manor. Especially towards women. What’s worse is that some men don’t even notice their behavior. Why don’t they? Because these women have mastered the art of behaving entirely differently around men…much nicer, and not that way towards many if not all of the women they interact with. Is this an accusation that is too harsh? Perhaps, but unfortunately in many instances it is a valid one.

I consider myself to be fortunate, as I’ve seen this behavior, but I haven’t had to contend with it regularly. You might wonder is this a generational “thing”? No, it’s not, as I have seen the “mean woman” behavior exhibited across multiple decades. Did I ever imagine this would persist? Well, I had hoped by the time I got to the decade I’m in that it might have either been resolved or been less problematic.

One thing I pride myself in is not being a hypocrite. I have never been a “mean girl”. Just the opposite, and I consider myself to serve as a role model for how to act nicely and well when I’m interacting with other women. A phrase that consistently pops into my mind is one I would routinely hear from my mom. She would say, “if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Another phrase she would regularly say is “think about complimenting someone before you criticize them.” During my life I have leveraged these two phrases consistently, and I have also passed them along to all the women in my life I have led and interacted with.

The question should be asked “why do women treat other women poorly?” Notably in the workforce or on a sports team? There are a variety of answers, and the first one I’ll tell you about why they do is out of a lack of confidence in themselves. They act in a negative way against other women to make themselves feel better, or more confident. Yes, this might seem counterintuitive, and it is. What’s worse is that it’s a temporary feeling, so it becomes a persistent behavior pattern. Self-serving, but not in a way that will solve the core issue relating to them understanding why their confidence level is low.

Another reason some women act in a disgraceful manner towards other women is because they feel threatened by them usurping attention from them. Attention coming mainly from men, but occasionally from other women too. When they are acting this way, they may or may not be aware of the fact other women are seeing through what they are attempting to achieve, and typically at another women’s expense. Meanwhile, most men are unaware of this happening, because they are only noticing the attention from the women being directed at them. Usually positive attention, so the men are not necessarily going to do anything to prevent this from happening. Even if they might slightly be aware this attention is negatively impacting another woman. In fact, the more attention that is lavished, and which results in a favorable outcome for the women, the more they will persist in this type of behavior. Namely because no one is shutting it down, and both parties appear to be getting what they want. However, at what expense?

Some women will act poorly to other women, and act well or favorably towards men because they think this is the way for them to fit in. Perhaps to also gain more control, leverage, or to increase their leadership standing. Again, this could temporarily present why these actions are occurring, but it’s not a long term or successful strategy. Why not? Because at some point, the mean women will have to sort out how to interact well with other women. Especially when they will get to a stage when their prior behavior strategies of playing in the grey areas (e.g., excessive flirting, trying to act like one of the guys) to garner attention won’t work favorably for them anymore.

Do I think that mean girls who graduate to being mean women notice or care about how they are behaving? I have mixed feelings about this. They are mixed because I do know if some of them know exactly how they are behaving, and why they are doing so. There are others who legitimately are doing so because of behavior they have seen modeled that was inappropriate, yet they thought it was the only or best course of action for them to get results. Of course, this is unfortunate, especially because they didn’t have strong women role models to show them how to appropriately interact with others and not at the expense of either gender.

If you are leader or sports coach, and if you know someone who would be classified as a “mean girl” or who has graduated onto being a “mean woman”, I can offer some advice on how to address these women. My advice stems from having turned many of their behaviors around and graduating them onto not being in their previously and unfortunate behavior club.

  • One of my favorite questions is asking someone “Why did you say that?” Have the person explain to you why they said what they said and continue to repeat this question until you obtain a satisfactory response. Perhaps even a warranted apology.
  • When you can do so privately, ask the person if they are aware of how they are coming across to other women? Tell them you have an example which demonstrated their behavior in a way you found to be curious, and that you didn’t understand why they behaved that way. You might be surprised by their response.
  • Ask them who their female role models are.
  • Ask them what characteristics they have favorably learned from their female role models.
  • Ask them what their opinion of “mean girls/woman” are? Again, you might be surprised to find out they are not aware of the fact they are one of them.
  • Ask them if they have ever encountered a “mean girl/woman”, and how did they handle the situation?
  • Ask them if they are in favor of helping other women, and modeling behavior which fosters building up the confidence and leadership qualities in other women? If they are open to doing so, be prepared to have a plan in place to act on this.
  • Ask them if they feel well supported by other women? In fact, they may not have had many positive interactions with other women, which has negatively contributed towards their negative interaction behavior.
  • Determine if the person is willing to be mentored, and whether they are aware that more positive interactions with other women will in fact serve them well as a long-term leadership strategy.

Having now written about this topic, I am hopeful it will serve as a catalyst for constructive conversations, increasing the awareness level for both women and men on this topic, and offer some actionable approaches to alter this type of behavior going forward. If you have other suggestions, please share them with me, as we are all in this conundrum together.

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #Sportscoach #Awareness #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Management #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Strategy #Successtips #Leadershiptips #Women #Womensbehavior #Advice #Mentor #Meangirls #Meanwomen

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

Me, my, I and why this doesn’t work.

I’ll never forget the moment in time I was called out by the CEO of the company I was working for, and when he pulled me aside after I had given a presentation to our sales and marketing team’s. What I didn’t realize was that during the presentation I was giving, I referred to the team I was leading as my team and sprinkled in references to alluding to other words which were not inclusive of the team. I didn’t do this intentionally, but I learned an enormous lesson that day. Thank you, Lou Shipley, for teaching me this lesson. I am grateful you taught me this.

After the presentation was given and we were on a break, Lou asked if he could speak with me. I didn’t know what he wanted to speak to me about, and I was caught off guard by both his timing, and what he had to say. Ultimately, he told me that I referred to the marketing team as my team and leveraged the words I instead of the words our and we. Upon hearing what was intended to be constructive feedback, but was yet hurtful, I was also embarrassed for making this mistake with my chosen words. However, this was a lesson which has served me well, and this is the first time I’m publicly thanking Lou. Of course, I don’t have to do this, but I am also a fan of giving people credit and appreciating and acknowledging when others help me.

Did the team I was leading notice my choice of words? I can’t say for sure whether they did, and if they did, I still maintain they knew me well enough to appreciate that I am not a selfish person. More importantly, that I always had their best interests in mind. Independent of this, the rest of the lesson played out in a way which I have embraced and passed along to many others. Including you now.

From Lou’s perspective, my choice of words came across as being potentially arrogant and devoid of giving credit to the team I was leading. I can now appreciate the optics of his perception, but at the time the “teaching” conversation was occurring, it felt like I was being criticized versus being taught a leadership concept. Sure, Lou could have chosen to say something to me after the event had concluded, but the impact of his timing was critical, even though I wasn’t going to be in a position to make this same gaff later that day.

After some time passed and I was able to appreciate Lou’s leadership advice, and since that conversation, I have been hyper aware of not repeating this same mistake. It’s also been interesting how I am now more sensitive to appreciating how others in leadership positions verbally and in writing give credit to their team’s. Or, whether they chose words which I chose during that moment in time which made others potentially think I was taking credit for everything the team I was leading had or was about to accomplish.

Last week I was watching a live post game conversation with a sports coach, and the journalist kept trying to almost trap the sports coach into taking full credit verbally for the winning results. What happened instead, was this coach gave credit to his assistant coaches, the supporting staff and then the athletes for their accomplishment. He never even alluded to the fact he had contributed to the win, and it was incredibly refreshing to see his approach. It was this interview that triggered me to reflect upon to the opposite experience I had with Lou. Seeing and hearing this coach’s response almost brought me to tears, as his demonstration of being unselfish was so authentic. I will add it was impressive too.

If you are either unaware or know a leader, sports coach or someone who impacts others that isn’t choosing the right verbiage or isn’t giving their team’s the credit they deserve verbally or in writing, here are some suggestions to address this scenario.

  • Leveraging hypothetical scenarios in conversation with someone who isn’t seeing or appreciating what you are trying to help them with is a technique I use which significantly helps get your point across. It might take multiple examples, so keep coming up with new ones until the person grasps the concept.
  • Consider asking the person if they are aware of the fact they do not or are not regularly giving credit to both their support staff and the team they are leading. If a person hasn’t been taught or is used to giving praise and credit to others, they may not be comfortable doing so. It will take them practice getting to the point they can do this well, and more often.
  • Over praising can in fact diminish the authenticity of your praise, but there is a middle ground you will be able to find that will work well. You will need to sort out where this middle ground is, and when you get there, it will feel right when you reach it.
  • There are plenty of examples of leaders, sports coaches, and people you can mimic or modify their style of how they both verbally and in writing express appreciation for their staff and team. You need to be the judge on which style is going to be right for you.
  • If possible, watch a video of how you express to others how your business or sports team is performing. You might be surprised by how you are doing this, and I can assure you, there is always room for improvement in this area.
  • Test drive on one or two people you lead what words you are intentionally selecting to offer them guidance or praise, and how they are reacting to this conversation. Pay attention to the fact you might find some people will shut down and not respond well to your conversation. If this happens, be sure to not hit the “ignore button”, but to instead pick a time to talk to this person, or the group which has shutdown to address what you are seeing occurring. Keep in mind that some people do not like to be praised publically.

At the heart of this topic is the concept of organizational behavior. Contributing to this concept both positively and constructively will have the type of impact you and others are expecting, and when the organization is healthy, the culture health will be too, but this all starts at the top to model the right behavior.

TAGS: #Business #Sports #Leader #Leadership #Sportscoach #Communication #Strategy #Organizationalbehavior #Loushipley #Success #Motivation #Teamdynamics