Reputation. What’s yours worth?

Our reputations are a curious topic to dissect. Namely because they are often in a variety of different states of how you might describe them. One of the states to describe someone’s reputation is steady. Of course, you want to be on the side of having your reputation be factoring as a positive one, but the reality is that reputations can also be fluid and delicate.

Yes, reputations can be strong too, but we know that one circumstance can be detrimental to a carefully crafted reputation built over decades. Fortunately, most people’s reputations are generally in a steady state, but I would suggest it is always wise to be strengthening it. I’m certain you would agree with this, so let’s chalk this up as a category most people can agree upon.

Reputations are earned, but sometimes a person’s reputation might be based on perception. A perception that may or may not be positive, and generally by others who you would not consider to be in your inner circle. Does it matter what others outside of your inner circle think about your reputation? It depends. You will need to take a moment to consider what value you place on your current reputation.

Although the perception of your reputation can be influenced by your own actions, sometimes outside influences will either strengthen or weaken it. For example, the people you associate with personally may have an impact on your reputation. Depending on your level of self-awareness, you may or may not be aware of whether those you associate yourself with are adding value or detracting from how others perceive you. If you don’t care about this, well my caution flag is to let me know you should at a minimum acknowledge this.

When you acknowledge factors contributing to the health and well-being of your reputation, or the opposite of this, you will be in a better place to evaluate whether decisions you have made are impacting your personal or professional paths forward. In other words, only you are the “captain” of your reputation ship, and at the end of the day, you will have to own up to how or why you are in the situation you are in.

The media is famous for showcasing the demise of people’s lives, and of course most of us will not have our misjudgments splashed in front of others. However, in smaller circles that most people operate in, it will be harder to measure the effects of something you may have overtly or inadvertently done to tarnish your personal or professional brand. I think of brand and reputation as being close cousins, and all of us would prefer to have both of these in good standing.

Let’s give some thought to what your reputation can do for you. If you have a strong and positive reputation, it can open up opportunities for you, by way of people granting you upfront trust. Trust that is given based on the perception that your strong reputation is worthy of investing in. Giving others hope also factors into someone who has built up their brand, as they will perceive that you will be able to do something favorable based on your historical track record of demonstrating this before.

So, opportunity and hope are a great starting place in terms of what having a strong reputation can do for you, but what else can it do, and how can you maintain this status? Another area that a solid reputation provides you with is having a more positive future outlook. An outlook that allows you to have a lens of seeing how to strategically capitalize on all of the experience you have gained, and which has resulted in the personal brand you have crafted. Although this might seem like a minor factor, and one which is easy to master, it’s in fact one of the most difficult things to do, short of maintaining a rock-solid reputation.

As I established that we can all agree upon the fact it is ideal to have a strong reputation both personally and professionally, it is possible to have a split reputation. One that in your personal life might be quite different from your professional life. This isn’t always the case, but I have seen people with stellar professional reputations, but have seen shades of their personal lives falling far from being described this way, and vice versa. Having a split reputation isn’t ideal, as it takes a tremendous of precious energy to hold up the good side, while balancing out the perils and impact the negative side has.

Since ideally having a more robust reputation is ideal for everyone, I have some suggestions for you to consider how to continue to enhance your reputation.

  • If you had to rate whether you are internally or externally focused in terms of helping others, on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the top rating, what rating would you give yourself? Hint, helping others is one way to enhance your all-around reputation.
  • Via a research project I am working on, one of the Sports Coaches I was interviewing told me they do not recruit “jerks”. I’ll let you be the judge of what constitutes being a jerk.
  • As I’ve written about before, “nice” isn’t a four-letter word. Yes, being nice will always enhance your reputation.
  • Make sure you are aware of how you are treating others at all times. Ask yourself, would I want to be treated this way? Sometimes you have to pause before your actions speak louder than your words.
  • Acknowledging and giving credit to others when credit is due is a powerful way of building both trust and loyalty, which in turn positively contributes to your reputation.
  • Taking the time to thank others goes along with acknowledging others who have helped or supported you. Ideally the written format of a thank you note is more powerful and longer lasting than words which can be fleeting. Perhaps consider sending a micro video thank you message.

The list of what you can do to further develop your reputation is endless, and as I like to do, I’m going to challenge you with sharing with me and others additional ways to go about accomplishing this. Especially if you are in a leadership role, as this will give you another opportunity to lead by example.

TAGS: #Leadership #Reputation #Buildingyourreputation #Howtostrengthenyourrepuration #Motivation #Business #Sportscoach #Leader

Making opportunities appear…and happen.

Why does it seem like some people are gifted in the area of having an easier life or more experiences and opportunities coming their way? Are they more magnetic than others in terms of attracting them? Actually, they are. However, the good news is that anyone can be in this situation.

When you think about looking from the outside into other people’s careers or lives, most people who are looking are doing so via the proverbial rose-colored glasses. In other words, they are not taking into consideration the how and why other people who seemingly have a charmed situation got there. I guarantee you it’s not the way you think they did.

Our perception of “how” other people have accomplished something is generally way off base from reality, and we typically envision that everything is much easier or convenient for someone else. Why do we do this? Because it’s nearly impossible to fully appreciate all of the experience and potential struggles it took someone to be a position which currently looks easy.

For example, we know that professional athletes spend decades preparing to participate at the level they are at, yet their career is generally one serious injury away from severely disrupting or ending their career. If they are fortunate enough to avoid or minimize their level of injuries, they have often done so via specialized training to strengthen their body to withstand injuries that non-professional athletes could not tolerated.

Depending on what your definition of career success is, and how you measure your success, the people you would classify as being successful in their profession arrived there as a result of many different and possible paths. The path all of them had in common was that they were all tenacious and persistent in their pursuits. Especially when they encountered setbacks. The setbacks which occurred are not always seen or appreciated by others, but play a critical part in the journey the individual was on.  

I love the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”. This basic phrase deliciously packages and summarizes what I have heard some of the most accomplished people state over and over again. Perhaps not exactly this phrase, but the purest sentiment of it. When others would see their situation being fraught with difficulty due to obstacles of any kind, the people who encounter them, see them as opportunities to recalculate and recalibrate. When they do this, they are crafting opportunities which did not exist prior to the setback.

Instead of bemoaning what could have, should have or would have been, the people who are able to move past what happened are able to take back control, and retool their situation.  In many cases, to have a far better opportunity appear.  Some of the best inventions we now live with are classic examples of what prior to it existing was a result of a prior failed one (e.g., wheels, electricity, automobiles, computers, refrigerators).  These are strong examples of someone being persistent and not allowing a setback, or many of them, to block their forward progress.

When I think about the leaders or sports coaches I have worked with, all of them would tell you they didn’t get to where they are alone. In fact, they are incredibly humble, and will often not take credit for what they have accomplished. They don’t claim to be luckier or able to outsmart others, but they do all possess what I would argue is also one of the key elements to making better opportunities appear. More importantly come to life for you, and others. The one element is their attitude. Not only is it a great attitude, it’s an admirable one.

These leaders and sports coaches also take ownership for when things go wrong. They are not looking for “scapegoats” to blame for what went wrong, and they are highly introspective and reflective about what they could have done better. This is a refreshing way of leading and motivating others. Namely because others are not operating in a state of fear of being blamed, and are intimidated by expressing their opinions and suggestions to support the team they are on. If you are lucky, you are, or have been on one of these teams. If you haven’t been on one yet, it might be time to start considering looking for one like this.

Now, let’s circle back to my initial statement about how do people make opportunities appear and benefit from them doing so? Here are some suggestions to guide you.

  • There is no getting around the fact you might need to have an “attitude adjustment”. If you don’t think you need to have one, I recommend you ask someone you trust how your attitude is. If you can’t handle the truth about what you might hear, it’s likely that you do need an attitude adjustment.
  • Being aware of your surroundings, circumstances and perceiving how you come across to others is critically important. If your level of awareness is “off”, it will make seeing opportunities harder to spot.
  • Having a perfectionist attitude isn’t going to help you in the long run. You are far better off trying and failing than to constantly strive for perfection.
  • Most opportunities are also in what might be referred to as a “grey area”, which is both hard to define, but you won’t see it if your “perfectionist meter” is set too high. Consider dialing it down to have more clarity into the “grey area” or “grey zone”.
  • Walk away. Yes, literally do this, as often when you are too close to any situation, you need to step away to gain a different perspective and angle on how you could better capitalize on your situation. Think of the expression, “you can’t see the forest via the trees.”
  • Are you seeing patterns in data or activities which others are not? This may or may not be something you are skilled at seeing. If you are, and you are not taking advantage of this, when you do, more opportunities will present themselves.

The how portion of capitalizing on opportunities is going to be dependent on your level of risk tolerance, ability to be timely with your opportunity appearing, and having the right support in place. Both mentally and physically, as most opportunities are more similar to a team sport versus an individual one. However, there are certainly exceptions, but the critical point to consider is to allow yourself to be openminded to appreciating you deserve to have lots of opportunities coming your way. In other words, have a mindset of bounty versus scarcity. You’ll be amazed at what can happen in your favor when you think this way.

TAGS: #Leadership #Motivation #Teams #Leader #Sportscoach #Coach #Business #Sports #Seekingopportunity #Opportunity #Howtocapitalizeonopportunities #Opportunities #Sales #Salesteams

Compartmentalization. Who’s best at it?

A recent conversation with a friend brought up an interesting subject. One which could have potentially been debated. However, as our conversation progressed, it became clearer to me that this may be an area that a segment of our population can become better at. Or, as my friend likes to say “Or not”. I’m referring to the topic of compartmentalizing information in our brains.

Of course, everyone has the ability to place information into categories in their minds, but there appear to be certain categories which men might to be better at this. Yes, this could be a generalization statement, but I’m specifically referring to relationships. Both personal and professional ones.

For more than 20 years, I have seen first-hand how men are seemingly able to separate their thoughts and feelings associated with relationships. In other words, they appear to be able to not be constrained by what most women do in terms of how we view relationships. We tend to co-mingle our thoughts and actions, instead of having a definitive line of demarcation between the two. Having a clear line of demarcation can make thinking about a relationship type much simpler, and there may be some advantages to being able to do this. One of them is being able to control our emotions.

There is an art form to being able to at least visibly control our outward emotions in the presence of others, and men have been taught and work on honing this skill their entire lives. For example, when men are young, they likely heard that it’s not cool for them to cry. Luckily, I believe this sentiment is changing, but there are decades of men who grew up hearing this, and who internalized this information. My personal feeling is that this is a shame, as we should all be able to freely express our emotions without fear of being judged by our expression of them.

My one example illustrates how much influence a statement can have in someone’s life. So, imagine if this wasn’t something which was expressed, and men did not have to be subjected to this type of thinking? Would it change the way they interact? Would it allow them to feel more able to express how they truly feel about their relationships? More importantly, would it change the way they either feel the need or have their minds rewired to not think they have to compartmentalize their thinking about their personal and professional relationships?

I don’t have answers to my questions, but it gives us something to think about, and whether in fact it is an advantage to be able to compartmentalize our thoughts and feelings. The example of relationships is only one of many areas’ men have seemingly mastered the art of compartmentalization. However, has this really given them any clear advantages because of this? Perhaps, but realistically I will never know the answer to this, and I’m comfortable with the way my female brain operates and co-mingles relationship information. Although, I’m certain there are women who would like to know what it feels like to do this. In other words, easily turn on or off feelings for other people. Or, to be completely neutral towards some.

If I were to imagine what it would be like to compartmentalize my relationships, I can draw upon hundreds of conversations about this topic to do so. I can also provide suggestions on how to attempt to do this. Although, I’m not offering any guarantees for success, only some insight into how to go about this. You can decide if this would be an advantage or not.

  • Ask yourself if you are truly capable of separating your emotional feelings from your non-emotional feelings when dealing with others? Can you find a neutral mental place of being able to interact with this individual?   
  • Will you be able to move on and not dwell on the positive or negative emotions from the relationship at any point during it?
  • Do you believe you can refrain from having continuous conversations with others about the history or interactions about the relationship?
  • Consider what your re-direct will be when you begin to either focus too much, or get into a cycle of constant circling back to dissect your thinking about an action, or something that was said.
  • Factor in the advantages of remaining in a state of maintaining distinct lines of demarcation for your current relationship definition.

This isn’t the type of topic I typically write about, but I challenged myself to consider how I would express my thoughts about it based on the conversation I had with a friend. I’ll let you ponder whether my conversation was with a male, female or a professional or personal relationship.

TAGS: #Relationships #Compartmentalizing #Compartmentalization #Communication #Leadership #Business #Professional #Advice #Emotions

How are you projecting your image?

Something I have always enjoyed doing is to observe the actions of how people interact with one another. Particularly in professional and team scenarios. My fascination stems from seeing things that when people are interacting with others, that I’m sure they are not aware of how they are being perceived. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing the way they are acting, simply noticing and considering how they could be doing something differently. More to their advantage.

In the coaching work I do, I have the opportunity and honor of professionally evaluating and critiquing how both leaders, as well as team members interact with one another. The next step in this observation process is to convey back to the leader and their team what I am seeing. The majority of the time, the leader is the one asking me to conduct this work, and their team is generally unaware that I am watching how they engage with one another.

Of course, it’s much better when people are not aware of when someone is observing them, as they will more naturally act how they ordinarily would. Observing sports teams is much easier to evaluate than work teams, as you get to see the team members interacting in a concentrated scenario when they are playing or practicing their sport. However, it is possible to observe work teams, it just takes longer to do, as you need to see them in a variety of settings within their environment to accomplish this.

I remember the first time I was asked to evaluate a work team and the leader of it. The leader initiated this process, as he admitted he was not fully aware of why he was having challenges with interacting with his team, and his management peers. He also wanted to better understand what was going on. This was a brave and bold move on his behalf, as it can be intimidating to have someone knowingly observe how you are engaging with others. However, the benefits of having me conduct this work for this leader and his team far outweighed any feelings of his awkwardness. 

The results of what I observed were quite revealing, especially with one example which was the body language I was observing this leader display. One of the main body language expressions he was routinely doing, was to immediately cross his arms when he began an interaction with another person. This particular body language expression signals that you are closed off and not fully open to hearing what the other person is saying. It also conveys a form of being defensive. Neither of these body language expressions were what this leader intended to convey. In fact, just the opposite. However, he was unaware that he was doing this, as he didn’t have a mirror or video capturing him doing this during every one of his interactions with others.

Upon being made aware of this one simple action, then having awareness of this happening, and course correcting on this behavior, made an incredible difference in the engagements this leader then had with his team and leadership peers. This one simple example is something that many people do, yet are not aware of this occurring. So, you too can take notice of whether this is something you are also routinely doing.

The first sports teams I had the privilege of observing was initiated by the head coach. He had been coaching for decades, yet admittedly had no idea how his coaching style and his coaching behaviors were impacting his team. He wasn’t sure if how he was being perceived was positive, negative or perhaps neutral. However, he wanted to know which category he fit into, and more importantly, if it was in the “negative” category, that he could course correct on this.

After observing the coach for several games, it became obvious there we some things he was doing as a coach that he was unaware of. One of these observations was that he wasn’t listening to his players when they were attempting to engage with him on the sidelines. He was unaware that he was being dismissive of their attempts to talk to him. When I shared this observation with him, he was completely surprised by this. In fact, he was upset that this was happening, as he prided himself and perceived himself to be very open to communicating with others.  

By adjusting the coach’s awareness of how he was interacting with his players in a way that was contrary to how he thought he was interacting, was a “game changer” for his team going forward. Why? Because the team members and the coach were now able to actually communicate openly with one another. The results of this coach’s team performance also demonstrated the positive impact from this one small change in behavior too.

So, what can you do to see the type of image you are projecting? Here are some suggestions to “test drive”.

  • You will first need to commit to being open to having someone provide you with constructive feedback, and not consider it to be criticism and feel like you are being attacked.
  • Find someone you implicitly trust to evaluate you, and who has experience successfully leading others.
  • The image we project may or may not be something we are intentionally coordinating with our actions, and if possible, if you can observe yourself on video, this is ideal. However, you still will want someone who can neutrally provide you with feedback about what they are also seeing in person and via the video, as you still might not see what they are seeing.
  • Although you might think you don’t have a great deal of control over the image you are projecting, you actually do. In fact, the image you are projecting is multi-faceted, and involves how you speak (e.g., the tone of your voice, how fast or slow you speak, how you enunciate your words), how you stand or sit in front of others (e.g., standing up tall, versus slumping your shoulders) and what you choose to wear (e.g., generally in professional situations, always select clothing which presents the best impression of who you are, and yet doesn’t distract from your actions or how you will be communicating). This applies to both women and men.
  • Think about what type of image you want to project. When you intentionally consider this, it will be easier to accomplish it.
  • After thinking about the image you want to project, look the part of how you want to project yourself in your organization, versus not giving this factor any or enough consideration.
  • Ask someone who’s image you admire, for suggestions on how they have developed their image. I guarantee you they evolved to the image they are projecting, and you will benefit from knowing how they accomplished this.

Projecting the image you want to requires a conscientious effort to do so, and can take years to perfect. Your image can also be fluid, and evolve over time. What you want to master or become comfortable with, is that your awareness of your image matches the reality of how others perceive it.

TAGS: #Perception #Image #HowDoYouProjectYourImage #HowAreYouPerceived #Business #Management #Teams #Leadership #Leaders #SportsTeams #Coaching #TeamCoaching

How do you inspire “bench” players or work place team members?

I was recently talking to a leader of a sports team. I asked her this question “What do you do to both motivate and inspire your “bench players?” For clarification, the players who don’t see as much playing time, but who are also important members of the team. She told me that this is probably one of the most difficult things to do, or to do well and consistently.

After I heard this leader express that this is a challenging situation, and understandably something that most leaders face on a regular basis, I asked her “what if I had a solution to this challenge?” Naturally I piqued her curiosity, and she said “you have my full attention”. So, with this green light to proceed with my solution, I kicked off my solution explanation.

To set the stage for my solution to be shared, I asked this leader a few more questions. The next question I asked was “what happens when you are unable to inspire one of your players who regularly does not see much playing time?” I followed this question by asking “what’s your method to integrate your bench players into your team’s overall success strategy?” This last question seemed to really strike a nerve. I could also visually see that it was one she didn’t have a good answer to. However, she wasn’t the first leader I have worked with who responded this way.

Now let’s get back to discussing and responding to the first question I posed about how does someone inspire their bench or workplace team mates? As I proceeded to queue up the foundation for how I have been able to accomplish this, I also shared that this was something she could implement too. Of course, with some guidance, as I have been doing this for a while.

As part of explaining the “how” it is possible to inspire and motivate bench players, one of the factors I brought up to this leader was the number one reason people in the workplace feel good about the company they are aligned with. It’s a rather simple, but at the same time, can be extraordinary complex concept to get right. It’s that someone feels appreciated. Conversely, when people do not feel appreciated, it’s also the number one reason they leave the situation they are in.

So, if feeling appreciated is the perhaps one of the “secret” ingredients to inspiring or motivating others, is there an ideal way to accomplish this? Yes, there is, and it is one of the foundational way’s leaders can achieve the inspiration they are seeking to bring to their “bench players”.

Let’s now drill down into how I have worked with leaders to help them to achieve inspiring others.  The first thing I do is to determine what their top strength is. In full disclosure, I am a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, so I leverage the StrengthsFinder Survey Assessment to determine this. After I determine what a person’s number one strength is, I focus on helping them and their leader to understand how to properly leverage this strength. To leverage it in multiple scenarios, with the critical one being when they are not always fully engaged at the level they desire to be on their team.

When an individual can contribute their number one strength both on and off the “field” or in the workplace, this is when the “magic” of tapping into this concept begins to emerge. The person is able to both tap into a different source of their own motivation, and derive the benefits of their leader knowing how to accomplish this to. In fact, to know precisely how to both inspire and engage this individual, even if they are not playing an active role on the “field” or under the spotlight in their work place role.

Now, here is the brief version of the story I shared with the leader about one of the athletes I worked with who experienced the “pure magic” of being an inspired “bench player”. It’s important to understand that this particular player may not have initially understood that their role on the team was not going to be an active one. In fact, they may have thought due to their seniority on the team, that they would play an integral role on the field. This wasn’t the case. However, what did occur was that their “bench” position was actually far more important to contributing to their team’s success, than their limited time on the field.

How is it possible that a “bench player” could positively influence the outcome of their team’s performance? This is exactly the question that most leaders are challenged with, and I have repeatably proven that this is possible. It’s possible because when a person is able to engage in leveraging their own innate talents differently, and understand how to apply them constructively, yet outside of the way they may more traditionally do so, this is when they are both personally inspired and motivated. One more thing, they also feel appreciated too!

The biggest challenge leaders have with inspiring their “bench players” is that they may not or don’t appreciate the role they can play in this capacity. Instead of feeling like the “bench player” is going to be a challenge for them, they need to understand in fact how to tap into and leverage this person differently. Differently in the capacity of having them understand the integral role they do in fact play and contribute to the team as a bench player.

If you are a leader who is interested in learning more about how to both inspire and motivate your bench players, let’s talk. You know how to reach me, and I’ll look forward to having a conversation with you.

TAGS: #Motivation #Inspiration #Teams #Howtoinspireothers #Inspiringothers #Business #Leaders #Leveragingtalent #Leveragingstrengths #Talent #Talentdevelopment #Teamdevelopment #Sports #Coaches #Sportscoaches #Businessleaders