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

Reflection – the advantage of it in business, sports & managing others

For those of you who are also Brene Brown fans, you will appreciate what I will be sharing with you, as the context of what I will be revealing to you is based on over countless hours of research I have been doing during the last year. Most people are not aware of the fact I was working on this project, but it is one of the most gratifying projects I have worked on.

So, who and what was I researching? I have been interviewing sports coaches around the country, and added a coach from South Africa to the mix a few weeks ago. The coaches cover over a dozen different sports, are a mix of women and men, and they are coaching at the Professional (e.g., NFL, NBA, MLL, USTA), Olympic, College and High School levels. On average, the coaches have been in their role for a decade, and they represent a significant enough amount of States.

I am still conducting my research, but I recently analyzed the results from the coaches I have already spoken to. If I were to summarize what I am attempting to determine via this research is the coaches “why”. In other words, “why do they coach?”

If you happen to be a coach or perhaps a leader in the business world who is reading this, I guarantee you would agree that coaches and leaders share numerous characteristics. One of them is the reason why they enjoy leading others. Yes, you might be surprised by the majority of their responses, but the title of this article also provides you with a large clue about the direction the research outcome is heading.

As you are aware, the process of reflection is something that takes time. Time to devote to going through the process of being reflective, and also having a reason to do so.

Most surprisingly was the fact that the majority of the coaches had not taken the time to reflect upon or verbally convey their “why” they coach others. However, after sharing their “why” with me, all of them said they were pleasantly surprised they had not gone through this experience before, as they found it to be both therapeutic and paid tribute to all of the years they have devoted to coaching.

One of the words I repeatably heard from coaches was that coaching is similar to a “calling”. It was something they felt compelled they needed to do. Others articulated that they became a coach because of the experience and incredible life lessons they gained from their coaches, and they wanted to give this “gift” back to others.

Since being reflective does require you take time to capitalize on the advantages of doing so, why don’t more people do this? Especially leaders, people managing others and of course coaches too? It seems simple enough to do. However, it also requires being able to ask the right questions to be able to get to the deepest level possible of response reflection. It’s when you reach the true depths of being highly reflective, that you gain the positive attributes from doing so.

If you are curious about who you could be more reflective, or perhaps help someone else to be this way, I have included some suggestions below about how to accomplish doing this.

  • Simon Sinek is the person attributed to having people think about what their “why” is. Someone’s why can be associated with any number of different questions, but for the sake of this article, let’s have it focus on the aspect of “why” you lead, manage, mentor, or coach (e.g., sports) others? Take a few moments to write down, or think about why you do this.
  • After you have thought about or crafted your “why” relating to the point above, consider whether you want to share this information with someone else? Perhaps your team?
  • Factor in the benefits of others knowing and appreciating what your “why” is from having reflected upon thinking about this. Can you name what they are?
  • Consider the reasons you might not have taken the time to be reflective. Were you concerned that if you did this, that it would be a negative or positive experience?
  • Can you help someone else to take advantage of the powers of being reflective in their leadership, management or sports coach role?

I’m still looking for Sports Coaches to interview, so if you fall into one of the categories I noted that meet the criteria for me to be interviewed, I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

What will you get out of this? I’ll be sharing the results of my Sports Coach Research Project with all of the Sports Coaches who participated. The coaches will gain new insights from other coaches, and can potentially apply them to their team to benefit from too. Keep in mind, many of these coaches are well known for their winning records, but more importantly, for being the type of coach that every athlete desires to be coached by.

TAGS: #Leadership #Teams #SportsCoaches #Management #Success #Reflection #Theadvantagesofbeingreflective #Business #Sports #SportsCoachResearchProject #Athlete #Athletes #BreneBrown

Influence. How’s yours?

There are some skills we possess which can take years to master. Having influence can be one of them, but there are people who are more naturally inclined to excel with having it than others. The people who are comfortable with possessing influence as one of their skills don’t always maximize their use of it. However, the ones that do, and leverage it for the greater good of our society really stand out.  

The list of people in our global society that I admire and who have appealing influence are ones who apply their skill to help others on a regular basis. Often unselfishly, and most of these people are not household brand names. They are the people we have in our lives who regularly apply their influence in both creative and beneficial means with the intent for others to benefit from.

Examples of the type of influence I am considering include people who are amazing at organizing others to rally for positive causes. Both locally and beyond their region when it makes sense to do so. Think of community gardens so food is truly local, beekeeping to help veterans with PTSD and causes which awaken us to becoming more socially and environmentally conscious. All of this occurring while we are individually considering how we can leverage our natural resources better. Even better, while also assisting others in need on a more regular basis.

Another example which comes to mind are the influencers who called out the inequities of education, and who looked for solutions to address this as another challenge the Pandemic exacerbated. They were able to clearly showcase how not everyone had a “level-playing-field” when it came time to home school their children. Yes, we knew this prior to Covid, but because of having to home school for a long period of time, young people without the right home-schooling infrastructure were put at a greater risk of falling behind educationally. Based on research, we know what occurs when this happens, unless the situation is addressed.

During the early days of the Pandemic in 2020, there were people I saw in the news who were rallying and coordinating others in their community to help people who were also “food insecure”. Unfortunately, we also know that food insecurity isn’t a Pandemic only challenge. However, the Pandemic certainly put a brighter spotlight on this situation to be addressed both locally and in every state in the country. One of the outcomes influencers had in this area was to attempt to change the mindset of people in their community. To actually seriously take the position of considering everyone as our neighbor and to help those in need. No exceptions.

Having worked in the technology industry for decades, I saw the type of influence leaders could have on both those they lead, and the customers who were the early adopters of the technology solutions we were promoting. As a former marketing professional, I also saw early in my career the way that public relations could shape the thinking of those we were targeting our communications to. Depending on how influential our messaging was, and whether we were able to impact influential press members about our solution as the one they would write about, played a significant role in the initial success of a product or service.

It was eye opening for me to see how powerful the right influence can shape the outcome and trajectory of your success. Granted we know strong first impressions are critical with your ability to influence others, but sometimes you might have an opportunity to circle back and make a second attempt of getting your influence pointed in the right direction. Not always, so it’s critical to be strategic with your thinking and influence execution.

If you are wondering what you can do to either enhance your influence, or begin heading in a direction to positively influence others, below are some suggestions about how to do this.

  • Authentically consider something you are passionate about. If you are not truly passionate about something, your ability to truly be influential will be reduced.
  • Are you comfortable with having your opinion be known? When you set out to influence others, you are going to need to be ready to potentially confront both verbal and written criticism. In other words, having a “thick skin” can be beneficial, but it is not a requirement.
  • It takes energy to influence others. Ask yourself if you truly have the energy it will take to follow through with your plans to be influential.
  • Being consistent with your messaging and actions are going to be critical components to your influence having the impact you want it to have. Can you commit to being consistent and ensure your messaging is going to work for you and others?
  • Is there someone you admire and can approach about how they became an influential person?
  • After identifying at least one person who is influencing people or causes in the manner you are comfortable with, ask them if you can have them help to instruct you on the area you are interested in being known for or influencing.
  • Not everyone feels comfortable taking on the role of influencing others or causes. However, influencing others doesn’t always mean you have to do this for long stretches of time. There may be situations that are more like influential sprints versus marathons.
  • Always factor in how you envision the outcome of your influence. This will make it easier to rally others when you are describing what you are accomplishing to do, and for them to determine if they can also get behind and support what you are attempting to influence.

Like a coin, influence has two sides. Make sure the influence you are choosing to have is on the side you are proud of representing. Otherwise, living with knowing your influence either doesn’t have the best intentions, or can be harmful to others is something you will have to wrap your conscious around. If your influence can have a positive impact on others, I see this as one of the best gifts we can give to one another.  Cheers to making this happen.

TAGS: #Influence #PositiveInfluence #Leadership #Management #Howtopositivelyinfluenceothers #RoleModel #PositiveSociety

Inspiring others. Do you?

When the majority of people are considering early on in their life what type of career to pursue, they are not likely thinking about going into a profession which inspires people. In other words, most people factor in what they like to do, are good at, and whether this option can provide them with a salary they can afford to live on. These are highly practical aspects for consideration, but are they enough?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of being practical and realistic. However, I also know that there is another way of looking at what some might not consider as a typical approach when they are either selecting which career they want to pursue, or perhaps to pivot to. It involves factoring in both motivation and skills that you may or may not have. I’m talking about your ability to positively influence and impact others.

Not everyone has the skillset to inspire others, but you know when you are in the presence of someone who does. You can feel a certain type of energy which they exude, and it’s genuine. A type of genuineness that you want to experience more of, but may not be able to explain why. It’s what the French culture expression “je ne said quoi” so perfectly captures. Meaning that person has “a quality that cannot be described or named easily.”

Are you someone who has been told that you inspire others? Perhaps by what you do, or say? If you have heard this more than a few times, take this as a strong hint that you have the ability to inspire others. Is this a skill which can be acquired? Possibly, but I believe and via my experience would argue this is an innate characteristic you either have, or don’t. Consider other talents you have. Does everyone else have them? Probably not.

If inspiring others is one of your aspirations, think about whether what you do either professionally or personally can tick of the box of accomplishing this. It might be a stretch for some people to realistically be able to say they can or actually do this. However, if someone is motivated to do so, I’m going to fully support this desire.

Given the world we live in currently, I don’t think anyone would say we have an overabundance of people who inspire us on a daily basis. If you do, please let me know, as more people need to know about who and where they are.

Let’s go back to the original question I posed about what if your job was to inspire others. What if you were struggling with doing this? Would you ask for assistance, or perhaps if possible, would you turn over this part of your responsibility over to someone else?  For the sake of conversation, assume this is a possibility. Also assume you were able to identify someone who could help you to do this. Would you be able to do so, and to factor in the importance of doing this for the greater benefit of others? Granted, this isn’t going to be easy to do, but it will be in the best interest of others for them to be able to have access to someone who can inspire them. Think of it this way. If someone needed oxygen, and you were not able to provide this to them, wouldn’t it be best to find someone who could?

Having the ability to inspire others is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. If you have the characteristics to do this, it’s a talent which should be shared with others. So, what are some of the characteristics of those who inspire others? One of them is having a high emotional level of intelligence, or what is referred to as EQ. This is a talent you are born with, and allows you to have amazing clarity on how to instinctively interact extremely well with others. You have the ability to read them and quickly deduce the ideal way to engage with them.

Some of the other characteristics that people who have the ability to inspire others are that they are humble, genuine, friendly, and possess an ease of interacting with the majority of people they encounter. They also are able to have a positive impact on getting others to potentially do the “right thing”, or to also want to help others, and not be as self-absorbed in their thinking and actions. Having a higher level of energy is also a characteristic many people who inspire others possess.

If you have some, all or more characteristics which would be associated with someone who has the ability to inspire others, here are some ways for you to consider putting your inspirational talents into action.

  • Do you have a particular talent that others may not have, but yet could be beneficial in sharing it with others? Perhaps teaching others about this talent you possess? If you do, look for opportunities to share your talent.
  • Have you overcome either a common or less common situation which others can relate to, and they have not figured out a way to get through yet (e.g., losing a job, divorce, surviving an illness)?
  • Is your type of inspiration the type that can be shared with a small or large amount of people? Not everyone’s type of inspiration is suited to a large audience. Although it might be.
  • Factor in your inspiration “delivery method”. Is your type of inspiration that lends itself to capturing it on video (e.g., singing, talking, performing an act)? Or, perhaps your inspiration lends itself to the written format.  Choose a delivery format which will work best for you, and that you are the most comfortable with.
  • Not everyone who is inspirational is an extrovert. If you are not an extrovert, look for ways to become more comfortable with engaging with others to share your inspiration.
  • If you have been told by someone you inspire them, and you don’t fully understand how you do, ask them to clarify this for you. You will want to gain insight into how, when and why you inspire others. Knowing this will help you to continue to inspire more people.

Having the ability to inspire others is a gift. If you have this ability, please share your gift with others. We need more people in our world to inspire us.

TAGS: #Inspiration #Inspiringothers #Leadership #Business #Teams #Emotionalintelligence #Strategy #Mindset #Talent  #Talentdevelopment #Motivation #Inspiration #Management

Who’s your CEO mentor?

Chief Executive Officers play a number of different roles in an organization. One of them may not be formally factored into their role, or exercised as often as it should be. I’m talking about the importance of being someone’s mentor. Yes, you, and yes, I realize you are busy. However, whether you realize it or not, or if you have not mentored someone in a while, perhaps you forgot about the fact you might get more out of this experience than the person you are mentoring.

I’m referring to the number one benefit of being able to assist and provide insightful guidance and direction to your mentee. Potentially in an entirely different manner than you would to your direct staff, and also those you lead on a daily basis in your CEO role.

Of course, I realize that CEO’s schedules are some of the most difficult to find an opening on, but without exception, it will be non-negotiable for you to find time each week on your schedule for the person or the individual’s you will be mentoring. I say will be mentoring, because after reading this article, either you, or someone who would like to be mentored by you will be connecting with one another.

As someone who naturally enjoys mentoring others, I can appreciate not everyone might be comfortable taking on the responsibility to do this. However, if you are the CEO, or in a leadership role, I need to remind you that you have a perhaps unwritten obligation to impart and share your experience with others. Possibly even unconventional mentees, such as ones who are at the very beginning of their careers. Or, perhaps in an entirely different industry. It’s also probable, you might find yourself mentoring a newly minted CEO. They certainly would benefit from your experience.

So, is there a particular method for finding a mentee or CEO mentor? Not really, as there are numerous approaches someone could take to find one or the other. For example, asking people in your network if they could connect you to their CEO would be one way to get started. In fact, it might be easier to ask a CEO to mentor you, than a CEO to approach you to ask if you would like to be mentored by them.

I consider it one of the highest honors when someone asks me to be their mentor. I also take full responsibility for being completely engaged and willing to be vulnerable with sharing what I have learned with the people I have, and am currently mentoring. Although it may be uncomfortable, no topic is off limits to those I am mentoring. Of course, not everyone might subscribe to this level of openness, but I consider it to be one of my signature mentoring style characteristics.

Since I am the type of person who is very comfortable with ambiguity, I also can appreciate that others may not be. Don’t get me wrong, I also like a certain amount of structure, but I also have a high level of flexibility which affords me being able to have a less structured mentoring approach. Some might call it casual, but I think of it as being authentic, and it supports my level of how I enjoy interacting with others. Especially those I am mentoring.

If you were to dissect my career, one of your findings would be that the greatest joy I have found in leading others was to be looked at as someone they could trust, want to follow and most importantly learn from and model their professional behavior after. Some of my greatest and most precious memories come from when I helped someone I was mentoring, and when they have what I’ll call a “light-bulb” moment. In other words, by working together, my mentee reaches a moment in time when they are able to figure out and learn from me, but are able to customize what they have learned, and apply it to their respective situation they are working on.

Given the fact most CEO’s reading this article will not likely, or in general reach out to a mentee, I ask you to consider doing the following:

  • Please be open to a request or multiple ones from people who might want to be mentored by you.
  • You clearly establish what the guidelines entail for being mentored by you.
  • Determine what aspects of your experiences are going to be the most impactful for the person or people you are mentoring.
  • Considering you are likely goal oriented, factor in what the goal or goals will be for your mentee. Please keep in mind that some mentees may be part of your mentoring experience for various lengths of time. Some may in fact be mentored by you for years, while others might only require a short mentoring stint with you.
  • Mentoring someone is both an honor and privilege, and realistically, someone either formally or informally mentored you. If they didn’t, consider yourself to be fortunate to have arrived in your role without the enormous benefits mentoring can provide someone.

If you are wondering how to approach a CEO to mentor you, one of my earlier suggestions was to ask someone who might know a CEO if they would introduce you to them. If you do not know anyone who knows a CEO, here are some possible ways of finding and reaching out to one.

  • Factor in whether you will gain more benefit from a CEO who is at a small company, mid-size one, or at a large enterprise.
  • Determine if you would benefit more from someone who is in your industry, or whether there would potentially be more to learn from someone outside of it.
  • Is the geographic location of where the CEO is a factor? Will you have difficulties due to drastic time zone differences, or perhaps cultural ones depending on which country you each live in?  
  • Does it matter how much CEO experience they have to you?
  • Would it matter if the CEO is a male or a female?
  • With the basic considerations behind you, you can begin your CEO mentor research on-line. Most of you reading this are on LinkedIn, but if you are not, I highly recommend you start there.
  • Depending on how many people you have in your LinkedIn network, may hinder or support your quest to find your CEO mentor. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have many people in your network. Chances are good someone in it has access to at least one CEO. Begin there, and first ask for an introduction to your connection who knows this person.
  • Once you have identified which CEO’s you want to approach to mentor you; please limit it to one or two, and then craft your note to ask them if they would consider mentoring you.
  • Make sure your mentoring inquiry note to the CEO is well thought through in terms of your ask. One of the main things to focus on is your “why” you would like to be mentored by them.
  • Also factor in what you may have to offer the CEO. If you are considerably younger, or perhaps in a different industry or geography, think about the unique perspectives you could offer them based on your generational and current industry or location experience.
  • When the CEO agrees to mentor you, and you embark upon your mentoring journey, keep in mind to be both authentic and respectful of the opportunity to engage and learn from one another.
  • Please leave your biases and pre-conceived notions about one another at the door. I guarantee you will be surprised by each other’s knowledge.

Although mentoring is often considered a one-way situation, it should be a bi-directional learning opportunity for both the mentor and mentee. Not all of the time, but as often as possible, as we can always learn someone from another person. Enjoy the journey as both a mentor and mentee.

Tags: #Leadership #Mentoring #Business #Howtofindamentor #CEOMentors #CEOsthatMentor #WhyallCEOsShouldbeMentors #Teams #Management #PersonalDevelopment #ProfessionalDevelopment #Peopledevelopment #Humandevelopment #FindingaCEOtoMentorYou