It’s not about you. It’s all about them.

I’m going to be blatantly honest with you related to a conversation I had with one of my sports coaches last week. The conversation was about one of the captains, and what he shared with me was really upsetting. Why? Because whether this captain realized it or not, he was acting incredibly selfishly. What was worse was that he was acting as if his performance alone was going to sway the outcome of their game today. It might, but in the opposite direction he is anticipating.

What did this captain do to exhibit selfish characteristics? For one, he decided he knew better than his coaches, trainers and his teammates and suited up to practice when he should have been resting on the sidelines in preparation for today’s game. When I saw him out on the practice field, I could tell that he was only performing at about 75 percent of his capabilities. Did he think others didn’t notice? Did he realize he was making his injury worse by being out there? Both good questions, but the reality is that he seemingly didn’t care, which is the ultimate in being selfish, and certainly not something a leader should be modeling.

Instead of talking to this athlete, I chose to see how today’s game plays out, and to leverage the opportunity next week to set the stage for a lesson in leadership he doesn’t seem coming his way. I’m really looking forward to having this conversation. Not only because of the learning opportunity that can be leveraged, but to have this leader understand from an entirely different perspective how his actions were going to negatively impact both him, and the rest of his team.

For context, this captain likely has never seen any bench time. He is well liked and more importantly respected by his team, but the decision he made to override the professional opinions of those that support him and to play when he should be on the bench, isn’t the experience anyone is going to enjoy seeing play out. Fortunately, the weather “fairies” are playing in this captain’s favor and there will be a limited amount of people who see what will be transpiring today. Next week he won’t have this good fortune, so that’s when the proverbial “wake-up call” is going to kick in.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and consider the factors that would contribute to a leader thinking that the entire team’s performance is reliant upon them. Being overly confident and perhaps unrealistic are several contributing factors, but so is the person’s lack or underdeveloped awareness of both themselves and the reality of their circumstances. In other words, not having peripheral vision of the “big picture” and the outcome based on their flawed thought process. Sometimes a person’s maturity level, or lack of leadership skills will also be contributing factors to decisions they make. One’s that in the past may not have impacted others when they were in an individual contributor role, and not a leadership role. When you are an individual contributor, you have more leeway to make decisions that are oriented around having a limited impact, but when you step into a leadership role, you need to now factor in thinking about how your decisions and actions are seriously going to impact others.

Thinking about and putting others first isn’t a skill that is developed overnight. However, modeling leadership behavior always is critical to the development of newly minted leaders. They will make mistakes, even if they have had nearly perfect role models, and it will be the mistakes they make that will impact their ability to become a stronger leader. Or not, if they don’t take time to reflect upon their mistakes and figure out how to course correct on them. This isn’t always easy to do, and it’s truly a “team sport” concept that needs to be embraced from the perspective of being able to comfortably rely upon others that have more experience than you do. It will take both faith and trust to do this, and it won’t happen overnight.

As I’m crafting this week’s story for you, I’m thinking about how I will also be able to leverage it as a tool for the captain. So, with this captain being my muse this week and providing me with a topic I feel is critically important for leaders to get right, below are some suggestions on how to make sure you recognize behaviors that are unfavorable as a leader. More importantly, to have some ideas for you to consider test driving to increase your leadership abilities if you still think it’s all about you, and not them.

  • Look around the next time you are with the team you lead. Consider how hard all of them are working, and how much they depend on you to make good decisions. Don’t let them down but making selfish decisions which will negatively affect you and them.
  • You are always being watched. Never forget this, so exhibit behavior that would be favorable if you were to watch a playback on how you were leading others on any given day.
  • Get comfortable with asking for advice, and don’t ever think you have everything figured out.
  • Continue to invest in yourself to learn more about who you truly are, to take your awareness of who you are to the next level, and in doing so appreciating that knowing yourself better will contribute to being a better person and leader.
  • Practice putting your team’s needs into greater focus. Ask your team questions and really listen to what they are sharing with you. More importantly what they might not be telling you, yet you expected them to be doing so.
  • What is your trust level or how would you rate yourself in terms of whether you are a leader who others can 100% count on and trust? If you are not at 100%, there is plenty of room for opportunity to bring it up to this level. Just ask someone who was on a Championship team what their trust level was for their leader or their teammates.

Being able to look at yourself in the mirror and face the fact you might not be at the level of truly acknowledging and demonstrating as a leader that it’s not about you, it’s all about them is a place to strive to get to. When you can maintain being there, that is when you will start to see “magic” outcomes for your team. I’m sure anyone with even a minor competitive or achievement bent will agree with this.

TAGS: #Leadership #Sportscoaches #Teams  #Teamdynamics #Positiveimpact #Business #Motivation #Communication #Thoughtleadership #Dealingwithadversity #Awareness #Selfawareness #Competition #Winning #Achievement #Achiever #Leader #Leaders #Performance #Management

Do something different. Leaders and coaches listen up please.

Admittedly there are a few things that frustrate me. One of them is based off a saying you have likely heard expressed. It is the expression of “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink the water.” If you have been in this scenario before, I’m certain you understand the feeling of this proverbial horse standing near or over the water trough, needing hydration, but not drinking the water. Seeing this occurring seems senseless. Even counterintuitive, although we see this happening on a regular basis.

Who are the people that fall into this category of being “that” horse? Sometime surprisingly the people you wouldn’t imagine they would be. Yes, I’m calling out those of you who are leaders in the business world, and those of you who are sports coaches at some of the highest levels of competition. It’s very likely the scenario you are presently in is due to a combination of circumstances which have brought you to the place of inaction. Others may see your inaction as being stubborn, close minded, or worse, unaware of the fact the “water” is right in front of you.

Recently I experienced a leader who seemingly just realized they were not in a good place. All the data supports making this obvious, but ironically, they were behaving as if everything was fine. Better than fine. In fact, that they didn’t seemingly have any challenges at all. Sure, this may sound implausible, but if there were an “ignore button”, they were certainly pressing it often. Possibly without realizing they were doing so. However, others they are leading were absolutely noticing this, but didn’t feel empowered to do something, or know how to approach this leader.  

When I got the call from this leader, I was shocked. Upon speaking with them briefly, it was also as if time or the circumstances they were in didn’t matter. In fact, it was as if I was speaking to an individual that had little or no awareness of the reality of the situation, they were in. This may be their way of protecting themselves from reality, but the reality is, they will need to confront reality next week. Why next week? Because they will have a new boss who is going to want them to provide answers about how they will do things differently to obtain far better results. When I asked them what their plan was to have this conversation, I was less than impressed by what I heard.

The more difficult aspect of hearing that the leader didn’t think they needed a new plan was more disconcerting. Having the experience of knowing they were going to need to have a solid, well thought through plan to make the necessary changes to impact their current circumstances seemed obvious. Yet, this appeared to be the furthest thinking from what they were expressing.

Instead, what I heard was that they were going to be making tactical maneuvers. Ones that in essence would only apply a Band-Aid to their scenario, when what they needed was to have a surgical team in place to repair the damage. The lack of awareness of what was going to be needed to positively impact their circumstances partially contributes to the situation they are in.  However, the bigger problem is that they thought with the plan they had shared with me, that all the solutions to solve their challenges were going to be met.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this scenario is going to play out. At least not without doing something quite different than they are planning to do.

If you are a leader or sports coach who is currently in or may be in a situation which will call for you to do something different than you are doing, with the intent to get better results, below are some suggestions you can begin considering to apply.

  • Do you have a group of trusted advisors? Ones who will challenge you and not play the role of a “yes” person.?
  • Consider why you think that doing the same thing all the time is going to offer you the desired results you are seeking.
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how comfortable are you with change?
  • If your score isn’t close to a 10, you have some work to do. This can also offer insight into why you may be in the circumstances you are now.
  • How well do you listen to others? Chances are high that this is an area we can all improve upon. Consider testing yourself in terms of noticing whether you are listening or talking more. Practice listening more than you are talking and see what benefits you gain from this.
  • What is preventing you for doing something differently? If you don’t like change, what if you looked at change differently? Perhaps as being a positive maneuver versus one you find more comfort in resisting?
  • Stop kidding yourself. If your current circumstances aren’t where you want them to be, others are noticing. In fact, they are likely waiting for you to reach out and ask them for help.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to help others. If you are not asking for help yourself, this isn’t allowing you to fully embrace your role as a leader or sports coach. Taking actions to do something different doesn’t need to be perceived negatively. In fact, it might be exactly what you need to do. What will your doing something different be?

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Sportscoach #Communication #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Business #Listening #Change #Embracingchange #Management #Strategy #Success #Leadershipsuccess

Who are you?

You might think that it’s easy to describe to others who you are. Realistically, not everyone has to do this on a regular basis, but there are times when we must do this.  When we do, consider how important it is to get this right. Also consider how instead of feeling less enthusiastic about doing this, how wonderful it would be to be able to describe yourself with clarity and pride.

Being able to articulate who you are to others may in fact becoming an art. One that takes practice, and critical knowledge and deep awareness of who you are. Contextually, there may be times when you are describing yourself where you will need to provide greater details than other times, but imagine if you could do this with complete ease? In a way that feels authentic, yet not over the top.

Having the ability to understand who you are is analogous to having a solid home foundation. In the absence of having a strong one, everything else placed on top isn’t going to be supported as well, and this is a contributing factor which impacts many other areas in a person’s development. One of them is confidence. However, in my opinion, the most important one is having a clear and supportive awareness of truly who you are as an individual.

Independent of someone’s age, when people are in the process of discovering who they truly are, and given a language to support describing themselves, this is when I have seen incredible transformations in the person. This may seem like a simple process. It’s not. It takes time and requires the individual to be openminded to accepting truly who they are first. If there is resistance to this process, it will take much longer to achieve getting to the goal of having full awareness of who you are. Both as a person and how you are perceived by others.

Interestingly, I find that many people are surprised by how others perceive them. This partially has to do with the fact they do not have a full command themselves of their own self-awareness. In the absence of having this, it can lead to complications an individual will have in several different areas. One of them is the ease at which a person can comfortably interact with others. This includes being able to have productive and informal conversations with people. Sometimes the informal conversations are just as important as the productive ones, as they each contribute to developing the relationship you are having with that person.

On the theme of relationships, this is another area which is impacted by someone’s lack of self-awareness. Particularly the level of achievement which your relationships will be able to attain.  When someone is struggling with their awareness level, it will certainly impact how deep their personal and professional relationships will be. If someone who is in a leadership role is lacking self-awareness, this is going to severely also impact their ability to lead others. Namely because if a leader isn’t fully aware and in commend of who they are, realistically how are they authentically going to be able to impact others positively and productively? Yes, this is a rhetorical question, but one worthy of noting, as sometimes what seems so obvious can benefit from having the spotlight on it.

Having a spotlight on something can accomplish a few things. The first thing it does is to highlight either something strong, or an area that needs improvement. When an area needs improvement and is highlighted, it supports the theory or expression of the “squeaky wheel”. A “squeaky wheel” is more apt to get attention, and ideally action applied towards positively addressing it.

Since we realistically should know ourselves better than others, why is it that many people find it easier to answer the question about how others perceive who they are, versus having to describe themselves? I always find this to be fascinating. Often so do the people who are initially attempting to describe who they are, but then find it much easier to describe how others perceive them. However, a person’s perception of how others would describe them might in fact not be realistic, but there are generally hints with these descriptions about who they might like to be. Or, have others perceive them that way.

If you are or know someone who is struggling with articulating who they are, and who could benefit from having a heightened self-awareness level, here are some suggestions to offer support in this area.

  • Are you nervous about having others truly knowing who you are? Come up with a list of reasons you are nervous about this. Are they realistic? Or is your confidence level interfering with being able to allow you to embrace who you are?
  • Do you often feel like you must be someone else around others? Do you find this to be exhausting? Would you agree it would be much easier to be always yourself?
  • Have you made any prior attempts at truly understanding who you are, with the goal of being able to become more comfortable with who you are? Ultimately being able to communicate who you are to others when it would be beneficial to do so?
  • On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, how defensive do you become when you are asked to describe yourself to others? 
  • What have you done recently to invest in yourself? This applies to any area of your life (e.g., educationally, physically, etc.). If you haven’t made any investments, and they don’t have to be monetary ones, they could be time based, ask yourself why you haven’t done this?
  • What reasons do you have for not being comfortable with your own self-awareness? Write them down. Then see if any of the responses could be placed into a few different categories, or if you are seeing any patterns to your responses (e.g., I am overly critical of myself).
  • Think about how you could benefit from having an increased self-awareness level. Perhaps this isn’t something you have thought about before. If you haven’t, this is a great exercise you can benefit from to begin the process of investing in yourself, and which will positively impact many other areas in your life.
  • Consider who you could ask to help you with developing your self-awareness.

A common thread I see in the most successful and happy people (e.g., leaders and sports coaches) is that they have a full command of their self-awareness. Doing so provides them with the gift of being able to share their abilities confidently and authentically with others, who will benefit enormously from them in multiple areas.

TAGS: #Selfawareness #Doyouknowwhoyouare #Leadership #Sportscoach #Leader #Leaders #Communication #Motivation #Personaldevelopment #Success #Teams #Teamdynamics #Business #Sports #Confidence #Careeradvice #Management #Mindset #Sportsteams #Businessteams #Corporateteams #Perception #Strategy

Are you getting what you need from your conversation?

I was recently having a discussion with someone who inspires me. We were talking about how important it is conversationally to focus on making sure certain ones are productive. Realistically not all of them are, and that’s okay. However, there are going to be ones which you should be paying a higher level of attention to.

During this conversation, the person shared with me a technique which supports making sure the end result of the discussion can be mutually beneficial. It’s a relatively simple suggestion, and one that I can’t wait to “test drive”. The technique involves pausing during your conversation and asking the person you are speaking with if they are deriving what they need from their side? You might think they are, but as we know, conversations can sometimes veer off into unintended places, which may not result in the desired outcome.

Being able to ask the simple question to determine if the person you are speaking with is receiving the information they were asking you about, or conversely if you were sharing information with them that is helpful, can take your conversations to a new level of communication. Who doesn’t want that? Particularly if you are seeking advice or clarity on a topic.

If you were to ask others how they would rate themselves in terms of being a strong communicator, you might be surprised by their response. What you will find is that some people are not aware of their communication level, style, or that perhaps there is room for improvement in this area. Why? Namely because although communicating with others is something we are all accustomed to doing, doesn’t guarantee we have mastered being proficient in this area. Although mistakenly people will assume that many leaders or sports coaches are at a higher level then perhaps the reality of where they are.

When someone is at a lower level of communication than they are aware of, this presents challenges for both the person, and everyone they are communicating with. Interestingly, although someone might think they are a strong communicator, their lack of awareness is going to at some point begin to surface other issues for them. The most difficult part of this scenario is that often, and ultimately someone is going to have to bring this communication deficit to a leader or sports coaches’ attention. Doing so will require diplomacy and being prepared for the person to be defensive about hearing what is being stated.

Chances are also good that the initial conversation suggesting to someone they should consider working on improving their communication style is going to take the person some time to process and accept hearing this. However, once they get past having time to process what they have heard, and if they understand there will be significant benefit to them improving in this area, that’s when they can begin to move towards increasing their communication ability.

Now you might be thinking, who will help the person who has a communication deficit? Realistically they will need to embrace having an appreciation for how their current style may not be ideally working for them. One way to do this is to have the person start to listen more than they are speaking during all their conversations. They can also have a list of open-ended questions they can ask in multiple scenarios which will provide them with an opportunity to listen more and come up with additional questions based on the response to listen further.

A typical conversational challenge I have noticed with leaders is that they tend to launch into sharing a significant amount of information with others, but do not allow the other party to equally reciprocate. This can be quite frustrating for the listener, as they will be made to feel like conversations are too often one sided. Potentially that they are not given a chance to voice what they may want to convey. Sure, the listener gains lots of information from these conversations, but realistically, is it always beneficial to them?

If you are looking for some other suggestions on how to gain more value from your conversations, here are some ideas you can consider.

  • Prior to having a conversation, consider what you want the outcome of it to be.
  • During conversations with others, pay attention to the body language and verbal clues of the person or group you are speaking to (e.g., yawning, looking unengaged, folded arms, looking away or down, minimal, or defensive responses). If you see any negative clues occurring, ask the person or audience if they are deriving value from your discussion. Or, how they could be.
  • What is your energy level when you are speaking with someone? Is it the appropriate level? When your energy level is out of synch with the delivery of your conversation, the conversation may not end up where you want it to.
  • How is your tone of voice when you are in most conversations? Are you aware of whether you should or need to modify your delivery tone?
  • When you are speaking to others, are you attempting to be influential, yet coming across as dictatorial? There can be a subtle difference, and you need to be aware of which style you are trending towards. If you don’t know how you are coming across when you are conveying information, ask someone you implicitly trust, and make sure not to be defensive about what you might hear from them.
  • Are any of your conversations exciting? Or are many of them filled with negativity, or always serious information? Not all of them will be, but there should be a balance of the variety of types you are having. Are there? If not, this should give you additional insight into why and how others are reacting to conversing with you.

By giving both the leader and those they are conversing with a chance to pause during their conversation to consider if the conversation is providing each with what they need, this will ensure that both sides can gain the value they would ideally like to derive from their conversations. Pausing and asking, “Are you getting what you need from this conversation?” will also increase the likelihood that more beneficial discussions are occurring. As we enter a new year, consider factoring this thinking and technique into the next conversation you have. Better yet, I hope you see that the outcome of your conversations is more desirable this year.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Leaders #Sportscoaches #Sportscoach #Communication #Success #Howtohavebetterconversations #Motivation #Tipsoncommunicating #Bettercommunication #Leadershipcommunicationtips #Teams #Awareness #Selfawareness #Motivation #Teamdynamics #Purpose #Business

Leader’s communication style, responsiveness level and success attainment. Are they linked?

When someone is in a leadership role, there is plenty of scrutiny on everything they do. They are also subjected to having most aspects of what they are involved with measured. Either overtly, or from a judgement and opinion level.  This is something that new or even experienced leaders will either find to be helpful in evaluating their performance, or similar to a heavy weight they must learn to tolerate carrying while performing at a peak level.

One of the most glaring mistakes I see new leaders make is assuming they have to know everything about their role. In other words, that if they ask others for advice, it might disclose they don’t know everything. This seems absurd when you think about it from this perspective. Why? Because it would be unrealistic for anyone, let alone a leader to know everything related to their role. Even experienced leaders will not have mastered everything about their role, and they don’t need to. However, they will need to be humble enough to admit this. Doing so early on in their leadership role will serve them well.

Maybe it’s me, but I find it extraordinarily frustrating when I interact with leaders who truly need support yet will initially keep you or others at an arm’s length and not allow you to help them. Of course, they need the help, they know they do, but they seem to be unable to allow their guard to come down enough to gain value from others experience and advice. Some of this is attributed to their pride or perhaps their ego, and neither will serve a leader well from a long-term success perspective.

Considering how pride and ego can have a detrimental impact on a leader who refuses to realize this, leads me to think about what are the contributing factors to this scenario? Let’s start with how comfortable a leader is with communication. If they do not find this to be one of their strong suits, have they, or will they seek support to improve this ability? Communication comes in a variety of forms, so tackling one at a time is more reasonable. A leader also might find that they can master one type of communication more easily, and doing this will help them to gain traction in the other areas they can then begin to work on becoming better at too.

If a leader is struggling with their ability to communicate well with others, I have seen a pattern of this also impacting their responsiveness levels. For context, I’m referring to how much of a sense of urgency a leader has with handling and responding to via their ideal communication style. When a leader is not yet comfortable with communicating with others they lead or need to engage with a sense of urgency, their responsiveness level generally isn’t as strong or as quick as it could or should be. Given the fact that there are many leadership situations which require a rapid response, if a leader isn’t capable of responding at the required response rate, this will then critically impact the desired success outcome of the scenario they are involved with.

Responsiveness levels for leaders can vary, but one of the negative contributing factors is whether they have even a slight tendency to procrastinate. Perhaps this is because they either feel like they need to take extra time to think things through thoroughly, or that they don’t or haven’t learned how to respond to the urgency and pressure, and then resort to stalling their actions.  This responsive style will not serve a leader well, but only they can decide to alter and commit to not falling prey to this potentially career limiting reality.

Let’s assume you are a leader or sports coach who might recognize the need to improve your communication, responsiveness and ultimately your success level. Here are some suggestions for you to consider how to move in the direction of doing so.

  • What would you say is your strongest area of communication (e.g., verbal, written, listening, non-verbal, visual)?
  • Have you proactively invested in making your top communication area stronger?
  • Are you willing to invest in yourself to enhance your leadership communication ability?
  • What is your timeframe to improve your communication ability, and can you see how doing so will have a positive impact?
  • How would you rate your responsiveness level from a communication perspective? For example, do you routinely get right back to people who are looking for a response, generally delay your response, or perhaps ignore and not respond at all to some people? Perhaps some variation of these? Hint. The most successful leaders and sports coaches are highly responsive, even if it involves the most trivial topic. In this case, they may delegate someone else to respond for them, and that is perfectly acceptable.
  • If you lean towards not being as responsive as you know you could be, ask yourself what is contributing to this behavior and causing your responsive level to be lower than it should be? Stubbornness, lack of having a sense of urgency, self-sabotaging or being complacent are some potential reasons why.
  • Be honest. Is your success level where it should or could be? Write down what may be contributing to your current success level, and make sure that the majority of items on your list are what you can do to impact this. It’s tempting to point finger at others, but ultimately you are responsible for the success you and your team will experience.
  • Ask yourself why you want to ultimately improve your leadership success level. You might be surprised at your responses, and they will also provide you with additional insight into areas you can focus more attention on to improve your situation.

Based on my experience, I will say that a leaders communication ability and responsiveness level is directly linked to the success they and their team’s will have. If either of these two areas are not at an optimal operating level, or considered as contributing success factors, I would recommend they are evaluated and adjusted accordingly.

TAGS: #Leadership #Leader #Sportscoach #Team #Teams #Success #Productivity #Communication #Responsiveness #Business #Teamdynamics #Successtips #Management #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment #Strategy