Why do we follow leaders?

I’m not known for talking about politics, and in fact I don’t talk about them for obvious reasons. However, similar to business and sports team leaders, the people in these positions all play an important role in our society. Although their respective assents to their leadership roles are generally remarkably, and curiously different. 

Take for example just about any CEO or leader of a sports team organization. Or, a head sports team coach. If you were to ask them where they went to leadership school, most would look at you oddly. Why? Because there are limited ways for leaders to obtain their skills from an educational perspective. Skills that are truly meaningful.

In other words, leaders learn how to lead from actual experience of leading others. Not by simply reading about how to lead others. I’m not disparaging the wonderful leadership books out there, I’m just stating that I have yet to come across a leader who said they learned everything they needed to become an amazing leader via reading about the topic.

Similar to a trade role (e.g., plumber, electrician, welder), leaders gain the majority of their skills by practicing and applying them in a physical way. Although trade persons are highly skilled, they do not have to master the soft skills that effective leaders need to gain. Unless of course they are the owner of the company. Then I would place those individuals in the same category as business and sports team leaders.

The most impactful skills that leaders need to acquire and master are ones which are more difficult to measure. I’m referring to the skills of communication, influence and emotional intelligence (e.g., EQ). Granted I want to stress that the EQ skill isn’t something one can learn, as this is one of the skills in the innate category. You are either fortunate to have lots of it, or not enough for your or others liking. Having common sense is also one of the beneficial skills the top leaders possess. However, it’s one of the other skills you either have, or you don’t.

Of course, all leaders start out as followers. The interesting factor to consider is at what point is the cross over to leadership made? Depending on the type of leadership role, it could in fact take years before someone steps into that role. However, we have all seen instances where an individual is placed into a leadership role they are ill prepared to take on. Everyone suffers when this occurs. With a few exceptions.

One of the exceptions is that the newly minted leader is supported by others to buffer their learning curve. The supporters will play the role of advising the majority of the new leaders decisions, until they reach a point when they can make more of the decisions on their own. However, without this arrangement in place as an exception, the new under prepared leader will experience a steep and often painful learning curve themselves, and for those they lead. I guarantee you have seen this. Perhaps you have even had the misfortune of being led by this individual? The good news is that most of these ill prepared leaders will be filtered out, and replaced by an actual experienced leader. Although not always.

At what point do people know they are ready to lead and make the crossover into leadership? Below are some ways you will know when the time is right for you to make this leap.

  • Gaining experience takes time. Most leaders will need a minimum of a decade worth of experience to have had enough opportunities to learn, and to have made enough mistakes along the way to be effective when they step into their role. With this said, having 15-20 years of experience is even better.
  • You have had the opportunity to learn about multiple facets of the business, or acquire deep knowledge about the sports team you are leading. Additionally, you have had a minimum number of roles (e.g., 2-4) to provide you with insight only gained from having exposure to critical functions which impact the company, or sports team you will be leading.
  • You are at a point where you are able to mentor others.
  • People you respect and who are in leadership roles begin seeking you out for advice or your opinion on how to handle different situations.
  • You are able to see the big picture, and can effectively communicate strategically as well as persuasively to your peers and leadership members above your current role. 
  • You have made enough calculated mistakes and recovered from them without tarnishing your reputation.
  • Others trust your judgement and are comfortable with letting you make critical decisions, as you have solid track record for demonstrating this.
  • Not everyone who can step into a leadership role wants to do so. In fact, many shy away from the enormous responsibilities that go along with being the leader. It’s not a role for the faint of heart, or those who have difficulty with making, sticking to and applying decisions to be carried out effectively.

Moving into a leadership role is a privilege, and not one to be casually entered into.  In fact, I can tell you that you will intuitively know when you are ready to take on becoming the leader. If you can’t trust your gut instinct with this decision, then it’s not likely your time to step out of the follower role yet. 

Tags: #Business #Success #Leadership #Teams #Sportsteams #Headcoaches #Sportscoaches #Coaches #Headsportscoach #HeadSportscoaches #Strategy #Management #BusinessManagement

Preparing for what’s next.

Let’s face it. Having a crystal ball would help us in many ways. However, there may in fact be certain things we don’t want to know about. Although knowing some information ahead of time might help us to be better prepared emotionally. That would be the upside, but there is a downside too.

Due to the fact we don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future, or at least I don’t, how I look ahead and prepare for what’s in front of me isn’t a perfect science. However, let’s say my system is a work in progress and continuously being refined. I would say it’s better to have a system in place than not. Or, at least I find comfort in attempting to have plans in place, or a contingency plan.

When I talk to business leaders and sports coaches, I am always fascinated with their different approaches to how they lead and guide others. Especially in times of adversity.

Adversity is something no one is immune from experiencing. Especially teams as they can be more complicated to deal with versus comparing them to an individual and how they handle adversity. We all know that when you have multiple factors involved in a scenario, it tends to complicate the situation. However, there are ways to simplify and confront a team dealing with a difficult situation.

One of my favorite business memories was when I was working with a sales team who was struggling to meet their numbers. I’ll contrast this with a sports team I was also working with who was rebuilding their team, and the challenges that were present.

In both of the team scenarios, neither one had an adversity contingency plan. This is fairly common, as most teams will strictly be focused on achievement and the process of everything going well. As we know, this isn’t realistic, and precisely why teams and their leaders get into trouble when adversity shows up.

By discussing with each team leader how we were going to handle adversity if it occurred, I prepared both teams in an entirely different manner than they were accustomed to. At first there was some reluctance on both team’s leader/coach to the approach I was recommending, as they thought it would be detrimental to think about something negative occurring.

There is a phrase that I’ll make less crude, and refer to as “life happens”. We know it does, but we are not always willing to embrace the fact that things may not go the way we want them to. However, when we have a contingency plan that can prepare us for a situation that takes us off track, it is mentally much easier to deal with the adverse circumstances when they do occur. In fact, how often do plans typically play out one hundred percent the way you expect them to?

Let’s go back to the two different teams I was referencing. They both eventually conceded and agreed to putting a contingency plan in place. In fact, they put multiple ones in place in order to handle a number of adverse situations they may encounter. Once the contingency plans were in place, both the leader and coach admitted that crafting their respective contingency plans was easier for them to do then they had originally expected.

There is another expression attributed to Benjamin Franklin that I will often cite, and which is related to this topic. It is “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Yes, this might seem slightly harsh, but it has served me and many others extremely well. Especially when an adverse situation occurred.

So, if you are curious about some techniques you can apply to help you or your team prepare for what’s next, below are some ideas for you to consider.

  • Make a list of the positive outcomes expected from your team.
  • Using your positive team outcome list, create a second column and include one or two potential reasons the outcome may not be reached.
  • Leveraging your two columns above, create a third column. This column will include a proposed solution to handle the potential adverse outcomes of your plans.
  • Some of your contingency plans may in fact be able to cover multiple scenarios.
  • If possible, it is recommended you include your team in the contingency planning.
  • If you do not include your team in the contingency planning, make sure you convey to them you have a plan in place if they get off track from their expected positive outcomes.
  • Ideally, you will want to role play the contingency plans. This is because, if you have to put them in place, it will be a more fluid experience for the team since they have knowledge of what is expected of them to do in the contingency planning scenario.
  • Mindset plays a large role in helping your teams to get through adversity. Make sure you have thought about what plan you have in place to leverage your team’s positive mindset when you need to do so in adverse scenarios.

If you are wondering whether these two teams had to enact their contingency plans, I can assure you they did. More than once in fact. However, they were incredibly relieved they had them in place. Even better? They both achieved and exceeded their initial plans, despite the unplanned and encountered adversity along the way.

Tags: #Business #Success #Adversity #ContingencyPlanning #Leadership #Management #BusinessManagement #Strategy

Is being helpful overrated?

I’ve always been a friendly person, and someone who has embraced the concept of reaching out to support others. Especially those who are too proud to ask for help. Sometimes simply acknowledging another person is a form of being helpful. Consider the last time when someone you know walked by you without say hello, and it would have been appropriate for them to do so. Perhaps one of your colleagues, or worse, your boss or a family member.

When was the last time you did something to help another person? Fortunately, the response from the majority of people will be that it was recently. However, what separates people who naturally gravitate towards genuinely helping others, from those who are possibly guilted into doing so isn’t such a stark contrast as you might think.

The reason some people help others more than others is tied to a number of factors. The first one is that there was a point in their life that they can point to when someone helped them. It was also an experience which made a significant difference in their situation. Another factor is that the majority of people will tell you they feel happier when they can and do help out another individual.

People will tell you that they are committed to helping others because they feel they have been granted more opportunities for success than others. Some might call this a form of privilege not everyone benefits from. Not everyone feels this way, but when they do, the difference they can make because of this emotion or recognition in others’ lives can be remarkable. Keep in mind that it is not always a monetary scenario that is helpful. Lending your time and attention to someone can be a more powerful way of supporting someone.

Fortunately, there are numerous organizations that are setup to support others, and also thousands of opportunities for people to tap into funding to provide them with support. I was reminded of this recently when I was doing some research on funding options for some projects I am working on. Unlike projects I have worked on in the past, the particular project I am focused on could be one to receive a grant to extend help others.

For years others have been tapping into grants to support their humanitarian efforts. It was eye opening for me to see how many funding options are available to provide help. However, this hasn’t been a route I have ventured down. Namely because the majority of my professional career prior to becoming an entrepreneur has been focused on commercial, for profit products and services.

Having access to funding options to help others is definitely something I will be looking more into. It opens up possibilities beyond what I imagined. Even better news is that I have both the ability to seek grants, and also the expertise to share with others to help support them. Both parties benefit from this scenario.

As a business entrepreneur, my mind queued up to consider possible new directions to assist others. From my perspective, this is a win/win scenario for everyone. This wasn’t always the case in the professional world I have evolved out of. However, I am grateful for the experience it provided me to be able to apply and share it with others.

Consider a time when things in your life, or a particular situation were not going well. Was there someone who seemingly swooped in to assist you? Were you surprised by who it was? Or, was it someone who routinely has been there for you? If it was the later response, consider yourself to be very fortunate. Not everyone has someone like that in their lives.

As a parent, I have had a plethora of situations to help our children. When they were younger, I would classify the type of help they needed as being more physical support (e.g., learning to walk, feed themselves). However, as they matured and became young adults, the type of support they needed was far different than I had anticipated. Why? Because it required a great deal of emotional and mental support as they ventured through their new experiences.

Prior to having children, I didn’t realize that the experience of managing other people would provide me with the skills and expertise as an advantage of helping to guide our own children. This has to do with the fact that many of the scenarios I had to help others manage through, are now ones our own young adults are contending with.

Being able to leverage my professional experience to help my own family and now thousands of others around the globe, is beyond something I envisioned happening. However, I’m eternally grateful this occurred, and want to express my thanks to those who supported me to be able to get to this point in my life. They include my husband Stephen Shinnick, my parents Daniel and Emily Murphy and my grandparents who are no longer with us.

So, would I say that being helpful to others is overrated? No. In fact it is one of the most humane acts someone can do. What will you be doing to help someone else today, tomorrow and beyond? I know what I’ll be doing, and I hope you have some solid ideas too.

Tags: #Communication #Havingdifficultconversations #Howtohaveadifficultconversation #Leadership #Management #Business

Uncertainty and decision making

Overview:

Let’s face it. Most people when asked if they like uncertainty will tell you they don’t. If asked to choose between the two, they will more often favor decision making. However, both of these topics can make people uncomfortable, yet they don’t have to. So, who are the people comfortable with both, and were they always this way? Can you be one of them?

Learning how to embrace uncertainty versus fearing or dreading it isn’t something which comes naturally. When we think of the concept of uncertainty, we often wish that we could definitively know what the outcome will be. When we can anticipate or predict the way anything will turn out, it also gives us a sense of comfort, or perceivably more control. Although some people don’t mind being surprised by an outcome. Especially outcomes that have a higher potential to be a positive one.

Although I am not an actuary, a significant percentage of outcomes mathematically will have roughly a fifty percent chance of a favorable outcome. So, why do we as humans tend to ere on focusing on the potential for a negative outcome? One of the reasons we do this is to protect ourselves from disappointment. If we expect the outcome not to be in our favor and it is, then we are happier about the results. Another reason we think negatively, is that we are not confident enough in our abilities, planning or circumstances to warrant the outcome we would prefer.

What if you could alter the way you think and embrace uncertainty? Part of being able to do this will involve re-training the way you think. This isn’t easy to do. Yet it can be incredibly gratifying to achieve being able to do this, even occasionally. To begin down the path of embracing uncertainty, one of the factors I noted above was to become more confident in your thinking this is something you can do. Let’s start there. Can you do this? Yes, this is a rhetorical question, as I know you can.

As you already know, our subconscious mind has a great deal of power. When we tap into it, and we suggest to ourselves that the outcome of any scenario will be favorable, we begin laying down the path for this to happen. Have you ever tried doing this? I’m sure you have, but potentially not all of the time. Consider a time you didn’t do this, and how much energy you put into thinking the outcome of your situation wasn’t going to be in your favor. Yet, it was. What if instead you could have channeled that wasted negative energy into something else? For one thing, you would have been less anxious, more fun to be around, and likely have had more energy to appreciate the positive outcome.

Let’s switch gears and focus on decision making as something you enjoy doing, and do well. For those reading this who feel they have mastered the art of decision making, consider how you could or would teach others how to do this. If you are in the category of needing to learn how to make better decisions, I have some suggestions on how you can go about doing this.

  • I recently met a woman who uses a method of visually thinking through her decisions. What she does is to draw a square box. In that box is the topic related to her decision. Around the box she places other boxes that have words or phrases that either support or don’t support her topic. This is similar to a pro and con list, but it is using a different visual representation to help you think through your situation.
  • Now would be a good time to consider putting together either an informal or formal board of advisors. It doesn’t have to be a big group, and it should be people who you know, and can rely upon to give you input from an objective position. Not necessarily what you want to hear, but a more neutral or alternative way of thinking about the outcome of your decision.
  • Depending on the type of decision you are making, is it possible to do research, or more research on helping you to determine an outcome? Perhaps a positive one?
  • Part of becoming a decision maker and mastering this concept, means you will become more comfortable with relying upon your gut instinct. Start slowly if you are uncomfortable with doing this, but think about what your first thought was. Then think about whether it is based on fear, or has merit for being a good decision.
  • When you vacillate on your decisions, you typically do this due to lack of confidence in your ability to decide. You will know you have mastered the art of decision making, when you stop vacillating on your decisions.

Yes, life is full of uncertainty, and we would be hard pressed to live a day without having to make any decisions. So, given the reality of this, the best course of action for ourselves is to embrace uncertainty and decision making, and to become pros at both of them. Let’s get you started today!

Tags: #Business #DecisionMaking #Uncertainty #EmbracingChange #Marketing #Sales #Leadership #MakingDecisions

Feeling appreciated? Or not?

For years employers have been regularly conducting surveys to help them determine the level of satisfaction their employees are feeling. One of the factors in determining employee satisfaction is to ask them to rate on a scale how well appreciated they feel.

If you are not fortunate enough to work at a company who regularly takes your pulse on your level of satisfaction to work there, you are not alone. However, you should be concerned this isn’t happening. Why? Because doing so is very inexpensive to accomplish, and is as simple as sending out an on-line survey with some well thought through questions to help determine your level of satisfaction. Hint, make the survey anonymous for better results. 

Independent of the type of industry you are working in, the role you have, or geographically where you work, everyone can be positively influenced by feeling appreciated by their employer. So, why is this seemingly a concept that appears to escape being carried out on a regular basis?

Let’s peel back the onion on this question, as there are many layers to consider why this is happening. In my opinion, this is partially caused by our society being dismissive about the power of saying two words more often. Thank you. Yes, this is easy to do, and should be conveyed sincerely. However, potentially like you, I have witnessed hundreds of missed opportunities to accomplish this.

Another reason people do not feel a greater sense of appreciation in the workforce, is due to unspoken or poorly articulated expectations by managers of their employees. When assumptions about performance are not clear, everyone loses in this scenario. Worse, is that the employees will immediately head down the path of feeling unappreciated.

Although most employees are considered to be employed by their free will and not under strict contract guidelines, this doesn’t mean they are exempt from feeling they are being taken advantage of. Of course the feeling of being taken advantage of can be highly subjective. However, it is worth considering this as a potential cause for why employees feel underappreciated.

So, how do you determine if an employee is feeling unappreciated, and what can you do about this? Below are some suggestions to consider to potentially turn around a toxic employee work environment.

  • Ask your managers how often they engage with their teams to get a pulse on their level of satisfaction of being on their team, or more generally, at the company.
  • Have your managers been trained on how to gauge their teams’ level of energy? When a team’s energy level is low, this is one of the leading indicators there is a problem brewing, or on its way to escalating to a level you don’t want it to reach.
  • Has your company ever sent out an employee satisfaction survey? If you answered “never” to this question, consider doing so within the next few weeks. There are plenty of on-line resources to consult and help you to craft questions to do this.
  • If your company has not sent out an employee satisfaction survey within the last year, it’s time to do so. Generally doing this several times a year, or potentially on a quarterly basis would be ideal.
  • If you are on the management team, consider the factors that contribute to your level of feeling appreciated at your organization. Are these factors that your team members would be positively influenced by too? Or, are they factors which only apply to someone at the management level (e.g., you receive quarterly incentive bonuses, but your team members do not)?
  • Consider doing something early next week to increase the level of everyone’s satisfaction of being on your team. Can you think of what this would be? Perhaps you could start by making sure you simply acknowledge and say hello to everyone on your team each day. Something as small as this gesture is more powerful than most give it credit.
  • Noted above was sincerely saying thank you to someone relating to the work they are currently doing or worked on and accomplished. Do you routinely do this? I’m always amazed at how often this gesture is overlooked, and the damage it does when it does not occur.
  • Write down a list of 5-10 items which contribute to making you feel either appreciated, or potentially more appreciated. Factor in which of these items are actionable right away, or that will take some time to implement. Then put them into practice.
  • Have a conversation with each member of your team about what makes them feel appreciated. There will be some people who will need time to think about what would be on their list, and make sure you follow through with them to determine what’s on their list.

When you put measures in place to have people in your organization feel appreciated, you will noticeably begin to see a difference in the results outcome of your business on numerous metric levels. Productivity will be one of them, and so will engagement, which both will positively impact your bottom line.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of Wisdom Whisperer  and Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer (published in December 2019)and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

Essentially every team is dysfunctional in some way. Our expertise is in uniting, motivating and bridging dysfunctional teams (sports & business), and turning them into epic ones.

Market Me Too also works with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. Our coaching produces repeatable, measurable and amazing results personally and professionally. Need proof? Just talk to our clients, or read through our testimonials.

If you want better and different results, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com or (339) 987-0195.

“NEW!” Guide for Teams:

Every team is dysfunctional at some point.  Click on the link below to obtain a “free guide” with (5) Proven Strategies To Turn Your Dysfunctional Team Into An Epic One