Getting ahead. What does this take?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Admit it. Are you all talk?

Yes, I’ll grant you that some people are more achievement oriented than others, but we all have some capacity to start and complete things. Perhaps at different levels of attainment, but we either push ourselves to obtain amazing outcomes, or put in a minimal effort into doing so with lack luster results.  

Some people are of the opinion that why bother doing something if you are not going to do it exceptionally well? Does this mean they have the capacity to complete and achieve more than others? Not necessarily, but it could be one of the driving forces which allows them to put their words into action which result in a tangible and positive outcome. There are also people who are driven to accomplish something to prove they can do so to others, and some who are purely self-motivated. Although when you think about what the difference between these approaches is, this is where it can get interesting.

If you are a leader or sports coach, appreciating and understanding how to motivate another person or a team can be one of the most challenging experiences you will encounter. Not only because we understand that everyone is motivated differently, but also motivated at various levels, and they are not always in synch when you need them to be. What can be frustrating about this is when people tell you they are going to do and accomplish something that you agreed upon, and they do not hold up their end of the agreement. Yes, this is disappointing, and it impacts both parties. Perhaps an entire team.

Is it easy to determine who is “all talk, no action”? It can be, but some people are so convincing you want to give them multiple opportunities to prove it. I guarantee you know someone like this, or perhaps I might be describing you? If I am describing you, have you considered why you fall into this classification? Does it matter to you that you routinely tell others you are going to do something and prove otherwise? Do you tell others you are going to do something because it is easier than being honest with them? Or perhaps telling them you either can’t, won’t or do not want to do what you committed to doing? Maybe you have good intentions, but time passes, and you think this gives you a pass not to follow through? Possibly some other version of this type of thinking?

My question to people who are “all talk” is does it matter to you that you are letting others down with your pseudo promises? Or are you simply able to dismiss any emotions associated with disappointing others and not give it a second thought? If this is the case, then I should have more concern for your thinking. Why? Because you are capable of so accomplishing so much more than how you are acting but have chosen not to live up to your potential. A word that some leaders and sports coaches cringe when hearing or thinking about, as they have seen many people who “have or had potential” but choose not to exercise it.

Seeing someone who doesn’t take advantage of their potential from a leadership perspective is very difficult to watch, and most leaders will grant someone in this situation a few opportunities to reach their potential. Or they won’t, and the person gets bypassed and will remain the same in terms of their growth and attainment potential. From my perspective this is sad, but also a reality due to the hyper competitive world we live in. Although some people might not look at it this way, and are happy with being average and not reaching their full potential.

This morning I received a text from a person who I knew had potential, but they had been struggling for several years to do something with it. Part of the reason had to do with their lack of confidence, so they talked a good game to convince you initially they were going to follow through on what they were going to do. After hearing this a few times with no change, it was obvious they were “all talk, and no action”. However, today the text I received from this person proved they were going to act, and they outlined how this action had been planned, and shared with me the actions they had taken.

Yes, I was both surprised and happy to receive this text, as I wasn’t sure when I would. I knew I would, but the person had to believe in themselves, find their confidence to proceed, and then take the step which can be the most difficult. The first step forward. They have done this, and I have a giant and very proud smile on my face thinking about this accomplishment.

If you have good intentions and don’t want to be classified as someone who is “all talk and no action”, or who has someone you lead who is this way, below are some suggestions to help alter this scenario.

  • Have you sat down and told this person that you have noticed a pattern with their behavior? Sometimes this conversation hasn’t taken place, although you might have presumed it has. You might be the first one to call them out on their behavior.
  • Ask the person what their reasons are for continuously being “all talk, and no action”? You may or may not be surprised by what they tell you.
  • After you have asked the question above, continue to ask enough questions to get to the root of the actual “why” they don’t follow through.
  • Determine if the person wants to change? They might be stuck and need support to do so, yet they don’t know who to turn to for support, or how to ask for help.
  • Consider helping the person put together a plan of a few things they can accomplish to prove to them they can follow through.
  • Bad habits or actions can be hard to break, so it is going to take both discipline and having potentially someone who can help to keep the person on track and fully accountable for what they say they are going to do.
  • Having a clear understanding of the repercussions of not keeping your word or not following through on something needs to be agreed upon by both parties. If possible, put your agreement in the written format, and have both parties sign that they agree with the outcome. Yes, this is more formal, and it does work, and it provides the tangibility that a verbal agreement can lack.

Imagine if there were fewer “all talk, no action” people in our lives? I think about this possibility every day, and if this article helps one person to change their behavior, then I will be grateful for this.

TAGS: #Leadership #Motivation #Positivity #Business #Teams #Leader #Sports #Sportscoach #Management #Communication #Productivitytips #Awareness #Purpose #Personaldevelopment #Professionaldevelopment

How to create a winning mentality.

A constant topic which comes up in my conversations has to do with team performance. This is independent of whether we are conversing about a sports team, or a business team. More specifically, the question I am often asked is how do we create a team which works much more productively together, and how to we get the collective team to understand how to have a “winning” mentality?

This morning I was having a conversation with a former NFL player. We were talking about how no one ever shows up on game day and says, “I don’t feel like winning today.” Ironically, he did give me an example of an Olympic athlete who essentially said this, but is this athlete the exception? After considering whether this happens more in sports or in business, we both agreed that the essence of acting this way happens more in business than most leaders will care to admit. Unfortunately, this is demonstrated in the less than desirable performance outcome of a team. Sure, poor performance on sports team’s occurs too, but the collective team mentality is unified in their focus and individually performing at the top of their ability. If they aren’t doing so, everyone will notice, and there isn’t anywhere to hide.

In business, it’s much easier to mask your performance, at least temporarily. The reality is that eventually someone, namely your peers and your leader will at some point catch on to you not bringing your “A” game to the team. It is inordinately frustrating for your peers when you are not “pulling your weight” on a team, and for others who will have to cover or make up the difference for your underwhelming performance contributions. Is someone who is underperforming doing so intentionally? Yes, it’s possible they are, and sometimes this has to do with their state of mind. In other words, whether they have a winning mindset or mentality, or the opposite.

If someone on a team doesn’t have a winning mentality in business, is it collectively understood that a leader will need to address this. It should be both the leader and the person in question, but the reality is that the leader is generally the one who is responsible and who will need to help the person who is struggling with their work performance.  

Although it may appear to be easy to identify who on the team; whether it is a business or sports team doesn’t have a winning mentality, this isn’t always easy to do.  This has to do with the masking I referenced above, and some people are pros at this. They are also simultaneously great at redirecting the attention away from them, with the intent of buying more time to not have to produce top results they are expected to do so.

The good news is that strong team performance can be contagious, but if the team is underperforming and this is manifested in losing or not being competitive, everyone on the team will both feel and see poor results. No one wants to be in this situation, but this happens all the time. Especially in sports, and less desirably when a team is on a losing streak.

When a sports team is on a winning streak, is their mentality different from a losing or underperforming team? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to correctly answer this one, and of course the answer is yes. Although answering this correctly is easy, the hard part is to understand how to create a winning mentality. Both in business and sports. Given the reality this is difficult to accomplish, I will share some of the suggestions I have for both sports coaches and leaders who find themselves in the predicament of not having a winning team mentality.

  • Sometimes a leader or sports coach is unaware of a person on the team who is solely contributing to negatively impacting the team’s positive and winning mentality. If you are not aware of who this person is, it shouldn’t require to you to have too many conversations with others on the team to identify this person.
  • Once you identify who is causing a negative mentality on the team, talk to them individually about how they think they are contributing to the health and wellness of a team from a winning or productivity perspective. Although they may be good at masking how they really feel or are acting, and not revealing why they are negatively impacting the team, you should within 3-6 trouble shooting oriented questions be able to find out why they are doing so.
  • We know that not all leaders are created equally, and this can also apply to their ability to inspire the team they lead to have a positive and winning mentality. If a leader or sports coach doesn’t have a winning mentality themselves, I am going to suggest a controversial approach. The approach will require the leader or sports coach to delegate having another person on their team who is more skilled at and able to positively influence the team to have a winning mentality. From repeated experience, I can tell you this works.
  • The concept of believing in one another is fictionally represented on a show Ted Lasso, but the reality is this concept can be worked on through a series of integrating exercises to apply this. The next step is to then start to have the exercises become embedded in the mindsets of those on the team. In other words, everyone on the team must believe everyone else on the sports team thinks they can win or perform at a top level in order to exceed the performance of their business competitors.
  • Outworking in terms of performance, or out strategizing your competitors are two methods that will help to contribute to having a winning mentality. When they are combined, this is when I have seen team’s both begin to go on winning streaks and begin taking business away from their competitors.
  • Preparing your team to be equally mentally and physically strong can apply to both a sports team, as well as a business. Consider what you are doing on a weekly basis as a leader or sports coach to enable your team to be strong in both areas. Are you sincerely and realistically making the right investments in them to help them to have a winning mentality?

Everyone enjoys being on a well performing team, and the people who lead and who are on these team’s are doing things quite differently than you are. I know this for a fact, as I have done research which provided tangible evidence which differentiated why some teams were winning championships, and others struggled to string a few wins together. I’m sure we can all agree being on a winning mentality team is the more desirable team to be on, so what are you waiting for or going to do if this doesn’t describe the current team you are leading or on?

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Leader #Leaders #How_to_win #A_winning_mentality #Mindset #Teamdynamics #Sports #Sportscoach #Businessleader #Motivation #Communication #Winningmindset #Havingawinningmindset #Winning #Strategy #Success

Choosing words that matter.

Even a small word such as yes can make a difference in someone’s life when it is stated at the right time and to the correct person. Consider the last time you expressed this word, and what the context of using it was. Now that you have hindsight on having said “yes”, was this the optimal word to have chosen? Or, would you have rather expressed another word?

It’s not always easy to cobble together words that will have a positive impact, and some people are clearly better at doing this than others. Does it take practice to be able to do this? For most people it does, but there are people who have the ability to be both articulate, succinct

and expressive in a way that will the majority of time have a positive impact based on what they have expressed. I’m sure you also can name someone who does this well.

We don’t always have the chance to practice stating something that will have a positive impact on someone, and even when we have an opportunity to write and then convey our message, it might not achieve its intended purpose. Although the chances of it doing so in writing might be slightly higher because of the reality that you can edit your message, we know there are no guarantees. Which is exactly why choosing the right word or words and stating them to others can be so difficult. Yet, having the ability to do so is certainly worth striving to achieve.

When the right words are conveyed to either another person or a group, it’s always interesting to learn post the message delivery about the variety of impacts and interpretations the listeners had. About half of the listeners will be in agreement with what they heard, while the remaining half will have varying degrees of either taking action on, needing more time to digest the information or potentially not have any impact on them.

When people in a group setting are hearing words expressed to them that are intended to have a positive impact, and the impact doesn’t affect them the way the speaker thought it would, places both the message conveyer and listeners into an interesting place. One that isn’t always ideal, yet provides an opportunity to also dissect what went wrong with the message delivery.

A recent conversation I was having with a leader related to actually not leveraging an opportunity to have the power of their words impact their team. Instead of conveying upfront what they intended the outcome of a situation to be, they opted not to express what they anticipated the results would be. So, the outcome which resulted was highly disappointing to the team, but the leader was in a neutral state, and this caused unintended consequences.

Upon having a post-mortem conversation with this leader about their decision not to leverage words to inspire or express their intentions to the team about how they were perceiving the outcome of the opportunity the team was involved with, was what I refer to as an “ahh-ha” moment. The fact of the matter is that there was a missed opportunity to state up front how the leader would have leveraged the power of expressing what they were thinking, and it was completely different than how the team was thinking and reacted without any explanation. Given this scenario, this is what I refer to as a perfect “course correction” situation. One that provided the chance to leverage the power of words to do so, yet didn’t occur.

At this moment in time, there isn’t closure on the example noted, but there is a next step. The next step is to have a conversation with the leader about how to fully appreciate and apply the power of words to both their own and their teams benefit. Will the initial time they do this have the intended impact they are expecting? I believe it will, and yes, it will take them practice to become better at doing this. However, it’s exactly what they need to do as a leader, and their team also needs them to do. In fact, the team expects this from their leader, and it is an enormous missed opportunity when this doesn’t happen.

If you are a leader or sports team coach or someone who hasn’t been benefitting from the practice of choosing words that matter, below are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Consider what words inspire you. Write them down, and begin practicing using them in sentences on a one-on-one basis with people you regularly interact with.
  • Do some research and listen and read about others who are inspirational speakers.
  • Pay closer attention during conversations to appreciate who is having a positive impact on you based on how they are conveying their message to you.
  • Words can be like weapons, and have unintended negative consequences. So, make sure that the words you choose are meant to be supportive and not punitive.
  • Work on finding your communication style and comfort zone when it is time to convey your words to others. You don’t have to imitate others styles, as it will be both hard to do, and isn’t likely your natural communication style.
  • Always think about what the intended end goal of your communication will be, as sometimes your communication and the words you choose will have different purposes.
  • Factor in making sure that your body language is in alignment with what your words are expressing.
  • Appreciate and be highly responsible for the words you choose to express to others, as they might have a lifelong impact on them.

I’m excited about the opportunity I have today to see the leader I referenced above, and to have a second chance of helping them to leverage their words. Words that I know they want to positively impact the intended outcome for their team today. Let’s hope the suggestions above are ones that will benefit both you and the team you lead. Or, to have a positive impact on any future conversations you are having with others.

TAGS: #Leaders #Sportscoaches #Communication #Powerfulcommunication #Leadership #Motivation #Inspiration #Business #Sports #Sportsteams #Thepowerofwords #Influence #Theimpactofwords #Professionaldevelopment #Personaldevelopment #Growthmindset

Stubborn? It’s not a good look. 

I’ve always been an optimist. So, when I hear someone expressing that something isn’t possible, my mind immediately begins to diverge into two directions. The first one is to think about why this was stated, and the second path has me considering whether all of the options have been explored to create an opportunity to make something possible.

My skepticism about whether all potential options have been investigated and applied may come from my family heritage of having an “inventors-like” mind. Or, possibly because of my innate curiosity about imagining why a solution has not been developed to attempt what others think can’t be achieved. Which, leads me to wondering if stubbornness could in fact be one of the reasons?

Fortunately, most people are not classified as being stubborn, but we all know someone who might have this adjective associated with them on a regular basis. Possibly without them being aware that others clearly see them being this way more often than not. The person who is unaware of themselves being stubborn might actually think they are just like everyone else. What they don’t realize is that being stubborn generally isn’t working in their favor.

An example of someone who is being stubborn could be that they are unwilling to consider, take or apply practical advice which could be highly adventitious to them. It can be highly frustrating in this scenario, especially when not taking the advice can have less than desirable consequences. However, we also need to factor in that some people learn via experiences, and failing to take advice and the outcome from this could actually result in a positive outcome for them. How? Because afterwards they could appreciate the value of considering to listen to, and ideally applying sound advice the next time a similar scenario arises. 

Perhaps you have heard the expression “you can lead a horse to water when they are thirsty, but you can’t make it drink it.” This expression is ideally aligned with people who are stubborn, because they often do the exact opposite of what they should be doing, primarily due to their stubbornness.  I personally have encountered a number of people who would be far happier, have an easier outcome in numerous scenarios, and much less stress if they would first recognize that their on-going stubbornness is one of the core reasons for many of their challenges and why they are often highly frustrated. 

Telling someone they are stubborn seldomly has any positive impact on someone changing from this disposition. It might make you feel better expressing this sentiment to them, but that’s not going to lead either of you anywhere you will want to end up. So, are there techniques that can be applied to help someone who is stubborn? Especially someone who is unaware of how they are presenting and interacting with others? Yes, there are, and below are some suggestions to ask them, or have them potentially consider. 

·      What is your definition of being stubborn?

·      Ask yourself why you are often considered by others to be stubborn?

·      Is being stubborn an easy excuse of your “why” you are not doing or achieving something you could be?

·      Have you thought about how being stubborn is impacting your relationships with others?

·      Could you potentially be unaware of the fact others consider you to be stubborn, and think you are acting differently than how you are being perceived?

·      Why wouldn’t you accept help, advice or guidance from someone more experienced or knowledgeable than you are that could positively impact you both personally, professionally or both?

·      Do you have an example of someone who others consider to be stubborn, and can’t see how you could be compared to them?

·      Providing you acknowledge you are stubborn; can you imagine the benefits of being less or not perceived as being a stubborn person? This applies to both your personal and professional life, as you might not be as stubborn, or stubborn in one of these scenarios. 

If redirecting energy from a trait such as stubbornness into more productive outcomes is possible, are you, or someone else you know ready to re-develop your person to experience the benefits of doing so? Or, will your stubbornness prevent you from being more happy, less frustrated and experiencing a higher quality overall mental health and well-being?

TAGS: #Leadership #Business #Success #Professionaldevelopment #Sports #Teams #Leaders #Sportscoaches #Coaches #Traits #Stubborn #Stubbornness #Overcomingstubborness #Solutions #Awareness #Selfawareness #Benefitsofbeinglessstubborn