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    Leadership

    4 Steps to Leading a Great Team

    October 21, 2019 1900 Views No comments

    Studies have shown that almost 40% of employees say that working with a great team is their primary reason for staying. So how can you make sure you're leading a collaborative team? Think back to a high pressure situation your team went through - did they stick together, or did they focus on themselves? However your team responded, there are four steps you can take to create team collaboration and accountability:


    1. Define Your Purpose

    In order to have an accountable team, each team member must know their individual purpose and the goal of the team as a whole. Have you defined your purpose to the team? Take action: ask your team to write down what they think the team is accountable for and see how closely the answers match. Depending on their answers, you may have to take additional steps to get everyone on the same page.


    2. Track Team Progress

    In order to lead a collaborative team, each team member must have a measurable way to track their progress. This will enable them to see how they're progressing towards their goals, allow them to pivot based on project milestone results and give the team a chance to celebrate their successes throughout the project. Take action: Discuss how you’re tracking progress with your team and find a way to make a visible progress tracker (i.e. whiteboard, poster, etc.) that everyone can see and update.


    3. Create a Shared Fate

    In order to go from an individual to team mindset, the team must have a shared fate; meaning, whatever happens to the individual happens to everyone. Unless they have a real and meaningful share fate, the team will fracture under pressure – worrying about themselves instead of the group's success. To create this mindset as a leader, you should model the behavior you're hoping to inspire and reward successful collaborative results more than individual performance. Take action: write down a list of behaviors you want to see in your team. Keep track of your own behavior for a week, writing down whether or not you’re emulating those behaviors as well.


    4. Work Through Real Issues Together

    How important is open and honest communication in the workplace? Research has shown that 99% of employees prefer a workplace where people identify and discuss issues truthfully and effectively. In addition, studies showed that 33% of workers said a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale.

    In order to motivate a team and make it safe for them to process real issues together, there needs to be a strong sense of shared fate and high levels of trust. The first part of this means that the team's level of decision-making authority needs to be clearly defined. The second part requires setting clear performance expectations so that any gaps in performance can be identified. This is crucial because giving honest feedback requires understanding what is expected and identifying what is getting in the way of success. Take action: set-up a time each week for open and honest feedback with your team.


    For more on creating accountable teams, check out Revolutionize Teamwork>>

    Tell Your Stories

    August 19, 2019 589 Views No comments

    Good leaders ask, “How do I tell better stories?” Great leaders ask, “What stories do I need to tell?”

    Will you be a more effective leader if your stories are well-crafted and delivered? Of course. But the truth is, the story you tell is more important than how you deliver it. You're probably not an actor or a public speaker. You're a leader. Your audience doesn't expect perfection. They expect you to be decisive and helpful.

    If you tell a story that helps them do their job better, but you forget the opening line, stutter a little, or even butcher the surprise ending, your audience will still learn from it. But if you tell them an irrelevant or unhelpful story even though you deliver it in a way that would make a Shakespearean actor proud, your audience will never forgive you for wasting their time.

    So, what stories do you need to tell?

    After conducting over 300 one-on-one interviews with CEOs, leaders, and executives in 25 countries around the world about their use of storytelling in business, here’s my list of the most important ten stories any leader needs to be able to tell at a moment’s notice.

    1. Where we came from (our founding story) – Nobody ever quit their job and started a company for a boring reason. Find that reason for your company’s founder and tell that story. It will infect everyone with the same sense of purpose and passion.

    2. Why we can’t stay here (a case-for-change story) – Human beings are creatures of habit. Change is an unwelcome visitor. This story provides the rationale for why change is needed and a real human reason to care.

    3. Where we’re going (a vision story) – A vision is a picture of the future so compelling, people want to go there with you. And the best way to paint that picture is with a story about what that future will look like when you achieve it.

    4. How we’re going to get there (a strategy story) – Strategy is how you’ll get from where you are now to where you want to be. In other words, strategy is a journey. And what better way to describe a journey than a story?

    5. What we believe (a corporate-values story) – Values are only words on a piece of paper until they’re tested. This is a story of one of those awkward or uncomfortable moments one of your company values was put to the test.

    6. Who we serve (a customer story) – There’s no substitute for getting out of the office and meeting your customer face-to-face. And for the majority of your organization that will never do that, this is a story you tell about one of your customer interactions so they’ll know that customer as well as you do.

    7. What we do for our customers (a sales story) – A story about what you did for one of your customers that’s so impressive other people will want to buy what you’re selling as well.

    8. How we’re different from our competitors (a marketing story) – You probably have a list of reasons why your product or service is better than your competition. Well, guess what? Nobody remembers your list. But they will remember the story you tell them that shows them those differences as they play out in a real situation.

    9. Why I lead the way I do (a leadership-philosophy story) – No series of buzzwords on a piece of paper could ever articulate the subtle, human, and complex nature of your personal leadership philosophy. If you want people to understand how to expect you to lead, you need to tell them a story about what shaped the leader you’ve become.

    10. Why you should want to work here (a recruiting story) – Every company claims they offer competitive pay and benefits, challenging work, and great advancement opportunities. If you really want to attract the best talent, you need real stories about why it’s so awesome to work there.

    If you want to see an example of each of these stories, plus a few tips on how to come up with your own, you'll find them in the new book, The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell.

    Good luck with your stories.

    -Guest post from Paul Smith, author of The 10 Stories Great Leaders Tell.

    From Great Leadership: Transform Your Team With This Innovative Approach

    June 7, 2019 1253 Views No comments

    Accountability. Good employees are accountable. Good leaders hold their employees accountable. Good organizations have accountable cultures. But what does it really mean to be accountable? And what happens when someone isn’t accountable? How leaders deal with non-accountable behavior goes a long way to defining the culture of an organization.

    The generally accepted definition of being accountable is that “you do what you say you are going to do." Yet everyone will inevitably fail on this accord. Does that mean they are not accountable? I think it is when someone does not “do what they said they would do” that accountability is determined. Someone who is non-accountable will tend to make excuses, point fingers, deny, deflect or refuse to change. Accountable people will take responsibility for not delivering on the desired results and start doing something different until the desired results are achieved.

    Wouldn’t life be great if everyone exhibited accountable behavior 100% of the time? As great as that idea sounds it is not realistic and leaders must decide what to do when one of their reports is not acting accountably. This action is generally known as holding someone accountable. To effectively hold someone accountable the leaders sets the foundation by setting clear expectations, contracting, incentivizing, and putting feedback mechanisms in place. If the employee does not deliver on the desired results and then doesn’t act accountably the leader has to step in and coach, reassess, train, or even (re)set consequences. Continued non-accountable behavior can lead to disciplinary actions and even termination.

    But who really has the accountability during this process? Who is the one doing something different until the desired results are achieved? The leader! The whole notion of holding someone accountable is really a myth. When a leader says they are holding someone accountable what they are really saying that they are taking the accountability away from the individual. They are now the ones that are doing something different until the desired results are achieved. And if they don’t achieve the desired results their leader is going to do the same thing to them. This is called leader-led accountability and is the norm in most organizations.

    There are two significant problems with this approach to managing accountability. Learn what they are in the full blog post>>

    -Guest post from Eric Coryell, author of Revolutionize Teamwork

    Revolutionary Leadership

    March 4, 2019 3560 Views No comments

    There is a lot we can learn from history when it comes to leadership, including the different types of leaders and the lessons both their successes and failures can teach. The Founders of the United States will go down in history as having changed the rules of leadership and redefined what it means to spark change in people. One of the most influential leaders of the American Revolution was Alexander Hamilton. Through his example, and the lessons learned from other Founders, we can understand the principals of revolutionary leadership. Here are three key insights:

    1. Recognize Your Challenges

    In a recent Interact/Harris Poll, 91% of employees said their leaders lack good communication skills. What weaknesses have you identified in yourself as a leader? What about your strengths? As Alexander Hamilton would have realized, the ancient Greek aphorism, “know thyself,” is an excellent place to start in the study of leadership.

    There are many practical ways to assess your particular skills and challenges. Read about strong leaders and compare yourself to them. Take online personality tests and skills assessments. Consider part-time work in fields that are related to what you are interested in. Additionally, ask your boss, mentors, coworkers and friends what they think your challenges are—and don't take offense at their responses!

    2. Set Personal Goals

    Did you know that you are ten times more likely to succeed if you have a stated goal? To start, take some time to determine what your long-term goal is. From there, start setting short-term goals that will help you attain them. You can decide how short the short-term goals are, but a common duration is five years. After five-year goals are established, set up smaller and smaller goals that will help you reach your five-year goals. Remember that each goal should always support achievement of the higher goal.

    3. Never Give Up

    Failure is scary, but it is inevitable: 90% of all startups fail; 50%–60% of executives fail within the first 18 months of being promoted or hired; and 92% of people fail to meet their goals. However, that doesn’t mean you should give up. No one has ever succeeded by giving up after failure. So, even if everyone else abandons you, it is imperative that you never give up on yourself. So what if you miss that promotion or aren't appointed to that leadership position you thought was so important? There is always another promotion to pursue, another team you can join, or another company you can switch to.

    Get more insights from The Leadership Secrets of Hamilton >>

    Be a part of the conversation - join our LinkedIn Group>>

    Why Holding Someone Accountable is a Myth

    February 19, 2019 2122 Views No comments

    Accountability. Good employees are accountable. Good leaders hold their employees accountable. Good organizations have accountable cultures.In many ways accountability has become a holy grail to business success. But what does it really mean to be accountable? And what happens when someone isn’t accountable? How organizations deal with non-accountable behavior goes a long way to defining the organizational culture and the focus of the employees.

    The generally accepted definition of being accountable is that “you do what you say you are going to do.” Yet everyone will inevitably fail on this accord. Does that mean they are not accountable?I think it is at that moment of not doing what they said they would do is when you find out if someone is going to act accountably or not. Non-accountable behavior is characterized by excuses, finger pointing, denial, deflecting or refusing to change. Accountable behavior, on the other hand, means taking responsibility for not delivering on the desired results and doing something different until the desired results are achieved.

    Wouldn’t life be great if everyone exhibited accountable behavior 100% of the time? As great as that idea sounds it is not realistic and organizations must decide what to do when someone is not acting accountably. The responsibility usually falls on the leader to hold their employees accountable when they are not acting accountably. To effectively do this, leaders must engage in a series of steps starting with things like setting clear expectations, contracting, incentivizing, and putting feedback mechanisms in place. If that doesn’t do it then they must do things like coaching, reassessing, training or even setting consequences. Continued non-accountable behavior will often lead to disciplinary actions and even termination.

    But who really has the accountability during this process? Who is the one doing something different until the desired results are achieved? The leader! The whole notion of holding someone accountable is really a myth. When a leader says they are holding someone accountable what they are really saying that they are taking the accountability away from the individual. They are now the ones that are doing something different until the desired results are achieved. And if they don’t achieve the desired results their leader is going to do the same thing to them. This is called leader led accountability and is the norm in most organizations.

    There are two significant problems with this approach to managing accountability. One is that not everyone is good at taking the accountability from their employees (formerly known as holding them accountable). Some leaders are afraid of alienating their employees so they shy away from it or they convince themselves they can’t do until they are perfectly accountable themselves. The second problem is that it creates very upward looking organizations. Employees are constantly looking up to their boss as they are they ones whose expectations they have to meet and they are the ones who will take their accountability away if they don’t meet them.

    But there is another way that accountability can be managed and that is when someone’s teammates take it. When team members start to do this to each other that is when the team becomes accountable and extraordinary team results can be achieved. In a lot of ways accountable teams are the ultimate holy grail. They are rare. Teams that are accountable are often considered an anomaly that happened as a result of unique circumstances, a special group of people or an extraordinary leader. While some or all of those do happen on accountable teams, they are part of much bigger array of factors that have to happen to make it possible. The good news is there is a definitive and predictable set of steps that will lead your team to becoming accountable.

    Eric Coryell

    Want to know what inspired Eric Coryell to write Revolutionize Teamwork? Find out with this author Q&A>>


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