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8 Reasons Why People Won’t Follow You

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There’s a familiar saying that if nobody is following you, you’re just out taking a stroll. The question for leaders “out taking a stroll” is why nobody is following them?not following

If you’re a leader and people aren’t following you, consider the possible reasons:

1. They don’t like you.

Research shows we’d rather work with incompetent people who are nice than competent people who aren’t. If you treat people poorly and are generally unlikable, it is unlikely anybody will follow you unless they are scared to death to do otherwise. 

The notable exception in business history have been those unlikable leaders who had such visionary products that others were willing to put up with their behavior. The question remains, however: how much more successful had these high fliers been if they’d paid more attention to likability?

2. They don’t trust you.

I have a friend who is a blast to drink beer with. He’s always got funny stories and the latest dirt to share. He discloses lots of things about others. And while I “like” him, I don’t trust him. I know that when he’s drinking beer with someone else, I’m likely to be the topic of his talking out of school.

I think trust is even more important than likability. While I may not like someone in a business situation, I can still do business with them without fear of being unjustly harmed or cheated.

3. They don’t want to go where you’re leading.

People are unwilling to go anywhere that doesn’t represent a positive change. They can even handle the challenges and sacrifices of a new undertaking if they believe there is a payoff on arrival.

One client had a vision statement that was heavy on financial metrics but said nothing about the quality of life for employees or customers. I wasn’t surprised that nobody could remember what the vision was, nor care about achieving it. Their vision statement became effective when it was rewritten to express the future for all stakeholders, including employees.

4. They don’t know why they should do what you ask.

Kim is a young leader who is very focused and task-oriented. She is well known for issuing edicts and delegating tasks without explanation. She believes it makes her more time effective, and if anyone asks why, she calmly replied, “Because I said so.”

“Because I said so” is tough for kids to swallow and more difficult for adults. Knowing why a request is made is something any intelligent adult would desire. Harried, leaders, however are often better at giving commands than explaining them or providing context.

5. They don’t think you have their best interests at heart.

There are times you may ask an employee to do something simply because it is a condition of their job. Don’t, however, think that subterfuge, spin or trickery is fair play. It will undermine your credibility. Be honest in the direct payoff–or lack thereof.

If you accomplish organizational goals at the expense of your team members, your legacy is that of tyrant. As overused as the phrase win/win may be, it is still a guiding principle of leaders who get followed.

6. The don’t feel supported and/or appreciated.

Just because you pay people to work with you doesn’t mean they don’t deserve appreciation. A sincere thank you goes a long way towards a motivated team. And support means you care enough to remove barriers and provide the resources your team needs to win.

7. They don’t have the training necessary to be good followers.

Phil is a beloved leader. When he picks someone to lead an important project, his initial conversation always includes this question: “Is there anything you’ll need to learn now to be successful?”

No amount of motivation will help an employee succeed if he or she doesn’t posses the necessary skills. It you are leading a technology initiative, begin by identifying the skills it will take for employees to support you in the change.

8.They don’t respect you.

People respect you for who you are, your competence and abilities, and your relationships with others. Who a follower chooses to follow and why tells much about him or her. That’s why people are reluctant to follow others lacking integrity, ability or people skills. By giving allegiance to someone you don’t respect, you loose a little self-respect in the process.

Nobody is perfect all the time, but those who get followed devote more time and effort to being the kind of leader who deserves to get followed.

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10 Ways to Know You’re On the Right Track

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1. You’re working hard enough to break a sweat.SONY DSC

2. You bring rigor–focus, analysis and concentration–to what you’re doing.

3. You persist in the face of setbacks and discouragement.

4. You meet some resistance knowing it is inevitable in important undertakings.

5. You are picking up speed and momentum as you go.

6. You’re working for a carefully constructed plan that is adjusted when appropriate.

7. You make consistent effort every day.

8. You are open to new ideas to make what you’re doing better.

9. You seek and welcome feedback about how to improve.

10. You solicit advice and support from the right people.

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5 Signs You’re Expecting More From Employees Than They Can Give

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Don’t you just hate all those entitled people in the workplace today? No, not employees but managers and leaders: entrepreneurs and business dangerous expectationsowners who have unrealistic expectations about what they deserve, stressing employees out with their entitlement mindset.

Entitlement is the belief that you have the right to something; that it is due and should be given. You don’t need to do anything to earn it; you deserve it.

Here are five entitled leader traps to avoid when running your own business:

1. Expecting respect without giving it first. Someone once said that respect can only be given. While that is true, the bigger point is that it is rarely given to the undeserving. Respect is about your character and ability, not your position or status. I can’t count how many successful people I know who think their success in business entitles them to respect, regardless of how they treat others. Someone might acknowledge your accomplishments, but you don’t deserve his or her respect. You need to earn it.

Steve Jobs, brilliant visionary that he was, wasn’t known to always treat people well. He often berated and belittled them. His success was respected, but his treatment of others was often feared. How much greater might is legacy have been had he focused on both process and people?

2. Needing adulation. If your ego needs constant praise, you’re facing more than a business issue. I know an entrepreneur who had an out-sized talent for creating business opportunities and an out-sized need for adulation to match. He interpreted anything less than awe for him and his abilities as a personal slight. Not surprisingly, he burned through a lot of employees and even business partners.

3. Demanding sacrifices from others. Rational people are willing to sacrifice when necessary for compelling reasons. But they trust that the sacrifice will be appropriately acknowledged.

A manufacturing company faced a business downturn and asked employees to make sacrifices in pay and benefits. The employees agreed. When business got better and earnings were up, those rewards — in large part due to past employee sacrifice — were never shared. The employees felt betrayed and morale took a big hit.

4. Not showing employees you can be trusted. Management guru Tom Peters was once asked how to gain employee trust. His answer was short and classic: be trustworthy. If you can’t be trusted, your employees would be sheep to place their confidence in you.

5. Expecting employees to treat you like a true friend. You can treat you employees like friends, but don’t expect them to be actual friends. The kind of energy, chemistry and emotional bonding required for true friendship is significant. Neither you nor your team has time to be each other’s friends. Sure you can be colleagues you like, but unless you use the term “friend” very loosely (and many do) don’t expect friendship just because someone works with you.

In life, you see what you’re focused on, find what you’re looking for and get back what you give out. Entitlement on the leader’s part fuels entitlement on the part of employees. Put out the kind of effort and attitude you expect from others and you’ll be far more rewarded at the end of the day.

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Maximize Your Meetings: 14 Tips and Tactics

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A meeting or conference done right is a powerful business builder: relationships are created and enhanced, thinking is stimulated and attendees leave with actionable ideas to improvemaximize their work. Done wrong, a meeting can become a front-page example of excess and a waste of valuable time.

I have attended over 2400 meetings in the past 24 years, primarily as a keynote speaker but also as a participant. There have been many times when I thought to myself, “I wish the meeting planners or event organizers knew…”

Now I’ve boiled down the “things I wish they knew” into a list of 14 tips and tactics you can use to maximize your next meeting and get the best return on your investment.

1. Start big and get small. Be clear about overall objectives and desired outcomes before you start planning your meeting. Crystal clear intent will be invaluable in planning sessions, selecting presenters and structuring the event. If you get the philosophy right, the strategy and tactics will follow. I know you’ve heard it before but Stephen Covey was spot on when he said, “Begin with the end in mind.”

2. Ask for and use input.  A formal post meeting evaluation is only helpful if the information is used. Numerical scores are interesting but specific comments are golden when they express needs to provide or disappointments to avoid repeating. And when you act on what you’ve learned, let your attendees know: “You asked for more time to network so we increased the lengths of the breaks at this year’s conference.” Reward good input and you’ll get more of it.

3. Prepare participants. Anticipate questions and answer them in advance, like “What should I wear?” or “Will there be events that require much walking?” Create an FAQ for “How to make the most of the meeting.” Make it easy for attendees to come prepared. Consider providing resources in advance—reading material, URLs and other resources—to increase the effectiveness of the time spent at the meeting.

4. Integrate, don’t just add. Design a meeting where the parts are integrated into the bigger whole. Relate different activities and sessions to the overall theme so it is clear why they are part of the event.  A great event is about integrated sessions, not disparate activities hobbled together.

5. Make it relevant. Give speakers and presenters the information and material they need to relate their presentations to the overall meeting. Make specific requests about what you’d like to see covered and suggest ways presenters can be relevant.

6. Make the clock your friend. If you don’t it will be your enemy. Starting and stopping on time and staying on track is one of the hardest things you’ll do but also critically important for the success of your meeting. You’d do well to designate someone with good people skills to be the official timer. Coach all presenters (especially executives who tend to believe their remarks are more important than the timeline) on the importance of sticking to their allotted time. One person who goes long diminishes the importance and effectiveness of everyone else on the program after them. (Go ahead and quote me on that so you don’t look like the heavy. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen meetings nearly ruined by losing control of the clock.)

7. Design for energy. Keep programming upbeat. Use music and lighting that create energy and not just dramatic effect. Dark rooms help PowerPoint visibility but can kill energy.  And here’s a good rule: short and punchy are always better than long and drawn out. Even a marginal session can be salvaged if it isn’t too long.

8. Seat to succeed. Keep the front row of the audience not more than 8-10 feet from the stage (unless there is a fire code issue in doing so). The single biggest and most common mistake I’ve seen in seating is what I call “the moat.” This is very real barrier created by having the stage too far from the front row. That makes it almost impossible to create any real connection with the audience. Proximity matters in the width of aisles as well. Aisles that are two wide create separate groups within the same audience.

9. Use people movers. These designated folks will work the hallways to let attendees know when sessions are about to begin, keep noise levels down if disruptive and generally assist in making smooth transitions and keeping the event on schedule.

10. Script the important things. That would include things like announcements (to avoid the “Oh, wait, wait! I forgot to mention….”), introductions and instructions around logistics like meals, buses, departures, etc. You’ve probably heard that “casualness creates casualties.” That is very true for meetings.

11. Select speakers based on desired results. Be clear on what you want to accomplish before you select a speaker. Most speakers can be informative, motivational, inspirational, funny and/or entertaining. Some speakers combine several elements but most are effective at a particular result. If you really want “actionable ideas”, don’t select someone who is mostly funny with little message. If you want to make people really laugh, don’t go for the moderately funny expert—get a humorist.

12. Work the room. Ask people throughout the event about their experience and how it is going for them. Note what they say. They’ll appreciate your interest and you can adjust the meeting on the fly if need be.

13. Remember that the devil is in the details. Little things can undo you. Pay attention to nuances like a microphone that keeps crackling during a presentation. It would be a shame to get the big things right and have the little things tarnish overall perception.

14. Have fun. Yes, running a meeting is exhausting, but make it your goal to have as much fun as possible. If you aren’t enjoying yourself, chances are your team and those you interact with won’t be enjoying themselves either.

Careful consideration and forethought as you plan your next meeting will do more than save you money—it will enable you to maximize your meeting and the benefits you enjoy.

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6 Ways to Enlarge Your Imagination with Wonder

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imagination1-300x240G.K. Chesterton was a writer who lived large—both figuratively and literally—and who was wildly in love with life. He said, “The world will never lack for wonders, only wonder.”

Those few words are vital for the cultivation of a great imagination.

I am always puzzled when I hear someone say, “I’m bored.” As I’ve tried to teach my children, boredom is a choice on makes, not a condition imposed.

With so much happening in politics, culture, technology and science (just to name a few arenas), anyone who wants to think creatively is living in the richest, densest environment they could hope for.

Want to expand your ability to wonder, and enlarge your imagination in the process? Here are six simple ideas:

1.    Wonder broadly.  

Heraclitus, known as the philosopher of change, said, “Those who love wisdom must be inquirers into many things indeed.” Our wonder diminishes when we limit it to the few areas we are most interested in or familiar with.

Pick topics different than you’ve considered in the past. Wonder a bit about them, and do a quick study of them to stimulate your creativity.

2. Wonder wildly.

Sometimes we wonder too safely; we don’t dare wonder about alternative points of view, or crazy ideas.

Wonder with abandon. Occasionally think about things you’ve previously thought nutty. At the very least you’ll be entertained if not enlightened.

3. Wonder smaller.

The opposite of view the universe through a telescope is looking at the tiny worlds within through a microscope. Restricting your wonder to a smaller area will often yield new insights.

Get granular and go deeper into what you wonder about, and how intensely you wonder. Unpack the riches of an idea by diving into it deeply.

4. Wonder more often.

Don’t wait for long periods of study or reflection. Take periodic breaks during the day to think about something or pursue a new idea.

Make it a habit, when you encounter a challenge, to begin with, “I wonder…” See if wonderment can take you to a solution.

5. Wonder longer

We live in an ADD world. Thanks to technology and daily times demands, few believe they have the luxury or ability to ponder for any significant length of time.

Leisurely enjoy your favorite beverage while you wonder and record your thoughts on a notepad of in a journal.

6. Wonder with emotion.

Passion infuses process with wonder. Being detached can provide objectivity, but being passionate can fuel action.

Aim your curiosity toward those things you are passionate about and see if you can’t make a positive dent in the universe as a result.

Harriet Martineau said, “Readers are plentiful. Thinkers are rare.” I would suggest that observers are many but wonderers are rare.

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