Archive | July, 2015

Expand Your Leadership Style Repertoire

Source: unsplash.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

Source: unsplash.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

There are six leadership styles that are vastly underused: affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, coaching, coercive, and authoritative. Employing the right approach at the right time could make all the difference when it comes to closing a big deal, improving production quality and speed, or managing conflicts. Even though most leaders would say they only use two or three of the styles, it is important to understand that all of them can be mastered and used to your advantage.

Short-Term Solution

A simple solution to making up for the leadership skills you currently lack is to surround yourself with people who possess the style you need. For example, let’s say you’re the vice president of a food distribution corporation. You successfully did business in your home state of New York and expanded up into New England and down along the coast to the Carolinas using the affiliative style. You traveled frequently between the states, met with restaurant owners and eased their concerns, and made sure the customers felt like your company had a personal touch.

However, you know your tech knowledge is lacking, and technology is needed to distribute the food as quickly as possible. Efficiency is the most important appeal to your customers. Therefore, you informed a trusted colleague about the performance standards and let them delegate the strategy using their authoritative approach. You also told this person to appoint a second-in-command to bring along on visits to make sure you don’t spend too much time at each restaurant.

Long-Term Solution

While surrounding yourself with people who possess the skills you lack, it’s also a good idea to work on your limitations. The first step is to acknowledge your gaps in emotional intelligence so that you can work with yourself or a coach to develop them. Take an authoritative leader, for example, who may want to add some democracy to their workplace. They need to work on collaborative and effective communication skills.

They’ll want to master the affiliative leader’s strengths:

  • Empathy: Sensing how people are feeling in the moment allows the affiliative leader to respond to people’s emotions immediately, which helps build trust.
  • Building Relationships: Meeting new people and cultivating a bond comes easily.
  • Interpersonal Communication: Say just the right thing at just the right time.

Enhance your leadership styles

Gain practical insights from the following resources:

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters presents Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking, highly sought articles from the Harvard Business Review and other business journals in one volume. This often-cited, proven-effective material has become essential reading for leaders, coaches and educators committed to fostering stellar management, increasing performance, and driving innovation. This collection reflects the evolution of Dr. Goleman’s thinking about emotional intelligence, tracking the latest neuroscientific research on the dynamics of relationships, and the latest data on the impact emotional intelligence has on an organization’s bottom-line.

What Makes a Leader is also part of the C-Suite Toolkit.

The Coaching Program is an online streaming learning series for executives, highlighting methods for enhancing any leader or manager’s effectiveness, creativity, and ability to connect with their teams.

Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide offers more than nine hours of research findings, case studies and valuable industry expertise through in-depth interviews with respected leaders in executive management, leadership development, organizational research, workplace psychology, innovation, negotiation and senior hiring. Included is an extensive, detailed training guide around the video content for human resources professionals, senior managers and executive coaches. Each module offers individual and group exercises, self-assessments, discussion guides, review of major points, and key actionable takeaway plans. The materials allow for instructor-led or self-study opportunities.

Happy Employees, Happy Customers

Source: kaboompics.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

Source: kaboompics.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

Happy employees tend to go the extra mile with their customer service when they feel encouraged and supported. The relationship between workers, their environment, and customer service has actually been proved by a logarithm; customer service climate and revenue are directly proportional. In fact, a positive atmosphere doubles revenue.

Throughout his studies at the University of Maryland and his observations in a multitude of industries, Professor Benjamin Schneider has found that when employees responded more positively to their work environment, customer satisfaction and business results increased. Inversely, a negative work environment led to unhappy workers, poor customer service, and declining revenues.

The service industry is among the most stressful of all occupations. Workers have to deal with everything from insufferable customers, disagreeable managers, challenging working conditions, long hours and, more often than not, low pay. Not much to smile about.

Emotional Contagion

Bad moods spread faster than wildfire. Rudeness can transfer from the employee to the customer, in turn making them angry or dissatisfied, regardless of how well the actual service was executed. Furthermore, disgruntled workers who aren’t thorough can create a wake of trauma in their path. Cardiac care units, for example, where nurses’ described their outlook as “depressed” had a patient death rate four times higher than comparable units.

Great service, in contrast, can make a world of difference for both the consumer and the employee. If consumers enjoyed their experience, they are likely to return, and share good reviews to their friends and colleagues, or online. If the employees feel upbeat and cared for, they are also more likely to work harder to appease the customer. Jennifer George and Kenneth Bettenhausen concluded in their study, Understanding Prosocial Behavior, that stores with positive salespeople had the best sales results.

A Good Leader Can Make a Difference

The manager is often the person who sets the mood. If a leader is confident, optimistic, and shows genuine compassion toward their workers, both the overall atmosphere and the sales will be lifted in the right direction. There are three factors that make or break a job: working conditions, salary, and leadership. Resonant leaders are perhaps the most important of the three.

How leaders carry themselves and their relationships with their employees directly impact their emotions and performances. Between 20-30% of an organization’s profit can be traced back to how employees feel about their place of employment, and 50-70% of this view traces back to one factor: their leader. A leader’s ability to understand their emotional intelligence and act rationally – not impulsively – becomes a major factor in the overall performance of the business.

Resources to develop a positive work environment

The HR and EI Collection

Leading with Emotional Intelligence [online course]

Resonant Leadership: Inspiring Others Through Emotional Intelligence

What Makes a Leader: Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

High Performance Leadership

 

How would you define mindfulness?

How would you define mindfulness?

What Is Mindfulness?

by More Than Sound Staff

Have you heard anything about mindfulness lately? Chances are you have… Chances are you’ve heard a lot about mindfulness lately. You’ve probably been hearing about mindfuless in the media, at work, in casual conversation, maybe even at the dinner table from your kids. Perhaps you’ve read about it online a few times.

But even with the media spotlight on mindfulness, do you feel like you understand it? Is it clear to you how mindfulness works? How would you define mindfulness?

How would you define mindfulness?

Can you explain mindfulness? Credit: laprogressive.com

There’s so much buzz about what mindfulness is or is not, and sometimes coming from people who have minimal experience in the practice. So in an effort to both simplify and deepen the mindfulness conversation, we have released a series of podcasts featuring noted mindfulness scholars, including Rick Hanson, Juliet Adams, and Joseph Goldstein. Upcoming contributors will include Daniel Goleman, Mirabai Bush, and Surya Das.

Common Questions, Thoughtful Insights

Designed as an interview series to maintain consistency across subject matter, the podcast contributors are all asked the same questions. Some examples are:

  • How can mindfulness be put into action?
  • What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation?
  • How does mindfulness training work?

Through these questions and others, our featured guests and their decades of experience will help provide clarity and add to the conversation surrounding mindfulness. This will allow you to formulate your own opinions about how mindfulness might apply to you.

Listen to some interviews now:

Rick Hanson: What is Mindfulness?

Juliet Adams: The Relationship Between Mindfulness and Meditation

Joseph Goldstein: Hidden Dangers in Popularity of Mindfulness

The Dangers of Groupthink

Source: pixabay.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

Source: pixabay.com/pexels.com/CC0 license

Everyone one of us has blind spots. But we often don’t see them until someone points them out. As leaders rise through the ranks, the less honest feedback they receive from peers.

A high-level executive can become isolated. They surround themselves with people who won’t report negative information. They’re afraid to deliver bad news for fear of repercussions. Not knowing the reality of a situation means you can get into a distorted bubble. A lack of information can lead to poor decisions. You go down a path that’s a mistake from the get-go, but nobody tells you.

When Daniel Goleman spoke with Bill George for Leadership: A Master Class, they discussed what Bill learned from a first-hand experience with the dangers of groupthink.

“Early in my life, I worked in the U.S. Department of Defense as a civilian in the year of Robert McNamara and the Vietnam War. Some of the most brilliant people I’ve met in my life were at the high levels of the Pentagon. But toward the end they were walking off the cliff together. They suffered from groupthink. McNamara was so powerful. His team simply reinforced what he was saying. They didn’t take different perspectives.

Any good leader needs to have a reliable team who will ask tough questions, or poke holes in logic.

Another time one of my co-workers asked, “Do you think everyone agreed with that decision in the meeting?” I said, “Yeah, they all said yes, and at the end. We even voted.”

His response was an eye-opener. “Well, there were three people backing their managers that were so angry, they could hardly speak to you because you  blew over them, and forced them to say yes.”

After some thought I knew he was right. I had to go back, tail between my legs, and say, “I’m really sorry. I guess I didn’t hear what you were really saying.” That allowed me to be open to honest conversation.

I also learned that it’s not just looking for and appreciating feedback from that special trusted group, but bringing the attitude with you to the office. I now try to surround myself with people who have diverse viewpoints.”

Fine tune your executive management skills with Daniel Goleman’s video series, Leadership: A Master Class.

Additional resources

The Coaching Program is an online streaming learning series for executives, highlighting methods for enhancing any leader or manager’s effectiveness, creativity, and ability to connect with their teams.

The C-Suite Toolkit is designed for senior management (or those new to senior management positions) seeking a comprehensive reference library from the most respected business and leadership experts of our time.

The Competency Builder program was created to assist workers at all levels learn how to work more mindfully, improve focus, handle daily stresses better, and use these skills to increase their effectiveness. A great resource for any HR library.

The EI Overview provides easy-to-understand insights into proven-effective ways managers can best employ leadership styles, as well as develop the areas where they lack.

 

Mindfulness isn't a quick fix; it takes plenty of practice.

Mindfulness is Not a Panacea

by Elad Levinson, source: Linkedin.com

Mindfulness isn't a quick fix; it takes plenty of practice.

Mindfulness isn’t a quick fix; it takes plenty of practice. Credit: newsroom.unsw.edu.au

Dr. David Brendel observed the following scenario with a client in his Harvard Business Review Article, “There Are Risks to Mindfulness at Work.”

“Some people use mindfulness strategies to avoid critical thinking tasks. I’ve worked with clients who, instead of rationally thinking through a career challenge or ethical dilemma, prefer to disconnect from their challenges and retreat into a meditative mindset. Some problems require more thinking, not less.”

He went on to illustrate how the hype of mindfulness as a “cure all” can actually do more harm than good. My takeaway from his thoughtful article: Mindfulness is not a panacea.

As a long-time mindfulness practitioner and organizational development professional, I like to set expectations with my coaching clients. Don’t be naïve and think that mindfulness alone will make you an effective leader, reduce stress, enhance your focus – or help you avoid difficult situations. And don’t expect an immediate fix should you decide to experiment with any techniques. It takes practice.

But when practiced properly, mindfulness is an effective way to develop self-awareness and self-regulation, both of which can help you in any number of tough decision-making situations.

Mindfulness Helps You Cope with Reality, Not Shield You From It

Dr. Brendel’s client experience reminded me of a scenario from my HR days.

I met Sam, a 30-year-old marketing leader, during my daylong mindfulness training session. In reviewing his class notes in a follow-up coaching session, he stated that: “I know there are battles that I should fight on behalf of our product line, but I just don’t feel strong enough to take them on.”

Like Sam and Dr. Brendel’s client, we all look for ways to avoid conflict and discomfort. But problems get worse if you hide or distract yourself in hopes they just disappear. Sam needed a plan, process and skills to gain the confidence to start “crucial conversations.”

qube-blog-conversation

Credit: qubemedia.net

Here’s the plan that I offered Sam. It included elements of mindfulness practices we covered in the course. I wanted him to see that these methods have useful real-life applications.

Give it a try.

  1. When you need to have a difficult conversation, be strategic instead of reactive. Take a few deep breaths. Think about the time and place to have the discussion. And do so only when you’re ready. This will prevent you from barging into an office ready for war. You may regret what you say and make things worse.
  2. Along the same lines, make a plan when you’re not frustrated. It’s difficult to be thoughtful when you’re upset. Taking a few minutes to quietly focus on talking points can make a world of a difference.
  3. Put yourself in their shoes. Consider persuasive, compelling facts that give those you need influence a basis for supporting your interests. Know what is important to them and incorporate it into your goals.
  4. Notice your own mental state before having the conversation. Are you tense, angry, scared? Self-awareness offers the opportunity for you to pause and shift to a more neutral mental state.
  5. Discuss the issue in a non-judgmental way. State facts. Avoid accusations. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Compassion can be used to mitigate tension.
  6. Explain how the issue impacts your work and intentions. State your case through logic, not emotion.
  7. Don’t be too proud. Ask for their help to achieve a mutually beneficial solution.
  8. Provide clarity. Summarize any agreed upon next steps. Send an email to confirm your understanding of the agreements/actions to be taken by who/by when.

Elad Levinson, head lecturer for the Praxis You course Thriving on Change, has over 45 years of experience as a leadership coach and organizational consultant. He’s currently the Senior Organization Effectiveness Consultant at 4128Associates. Connect with Elad on Linkedin, Twitter: @CoachElad, or email him at elevinson@4128associates.com. You can also download his free ebook, Learn to Dance on Jello.

You’re invited to preview Elad’s online course, Thriving on Change: The Evolving Leader’s Toolkit for free here. Just click “Try the FREE Introductory Module.”