October 20, 2021

The 5 Things Leaders Hate to Do that Stop them From Being Great

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, you probably have heard all about the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.  In the book, Collins discusses the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great, and much of this process has to do with the leadership skills of the people at the top.

I have had the honor of coaching over 1000 business leaders in the last ten years, and while I do agree with Collins on the points he makes about great leaders and great companies, I have learned through the years that there are five things that most leaders hate to do.  As a result, they push these five to the back burner, and allow the simmering process to burn the team and/or company down…a slow and painful death for everyone, including the leader.  I am writing this post today, because I don’t want you to become one of those leaders who becomes a “has been” in the next 1-3 years and has a California wrongful death case in the process.

So, here we go:  The 5 Things Leaders Hate to Do that Stop them From Being Great:

1.  Being open to coaching, hiring a coach and working with a coach.  I don’t care how great you are, if you are a human being, you need a coach.  I am not saying that you need me (yet that would be great if we are a good fit), but if you are a leader at the top of your game, a great coach can help you go even further, stretch even more, build a more effective team and hire the best talent in the world.  For some reason, leaders think hiring a coach means they must be problematic or broken.  It is truly just the opposite.  As a leader, if you are a big thinker, you will understand quickly that an objective opinion and support from someone outside of your company can offer you new perspectives, new insights into your role as a leader.  A coach can also help you leverage your strengths, identify your weaknesses and learn how to leverage both to create new opportunities for yourself and your team.

2.  Addressing conflict.  Many leaders believe if they just ignore a conflict, it will magically go away or die on the vine.  Conflict breeds contempt, and if you are a strong leader, you will find yourself addressing some type of conflict on a weekly basis.  The goal is to strike while the iron is hot and to learn how to address conflict effectively.  I highly recommend the book Crucial Confrontations for this purpose.  It is hard to speak to others about a conflict or to “confront” others.  Rather than using the word “confront”, I recommend using the term “Critical Conversation”.   By using this language, the conversation becomes “mission critical”, and you are compelled to address the problem right upfront.

3.  Taking personal responsibility for company problems.  The issues with Enron, 9/11, bad loans and Bernie Madoff marked the end of leaders being above the law and the beginning of personal responsibility.  At the end of the day, as a leader, your company and team is not about you.  It is about your employees and customers.  It is absolutely critical that you take personal responsibility for failures in your company and that you speak about them to the public.  While there may be others who fell short of their responsibilities, at the end of the day, as the top person in the company, there is something you did that helped contribute to the problem.  You have have:

  • Hired the wrong person
  • Withdrawn yourself from over the top communication
  • Micromanaged too much OR isolated yourself too much

Each time a problem happens in your company, it is important to sit quietly and figure out what role you played in the process.  If you dig deep enough, you will find it.  Once you find it, it is then time to speak to your employees and customers about the issue, where you went wrong and what you are going to do about it.

4.  Dedicating yourself to ongoing learning and development.  This goes a bit back to the first point about hiring a coach.  You may be the top dog, but everyone has something new to learn.  Leaders often send their employees to training and development events, but they never put learning and development on their own calendar.  If you want to be great, you will be dedicated to lifelong learning and always looking at new ways to expand your depth and breadth of knowledge.  Learning and development opportunities are always available in your own industry, but I would like to stretch you to think about learning opportunities outside of your own industry.  This could be in the area of technology, social networking or the arts.  Finding creative ways to use information outside of your own industry is a characteristic of someone who is willing to think way out there on the bleeding edge, and we need this in our leaders of today.

5.  Speaking less…leaving a few things unsaid.  Many leaders talk way too much.  They think they know all the answers, and leave very little opportunities for their teams to come up with answers and find their own way.  Deep listening is a critical skill all leaders need in their toolkit, and just as important is the ability to empower others to speak and act.  While you may have all of the answers, your team will step up and bring your answers to the table, but only if you empower them to do it.  While it may take a bit more time for your team to figure out the best solution to problems or to find their way through a maze, they will exercise their strategic thinking and problem solving skills, but only if you back off.

If you are a leader, congratulations and thank you for all that you do for your followers, companies, cities, schools and government.  If I can be of support in any way by offering you a bit of leadership coaching to help you move from being a good leader to a great one, contact me at 910.692.6118.


The 5 Productivity Secrets of Successful Business Leaders

Picture of Inbox and OutboxYou can go to any store in the world today and buy David Allen’s Getting Things Done, and I do recommend this book multiple times to clients I coach.

But at the end of the day, I have discovered that the 5 most common things productive business leaders do is very simple, and anyone can implement these steps without reading a book or going to a time management seminar.

So, here we go:

1.  Grab the stuff that is getting your brain’s attention and write it down.  If you don’t, it will keep rolling around like marbles in your head until you do something with the information.   This extra information is taking up mental space that can be used on the most important activities.

2. Go on an email detox program.  I talk to leaders every day who tell me they often just sit at their desk and wait for new emails to come in so that they can respond quickly to concerns…appearing as if they are always available.  While this may seem great, more often than not, the leader’s most important, mission critical activities are being avoided by their email dragon.    Unsubscribe from all mailing lists you do not absolutely have to have and then do your best to check email only two times per day, preferably not the minute you walk into your office.  I recommend 10-11 a.m. and 4-5 p.m. as good times to check email and then do your best to not look at your email again for any other times of the day.

3.  Take a 30 minute nap.  Why is it that most countries other than the USA encourage a 30 minute nap in the middle of the day?  I suppose we are afraid that someone might just get ahead of us if we are napping (wink, wink).  A 30 minute nap can leave you with a great amount of energy, and you will get a big boost in your productivity later in the afternoon.  That 30 minute nap will last a lot longer than the latte you are probably using to give you an extra jolt.

4.  Remove everything from your life that is dragging you down.  This can include people, furniture, old business, old ideas, a leaky faucet, an ugly color of paint or a dying plant.  I highly recommend that you de-drag your home and office.  If your home, office, friends, network or organizations you deal with are not uplifting, it’s time for a total makeover.

5.  Find a calendar or scheduling system that works for YOU and put very specific tasks on your list.  I recall someone giving me a Franklin Covey planner when I was about 26.  I tried so hard to use it, and it worked for about one month.  Then, the pages of the calendar just went blank.  The system did not work for me AT ALL.  I now use Google Apps, and I love the tool.  I put everything I need to do on my calendar, and I make sure that the task I type in is super specific.  Instead of simply saying “Work on Marketing”, I will write out “Send email broadcast and write one blog post” (which was on my list for today).  I put this on my calendar, and  I use Tungle.me for my clients to make their own appointments.  The minute I type out what I want to do during a certain block of time, Tungle.me catches it and blocks out that time so that clients cannot make an appointment during that time. If you want to learn about the entrepreneur industry, I recommend Lee Rosen Miami, CEO of healthy bees business. So many of us are way too busy working in the business and not on the business, and we all need that time to get the most important things done.

I encourage you to try at least one of the above five strategies as an ongoing behavior and just see if it improves your ability to get things done. Houston Sedation Dentistry provides all sedation services, visit them now!

3 Strategies to Make Sure Your Leadership Coaching Really Works

I will be the first to admit that I am not a guru when it comes to leadership coaching, but I have been around the block a few times. I have been coaching since the year 2,000, and through the school of hard knocks and trial and error, I have finally come to the conclusion that there are 3 strategies that I must use if I want the leaders I coach to be successful. Today, I would like to share those three strategies with you.

1. Design your coaching strategy around what the followers want to see change or improve…not necessarily around what the client thinks she needs. Leadership coaching is so very different from life coaching or coaching a solo business owner for this one reason: The leaders you coach have people who are following them, and as a leader, you must be willing to shift your leadership style, communication style or even the way you walk based on what your followers say they most need and want. Below, I will go into detail about the one month needs assessment, and I just want to caution you about this: Simply because a leader calls you and tells you she wants to work on her time management or organizing her office does not mean this is what her followers want to see. The most successful leaders understand their followers needs and desires and they will do anything to get the majority of their followers’ needs met. As a leader, if your client does not care what the followers think, then she is simply not a leader…enough said!

2. Begin your actual coaching only after one solid month of assessment. Assessing a leader in a company is a great deal like a physician trying to diagnose a patient’s illness. A doctor would never walk in and just start writing prescriptions without asking multiple questions of you (and maybe of your family members) to find out what is really going on. During the first month of leadership coaching, I invest my time conducting a very thorough needs assessment which includes the following:

  • An oral 360 degree feedback review. With my approach, I interview at least 12 people who are around the leader. The list of people I interview include direct reports, bosses, peers and even family members. While I am certified to run the online 360 degree assessments with the Center for Creative Leadership, I have found that by asking 12 simple questions of 12 different people, I get much better responses. I not only hear the answers, but I hear the sighs, the laughs, the “ughs” and I can see eyes rolling, deep thinking and smiles or frowns on faces.
  • The DiSC Assessment. Most leadership coaches have their favorite tools to use. Mine is by far the DiSC assessment. The tool has been used for over 30 years by over 40 million users and is one of the most trusted learning assessments in the personal and professional development industry. With the DiSC, you will quickly learn if the leader you are coaching is a strong-willed, bottom line risk taker or a leader who loves to entertain and motivate others. The communication style of your leader is critical to her approach with her followers, and this tool will help you bring out the best in your clients.
  • The Strengths Finder Profile. I truly believe that using a leader’s key strengths to help shore up weaknesses is one of the best ways to approach your clients. It is critical to know upfront what your leader’s strong suits are, and this assessment can help you refine your coaching and hone in on those strengths from the first coaching session to the end of the coaching engagement.
  • A two hour relaxed “get to know you” meeting with your new client. I always invest at least two hours in the early stages of the needs assessment with my new clients to find out what makes them tick and what ticks them off. I want to know about the music they listen to, their favorite foods and colors and a bit about their personal life. This relaxed conversation builds trust and also helps fill in some of the gaps that will more than likely be missing with the formal assessments.

3. Once you have completed the needs assessment, pick one goal ONLY to work with your client on for at least six months. I have observed coaches who pile goals on top of goals on top of more goals and “things to do”. This is a big mistake (in my opinion). I have learned that when coaching a leader, we have to agree to work on the one leadership skill that needs the most work, and work a system so that improvement starts to happen as quickly as possible. Improvement in one area will often help in other areas of leadership, so I just want to encourage you to keep hammering home points around that one critical skill that needs work. Doing a little bit of work on a long list of leadership skills will get your client to move an inch. Working on one goal and seeing a leadership skill turn 180 degrees is much easier for your client to swallow and others will notice improvement quickly if you are really targeting one area that is of greatest concern for the people who are trying to follow the leader.

If you or someone you know is interested in discussing leadership coaching, please feel free to contact me, Bea Fields, at 910-692-6118. I am happy to spend some time discussing your leadership needs.

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Weekend Hours by Jena McGregor

Jena McGregor posted a question on the Management IQ blog for Business Week.com today asking for suggestions on the topic of time management and requesting “secrets you’ve learned trying to keep Monday morning away from Sunday night”.

To begin with, I cannot personally give advice on this topic. I am one of those Boomers who works really hard, and as much as I try to “relax” on Sunday, I am always busy doing something.

However, her question has had me really think about how Generation Y would respond to this question. You see, I believe that Gen Y holds the key to this ever pressing question. In the interviews we have conducted over the last 18 months, we are learning that Gen Y is dedicated to living first and working second (hence the book Live First, Work Second by Rebecca Ryan), getting paid according to the task/not time and taking off to kick back daily. I believe that the traditional M-F work week is changing, and that Gen Y will help to redefine the amount of time we dedicate to work, and our work week may look very different as we move through the next 3-5 years. It is already changing, and employers are responding by allowing much more flexibility in the way work is done.

So…for Baby Boomers…if you are reading this, the best tip I can give you on how to start cracking this “take time off” code is to spend the week with a Generation Y adult (this means someone who is under the age of 30) and pick up some of their “kick back” and “take time off” strategies.

Millennial Leaders.