Ever thought about the perception of your effectiveness as a leader or manager of your team? No? Your team loves you right? Perception is reality when you’re in charge of a team. Everyone in a supervisory role believes they have great leadership and management skills, but the truth is most are not that gifted. It’s not that we’re delusional, we simply judge ourselves in the best light possible, namely, from own perspective. Our egos don’t want to look at the bigger picture, therefore, we resist feedback. In order to facilitate, if not force supervisors to see the perceptions from their teams perspectives consultants developed the 360 evaluations. The 360 combines perspectives from the top down, sideways, and from the bottom up. Great, however, with all of the data the 360 provides, it is still easy to overlook your team’s perspective on your ability to lead and manage. Notice I said, “Team”. If you don’t refer to the people you supervise as “Team” you, my friend, are in deep trouble as a leader. Your boss and friends may think you are great, but if you team has a dissimilar perspective you are not as effective as you could be. You may be what is keeping your “Team” from not just being at the next level, but stopping them from being effective at their current level. Now for the fun part, there is a new tool that allows you to rate your leadership splash and post it to social media. Using the Matrix from Integritas Leadership Solutions, LLC, you can rate yourself, or someone else, on leadership and management aptitudes and directly post the scores to face book. When you receive multiple scores from your team members you can plot them and see your splash as a leader and manager.
First, understand both management and leadership positions are diametrically opposed. They are always trying to get ahead of each other. They both have an important part to play in any organization but most people confuse the divergent skills and abilities required for management for leadership. Leadership is about breaking out of the box and taking your team to a new level. Leaders, create a vision, overcome the inertia of status quo, and bring the team to life to meet new challenges. Management is about policies and procedures, following the rules. Basically, managers keep you in the box. When you were back in school, the leader was the high school rock star and everyone wanted to follow him or her. The manager was the chemistry geek who had to follow the rules or his test tubes would blow up. You asked the chemistry geek how to do your homework, but went to the rock stars house to hang out. Hint, the chemistry geek never forgot, or forgave, you and is now retaliating for your transgressions through their management roles.
Now, fast forward to today and learn something about yourself. The Integritas Leadership Solutions Matrix rates you on your leadership and management abilities. The basic program allows you to answer the questions and then places your score on a graph for you to see. You can then post your score to Facebook. When you have your team complete the basic program you can see your splash as a leader and manager. Let’s take a look at how at how they developed the score:
Leadership can be rated on your ability to create a vision and inspiration. Can you create a vision that is compelling and can you inspire people to follow you. When you look back are people following?
Management is more mundane, but just as important. Do you have the basic knowledge to perform your job at the level required and do you have the ability to perform.
The Matrix is a fun way to receive your score as a leader or manager. More importantly, it is a way for you to gauge your effectiveness. Now, go to the Matrix site and get your score on these four basic skill sets, Vision, Inspiration, Knowledge and Ability. www.integritasleadership.net/matrix
Over the past few years, organizations have learned to value new ideas that create competitive advantages and help develop a critical mass for success. Senior managers look in wonder at people in other organizations who can come in and seamlessly create synergy and transforms them into an industry leader. Often leaders go to retreats in hopes of developing new strategies that bring thought leaders flocking into their organizations. But let’s stop and back up. Before bringing in new talent, let’s take a crucial look at how organizations already deal with new ideas developed in-house.
From the outset, everyone understands that people dislike and resist change, and new ideas bring change. Change creates anxiety and upsets people, and most resist even the most straightforward idea, that will lead to success. From a distance, we admire people who can develop and initiate change in other organizations, but may disdain people trying to make changes in our own organizations. We are brains are hardwired as a part of our evolutionary process to conform. Through our evolutionary past we learned, people who tried something new and different may have been eaten by the large animal waiting for an easy meal. Today, a new idea brings up the same connotations of fear and trepidation that one company may get eaten by another after it implements a new idea.
Now, at the individual level, we have to examine how organizations treat their own employees with new ideas and strategies to create effectiveness. Have you ever heard some version of the saying, “If I wanted to hear your ideas, I would give you them.” We may bring in a consultant for new ideas, but intentionally over look internal ideas from subordinates. This train of thinking goes back to the heart of the matter in developing organizations. When someone is hired, at a lower level, they are brought on to accomplish tasks set out in their job descriptions. They do day-to-day tangible activities that in general do not impact the long-term success of the organizations. Initially, their job is not to develop long-term strategies, which are the jobs held in senior management positions.
When someone in middle management, or below, develops a new idea they have to find a champion at a higher level who is willing to run with the idea, or it will not gain needed traction. However, they must still overcome the initial fear that someone at a lower level has an outstanding idea which may create a competitive advantage. How dare a lower person presume to have the next big idea? Why, because senior managers resist ideas from subordinates. Why, because senior managers fear losing their jobs to a subordinate. Worse, one may think senior managers would value a person who brings lots of creative ideas that improve effectiveness and efficiency to their attention. Well, yes and no. If the person has already been picked as a future leader in the organization then the ideas have a better chance. If the person is outside of the established developmental pool then ideas are less likely to be listened too; and the person may cause greater fear in the senior management. Why, because he or she is an unknown commodity and sees things that the senior management has missed. This perception of blindness by senior management creates more resistance to new ideas; especially if they were not looking for new ideas. Again, conformity to ones station in the organization is valued at the subconscious level over conscious level saying we value new ideas.
So, let’s recap and tie it all together. We are hard-wired to conform to norms as a way of surviving. In most organizations, out of the box thinking is valued, as long as new ideas were requested from employees, or is occurring in other organizations. Every idea will have some level of resistance no matter how much an impact it will have on improving efficiency. When unsolicited ideas are brought up a champion at the senior level must be brought in who supports the idea for it to have any chance. Ideas from the lower levels are always said to be welcomed, but in most organizations actually cause fear in senior managers who are in charge of long-term strategies, over people who handle day-to-day operations. In short, all organizations who want to succeed need to develop cultures where fears of ideas at any level are overcome, and in fact welcomed. The way you do this is through open dialogue. Open the communication pathways both up and down. As the culture of inclusiveness grows, the fear at the primal level of new ideas is mitigated with every success. In the end, managers are still responsible for strategic development, and lower level associates are responsible for day-to-day activates; however, as a group, they can develop synergy and take their organizations to levels only previously dreamed. So, let’s recap and tie it all together. We are hard-wired to conform to norms as a way of surviving. In most organizations, out of the box thinking is valued, as long as new ideas were requested from employees, or is occurring in other organizations. Every idea will have some level of resistance no matter how much an impact it will have on improving efficiency. When unsolicited ideas are brought up a champion at the senior level must be brought in who supports the idea for it to have any chance. Ideas from the lower levels are always said to be welcomed, but in most organizations actually cause fear in senior managers who are in charge of long-term strategies, over people who handle day-to-day operations. In short, all organizations who want to succeed need to develop cultures where fears of ideas at any level are overcome, and in fact welcomed. The way you do this is through open dialogue. Open the communication pathways both up and down. As the culture of inclusiveness grows, the fear at the primal level of new ideas is mitigated with every success. In the end, managers are still responsible for strategic development, and lower level associates are responsible for day-to-day activates; however, as a group, they can develop synergy and take their organizations to levels only previously dreamed.
When you ask the question, “How do you define someone as being successful”, you will get mixed responses. Success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. We are taught as we age our definition of success changes. Our definition of success may evolve, but our fundamental understanding of success stays relatively fixed. One may think an artist who sells his painted canvas for significant sums of money successful only to later find the artist felt they failed because they didn’t exactly capture what they had envisioned in their minds eye. A street vendor who can barely cover his expenses may feel successful because he had the opportunity to talk to new and interesting people every day. In that sense the vendor uses his job as a vehicle to do what he really enjoys, meeting new people. A handicapped person who simply wants to work and earn a living on their own may find they are incredibly successful for maintaining a minimum wage job. Likewise, many people falsely believe success is in the cars they drive and homes they live in. They strive for years to gain those tangible items, only to find they feel hollow and empty inside. Success is therefore an enigma because it can’t be quantified, but fixed in the minds of the people enjoying it. I have two examples of real life people to further examine the idea of divergent perspectives of success.
Liam and John are both executives in a large financial firm. Both men have worked at the firm for 17 years and on the surface their lives are very similar. They have expensive cars and live in gated communities with their families. To many, their lives are successful. But now let’s look at their perspectives on success which set s them apart.
Liam enjoys the journey of life and work. Rewards are a result of the journey and set him up to continue on the pathway to success. He enjoys challenging projects that require bringing in a diverse set of experts to be assembled. He has the ability to create synergy and congeal the individuals into a unified team under a common vision and goals. He has the inquisitive motivations to watch the pieces come together that are better than each one person could do alone. He marvels at the impact that each project has on developing community. For Liam success is the process of taking an idea, developing it, and watching it come to life. Liam constantly pushed his vision forward as to require continued progress. Rewards are a matter of consequence of the project. Liam would be content in doing anything where he can see and participate in the steps necessary to envision a project starting from scratch all the way to the end product be it taking scraps of wood to build a workbench to creating the financing project for a multimillion dollars high-rise.
John, on the other hand, looks to rewards for his project accomplishments as a motivator. The road and journey are less important than getting to the final destination. When obstacles in the road occur, John looks at them as an impediment slowing him down instead of an opportunity to challenge him to come up with a solution. When John creates a team, he is singularly focused on meeting benchmarks and completion times. Team cohesion is a result of meeting the challenges of a timeline rather than a consequence of selective recruitment and vision building. John keeps score by the rewards that are handed down by projects being flawlessly completed. He will not be satisfied unless the rewards are worth the effort.
For most people, like John and Liam, success is a matter of perspective. Do we enjoy the process of the results? What motivates us to be successful? Please feel free to comment on your ideas of success.
A couple years ago, while teaching a group of public safety professionals, I was asked the best method for me to keep students engaged? I replied, “For me, I teach through stories”. That is why I am able to get seasoned professionals to stand on their chairs within five minutes of my opening. I create the visuals through stories and take my students on a trip that teaches them new information. After years of research, I found stories are the natural way people process information. By creating stories people create strong images in their minds that help them connect the pieces together. For millennia, people have been telling stories as part of their oral traditions. The first cave drawings were used to tell stories to other members of the tribe. Ten thousand years later, we can still look at the cave drawings, in France, and understand the meaning of the images. Aristotle, two thousand years ago, wrote down the parts we still use today to create a good story. When we watch movies, we wait for the lead character to tell the story that motivates the other characters to action.
The most influential leaders I have ever met spoke to people in ways that allowed everyone to join the overall story. You wrote your own part. You were a part of the team. You could make a difference. As a leader using stories to motivate employees, you do not have to be a hero, or someone with a spectacular past. Anyone with imagination can tell the story that moves someone to action; you just have to connect at the individual level.
Stories can be used to teach mathematics, science, police science, hydraulic pressure theory for firefighters, or other “dry” classes and still keep people riveted. Imagine Halley’s Comet hurtling past the earth every 70 years. Physics and stories explain why the comet is pulled past the earth on its way towards the sun; however, stories also tell what people thought when they saw it in the sky. In 1066, William the Conquer saw the comet and thought it was a sign to invade England. The ancient Romans thought it was a god riding a chariot through the skies. The Aztec Indians saw the comet as a sign to go to war. The stories suck you in so your mind grasps, and materializes, the images to create a meaningful form to transfer information. You can talk about the science behind Star Wars to help transfer complex theories of physics, engineering, or computer programming. Anyone can come up with a thousand stories to explain how biology works. One only has to make the connection at the individual to keep people engaged.
Remember, “It’s the Story”, the next time you get asked to talk about a subject and want to make an impact.
We have all seen evaluations that require stretch goals as part of the scoring system. The hardest hurdle to overcome is figuring out what exactly a stretch goal is, and then selling the idea. First, the stretch goal is designed to get the employee to learn a new skill or develop and existing ability. Second, engaging employees and creating buy-in when employees ask, “During these hard economic times, where pay raises are few, why should I do more for the same money?” Third, we have the compounding effect when the leader does not know what stretch goals are, or how to use them, and they are considered a waste of time.
So, let’s go through the questions and create some understanding. Effective leaders take the view that stretch goals actually make the employee better by helping them learn new skills, and reach their own goals. Employees often get stifled because they do not have long term goals, know who to ask for help in developing new skills, or more commonly are afraid to start. The stretch goals help leaders to overcome all of these problems. The leader asks where the employee wants to go in their careers and the stretch goals area tailored around meeting those goals. Through the evaluation you push, or pull, the employee to meet benchmarks that lead to the development of new career skills. This creates a more productive employee for the leader, and a more engaged employee who has met his or her career goals.
The most important concept about the stretch goals remains the employee learns a new skill that can never be taken away. Through the process, they have enhanced their value to the organization. I will describe two examples: First, a welder is tired of simply welding all day and wants a new challenge. The leader talks to the welder and finds he also want to be a pipefitter. So, learning pipefitting skills becomes a stretch goals requirement. Over time, he becomes a certified pipefitter along with being a welder. Now, the leader has an employee who is a certified welder and pipefitter. The employee has created value for himself along with increased capability for the organization. Second, a police officer is board running calls, but likes working accidents. The leader finds advanced crash investigation classes to send the officer. As part of his stretch goals requirement he is required to attend these schools. And eventually the officer becomes a certified crash reconstruction specialist. The officer is now engaged and productive in the police force. The leader has someone engaged at work and has skills to investigate terrible crashes. He or she adds as valuable skills to the organization needs to be effective. Additionally, the officer can use those skills when he retires to work for lawyers in accident reconstruction.
The stretch skills should be looked at as a tool to develop the employee. By connecting the stretch skills to the employee’s long term goals an opportunity created to increase organizational effectiveness while providing the employee a skill that can never be taken away. Now, go out and stretch some people.
In order to create a High Performance team, the foundation must be created on a solid base of leadership. I will outline a simple course from individual self actualization to creating a high performance team.
Step One: The leader must become conscious of his or her actions. Take an inventory of youself and and ask, ” can I lead myself? Why would others follow me?” Are their actions disciplined or undisciplined? Do the actions hurt the team, or help build it up? Do I have the knowledge skills and abilities for their job? If not, how fast can I acquire them? Leaders biggest mistakes stem from not realizing they need to add to their knowledge base, and then making bad decisions based on that lack of knowledge.
Step Two: Without introspection as to why you behave the way you do, you will never be able to create a cohesive plan of action and become an exceptional leader. Through conscious awareness you can begin to create the self discipline you need to create a vision that people will follow. People will not follow someone who is all over the place, but will follow one who is strait, steady and consistent on reaching the desired goal.
Step Three: Self discipline an creating a steady course for people to follow takes courage. You have to change your own behaviors, and then those of your team. You will have to confront people and make your argument for them to change, for their betterment, and that of the team. It takes courage to try and overcome resistance. Confrontation take courage. Sometime the leader had to have the courage to tell someone they do not fit and need to go. Confrontation is good in that it opens up communication lines. Confrontation does not mean yelling and screaming, but actually discussing difference in opinion, not hiding them and letting resentment build
Step Four: Once you begin to control yourself through self discipline, and created an awareness how individual actions impact the team, you can begin to motivate and inspire. Create your individual vision of where you want to go. How will you get their? You will get there through your team and their willingness to follow.
Step Five: What is the vision for the team? What do you collectively believe? As you build yourself up, your vision of the team may change. As the team evolves and changes, their vision may change. The vision the leader and team create must be consistent with the vision of the organization. As good vision for a team takes the organizations vision and then raises the bar. By raising the bar and meeting those goals you become the “go to” people in the department.
Step Six: Celebrate little victories. Rome was not built in a day. Set the long range plan with short term in initiatives. Celebrate once you have reached the initiative goals. Regroup, when you don’t. After a victory or setback, notice I did not say defeat, evaluate what went write or wrong. Adjust course, and then move on. Always look towards to long term future, but remember it is the actions you take each day that get you to fulfill your vision for yourself and your team.
Step Seven: The more successful your team is, the more other teams will recruit away your best team members. Rejoice when a team member moves on to help someone else. It reflects greatly onto you and what you have accomplished. So, now you bring in someone new. Let them know who you are. Find out who they are and what they want to accomplish. Bring it the team, and introduce each one of them. Let the team share the vision with the new person. Together, as a team you use each day as a touchstone for success.
You can go to any bookstore and find a plethora of books explaining how to change your life through changing your frequencies. You have heard it before, “Change your frequency and change your life.” Before buying a book simply take a look around you to see what you are already missing.
I will use an analogy to start the discussion. When you change your station on your radio you are changing frequencies on a bandwidth. You turn the dial, or push a button, until you find something you like. Different frequencies don’t recognize that the others exist. They operate in their own frequency range oblivious to the others. How we live our lives much the same way. When you are walking around your city, or town, stop and take a look at the people around you; do you see their frequencies? You will see poor, middle class and wealthy people all around. We look at the wealthy and wonder how it would be to live their lives. We intentionally ignore the person with the sign saying, “Hungry and homeless – Please help.” They are to low a frequency for many of us to acknowledge. Most of us easily recognize the frequency of the family of four in the small all-wheel drive sedan bustling around from teenage sports activity to the strip mall restaurant. For most of us, we live somewhere in that frequency bandwidth.
Public safety officers, such as police officers, fire fighters and EMS workers have the unique opportunity to coexist and operate within these differing frequencies. Each day they respond to calls to assist the very poor to the very wealthy, and everything else in between. Much like the analogy of an elevator of a tall building where the poor are on the bottom and the rich on the very top floor, public safety officers are the only ones with the elevator key that can stop on every floor. Let’s look at some lessons learned from them and how sometimes the frequencies of people shift.
Many of our own frequencies are repelled from the homeless we see on the street. We don’t want to see them, much less talk to them. They are homeless and have nothing to provide, right? Wrong! With the economic down turn you would be amazed at the number of people who once had the frequencies of six figure incomes and never thought they would be homeless, and now they are at the bottom frequencies. Some are extremely musically inclined and took extensive lessons as a child and still perform when given a chance, usually on a church piano. Some are extremely personable and have great humor to comfort them and uplift others. When they die no one really misses them. Regardless how they became homeless they still have dreams, just like the rest of us. Most don’t want to be homeless and many are able to get back on their feet with help from others. Those lucky few who fight their way back will always recognize the life frequency of being homeless.
Many in the middle class have worked hard as business owners, professionals, athletes and musicians to go from the middle class to the wealthy. What is a lesson they learned when they change life frequencies? The larger the paycheck the larger the bills you pay. Keeping up the lifestyle is expensive. If you move to the wealthy frequency you are expected to live a lavish life style. If you maintain your middle class style you are thought of as eccentric. A little secret, if you don’t live the life style of your life frequency you are crazy if you are poor, frugal in the middle class and eccentric if you are wealthy class frequency. The wealthy life frequency operates on its own level, but is more fragile and susceptible to dramatic change. If they lose their wealth they find the possibility of being homeless impossible. Some commit suicide rather than having to live a life frequency on the lower rungs.
People in the middle class have the most adaptable life frequency. For many, when they leave home for the first time they have to struggle to pay bills and survive, hence the lower frequency. As they gain skills they earn money, get married, and as a couple they move up in life frequencies. The middle class frequency band widths are very broad. There are also many diverse frequencies within the overall middle class bandwidth. Some go higher, some stay lower on the band but they adapt. It is not simply middle class, but rather, middle frequencies are more adept to at shifting and touching the outer bands of the frequencies above and below.
So, is it possible to change frequencies? Yes. Can you simply read a book and vibrate ourselves to new heights? No. First, simply look at the people around you and guess what frequency they operate on. It takes action on your part to move up a frequency. But then look what comes with that frequency, bigger bills. Inaction will surely take you to the lower frequencies. No bills, but no bed either. The glue that keeps all the frequencies together are the commonality that we all share, dreams, the will to survive, the drive to do better than we have in the past, that good will eventually win over evil. We can intentionally, or accidentally, change our life frequencies. Sometimes we find the life frequency we want isn’t as good as we thought. Sometimes moving up can actually cause us our own ruin. Some people readily accept their frequencies. Others move frequencies by happenstance and circumstances that are truly out of their control. We can change our frequencies, but it is not easy and takes work on your part.
To change your life frequencies heed the following steps: First, acknowledge the ones you see around you. Second, take action. Third, read a book that teaches you about life, or how to learn a new skill, not one that promises an easy fix to your problems by merely hoping and imagining they will go away. Last, is changing frequencies right for you?