Checkmate – How to Become a Better Leader in Four Moves 2

Leadership Cycle Coloured 2Whether you are in a management position or play a leadership role in your organization, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and for the forseeable future. Success in managing or leading others is no longer dependent on your technical abilities alone. Soft-skills, your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, build collaborative teams, problem solve, resolve conflict and deal with difficult people and challenging situations better, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization and your people.

I believe to be a really great manager or leader you need to master all four disciplines of my “Four Step Leadership Development Model” (c) . The work environment is changing and you need to adapt to keep pace with those changes. You must have exceptional people skills and be able to bring people together, communicate often, teach others what they’ll need to know and then learn to get out of their way and let them do it. Don’t get left behind – learn to manage and lead the 21st Century way.

Congregate: “To collect into a group or crowd; to come together into a group, crowd or assembly.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Your success and the overall success of your organization begins and ends with your ability to bring people together. If you can’t connect with others on an emotional level, then you stand little chance of assembling a cohesive team. You are only as good as the people around you. Each individual is a vital link in the chain. Get to know your people for more than the job that they do. People like to work with people they like. Successful managers and leaders know how to develop those all important relationships and build collaborative teams.

Communicate  “To convey knowledge of or information about; to cause to pass from one to another.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Communication isn’t just something – it’s everything! If you can’t communicate – you can’t manage or lead others. I can’t think of a more valuable skill set for managers and leaders to have, than the ability to communicate effectively up, down and across the organization. If you can’t send the message and have it received the way it was intended – then what you said means absolutely nothing. The words you choose and how you go about saying them can be the catalyst for action or inaction. 

Educate “To train by formal instruction and supervised practice especially in a skill, trade, or profession.” – Merriam Webster Dictionary. I don’t believe there is any such thing as common sense. The only thing common about common sense, is that it’s not very common. We should call it “Life Sense” because it seems the older we get, the smarter we get. We aren’t born knowing what we need to know, to be able to teach someone else what they need to know. I believe having the ability to teach someone else is a learned behavior. Successful managers and leaders are great teachers and coaches.

Delegate “To entrust to another; to appoint as one’s representative.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary. If you fail to delegate you are robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. Successful managers and leaders understand that they aren’t the end all and be all. Successful managers and leaders understand that they must give up control to get control. Resist the urge to micro-manage others. Your ability and willingness to delegate effectively are essential to freeing up your time, so you can carry out your duties and responsibilities as a manager or leader.

Any time is a great time to start a new beginning. Which one of these four disciplines; congregate, communicate, educate or delegate will you need to improve upon to be a more effective manager or leader? Don’t get left behind – you can become a better leader in just four moves.

Copyright (c) 2014. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Excerpts from Brian’s soon-to-be-published workbook “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century(c)”. Brian is available for keynote speaking or facilitating training sessions on a variety of soft-skills topics including: communication, time management, problem solving, dealing with difficult people and challenging situations better and developing the leader in you. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com

Soft Skills for a Hard Place

millennials-200x192Daniel Goleman in his groundbreaking book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” might have said it best: “We are being judged by a new yardstick; not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how we handle ourselves and each other”.  Times have certainly changed. I think there has been a dramatic shift in people’s attitudes. Their wants and needs are changing. For the first time in our lifetime we have the potential of working with 4 different generations in the same workplace at the same time. Each generation communicates and interacts differently and want to be managed and manage differently. Each generation have a different set of values and career aspirations. For the newest generation – the Millennials – life outside of work is just as important,  if not more important,  then life inside work. Each generation is motivated by different things. What you need to decide now is – will the management style that got you here – be the same style that will sustain you or get you to where you need to go? Is one style of managing and leading others good enough?

Worth Remembering … “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing – expecting a different result” – Albert Einstein

Productivity is still the name of the game and that will never change. One of your roles as a manager or leader has always been to minimize the input and maximize the output. In today’s ever-changing, competitive global marketplace you need to produce more with less. Your survival and your company’s survival demands it. To accomplish both – managers and leaders must change from being task-focused to being people-focused. People like to work with people they like. People like to feel wanted. People like to feel that they are appreciated and respected.

Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good manager is to rule with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of every business and that’s people”. – Oprah Winfrey

Technical skills are important but, for the most part, you can get that out of a book or Google it. What is needed to be successful managing and leading others in the 21st Century are soft-skills, sometimes referred to as people skills. Successful managers and leaders will be those who have developed great soft-skills for a hard place. Successful managers and business leaders are F.O.C.U.S.E.D. (C) on their most important asset – their people.

Friendly: Someone who can smile and say hello. Someone who can make the other person feel important.

Observant: Someone who can recognize those that need help and those that don’t. Someone who will get out of their way and let them do the job.

Consistent: Some who is consistent in the way that they apply policies and procedures. Consistent in the way they treat people and deal with situations.

Understanding: Someone who tries to see things from the other person’s point of view. Empathy is a valuable 21st Century skill to have.

Sincere: Someone who truly wants their people to be successful at what they do. Managing and leading others is a team sport – create win-wins.

Energized: Someone who is enthusiastic. Someone who looks and acts like they want to be there.

Dependable: Someone whose word they can depend on. Someone they can trust. If they can’t trust your word they won’t trust you.

Are you F.O.C.U.S.E.D.?  🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. Brian is the author of “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them”. Looking for a speaker? Planning a lunch-n-learn or organizing a workshop? Contact Brian. briansmithpld@gmail.com

 

Trust Matters – Without It You Have Nothing 3

Trust 2People won’t trust anyone they don’t respect first. Have you ever met someone for the very first time and thought, “Oh, yuck – What a dink”? (And I don’t mean Double Income No Kids.) You didn’t know why – you just knew that there was something about that person you didn’t like. But, after you spent some time with them, and got to know them better, did you ever change your mind? Building relationships and establishing trust with the people you work with and interact with is crucial to your overall success as a manager and business leader. Trust matters – Without it you have nothing. Once you lose the trust and confidence of your team mates – you lose your ability to manage and lead them.

Worth Remembering … “If you want to be interesting – you first must be interested.” – Dale Carnegie

Trust and respect do not come automatically just because you’ve been given a title. You must earn both, one person at a time. Establishing trust between you and the people you work with is a 3-step process that I refer to as the 3 R’s – Rapport, Relationships and Respect. It’s a process that everyone must go through when meeting someone for the very first time. Some people will go through these steps more quickly than others. But it’s a journey that everyone has to go on. A close friend of mine is great at this. She can meet someone for the very first time and within minutes they are carrying on a conversation as if they have known each other for ever. People just naturally open up to her. She is also great at remembering names. (I have to admit I’m not so good at this) Think how powerful it would be if you could remember someone’s name, their children’s names, their birthdays and interests and you were able to remember them and use it in a conversation.

The 3 R’s – Building Relationships to Last

Step One: Rapport.  The first step is to build rapport. Find out something about the other person other than the job that they do. Do they have hobbies? Are they married? Do they have children? What do they like to do in their spare time? You need to be able to carry on a conversation with them on a subject that they enjoy talking about. Idle chit-chat is important if you want to develop rapport. You can’t take the next step without first establishing rapport.

Step Two: Relationships. The second step in establishing trust with the people you work with and interact with are relationships. Successful salespeople understand the value of building relationships with their clients. They understand that people choose to do business with people they like. The same holds true for the people on your team. People like to work with and hang out with people they like. No one wants to let a friend down. A recent Gallop survey revealed that companies with less than 10 employees or small teams within the organization have the most committed workers.

Step Three: Respect. The final step in establishing trust is respect. Always keep in mind that people won’t respect anyone they haven’t built a relationship with first. Respect is reciprocal. Try this little experiment. The next time you go into a shopping mall or office building that has a double set of doors – open the first set of doors for the people behind you. I will bet you that someone within that group will hold the second door open for you. Respect works the same way. If you give it – you’ll get it – but you must give it first.  People feel obligated to return the favor. It’s part of our DNA.

Worth Remembering … “Trust is to human relationships what faith is to gospel living.” – Barbara Smith

If you have navigated the 3-step process successfully you will be able to establish trust in your relationship with your team. Without mutual trust and respect, your team will abandon you and you will eventually fail. You might be able to bully them into doing things they don’t want to do in the short-term but, it will come around to bite you in the end. (Pun intended) What goes around comes around. Having trouble establishing trust? Try my 3-step process and let me know how things work out. – 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Looking for a speaker? Planning a lunch-n-learn or training session on soft-skills or leadership development? DM me – Let’s talk. briansmithpld@gmail.com or visit http://briansmithpld.com to find out more.

Who Said Your Life Would Be Perfect?

PerfectRepeat after me – “There is no such thing as perfect – there is no such thing as perfect – there is no such thing as perfect”. Besides, perfect is over rated anyhow. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be good enough. The most important person in your life is you. Don’t worry about trying to please anyone else. If it’s good enough for you – it’s good enough. If it’s good enough for you – then you don’t need to change a thing. However, if you aren’t living the life you envisioned for yourself, then you need to stop talking, quit complaining and do something about it. You either have to change it – or change the way you are thinking about it. You are responsible for you. You are responsible for your own happiness. In the words of Larry Winget, “The Pit-bull of Personal Development” , your life is your own damn fault.

Worth Remembering … The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow is the `Buts`you use today.

Take out a blank piece of paper and write a description of what a perfect life would look like to you. After you have done that – what things would have to happen for you to be able to live that life? Don’t generalize, be specific. To live the prefect life I would have to: Earn X amount of money per year, move to a  warmer climate, get married and have two children. What ever would have to happen for you to live your perfect life, take a moment and write it down. Now I know the list looks daunting, and you might be thinking that there is no way you can accomplish all of that. But trust me, you would be wrong. You would be selling yourself way to  short. If it’s worth dreaming about it – then it’s worth doing something about it. Wishing and hoping won`t make it so. Life – your life – is a planned event. So get busy! Put a plan together and start working that plan.

Worth Remembering … Once the what has been decided – the how will surely follow.  

I know I’m making it sound pretty simple. But, it really is about writing down your goals and then accomplishing them, one goal at a time. Remember.  a journey of a 1000 miles starts with the first step. You took the first step when you wrote down what your perfect life would look like. You took the first step when you listed all the things that would have to happen for you to live your perfect life. You took the first step when you wrote out your plan. Now it’s time for you to take the next step and start to work your plan. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be good enough. 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Brian is available for speaking engagements, lunch-n-learns and seminars. Contact Brian today. He will work with you to insure your event is an overwhelming success. Email: briansmithpld@gmail.com. To find out more visit http://briansmithpld.com