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Analyze This or Fail at That

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Sometimes what we do and say appears to land on deaf ears while what we measure is what we’re told gets managed. Who is measuring how you sound, how they hear you, what incremental steps you’ve taken, and how far you’ve come? Those metrics may not show up on a report, but need your analysis nonetheless.

In the movie the phrase was an expletive. “Oh yeah, well analyze this!” Billy Crystal was the brilliant psychologist of a mob boss and boy, did he have issues. So do most organizations and certainly most people. But, who wants to think about our issues? It’s much easier to do what we do and race after our to-do list than to sit down and do a bunch of introspection. But the most famous, legendary, and successful leaders have always done this. They made time to reflect, to think, and to analyze key, fundamental issues, such as those listed here in today’s Monday Moment. Take 15 minutes to think, maybe even make a list, and see how easy it seems to adjust or maybe even change some of your own harmful, effective leadership threatening, behavior.

Today’s Behavior

Perhaps it was Bryan Tracy who created this concept, but at the end of today, make a reverse list. In keynotes, I’ve joked by calling this list sickness, but in all seriousness, this method of examining your accomplishment provides effective analysis. What did you do today that you were proud of? What did you do today that you wish you had done differently? What did you get done today that didn’t make it on your initial list for which you can toast to your own productivity and today’s success? Analyzing behavior daily will help you to make incremental steps toward even the most major change. Not sure how this would be done? Check out Benjamin Franklin’s work: Poor Richards Almanack.

Why You Did That

When in the role of coaching leaders, I have often asked the question “Why did you say yes to your position in leadership in the first place?” The question is not one designed to second guess one’s choice to take on a promotion or position, but rather to help the leader think. Why did you say yes? What prompted you to want to lead? What did you think would happen when you became a leader? Are any of these expectations or beliefs causes for your current challenges or frustrations? If you’ve charged head long and feet first into a position for reasons other than you want to lead them, a careful examination of your true motivations will illuminate why you demonstrate other behaviors of which you, or they, may not be so enamored. For a smidge of guidance in this area, check out Contagious Leadership in the 2nd edition.

What Gets Done Next

If you’ve ever arrived at your office and tackled the very first thing that would allow you to check one or more things off your list, without giving the priority of that task any real thought, and then found it to be 2 o’ clock and you’re still doing it, this question is one you want to analyze quick. What gets done next may not always be the easiest thing. It may not always be the thing standing in your doorway, demanding or, even asking for your immediate attention. The next priority task on which a good leader would focus may be something completely counter intuitive or even seemingly counter-productive, but doesn’t how and on what and when you spend your most precious asset, deserve a moment of careful thought? Your leadership role isn’t a fun alcohol involved summer party at which decisions are made spur of the moment and people jump into a lake without knowing what’s on the bottom. Working for several hours on something that is not as important, but allows you to say “I did it!” on Facebook, such as addressing each and every email today, may feel like the proverbial scrape on your nose when you dove in and hit the bottom. Instead, give your next action some careful thought. Analyze this or you may end up failing at that which is actually much more important.

Requests come in frequently for us to teach or train leaders on how to be better in strategic thinking. And while the topic is certainly more complex that this simple statement, one of the first, most important steps to being more strategic, is taking the time to think. What is your next task deserves analysis. Why you are doing what you do deserves analysis. What did you do today that made a difference deserves analysis. So, well… to be a more effective leader… go analyze this!

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

Is Engagement Costing You Performance?

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The Monday Moment with Monica is a weekly, free, leadership podcast and blogpost. To sign up, go to www.MondayMoment.com

Are you spending more time, effort, and energy, to keep their interest than they are spending to turn interest into results?

If you are making excuses for why employees aren’t performing because your focus is on engagement, it’s costing you.  If you still hold them accountable while fostering a healthy interest in their own role and their own performance, this is the ideal solution. But, which do you really think you’re doing?

A quick Google search of “employee engagement” nets over 8 Million results, so clearly, engagement is a hot topic. The real hot question is are these efforts netting you even hotter results and higher levels of production? And if not, how do you fix that? There’s a good chance senior leaders would answer this question differently than front line management because of the perceived difference between coddling and nurturing team members. Yet, with these three ways to determine if your employee engagement comes at the cost of employee performance, you’ll be able to identify it, address it, and make small changes to keep employee interest without it costing a mint!

You Have No Time

It’s no secret that managers have limited time to complete their own work, especially when an employee problem is lurking. Heaven forbid you have more than one difficult team member if your midst! If that’s the case, you’ve got time for nothing else, but that feeling is dangerous. Your role as a leader is to be strategic, to think, and then to lead the team to execute and implement on the ideas and improvements and solutions you’ve either created or been given. If you have no time to exercise influence because you’re in the weeds in repeated discussions with someone over why and how, and if, they should show a real level of interest in their role, your focus may be in the wrong place. Focus on those doing their role exceptionally well. Focus on the performers and think of ways they could perform even better. Deliver swift and clear escalating consequences to those who are performing not so well and draw clear boundaries when it comes to the amount of time you allow yourself to be mired in drama and difficulty.

They Have Frequent Reasons

Let’s face it, usually in business and with reference to performance, REASONS are code for excuses. If the employees you lead are giving you frequent reasons for not getting their work done, you may have taken your own interest in their engagement a bit too far. If employees are consistently not meeting deadlines, giving you a litany of reasons why, your desire to keep them happy may be costing you plenty! This is where senior leadership, often with a bit of distance from you and your employee’s rapport or relationship, can spot and quickly identify coddling versus nurturing. Your role as a leader, of any level is to of course, connect with each team member, as well as set expectations for their performance. Doing what has been asked or something even better is the minimal expectation. Deviations from that require immediate coaching. The coaching will actually improve engagement by building their skills and indirectly then building their confidence. Letting them slide with their reasons for deviating only serves to distance them from engagement and reduce their actual performance for longer periods of time.

Others are Complaining

If you’ve been a leader for more than five minutes or even worked on a team with a problem employee on it, you know just how quickly the poor performance of one whiny, grumpy person can wreck performance for everyone. If others are complaining about the lack of production, results, quality, efficiency, or effectiveness of the role of just one person, there is trouble brewing. Ignoring this issue because you want to keep this employee happy is a mistake. Making your own set of excuses for this employee because you don’t like conflict or haven’t found a delicate way to tell them how far off track they’ve become, is a problem. Both actions may look like you’re a laid back leader who simply “let’s things go”, an admirable trait for a happy go lucky person, but both actions also show a disengaged leader who’s out of touch with whyy the numbers are really declining. How can you expect employees to engage if you’re disengaged from their problems? How can you expect performance to soar if you’re unwilling to address the team’s apparent barriers? If others are complaining with a consistent message, it’s time for you, the leader, to focus more on your own engagement and address the issue, even fix it, so everyone can get back to work.

Our focus in leadership can be compared to a pendulum swing. One year it’s all about being a certain type of leader. The next it’s about authenticity. The next it’s about employee engagement. The truth is these focal points take priority all the time and the art of keeping employees interested, while you’re serving their needs, and celebrating their high levels of performance, does take a bit of artful balance.  You can do this!

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

Quick and Dirty Leadership Learning

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Find out more about LEADERSHIP TRAINING by going to www.ContagiousCompanies.com or call 1-866-382-0121

Leaders who do these things will see seedlings pop up, skills develop, and loyalty blossom.

Leaders roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, unless, of course, they believe they’re beyond that level. And that belief could exist for a number of reasons. But, no matter the reason for believing one no longer needs to go back to the basics or do the things those brand new team members need to do, when a leader feels this way, their behavior often resembles arrogance. Worse yet, it rapidly launches a leader into a place where they are woefully out of touch with those they lead. So rather than simply walk around where others work and rather than ask questions so you have an idea about what they do and need, complete each one of these three simple tasks to keep you grounded in real leadership, in touch with those who need you to lead, and in leading more effectively. (And yes, even if you’ve already heard these or have done these before, much like a garden that requires the gardener to get in the dirt and nurture each new seed if they desire new growth, chances are you’ve got a new seed or two that need you, too.)

State Your Expectations

Start with you and state what you expect to yourself of yourself and of others. More than writing lovely sounding words on a plaque or public banner, when a leader actually clarifies and states his or her expectations in a variety of areas, all team members gain clarity of perspective and direction. What ARE your expectations on work ethic, punctuality, management of conflict, team work, integrity, and/or customer treatment? Assuming they know because you’ve said them before is like telling your spouse you love them on your wedding day, but never again, and assuming they still know.

Create Goals

Many organizations provide goals for their leaders, but it behooves you still to create a few of your own. What do you want to do? With whom and by when? What do you want to accomplish between now and the accomplishment then of that audacious goal and desire? What will you need? Who will you need to help you complete it? Daily, weekly, monthly, hourly, or on an annual basis, creating goals when you’re the leader is merely one of the first steps to assure you actually get somewhere.

Look at the People in Each Role

Stephen Covey perhaps framed it up best when he vocalized and videoed exercises on his 7 Habits. The influence of that book and his work lives on, but there is a whole generation now who has no idea who he is or was. There is a whole generation now who cocks their head to the side when you mention sharpening their saw or planning and preparing being Q2 activities. If this is you, Google some information on him and then pay attention. Take the time to prepare and plan for who you are expecting to reach what goal. Are they well suited to reach that goal or do you simply expect them to do as they’re told? Are they skilled enough? Are they naturally inclined to reach for exceeding a goal? Are they naturally inclined to only and exactly do as they’re told,  when you’re expecting them to break a mold and think outside some proverbial box?

In myriad ways, the simple phrase of “it’s the little things that matter” has been stated. These “little things” are big in leadership and without anyone of these three, you’re leading by trial and error, flying by the seat of your pants and hoping you get where you want to go. The most effective leaders have at least a simple plan of attack, action steps to track, and a clear handle on exactly who is going to be a part of the team (and why they are a critical piece) that will make amazing progress.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

Independent Thinking: Celebrations and Considerations

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Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist. For more information, call 1-866-382-0121 or go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com

Are you encouraging team members to also be independent thinkers or simply rule followers ?

As leaders, we want independent thinkers and encourage innovation, but also want team members to do just as we say. We want what’s best for our people and their team, but are then stunned at their decisions when things like Brexit happen. Beyond mere musings and correlations to leadership, in light of our nation’s red, white and blue Independence Day holiday, today’s Monday Moment is filled with celebrations, cautions, and considerations for just how much independence you want them to show when you are leading the way. It all begins with the question of what are you really after?

Is it Initiative?

If, in the pursuit of developing independent thinkers among employees and others you might lead, what you’re really after is initiative and the demonstration of this kind of creative thinking, then exercise caution in your response to what they bring you. To develop and foster initiative, a leader must provide far reaching boundaries where appropriate and initially accept any and all ideas, in most cases, sharing at least a willingness to test those that appear new and different, up to an including outlandish. Without these kinds of freedoms, initiative is not what you’re training. Failing to provide seemingly limitless horizons into which the minds of those creative employees can play, will cause those who would be initiative filled team members, to doubt how far they can go, stop thinking outside the boundaries, and provide you with the same old ideas.

Is it Future Leaders?

It was said in a conversation recently that one attribute of future leaders above the middle management level, is that of leading without authority. Leaders at the Vice President and even C-Suite level are able to make their own decisions. They are independent thinkers. Yet, when initially promoted to those levels from previously more closely directed positions, new senior leaders can struggle with what to do next. Usually this is because no one has ever asked nor requested, nor expected them to really think for themselves. Celebrate this potential and their future development! Often a motivation to consider for leaders you’ve deemed as those with potential, is to position the need for them to demonstrate independent thinking in terms of their future development. The potential reward for many will outweigh the risk inherent in the fear of making a wrong decision.

Is it Accolades for Your Directives?

While talk is still cheap and words do come for free, it does not mean that a careful selection of your words should not be taken. When it comes to what you communicate to your employees, what are you wanting from them exactly? Are you after high levels of performance so that they look like even stronger contributors? Are you seeking an award or praise that will be given to you when your team achieves something? There’s nothing wrong with seeking such accolades. Simply be clear and consistent. It is darn difficult to develop true independent thinkers if you really want them to only march in one direction so that you get the positive attention.

Is it Specific Outcomes?

A boss shared some sage wisdom years ago when he said “There is always more than one road that will get you there.” Is it possible that when the first colonies that led to the United States of America, were formed, that this was only one way in which to gain our independence? Is it possible that the UK population could have voted in a different direction and still attained the result the people were seeking? Is it possible that there are a dozen ways those employees you lead could achieve the final outcome or goal, that still incorporates some of your preferences? Yes, is the likely answer to each question and yet, what most leaders do is marry themselves to the how something should be achieved, without spending as much valuable time on the WHAT is to BE achieved.

Independence is a tricky concept. Parents find it bittersweet when children seek it. Companies find it bittersweet when employee exercise it and Leaders find independence and independent thinking, often finds it place smack on the delicate line between innovation and insubordination. What are you really after, really trying to develop and really trying to achieve and are you independent and confident enough to then let THEM go about achieving it?

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

Does Your Knowing Show?

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Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist, professional speaker, and owner of a leadership training company. To find out more, go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com

With all information, it’s one thing to know what to do and quite another to actively practice using it to build skills and then doing something with them.

In recent weeks, the team of Contagious Companies has had so much fun working with a multitude of leadership clients. And interestingly, whether providing coaching, training, or online leadership learning, emotional intelligence has been the predominant theme of most conversations. Why, you might ask? Simply stated, emotional intelligence impacts all facets of leadership. It has the potential to change communication, improve engagement, alter methods for motivation, and pretty remarkably increase the value of a leader’s coaching efforts. However, what is so often the case and the focus of much of our training, is not just the knowledge of EQ, but how to actually use this information. Leaders’ must ensure their knowing is showing for that new knowledge to make any difference. Does yours? Here are three ways to ensure it does.

Get Clear

It may first have value to clarify exactly what’s being talked about when the words Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, is used. Defined on the great Google, EQ is “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” Yet, as many a leader may attest, having the capacity to understand such control and expression is far different than actually using the skill. As a leader, your knowing shows if you are actively seeking to understand what other’s need and the way in which they hear or interpret things. Your knowing is showing if you are practicing in interactions that require the greatest amount of awareness, empathy, and understanding. Where it pays to get most clear is in believing and embracing the idea that the concept of emotional intelligence and having a clear understanding of what it is, is an intellectual exercise. Using the concepts in action is an emotional exercise. One might argue that in order for your knowing in this area to continue showing, one might have to actually care about how they come across and how they connect with others.

Apply it Personally

One of the more fun ways to share with a leader the key attributes of their personality is by applying it personally. Who wouldn’t pay much closer attention when one talks through how this knowledge and action could affect one’s home life, children or family. Anecdotally, there are some fun statistics that say a very high percentage of the time, a family of four will occupy one of each naturally in a standard four quadrant model for personalities. Would you find it more relevant, more compelling to practice if you knew the application (or showing your knowing) of emotional intelligence skills and understanding could finally assuage parental guilt and clarify why you get along great with one child and are convinced the other one is adopted? Impacting one’s personal life can create powerful motivation to them then using the knowledge, capacity, awareness, and understanding to then practice with their work team and in the workplace.

Maintain Grace and Graciousness

The subject line of this Monday Moment, “Does Your Knowing Show”, might lead one to believe the focus is on how to avoid being cocky or arrogant. There is an element of that to be considered. Many of our clients have admitted to knowing people who think they act one way and actually behave in quite another. Connect the two together and you could easily work with someone who is unaware, even in light of your own clarity around their behavior, and it seems not matter what is done, getting through is not an option. Maintain your position of grace and graciousness. In other words, keep your flippin’ composure. People come to this knowledge at a time in their lives when it’s most needed usually and it could be that right now is the time in which you need the most practice in this area. It doesn’t mean the other is lacking, it simply means they’re not at the same place in this particular area of awareness and understanding. Not only does the definition of emotional intelligence mention empathy, the application of these concepts in ways that cause your knowing to show most effectively, requires it.

Emotional intelligence impacts all facets of leadership. It can serve as a foundation for all that is and all that it means to be a better leader. If you’ve not read up on this material since 1985 when it became main stream and most popular, perhaps it’s time to reexamine just how much of your knowing is used and shows.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

Is Leadership Enough?

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Monica Wofford is a leadership development expert who speaks, trains, coaches, and consults. For more information about her or her company, go to www.ContagiousCompanies.com or www.MonicaWofford.com

A brilliant mind few followed until much later in life and after death, Einstein might have agreed that having complex processes others did not understand and being somewhat of a maverick with few followers early on, was not what enabled him to lead others to adopt his way of thinking. And while he was accepting of others, he was not often met with that reciprocally, What might he have contributed BEYOND his current legacy if HE had been able to master these three things?

Is it enough to have great leadership skills and great leaders in your organization? Is it enough to have strong leaders in a crisis? Is it all you need to teach leadership to those with potential in your workplace?  The answers depend on your goal. Every organization is in need of leaders and future leaders who will take the business into the future. Every organization is also in need of doers, connectors, and those with acceptance to do just the job needed when others are busy leading. So, is leadership all that’s needed? Is leadership enough to drive the performance of the rest of the organization? No, and here’s why and what else you’ll need.

Valued Followers

If leaders aren’t enough and developing leadership skills isn’t the entire equation for success, then what is often missing are those willing to follow. But, not only does an organization need willing followers, it needs those followers to feel needed. People want to feel needed. People who follow are needed  for the tasks that developing leaders delegate and don’t have time to complete themselves, nor should, based on their full leadership and management plate. How do you show value to those with no ambition to be in a leadership role, but who show up to work daily, complete the assignments they’ve been given, and do so with a pleasant demeanor? The focus is so often on leaders and future leaders, but what about those who keep the organization running and follow the direction of those who believe they are running it?

Clear Processes

One of the key challenges many developing leaders face is clarifying procedures and processes that were never made clear in the first place. One leader I spoke with this week needed to know the attendance policy and reached out to HR, via their web portal, in a large organization in which the human resource function has been centralized. The answer received was “we have no real attendance policy”. The organization has over ten thousand employees and yet has no clear attendance policy guiding leaders on how to manage tardies, unexcused absences, and what determines the time frames or behaviors that fit into either category. That lack of clarity is causing hours of work for this leader in deciding appropriate boundaries and consequence delivery. Is your workforce guided by unwritten rules or is it time to review, clarify and communicate clear processes that will make everyone, leaders included, life and work easier?

Widespread Acceptance

This one might well be prefaced by saying I live in Orlando. Rarely in a Monday Moment will I use first person. In this case, it is relevant as we‘ve experienced firsthand the tragedy that can result from an abundance of the lack of acceptance. In your workplace, perhaps acceptance and authenticity are talked about widely. Perhaps there is the use of profiles or tools that reveal personality. Even so, it is paramount to internalize and know that the concept of people being different is an INTELLECTUAL exercise. Leaders, managers, and those who aspire to both already know people are different. Acceptance of those differences is an EMOTIONAL exercise that can take practice, effort, and conscious awareness to demonstrate this is part of one’s belief system. How are you showing that acceptance of ALL differences, in your organization, is not only rampant, but encouraged, and that all differences are valued?

It is possible to argue that each of these attributes and categories of behaviors is part of a leader’s repertoire. It’s even possible to say, but this is how our leaders are! They value those who follow, adhere to clear processes, and certainly hire with acceptance and a focus on inclusion and diversity. Reread that statement. If the leadership of your organization is all you’re currently thinking about, ask yourself if the workforce would be able to agree with their perceptions of those very same statements.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

Why Assumptions Make More than You Think

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Sign up now for Monday Moments with Monica. Free leadership guidance sent weekly to your inbox. Go to www.MondayMoment.com

There could have been a donkey pictured here, but the reality is even worse when we operate from a basis of assuming things that may or may not be true and then act on them without verifying this truth.

In the course of numerous conversations and coachings this week, a number of assumptions made by those in a leadership capacity have revealed how long term inaccuracies negatively influence leadership. This is an issue that is relatively easy to fix, once, of course, one is aware of doing it. Certainly, you’re no stranger to the statement of “When one assumes, it makes an ass out of you and me”. The challenge is that making assumptions makes many more problems than you might think. What have you assumed lately and would it surprise you to know that it’s having this kind of impact?

Poor Choices

When a leader assumes that everything stated in an interview is true, it can create a poor choice in hiring. When a leader assumes the hearsay that has gotten back to them is true, they make poor choices in how to respond to information not yet proven to resemble the truth. When a leader assumes “no news is good news” is a powerful employee development strategy, he or she makes the choice to spend time with only those performing poorly and then is  surprised when top performers quit unexpectedly.  Assumptions, while a way to save time and execute on something rapidly, leave a leader in the dark on making decisions based on accurate data. While no need exists for a leader to analyze the living dickens out of everything they’re told or see, or perceive, a question or two that digs deeper and validate or discount initial insights, has great value.

Disengaged Employees

You’ve not been working long if you’ve not run across the most prevalent organizational focus and concept called employee engagement. Yet, what is this really? Employee engagement is nothing more than creating a workforce who believes someone in that company gives a darn about them and they in turn show that they give a darn about the company. While it could be send in perhaps a more delicate manner, that’s at the heart of it, and so are the hearts of those leaders and employees, as a matter of fact. If a leader assumes they know what motivates or entices each team member, they’ll get it wrong and disengage throngs of team members. If a leader assumes that being paid is enough to engage someone, they’ll create a revolving door of employee turnover. Assumptions are not the only cause of such catastrophic occurrences, but they are what starts many a poor choice, inappropriate reaction, and ineffective program or engagement campaign implementation. Much as the sales and marketing funnel has been flipped upside down to begin with a more customized approach versus one global message to anyone who will listen, the same is true for employee engagement. Find out what they want, like and need, instead of assuming.

Ineffective Leadership

As if making poor choices and having a disengaged workforce weren’t enough to thwart one’s leadership efforts, making assumptions creates missed development opportunities for employees, poor communication to employees, misaligned roles and responsibilities, and a team that is generally unhappy. Truthfully, there are both positive and negative assumptions that can create this reality, so as a leader, a worthy goal might be to “trust, then verify” when the assumptions lead toward the positive and then ask more questions when they might create an action that is more damaging. Leaders listen, observe, ask, and test before they allow assumptions to be the basis for their leadership.  What theories or beliefs have you used as a basis for your actions, that might well be theories, beliefs, or assumptions that deserve to be questioned? Is your unapproachable Accounts Payable person really hard to get along with or simply doesn’t know how to connect? Is your completely disorganized new salesperson really going to be a pain the neck or a great way to test out your communication and sales skills in selling HR on finding them a detailed support person to handle the incoming sales workload?

Yes, it’s true, we make assumptions every day on myriad things and in many cases they quite simply keep us safe from having to take the time to gather more data. Yet, when in the role of leader, unless you want to put yourself in a position of having to spend more time and effort in damage control, hiring, recruiting, and removing your proverbial tail from your hind quarters, lessen the assumptions at work, quickly.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

5 Ways to Fix a Leadership Fit

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Monica Wofford is a leadership development specialist who keynotes, trains, and coaches leaders. For more information go to www.MonicaWofford.com

Not all will fit the slipper, but all can learn to be a better leader, if they want to. Wouldn’t it be good to determine if they do and if they’re leadership is actually right for you?

Leadership is not a glass slipper, but you still have to make sure it fits! It’s a fun keynote topic I deliver,  but also a cautionary tale about the value of leadership fit and how often organizations miss it. One cannot promote people who are not prepared and expect them to excel just because they’ve been given a new title. Organizations cause significant damage when they promote folks beyond their competence, as we’ve known for years, and far more damage is done still when leaders spend less time determining if a promotable candidate fits than they do on the calculations for next year’s budget. Leadership fit is a critical attribute of a leaders’ success and yet, in light of what happens more often than not, perhaps we should talk about when there’s NOT a fit and how to fix it.

Stop

If it’s true that most leaders spend more time planning lunch dates than job fits, consider what that prioritization does for a minute. Stop doing that! J Think and observe and examine for a minute all the factors that must be considered when promoting a new person into a position of leadership in which they will influence and guide the actions, outcomes, and results of many more team members. Weigh the options. Create a plan. Document areas in which training or development could be a solution if simply skills are deficient. What does that person need to be a fit? Is the replacement of the entire existing team? Then you don’t have a fit to begin with. Consider your current position. Did you really want to be a leader in the first place? Did you want this promotion or do you want what the new salary is supposed to provide? If you’re a leader will your wife finally approve of who you are as a man? If you’re a leader will you finally be free of depending on any man? These are merely two of the bigger issues that deserve your attention before you can say a role is a fit. Stop and think for a minute about why you want to be a leader, lead other people, or take on that privilege and responsibility in the first place.

Forcing

If you were to ever literally force a square peg in a round hole, you’d see it break the wood around the opening. Rarely would we consider doing something so silly for real, but it happens daily in companies around the world. If the work to put a new leader in place gets complicated, complex, or convoluted before or immediately following their answer of yes, this is a sign you’ve not made a good fit. Other circumstances could be at play and perhaps there is a need for this kind of forced change, but by and large, forcing things is not a recipe for success. Taking on challenges, stretching yourself, stepping out of one’s comfort zone, yes, but forcing a shoe to fit isn’t it. One of the more morbid versions told of the Cinderella slipper analogy is that the evil step sisters attempted to cut off some of their toes for the slipper, and thus marriage to the Prince, to fit. If you feel like you’re having to go to that much effort, stop for a moment and reexamine the common sense of what you’re doing.

It’s

“It” could refer to leadership as a concept or it could be an acronym for Intellectual and Technical Skills. Both are applicable when it comes to a leadership fit and a person fitting into it. If there is a poor fit one is trying to fix, the easiest areas to look for solutions first are technical skills and intellectual aptitude. Do they have the functional capabilities to perform the job? Do they have the capacity to learn how to do the job? If both questions are answered in the affirmative, the question remains, then what IS it that creates the poor fit? Namely, the belief that technical skills and intellectual abilities are all there is to leadership. Make sure those are up to speed or getting the support they need, yes, but then recognize that these skills are only half, to two thirds, of what create and maintains successful leadership.

Fit

Despite the ease of discussing and developing technical acumen and a bank of intellectual knowledge when compared to the art and science of understanding people, many leaders continue to believe leadership fit is about skills and competence. You don’t have to be brilliant to lead. Abundant examples exist to support that statement. In fact, a lack of humility will distance you from the very population you’re leading. You don’t have to be the brightest bulb in the fixture to lead; nor do you have to be the best performer on the team. Leadership is also about how you fit with those you lead, those who lead you, and the desired outcomes that will determine for you, whether or not you succeed. Read that again. Fit is not about just you, just your skills, or just them. It’s about bringing intellectual, technical, plans, preparation, and people skills together in a way that achieves the results, outcomes and goals. In other words, a brilliant mathematician with limited or little people skills may be better suited to lead themselves instead of other people.

And… Act on It

Once you’ve stopped for a moment to examine your path and desired plan, once you’ve ceased forcing things into place, once you’ve identified your ITS and brought each of those elements together…there is a vast difference between identifying a lack of fit and fixing it. The latter takes action and the best leaders act on this difference early. If you’re not happy in leadership or feel like you’re not doing what is needed as a leader for this group of people, chances are you’re smack in the middle of a lack of fit. Take steps now to correct it, change a few things, and align what you’re doing with what you believe you, or they, would be best at.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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