In Leadership You Must Trust to Be Trusted

Leatrust-graphicders invest a lot of effort, time, and resources building trust in their teams. This includes establishing trust in their employees and also ensuring that their employees trust them in return. Even still many employees say they do not feel trusted by their leaders/managers. When this lack of feeling trusted occurs workplace productivity and engagement will often suffer. It’s up to leaders to signal trust in their team members in consistent, deliberate, authentic, and thoughtful ways.

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Dangers of Pride in Leadership 

 “Pride goes before destruction”. (Proverbs 16:18)

Here are 7 dangers of prideful leadership:
Refusing to listen to advice from others – Proud leaders “know it all”. Of course, not really, but it’s often their perception of reality. Pride causes people to want you to believe they know more than they actually do. Sadly, their attempt to perpetuate the perception of superiority causes them to ignore the wisdom of others.

Making excuses for mistakes – Proud leaders refuse to admit their errors. They scoff at any insinuation a mistake was theirs and refuse ownership of the team’s failures. It’s always someone else’s fault when goals aren’t reached, mistakes are made or momentum stalls. They don’t learn from times of failure – they try to hide them.

Protecting position at any cost – Proud leaders try to keep others from gaining power or influence. They limit people’s exposure and stifle leadership development. They tend to curtail information and keep power within an arms length of their control.
Taking complete credit for a team’s success – There is only one clear winner on a proud leader’s team…the proud leader. Proud leaders take the microphone first. They have their name on every award. They keep the prime, attention-gaining assignments for themselves. They make sure they are in the “right place at the right time”, so no one steals their potential for applause.

Failing to see personal shortcomings – The proud leader becomes immune to his or her own deficiencies. Pride keeps him or her from getting honest about their weaknesses with anyone, including themselves. Proud leaders are careful to present themselves as flawless, whether in personal appearance or job performance. They may go to extreme measures to cover up any hint of an insufficiency.

Solicit grandstanding on their behalf – You’ll know about a proud leader’s accomplishment. They’ll be the first to start the cheers on their behalf. Proud leaders say things which promote the receiving of positive encouragement or feedback. They’ve been known to stage things so it doesn’t look like they initiated the recognition.
Removing God from the supreme position – of course, God is supreme- regardless of the leader, but the ultimate danger of a leader struggling with pride is their attempt to remove God from His seat of control. Proud leaders refuse to submit to the will of God, preferring to chart their own path.

Leading a Great Conference Call

What makes a conference call effective and not something to dread? People in all sorts of roles are called upon to conduct conference calls at one time or another. 

While no replacement for face to face meetings, conference calls can supplement your communication and collaborations strategy. In many cases the geographic location of team members requires the use of conference calls to have any meeting at all. Conducting them effectively is essential for team collaboration and decision making.

Here are some basic best practices for leading meetings and conference calls. 

* Create and share the meeting agenda in advance of the call that includes:

    * why you are meeting

    * who is attending the meeting

    * when is the meeting

    * where is the meeting 

* Make sure the right people are on the call.

* Keep the call concise and on point and moving along.

* Have a designated note taker.

* Start and end on time.

With the advent of FaceTime, Google Hang Outs, and other video enabled conference solutions I have participated in both great and lousy conference calls. What makes a conference call great? In addition to the widely adopted best practices here are some additional tips to make your call epic: 

BEFORE THE CALL

* If calling from something other than a phone such as a computer, test the equipment beforehand to verify that it is working as expected. Technical difficulties during the call can throw off the rhythm of the conversation and waste everyone’s time.

* Before starting the call, always make sure you understand what buttons, both physical and on the computer, control whether you are muted.

* Don’t use a voice-only conference call when having a video call would make presenting your agenda or sharing ideas much easier. 

STARTING THE CALL

* Join the call at least a minute or two before the scheduled meeting time.

* Share a quick story about the weekend or question that you know will start conversation while waiting on everyone to join. That way, you’re not all silently sitting there and it starts building connection.

* Wrap up the small talk quickly as soon as everyone has joined. 

* Don’t start unless the key people are there so you don’t have to repeat things.

* Begin with a summary of the agenda and purpose of the meeting.

* When appropriate, take time for everyone to make introductions being clear about position and role. Understanding the individuals that the group is comprised of will shape the tone of the call.

* Always introduce yourself when you join the call. Some people get connected and stay quiet. If the person joining the call does not introduce him/herself, the person conducting the meeting should ask “who just joined the call?”. This ensures everyone is aware about who else is in the call.

CONDUCTING THE CALL

* Address someone by name if you want them to respond so there aren’t awkward pauses if someone isn’t paying attention or aren’t sure who needs to answer something.

* Silently count for 3 seconds before switching topics.

* Provide regular time checks so everyone knows when time is getting close.

* When not speaking, attendees should mute their phone/mic, especially if they are in a place where background noise is present or possible. It can be very distracting to suddenly get an earful of background noise when trying to speak.

* Be ready to defer brainstorming and one to one conversations for another call with fewer people in attendance. Effective meetings require advance preparation, and everyone should not be expected to answer any question on the spot.

ENDING THE CALL

* Provide a meeting recap at the end of the call.

* Confirm that everyone is in agreement with next steps, responsibilities, and deadlines.

* Silently count 5 seconds when closing the call.

I hope these tips increase the effectiveness of your next conference call. Of course, you can not do them and have your call look something like what happens in this video:

A Conference Call in Real Life

Great Leaders Promote Others

All to often aspiring leaders feel the need to “make their mark”, “get noticed” or promote themselves. While it is certainly important to contribute in a way that gets you noticed, the most effective leaders make promoting others their first priority.  Remember that bosses will always have titles and authority, but leaders have the people.  Earning respect and trust that leads to more influence (not authority) begins with serving (and promoting others) 

Make a point as a leader to promote others. There are so many ways to do it and it all really matters.
Promote the work of others within and outside your organization.

Be first to share and recognize the success of others.

Be first to purchase someone’s product or service.

Call another organization and recommend the outstanding service or product you received.

Allow someone else to lead a meeting or project.

Make some calls for someone seeking a job.

Use your social media to promote others, (people and causes) not yourself.

Don’t just hit like. Share it.

Write a note to your boss, praising others.

Write a letter of recommendation without even being asked.

Write a product or customer service testimonial.

Introduce them to others prefacing their accomplishments.

Tell others when the person isn’t around. Good gossip!

Get on the loudspeaker and make an announcement for all to hear. Be loud. Be proud for the benefit of others.

Start your own personal recognition or distinction if none exist. 

You’re a leader! Get on it!

What ways have you found to be a promoter of others?

Encouraging and Building Leaders

lead-where-you-are_slideIt’s been a while since my last post as I have been emersed in my new leadership role, serving as Chief Deputy Tax Collector for Bay County Tax Collector Chuck Perdue.  It has been an exciting 6 months as our senior leaders have initiated a radical transformational strategy and mission to improve the organization, and serve the outstanding team members we have been called to lead.  As has been my usual philosophy, we have engaged in a deliberate and priority focus on the PEOPLE who make up the organization.  While some work processes and methods have become urgent and certainly improved, during any transformational change the focus must be on the PEOPLE who do the work, and the environment and culture in which they serve.  Among that focus in an ongoing effort to encourage and building leaders at all levels.

Every organization certainly needs a great leader casting the vision and charting the course–but you must have leaders within your organization at all levels as well.  Many of today’s most effective organizations recognize that everyone can lead at every level and position in the hierarchy. They encourage every one of their employees to take on leadership roles. When team members throughout an organization become leaders, decisions are made more quickly, customers are happier and tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money can be saved.

Here’s are some practical ways you can build leaders at all levels.

  1. Promote Teamwork Across Borders

Bust silo thinking by building cross-functional teams that cut across departmental boundaries to take full advantage of the ideas and expertise of all of your people. When you assign individuals to these teams, encourage them to take on both formal and informal leadership roles, and reward them when they do it. This practice will also lead to improved communication throughout your organization, greater ability to capitalize on opportunities and better solutions to very difficult problems.

  1. Be Generous With Information

Leaders, no matter what their position, need a steady stream of information about your strategy, goals, business processes, customers, and marketing efforts to make good decisions. Instead of withholding information from your people, be free and transparent with it. This will give employees the information they need to confidently step into leadership roles as necessary, taking responsibility for achieving the goals of your organization.

  1. Let Your Employees Make Decisions

Don’t just talk employee empowerment–really do employee empowerment. Two powerful words senior leaders must use are “You decide”. By giving employees at every level of your organization decision-making authority (including such things as determining who will be hired, how customer service will be delivered, creating work schedules, and developing policy), you will unleash a widespread desire on the part of employees to lead. Of course, not every employee will step up, but you may be surprised by how many, and which ones do.

  1. Be Passionate About Your Mission

Passion gives employees a compelling reason to undertake ambitious responsibilities and to step up to challenges as they occur. Create a strong sense of mission in your organization and ensure it is reflected in your organizational culture. Then seek out and hire people who resonate with and are excited by it, and provide ways for them to participate in this mission in any way they can.

  1. Create Clear Roles

When team members are uncertain about what their roles are or what expectations you have for them, they are less likely to take the risk of stepping into positions of leadership. Creating clear roles is an essential precondition for employees who want to lead, so be sure to give them the firm footing they want and need by clearly spelling out their jobs and your expectations.

The most effective businesses today encourage every employee to take on leadership roles. Not only will this take some burden off of your shoulders, but your employees will happier, more engaged, and your organization more effective.  What strategies are you using to grow and build leaders at all levels?

Organizational needs begin with individual needs: A single question.

Organizational change and improvement is complex  and viewed by many leaders as a daunting series of tasks, with no clear point of beginning.  It’s true that continuous improvement requires leaders to develop a detailed strategy, allocate resources, and direct their time, energy, and focus across complex systems. This challenge results in leadership teams assembling in conference rooms with markers and performance data sheets and financial reports, to determine what we should do to be better? But there is a more natural starting point.   Continue reading

Leadership: How’s the view up there?

The top of the world, climbing the ladder, the office with a view. The opportunity to lead can easily become distorted by your perception (View) of your own self worth in relation to those who’s names are in the blocks below you on the organizational chart.

How we view others determines our treatment of them. Don’t be deceived into thinking others are below you and treat them as such. Don’t view people as sources to be used for selfish wishes, needs, and desires. 

Great leaders value the worth of all individuals, seeking to build and strengthen “their” lives out of a servant’s heart of compassion and love. 

Here’s how: View everyone as one who was created in the image of God, uniquely designed for His purpose…. precious and of value. Then seek to serve them!

The Waiting Room

img_8757This week, I have spent my days in the waiting area outside the cardiac intensive care unit of the University of Alabama at Birmingham hospital, as my father-in-law had open heart surgery. During the past few days, I have witnessed an endless stream of strangers, all waiting on an update from their loved one who have undergone some sort of heart or cardiovascular surgery. Sometimes the news is good, and impromptu celebrations erupt. Other times the news is tragic and loved ones are overcome by the loss, often hitting their knees as the wave of grief rushes over them.  Many have been here for weeks, as their loved one’s struggle for their lives. The most impactful observations, are the compassion and concern that total strangers have for one another during this time. Strangers speak, pray with one another, offer assistance, provide comfort items, offer up their seats, and give sincere hugs and share in the celebrations and grieving.  Continue reading

A Liar Cannot Effectively Lead Others

lying-truth_2If you’re going to effectively lead others, you cannot be a liar. Here’s why:

A liar carries heavy baggage– By opting not to tell the truth then you are simultaneously opting to take on the heaviness of the burden of deceit. Each time you encounter a person, circumstance, or situation that reminds you of the untruth, your conscience will weigh you down as you become a fugitive in your own mind running from the lie you told.

Your lies will always come back to haunt you. We’ve all witnessed  elaborate cover-ups, and a they always turn out the same way…in disasters that could have been avoided had the truth been told to begin with. You might be able to run, but you can’t hide from your lies. While you might be able to conceal your deceit for a time, your lies will always resurface at some point in the future…it may be a day, a week, a month or a decade but they will find you out. Continue reading