As 2020 comes to a close are you like many asking ourselves who do we want to be in the new year? Reflection is a powerful self improvement tool many of the greatest leaders use. Reflection involves the leadership questions you ask yourself before establishing priorities and goals for the new year.
“Learning without reflecting is a waste. Reflecting without learning is dangerous”. Confucius
“Follow effective actions with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective actions.” Peter Drucker
Fun fact on the author of our last quote – Peter Drucker, in addition to being one of the most influential thinkers in management of all time he had over 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities all around the world. 20! So here’s a man whose work was so influential that these institutions of higher learning wanted his name associated with them. That’s technically all an honorary degree is. A way for a school to connect someone’s credentials, their accomplishments, their brand to the school.
That’s influence. Creating an image so great that a university will give you FOR FREE something that has value in the US of let’s say 10’s of thousands of dollars. So I ask you who wants your name associated with them? What are you doing to build your brand? How are you manifesting your influence so that others want to be connected to you? Maybe not colleges giving you degrees FOR FREE, but how about someone being proud to say “hey, I’m on so and so’s team. This is the team you want to be on.”
I have an acquaintance who’s a speaker and author who would say it this way “do people salivate when they hear your name.” Extreme right? Creating that culture where being on your team evokes more action and better results because people on your team want to be able to continue to connect themselves with your brand and to do that they know they need to perform.
Whew! That’s influence! That’s leadership!
Leaders let’s take just a couple of minutes here and discuss reflection and the leadership questions you ask yourself.
First, what is it? Reflection is about questioning, in a positive way, what you do, what you say and why you do or say it and then deciding if there is perhaps a better way. Why it’s important? Self-reflection is essential for personal growth. Taking the time to create self-awareness will allow you to challenge your thoughts and to uncover breakthroughs. Without it, we have the potential to be reactive to people and situations. Reactive is not a position of power or influence. It’s a defense.
Here’s another reason why. We all know that growth requires change. Change requires two things. A starting point, where you are currently. And, a destination, what you are going to change. Without creating self-awareness through reflection, it is going to be very difficult to assess the gap between the two and the proper actions needed to close the gap.
Here are 3 times when reflection can come into play.
Has your leadership status plateaued? Here’s one way to fuel your leadership status to unstoppable.
“You can’t build any kind of organization if you’re not going to surround yourself with people who have experience and skill base beyond your own.” Howard Schultz
“When you’re the best, you only want to surround yourself with the best.” Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Leaders need to remember that we are in the service of humans business. As Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.”
The talent you surround yourself is what gets you promoted, not your own talent.
Reflecting on my own past and observing many amazing leaders I will tell you this. I never received a promotion based solely on my contributions. Perhaps, getting into that entry level leadership position will be based on your performance, but after that you will be recognized on the performance of the people you surround yourself with.
You’ve heard the term control the controllables. People is a controllable that many leaders do not see as one because they don’t take true ownership of their team. (more…)
Three (with a bonus fourth) Way Leaders Make Work Fulfilling
“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.” – Simon Sinek
“On what high-performing companies should be striving to create: A great place for great people to do great work.” – Marilyn Carlson, former CEO of Carlson Companies
How To Be 21% More Profitable
As leaders we know that we need to create engaged employees. Kevin Kruse wrote an article in Forbes defining employee engagement like this: “Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” He goes on to say “When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.” Discretionary effort? What does that mean? It means they do things because they want to do them. They choose to go above and beyond.
“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic, Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care
“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” – Timothy R. Clark, The 5 Ways That Highly Engaged Employees are Different
That is why high engagement is a common thread in the world’s most successful organizations and Gallup puts a 21% more profitable number to it. That’s money you can take to the bank.
3 Ways Leaders Make Work Fulfilling
As I mentioned, this doesn’t come naturally, leaders must create the proper environment for this to happen. One of my favorite authors, Patrick Lencioni, explains how in The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Most leaders who are readers have read Patrick Lencioni’s books. Most notably The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you haven’t read it yet, read it now. I’ve used The Three Signs of a Miserable Job as a developmental tool for leaders for years. Not as popular as some of his other books, but I think this one is a gem and if you are a leader wanting to create a more engaged workforce this is a must read.
Here are the 3 signs:
Let’s start at the top. Anonymity. People who see themselves as invisible, generic, or anonymous cannot love their job, no matter what they are doing. Leaders need to find unique qualities of each employee and keep in mind that work is not their lives. Work can be an important fulfilling part of their lives, especially if their leader shows genuine interest in them. Most importantly, employees who feel valued will value your customers and clients. It’s a magical trickle-down effect. Happy employees produce happy clients.
“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.” – Sybil F. Stershic, Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most
The second sign of a miserable job is irrelevance. Employees must feel their work is important to someone in the organization. From the book, “Human beings need to be needed, and they need to be reminded of this pretty much every day. They need to know that they are helping others, not merely serving themselves.”
“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” – Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard, Do People Really Know What You Expect from Them?, Fast Company
The most famous story we have all heard before that illustrates an employee understanding their relevance is the story of the janitor who, when asked by JFK what he did stated, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” That’s seeing the big picture. That is relevance.
And finally, immeasurability. We’ve all heard if it can’t be measured it can’t be improved. Every employee needs a number. They don’t need a scorecard with a dozen metrics, but at least one number. “Numbers create accountability. When you set a number, everyone knows what the expectation is.” Gino Wickman, Traction. The communication is so much clearer when there is a common number to speak to. Some positions are easier than others to assign a number to, but you can find a measurable for practically everything. How many new clients will you sign on this quarter? 10. How many seconds before a client is greeted in your office? 10. How many rings before the phone is answered? Better not be 10. How about 2.
Recognition isn’t one of the 3 signs, if it were then there’d be four, but let’s not leave out recognition. This will ensure that you, as a leader, make work fulfilling.
“Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.” – Frances Hesselbein, Hesselbein on Leadership
Put these 4 lessons in your leadership toolbox and make it a great week.
This week marks about 5 weeks of the stay at home order here in Illinois and much of the nation. This week I did a little personal inventory a little reflecting back on the week to see if I’m on the right track. Remember, Steve Jobs told us we can only connect those dots looking back. And I have to say that looking back I feel pretty good. If I was in a job interview right now and the interviewer tried to test me by asking what 3 valuable uses of my time were during my period of unemployment. I feel confident that I would nail it. I’m learning about financial advising, I’ve enrolled in some free online classes – blows my mind that people don’t take advantage of these great opportunities, I’ve started this podcast – which by the way you can also start for free and I’ve gotten outside and worked on staying fit. Also free!
The binge watching couch potato.
Not for the interviewer, but for you. I’ve also seen the first three seasons of Money Heist – love it! Except that they killed my favorite character – not a spoiler alert since you don’t know who my favorite is and Except that while playing a board game with the family the other night I heard Tokyo narrating my next play in my head. “now is the time for mommy to make her move, but she’s screwed. She missed the opportunity to play her awkward pieces and now there’s no place for her to play on this board. The professor told us we would face this, but where is the professor now? We haven’t heard from the professor since the coronavirus began.” Yes, I love this show, but I don’t love it in my head.
Jonathan Estrin says “The way we spend our time defines who we are.”
So I’m sharing this story because there are so many choices right now –
You can choose the couch
You can choose to dive into sharpening the saw or learning new skills
Can you see the tyranny of “or” here? If I choose one path I choose to deny myself of the other path. Or is oppressive. It’s why so much self improvement, so many diets, and so many new ideas fail. Poor sad little “or”. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other or choose just one path. As Jim Collins would say in his book Built to Last “Embrace the Genius of AND.”
Instead of being oppressed by the “Tyranny of the OR,” liberate yourself with the “Genius of the AND”— and set yourself free. You can embrace two extremes at the same time. It is possible. You don’t need to choose between A OR B, figure out a way to have both A AND B. In my earlier example I have used my time for self-improvement AND I’ve been a couch potato. Just not equal parts of both. (more…)
If you want new results they require adopting new actions.
Changing beliefs is hard. Years and years of programming went into your current beliefs. Like they say with losing pregnancy weight it took you 9 months to put on the weight, give yourself at least that amount of time to take it off. The same with your beliefs. It will take a lot of new thinking, new programming, maybe even new friends to eliminate old beliefs that were getting in your way and adopt new beliefs that unleash your true potential. As Brian Tracy says, “you begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights.”
So now we have a leaders mindset. We are working on replacing our limiting beliefs with positive beliefs and so we must start working on our actions. Why? Because again our mindset fuels our actions and our actions fuel our results. If we want different results than what we have had then we need different actions. You’ve heard that saying – the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. New results require new actions.
Back to compounded interest theory.
Sure massive action may get us massive results, but is it sustainable? Or is it even repeatable? Small actions over time will build into massive results in a more sustainable way. There’s a great book out there called Atomic Habits by James Clear – by an atomic habit he means a small habit and he says “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement”
There are two buckets of habits you really need to look at
You can reach your goals by establishing new good habit or by building on the good habits you already have and you can reach your goals by eliminating your bad habits.
So it’s not necessarily what are you going to start doing. It may be what am I already doing that if I do more of I will attract more success or what am I doing now that if I stop doing will get me more in line with my goals and aspirations.
To illustrate, these let’s say I want to be a better leader and I know that leaders are readers. Every January I get bit by the new year’s resolution bug and I buy a new book and dive all in. I also really enjoy binge watching Netflix’s most popular shows and some nights watch as many as three episodes in a row.
I already have a good action – reading a book in January, but it’s not really a habit yet. If I took this one thing and built on it until it was a habit would you agree that I would attract more success as a leader? Of course. So another thing we learn in Atomic Habits is that you do not rise to the levels of your goals you fall to the levels of your systems.
So, my buy a book every January wasn’t a very good system was it? No. What if I changed my system to sign up for a book club that sends me a book a month. Now I have some skin in the game and may be one step closer to making this a habit. Now what if I go one step further and dedicate 15 minutes every morning to reading first thing when I wake up. Do you see a system forming here. My system has a why – I desire to be a better leader. It has a what – leaders are readers – and it has a how – have a book delivered every month and commit to reading 15 minutes every morning first thing when I wake up.
Also we can get better results by stopping habits that are in our way of success. What about my Netflix habit in the example? What if I stopped this habit and filled that time with new more productive activities built with a success system. Of course I would start seeing new results. What time wasting habits do you have?
Does this example sound too simple. Yes – but what is simple is not easy. Simple said not so easy do right? This is where I think so many people get held up in the world of self improvement. They think that the changes or the goals have to be monumental or they are not worthy so they are paralyzed with fear. It’s too big it’s too much – so many limiting beliefs form. But when you break it down to the small – atom sized pieces – you can start to see how the changes can be possible.
Here are two quotes from Atomic habits to sum it up.
“If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.”
“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”
Variety improves the things that we do too often, but it rules the things that we don’t do often enough. -Daniel Gilbert
My reading list is much like my running play list. I like to mix it up. A little American history, running stories, motivation,business, self help, and some good science fiction. As the quote above indicates, by reading a variety it improves the experience by keeping it fresh.
Here’s a review on a more recent read.
Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The case studies in this book are a fun read, especially in the audio book version which has each person related to the specific case study read their portion. The variety in voices kept the book entertaining.
Where the book lacked
was in providing detail. It is very vague and although the case studies were from companies that achieved great growth it doesn’t necessarily explain how the OKR’s caused the growth. Would My Fitness Pal really not been so successful without an OKR ? Impossible to say from reading this book.
If you are a “techie” and would be interested in hearing case studies from Silicon Valley then you would enjoy this book. If you want details on goal setting and measuring what matters then I recommend finding a different book.
Every book has a lesson or two. This one had quite a lot of great quotes because of all of the influencers used to illustrate the purpose. Here’s a few of my favorites:
“Leaders must get across the why as well as the what. Their people need more than milestones for motivation. They are thirsting for meaning, to understand how their goals relate to the mission.”
“There are so many people working so hard and achieving so little. —Andy Grove”
“When people help choose a course of action, they are more likely to see it through.”
What shall I read during Week 4 of Chicago Marathon training?