Why the Best Leaders Embrace the Uncomfortable

angry businessman yelling and working with documents and cardboard laptop in box

Doing hard things isn’t easy.  

Most people avoid challenging things altogether. Others choose to start, but when they figure out the difficulty of what’s ahead of them, they decide to take the path of least resistance. 

Take Mike, a former front-line manager in a manufacturing facility as an example. After seven years of honing his skills as an engineer in the plant, he applied for an open management position in another organization. It seemed like the next logical step in his career progression and there was a significant jump in pay. To his surprise, he was awarded the job.  

Even though he started with good intentions, he quickly began to dislike his new role for one big reason; the people that reported to him. As he described it to me in a coaching session, “Outside of a few team members, employees weren’t passionate, motivated, or very skilled. If that weren’t enough, they complained and made excuses instead of taking responsibility.” He paused, then continued, “I was young and inexperienced as a manager, so instead of coaching, developing, and hiring new people, I put my head down and did the jobs of as many people as I could, working 60+ hours a week.”

In less than two years, Mike resigned from his management job and went back to his old engineering position at his previous company. Even though each person’s situation is slightly different, Mike’s story reminds us of an authentic leadership truth:

There are so many bad managers because being a good leader is hard.  

Leadership is Hard, But You Can Be Successful At It

Just because leadership is hard doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, especially if you start the complex topic of being a successful leader through the correct lens. I defined a leader in Building the Best this way, “someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others over an extended period of time.”

Instead of thinking about a leadership position as unattainable or something that is only meant for certain people with unique talents, start thinking that it’s for you. The most essential element of leadership isn’t talent; it’s choosing to lead right from where you are.

“The most essential element of leadership isn’t talent, it’s choosing to lead right from where you are.”

Leading from where you are starts with a decision. After that decision is made, success will require you to navigate two primary issues:

  1. Time
  2. Effort

Overcoming Time and Giving Maximum Effort. 

Leadership is not an action to be carried out one time and then forgotten. There will be moments of leadership in one’s journey where one courageous act will demonstrate leadership. These moments should be celebrated and then replicated as much as possible over the course of your daily life.

Do not imagine that leadership is an action to be carried out one time and then forgotten

Once you choose to inspire, empower, and serve to elevate others for the long term, you will be on a path to successful leadership. At some point on this journey, you will realize that only hard work allows you to be a great leader. Here are two action items to carry in your leadership toolbox that will allow you to succeed along the way: 

1. Invest in Your Development Daily

Karl Popper famously said, “True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it.” Don’t wait for the next corporate leadership training initiative or pass on opportunities to pick up a book. We are in the golden age of education. Research indicates that we create as much information every day as the world did from the dawn of civilization until 2003. To put this in perspective, blog writers post 1,400 blogs, and YouTube users upload 72 hours of content a minute. That doesn’t even begin to touch content added to platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Podcasts. The amount of valuable and invaluable is limitless. 

“True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it.” – Karl Popper

Your job is to invest in your development daily, and put the right content in your brain. No excuses because no one can do it for you. 

2. Get Good at Thinking of Others

When you first look at a group picture on Facebook or Instagram with yourself in it, who is the first person you look for? Nearly 100% of the time, it’s yourself. We are hardwired to think of ourselves and our self-interest first, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. You can train yourself to think of others first and put others’ needs ahead of your own.  

I don’t pretend this is easy, but to lead effectively, you have to get good at thinking of others. If this is an area where you struggle, start small. Look for small opportunities daily to put someone else’s needs before your own, and you will find it’s often more rewarding than the alternative. 

Closing

Being a leader is hard and, at times, uncomfortable. This is precisely why you should run towards it instead of away from it. Living a life of significance and creating a career with a positive impact isn’t found in easy or comfortable things.  

You will never be a perfect leader because leadership is a journey and not a destination. You will fail more than you succeed: but, what’s most important is you understand that being a successful leader is hard, but you should pursue it anyways. Through investing in your development and getting good at thinking of others, you will be on the correct path. 

Do you agree? Tell me in the comments

Free Downloadable Coaching Cheatsheet There is nothing easy about coaching. So we put together a list of eight of the best coaching questions to help you. Download it for free here.

Drive Better Results and Retention: Exciting news! LearnLoft has partnered with Peoplebox to help provide HR Leaders and Executives an all-in-one engagement and performance platform. Learn More here.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades

How to Successfully Lead a Hybrid Team

work from home

A lot goes into a companies’ successful transition into hybrid work. Everything from software and tools to modified office space leases to creating corporate policies around the future workplace, just to name a few. 

Research is suggesting hybrid work is not only the future; it’s what most employees want. In one survey, only 12% of U.S. respondents said they wanted to go back into the office full-time, and nearly half of those would even take a pay cut to be able to work from home.

According to new data from LinkedIn’s Glint Unit, the majority of workers (56%) prefer a hybrid working model, allowing them to shuffle between working from home and the office. Comparatively, 31 % prefer to be fully remote, and 13% prefer to be onsite.  

Not Everyone Agrees

James Gorman, the Morgan Stanley CEO, has doubled down on his stance against working from home by saying, “I fundamentally believe the way you and I develop our career is by being mentored and by watching and experiencing the professional skills of those who came before us, You can’t do that by sitting at home by yourself, there’s a limit to Zoom technology.”

Gorman isn’t wrong, and many CEOs agree with him and have planned a total return to the office. 

While there isn’t one correct answer for every company, only time will tell if organizations that demand a return to an office will experience the “great resignation” as research and experts have predicted. In a survey conducted by Apple employees in June, 36.7% of respondents said they were worried they’d have to leave Apple due to the lack of flexibility.

Note: Having had the opportunity to train and coach leaders in all different industries, I don’t see the “great resignation” happening because of hybrid work policies, if it happens it will be because people are being overworked.

It’s essential to note that hybrid work isn’t an option in many industries, to begin with. Manufacturing, construction, or warehouse workers need to be onsite to complete the job, as do most healthcare workers. It’s been estimated that remote work is an option for less than half of the U.S. workforce.  

However, for those industries where work can be done remotely, managers and executives should be trying to enhance flexibility for team members to maintain job satisfaction and long-term retention. To go a step further, what is most important is for managers to choose leadership because that’s what’s required in the hybrid world of work. Because choosing to lead is as important as leadership itself.

Choosing to lead is as important as leadership itself.

Unfortunately, we have too many people in positions of authority who aren’t choosing leadership. 

Hybrid work brings complexities to managers that have rarely been experienced. While it’s far from easy to lead a team when everyone is in the same situation, there will undoubtedly be times where half a team is in person, and the other half is remote. Thus causing a more complex and challenging environment to accomplish goals, collaborate effectively, and develop people.  As Brian Tracy famously said:

“Flexibility in times of great change is a vital quality of leadership.”

Since hybrid work is what most employees want and it’s likely here to stay in some form or fashion for years to come. If you are going to choose to lead and not just manage your hybrid team, here are a few best practices to help you:

1. Drop the Judgement and Embrace Empathy

Everyone’s situation and how they work best won’t be the same. To pass judgment on employees for being lazy because they don’t want to return to the office full time is awful leadership. Some people have fallen in love with not sitting in the car for 2+ hours a day, grabbing a quick home workout during a break, or interacting with their family more. Reject the temptation to judge employees who are highly successful working remotely who prefer to keep scheduling flexibility.  

To pass judgment on employees for being lazy because they don’t want to return to the office full time is awful leadership.

Instead, embrace empathy. Put yourself in your teammate’s shoes and act differently because of it. Suppose traffic and commute are a problem, schedule critical meetings mid-day to allow team members to come into the office after rush hour. If culture and teamwork are an issue, schedule an offsite at a destination hotel to reconnect the team and strengthen relationships. The point is to know your people and devise a strategy that allows them to maintain the flexibility that they have come to love. 

2. Clarify Hybrid Work Standards

A standard is defining what good looks like. From all of our research in studying what the best leaders do in Building the Best, it’s clear:

Managers define what good looks like; leaders define what great looks like. 

It will be tempting to lower the standards since the team will be in and out of the office. I urge you to reject this temptation and instead maintain or even raise the standard. 

An example of an excellent hybrid work standards includes; a standing weekly team meeting where everyone is an active participant, a bi-weekly one-on-one meeting with every team member to focus on growth and development, and a biannual in-person meeting to focus on skill development, strategy, and alignment.  

3. Coach for Development 

Since so much work is about outcomes, leaders need to make a dedicated effort to coach and develop their people. The word coach comes from “carriage,” which means to take someone from where they are today to where they want to go. In Coaching for Excellence, I define it this way:

“Coaching is helping improve current and future performance to reach higher levels of excellence.”

Doing this effectively as a manager of a hybrid team is challenging. If you are going to coach your people for development, being present in your interactions is essential. Reject the temptation to multitask and instead lock in and focus on how you can help them develop.  

You can download the 8 Coaching Questions Download for free here.

4. Leverage Hybrid Tools That Promote Leadership

There is an old saying, “don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” Trying to lead a hybrid team without technology tools to lead the team is a recipe for disaster. Thanks to an exciting partnership between LearnLoft and Peoplebox.ai, you or the leaders in your organization can now leverage the best hybrid leadership tools on the market at the best price.

Measure manager effectiveness, provide one-on-one, and OKR tools in one place. All you have to do is schedule a demo today.

Closing

Regardless of your organization’s new future work policy. You are capable of leading your hybrid team in this new world of work. Embrace the discomfort of your environment and elevate your people to higher levels of performance.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades

Successful Teams Have Leaders Who Do These 4 Things

Team work

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out some groups of people perform better than others. Not only do high-performing teams produce better business outcomes, but their team members are engaged, feel like they belong, and contribute towards the team’s success. 

There have been many great studies about what makes a team successful. Including Google’s two-year study that found there were five characteristics of enhanced teams, with the most important being psychological safety. While psychological safety is essential, there is another common thread of all high-performing teams, a shared goal.

A team, by definition, is a group of individuals working together to achieve a goal. While the explanation is simple, almost everyone has been a part of a group that wasn’t working to achieve a shared goal. This is precisely where many managers fail. They assume that because of their position, they lead a team, and this couldn’t be further from the truth.  

Just because you manage a group of people doesn’t mean you lead a team. 

What Leaders Do To Build a Successful Team

Leaders think and act differently than managers. They realize a group of people can work well together without a shared goal, but the likelihood of sustaining success or staying together when adversity hits are very low. 

I have found coaching so many effective leaders that they are not only obsessive about gaining buy-in towards a shared goal, but they do a few other things to build a successful team. If you want to emulate them, here are a few things to remember. 

They Aren’t the Only Leader.

Conventional wisdom says the person at the top of the hierarchical org chart is the only leader, but that would be wrong. For any team to reach heights they never thought possible; it needs leaders at every level.

For any team to reach heights they never thought possible, it needs leaders at every level.

While this can be difficult to institutionalize, it starts with changing your mindset that you are the only leader. Once your heart and mind are in the right place, you have to teach others what it means to be a leader and why it’s so important they lead right where they are. 

In Building the Best, I defined leadership this way: “Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.”

There are two keywords here; elevate others. Every single member of your team, regardless of their role or title, can elevate others. It often just takes a leader like you, who invests in the leadership development of others to help make this a reality.

Their Team Meetings Are Essential 

A recent estimate suggests that employees endure a staggering 55 million meetings a day in the United States. This tremendous time investment typically yields only modest returns. Add to the fact that the new remote and hybrid world of work is our new reality; the time leaders dedicate to coming together virtually or in-person must be time well spent. If done well, team meetings can be the backbone to build trust, develop teamwork, and mold culture. 

The time leaders dedicate to their team coming together virtually, or in-person must be time well spent.  

You can have quality and productive meetings by narrowing your focus on the purpose of each meeting and making sure each person is an active participant. While this can be difficult, there might be nothing more important in your business than having meetings that matter.

They Embrace the Journey

Leading a team today is more complicated than ever because of the constant pressure to create positive results immediately. While the best leaders care about the results, they lean into the journey instead of the immediate outcomes. 

No team’s journey is the same, but every team will experience adversity and failure. The leaders who keep their view on the long term instead of the short term will set their team up for success.  

You can do this by getting your team to buy into the journey and embracing the process. As I wrote in a previous column, “focus on the gain, instead of the gap.”

They Create a Culture of Accountability.

In many ways, the most challenging element of leadership is being a leader of consequence and holding people accountable. Accountability is a word that has been used so much that its meaning has been lost. The actual definition is, “The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”

As I teach in our Leveraging Accountability workshops, the best leaders don’t look at accountability as optional; they embrace the obligation because they know it’s a key to a team’s success. You can make accountability an obligation by praising people when standards are exceeded, acknowledging people when standards are met, and giving direct feedback if your people fall short of those standards. 

As that culture of accountability spreads, members of your team will hold each other accountable, and that’s precisely when you know your team has arrived. 

Closing:

There is nothing easy about bringing together people from different places, with different strengths, and with different experiences to work together to achieve a common goal. However, I believe you are in your position for a reason and are just the person to make it happen. 

The only question is, “are you willing to do the hard work necessary to make it a reality?”

What are other strategies you use or have observed other leaders leverage to create effective teams? Tell me in the comments.

Free Downloadable Coaching Cheatsheet There is nothing easy about coaching. So we put together a list of eight of the best coaching questions to help you. Download it for free here.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades

3 Common Mistakes Leaders Make (and How to Avoid Them)

The wooden block fell out of order

No one likes to make mistakes, but it’s a part of being human.

When it comes to leadership, one significant mistake can cause you to fail. 

Take Jordan, a division President as an example. In one of his big hiring decisions, he was down to two external candidates. Everyone in the company preferred Ron over Ellen because of his deep industry experience. But in the interview process, Jordan saw significant character issues that he thought would cause problems down the road. Instead of trusting his judgment, he hired Ron anyway. Sure enough, within two years, Ron cost the company millions of dollars in a lawsuit because of a flawed character decision. If that wasn’t enough, Jordan lost his job because of Ron’s actions.  

Since then, Jordan has bounced back and gone on to be the CEO of a high-growth company, but he refuses to make the same mistake again. He spends a significant amount of time refining the organization’s hiring system and evaluating core values alignment before signing anyone on the dotted line.  

In studying so many great leaders and coaching leaders like Jordan, I have learned an essential lesson:

All leaders make mistakes, the best leaders learn from them and refuse to make them again.  

Mistakes Come in All Sizes

A mistake is defined as an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong. As previously noted, leaders can fail because of significant errors, but more often than not, it’s repeating the same small mistakes over and over again that cause an unengaged team. With this in mind, here are some less obvious mistakes I see that you will want to avoid to be a more effective leader. 

1. Focusing on the Gap, Not the Gain

There is a good chance you wouldn’t be in a leadership position if you didn’t have a vision for a better place tomorrow than where you are today. Because of this, it’s tempting to focus on the gap between where you are concerning that vision versus how far you have come. 

In a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast, Pete Burak described it so well, “Many millennial leaders make the mistake of not trusting the process and measuring the gain and not the gap.” Not only is Burak right, but every leader regardless of age, can make this mistake. You can watch the clip here.

2. Losing Sight of a Deeper Purpose

It will always be easier as a manager to focus on the outcome of hitting metrics. While targets such as revenue are crucial for any business, it’s a mistake to only focus on them and lose sight of a deeper purpose.  

For some people, “purpose” feels like a righteous or elitist word. But being able to persevere through tough times or challenge your team to new heights often requires a more profound purpose or cause. Dr. Miles Munroe said, “you must believe, deep inside of you, that you were born to do more than survive, make a living, and die. You were created with a gift inside of you; your job is to find that gift and serve it to the world.”

The best leaders not only know this, but they lean into it. They spend the time, energy, and effort to determine their deeper purpose and connect their team to a cause beyond just making money.  

3. Taking Credit for Sucess and Shifting Blame for Failure

Taking credit and shifting blame is a mistake many leaders in big organizations have made to jockey for hierarchical positions. However, it’s not an error you want to repeat. Great leaders take more responsibility for mistakes and less responsibility for success. 

Great leaders take more responsibility for a team’s mistakes and less responsibility for a team’s success.

By leading this way, team members will recognize what you are doing and give more effort in the future to elevate the job you are doing. Everyone will make mistakes when they are doing challenging work, so embrace leadership’s responsibility and stop blaming your team. As Jack Welch famously said,

“When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”

Closing

I don’t know anyone who likes making mistakes, but if you aren’t going to repeat them it required significant mental energy and effort. If you recognize you are making some of these mistakes in the way you lead, don’t beat yourself up. A mentor reminded me recently, “a mistake should be your teacher, not your attacker. A mistake is a lesson, not a loss. It is a temporary, necessary detour, not a dead end.”

Brush off your mistakes, learn from them, and try not to make them again.

Do you agree? What are simple mistakes you see managers make?

Leveraging Accountability Workshop There is nothing easy about accountability. Learn how to leverage accountability as a manager in less than an hour. Learn more here.

Free Downloadable Coaching Cheatsheet There is nothing easy about coaching. So we put together a list of eight of the best coaching questions to help you. Download it for free here.

Have an opinion about the key leadership skills for emerging professionals? Please help us with brand new research to help identify the critical leadership skills for young professionals to develop for John’s new book. Take 2 minutes to complete this quick survey to share your expertise and insight.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades

What Bad Managers Consistently Get Wrong About Leadership

leadership

If you are like most people, you don’t often think about bad leaders unless you had or currently have one. However, studying or experiencing them can be a more effective teacher than learning from some great ones.  

Take former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling as an example. His management and leadership style was built on the foundation of fear. He used practices for performance reviews that eventually became known as “rank and yank.” This method required 15 percent of Enron’s employees to receive the lowest score, regardless of their actual performance. Those employees were given two weeks to find another job within Enron or be terminated.

Skilling believed this unorthodox process was one of the most important in the company because he thought people were only motivated by two things: money and fear. (This isn’t true, read more about motivation here) He carried this belief into his personal life, creating the same kind of disastrous effect that imploded his company. Skilling didn’t realize his leadership style caused his failure at work and home, but luckily we get to learn from it.

However, bad leaders aren’t going to give up or admit their shortcomings easily because they want the power and title, but they don’t want to do the work associated with becoming a leader. As Austin Kleon said, “Lots of people want to be the noun, without doing the verb.” Think of it in leadership terms this way, 

Most managers want the title without acting like a leader.

I have been fortunate to coach managers who mold themselves into leaders because of self-reflection and hard work. People can change for the better, especially if they want it enough.

Having said that, if you are working for a lousy leader and they aren’t actively trying to change and get better, I want you to find freedom in what you are about to read. 

You are never going to do enough for a bad boss.  

There will be times in a relationship with a bad boss where it’s bearable or borderline pleasant. But eventually, their judgment attitude, lack of coaching, and egotism catch up, causing you to not be good enough for them.  

How to Know If a Manager Isn’t Leading

The last thing we need is another article about the differences between management and leadership. So here are three of the most common things managers do to ruin their leadership development. 

 1. They only care about results.

Let’s go ahead and get this on the table; results matter. Not only are they a good barometer for financial performance, but without them, no one will have a job. But there is also a stark difference between what managers evaluate and what leaders consider. 

Take the legendary coach John Wooden as an example. He won 10 National Championships in a 12-year span, and he never mentioned the word “win” to his players at any time. The reason is, he knew the minute his words solely focused on the final results was the minute his team wasn’t focused on the behaviors and habits required to attain the result.

He understood this critical leadership lesson:

Great leaders elevate standards to create positive results over time. 

You can learn more about “elevating standards” in this short video from a workshop helping managers to lead their best. 

2. They can’t stop thinking about themselves.

Every one of us wakes up thinking about ourselves. The last time you looked at a group picture, what did you look at first? I guarantee you scanned the image to look for yourself. We all do it. Selfishness is a battle we face whether we like it or not.  

Here’s where the challenge lies: leadership is all about other people. In Building the Best, I define a leader as “someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.” 

Managers who refuse to think about others can’t become influential leaders because they can’t elevate others. If you struggle to put others’ needs ahead of your own, try the PTS method. Anytime you change environments, say to yourself, “prepare to serve.” It will help reset your mindset from serving yourself to serving other people.  

3. They think they’re a leader, well before they are.

My company, LearnLoft, has spent years studying what the best and most effective leaders do and codified it to help new managers make the leap. Through this work, we have also seen the other side of the coin. Managers who think they are effective leaders but their people tell a much different story.

It’s most common in Executives because they have risen to positions of power and prestige, so in their mind, it doesn’t make sense to do things differently. Managers who make the most significant strides in their leadership development are humble enough to admit they don’t have all the answers and are a constant work in progress. 

Managers who make the most significant strides in their leadership development are humble enough to admit they don’t have all the answers. 

Closing

Leadership is a journey and not a destination. Whether you have experienced a bad leader like Jeff Skilling or not, everyone is susceptible to falling into the path of becoming a bad leader. Keep studying, testing, and working to become the leader you were meant to be.

Coaching for Excellence Workshop There is nothing easy about coaching. Learn how to be an effective coach in less than 2 hours. The Coaching for Excellence Program is for any manager, executive, or professional coach who wants to develop their skills to help others improve their current and future performance. Learn more Coaching for Excellence Workshop.

Have an opinion about the key leadership skills for emerging professionals? Please help us with brand new research to help identify the critical leadership skills for young professionals to develop for John’s new book. Take 2 minutes to complete this quick survey to share your expertise and insight.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades

How the Best Leaders Are Combatting Employee Burnout

Burnt matches, concept for highly prevalent resident burnout. Highly prevalent resident burnout.

Ever wonder when most executives and managers will stop talking about employee burnout and instead do something about it?  

Take Whitney Wolfe Herd, current CEO of Bumble, for instance. In light of a hectic year, with her company navigating remote work, a global pandemic, a public offering (Nasdaq BMBL), and immense user growth, Wolfe Herd was done talking about employee burnout and decided to do something about it. She gave all of the company’s 700 employee workforce a week off of paid vacation to help them with burnout. 

In a statement, Bumble said that like most people, “our global team has had a very challenging time during the pandemic. As vaccination rates have increased and restrictions have begun to ease, we wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.” 

Now I don’t pretend making a decision like this is an easy one whether you are the CEO of Bumble or any other organization. To go a step further, just because it was the right decision for Wolfe Herd doesn’t mean it’s the right decision for another organization. However, it proves she found the courage to make a tough decision, especially when it came to taking care of her people. 

“Great leaders find the courage to make tough decisions, especially when taking care of their people.”

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a term thrown around so much; it feels like it’s lost its meaning. It’s defined as; a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It typically occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

The Mayoclinic goes a step further, saying, “Burnout isn’t a medical diagnosis. Some experts think that other conditions, such as depression, are behind burnout. Researchers point out that individual factors, such as personality traits and family life, influence who experiences job burnout.”

If you or a team member is burned out, here are a few warning signs:

  • Inability to think or focus on anything other than work
  • Loss of passion for completing work you previously loved
  • Constant negativity about the future where once positive
  • Excessive weight gain or weight loss without a significant change in diet or exercise
  • Inordinate satisfaction about achievement or positive results

Now that we’re clear on what it is and some of the signs, the natural question is, are workers burned out?

According to an Indeed survey, 52% of all workers are feeling burned out, and more than two-thirds (67%) believe the feeling has worsened over the course of the pandemic. So not only is burnout real, but it’s still uncertain how it will affect professionals in the future.  

Here are a few strategies to implement to lead effectively in this increased level of burnout.  

Don’t Ignore It, Talk About It.

The first step to identifying any problem is to open up lines of communication about how people are feeling and what burnout is. There is a decent chance your team might be experiencing signs of burnout without knowing what it is. A couple of good ideas to consider include: 

  • Run a pulse survey to get insight into how people are feeling and their engagement level
  • Share the results of the survey with the team
  • Share the definition of burnout and signs I previously outlined
  • Collaborate on ideas to prevent burnout specific to your team

Turn Down Demands But Don’t Lower the Standards.

One of the leading causes of burnout is excessive demands of a job. Now here is where many managers get leadership wrong. They confuse demands with standards. A leader who makes demands gives insistent requests made as if by right. A leader who leverages standards defines what great looks like and helps their team meet or exceed it.  

Great leaders don’t make demands, they elevate the standards.

An excellent way to think about this is the quality of work that’s required. For example, if a leader of an engineering team that designs bridges or buildings were to lower the standards of her team, it would put people in danger who use the building or bridge in the future. So instead of lowering the standard, this leader should extend project timelines or limit the number of projects her team takes on to maintain the design standards while putting her people and their wellbeing over short-term profit. 

Give More Recognition than Usual

Recognition matters to people, and it works. Don’t just take my word for it; according to research, When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied: “give recognition.”

O.C. Tanner found 45% of surveyed employees said the recognition they receive at work feels like an empty gesture that is not meaningful to them. Here are a few ideas from a video to help:

Closing

There is no doubt that each professional, team, or organization could be affected differently by burnout. So to assume there is just one way for every leader to respond would be foolish. So whether you want to take a page out of the Wolfe-Herd book of leadership and give your people a paid week off to show them you are serious about their health and well being or not, the key is that you don’t ignore burnout or downplay those that might be experiencing it. It’s your job to elevate others, and being proactive in overcoming burnout will be a sign you are doing just that. 

Do you agree with Bumble’s CEO Wolfe-Herd’s decision? How do you suggest leaders combat burnout? Tell me in the comments.

Coaching for Excellence Workshop Back by popular Demand, register for the Coaching for Excellence Workshop. Get the tools and models that some of the greatest coaches in the world leverage to help develop those around you.

Have an opinion about the key leadership skills for emerging professionals? Help us with brand new research to help identify the critical leadership skills for young professionals to develop for John’s new book. Take 2 minutes to complete this quick survey to share your expertise and insight.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades

Why Great Leaders Believe in Success Before They See Success

Businessman building a graph or ladder of success

If you are worried about achieving success, you aren’t alone. The vast majority of people struggle to believe that the future will end with a good outcome; which is precisely why it won’t.   

The best leaders and top performers understand this important truth:

Believing success will happen doesn’t guarantee it will, but not believing ensures it won’t.  

A belief, by definition, is an attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about the world is true. An alternative definition is; trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.

The power of this definition is constantly on display in the world of sports. Take Trae Young, the leader and best player of the Atlanta Hawks, as an example. In a pivotal game against the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA’s 2021 Eastern Conference Playoffs, Young and his teammates found themselves down by 20 points heading into the 4th quarter. Instead of giving up and mailing it in to get ready for game six at home, they chose belief.  

Over the next 12 minutes of game action, the Hawks erased the deficit and overcame the long odds to win, 109-106. After the game, during the on-court interview, when asked about the comeback, Young said, “We never stop believing until the final buzzer goes off.”

Young’s words unlock the fact that great leaders believe it before they see it, and just because they think it, doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Seeing it Makes it Easy to Believe, But Rarely Does it Happen

In a 1950’s study, Harvard professor Dr. Curt Richter placed rats in a pool of water to test how long they could tread water. On average, they would give up after 15 minutes. 

Just before giving up due to exhaustion, the researchers would pull them out of the water, dry them off, let them take a rest, and then put them back in the water for a second round.  

In this second attempt, the rats didn’t tread for 15 minutes; they lasted for 60 hours on average!

There is no denying that psychology is a complicated field of study, but just by experiencing and seeing they were going to be pulled out of the water when they got tired, the rats lasted 240 times longer.  Unfortunately, leaders rarely have the luxury of testing the waters of success.  

Great leaders and top performers know they must believe before they achieve.

Train Your Brain the Same Way You Build Skills

There is no denying that believing something that hasn’t yet happened is difficult, which is why most people don’t do it. Instead, they use a strategy of hope, but as Rick Page used to say, “hope isn’t a strategy.”  

To believe excellent outcomes will happen well before they do takes training. You must build the belief in your brain the same way you build technical skills. It requires mental reps, affirmations, and building habits around looking for the good in things. It also requires you to look beyond your past experiences.  

On a recent episode of the Tim Ferriss show, Chip Wilson, the founder of Lululemon, said, “I could see how constraining my beliefs were by creating my future from the past.” Not only is Wilson right, but the best way to believe is not to look back but to look forward.

The best leaders are visionaries because they can easily manifest future possibilities. The late great Dr. Myles Munroe used to say, “vision is the capacity to see beyond what your eyes can see.” Your eyes and your past are the enemy regarding building belief and becoming a visionary leader. 

Your eyes and past are the enemies regarding becoming a visionary leader.

There aren’t many secrets or shortcuts to increasing your belief except one: Set goals you care about achieving.

The Power of Goal Setting

Whether you lead a team or want to increase your personal belief, setting short and long-term goals is a phenomenal strategy. It will force you to think about the future and challenge you to define things you and your team want to accomplish. 

Even if you or the team fails to meet the goals, there is a 100% chance you learned from the failure, and got closer to achieving it. There are all kinds of incredible goal-setting systems and formulas; however, instead of regurgitating SMART goals or something similar, I want you to consider writing down one goal for yourself or your team today. Use your favorite formula or the one I wrote about in Building the Best:

Clear Objective + Completion Date + Carrot.

Closing

Regardless of your faith or religious background, there is a scripture in the Bible that says, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” There is nothing easy about having belief in something we can’t see; but, just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean you can’t do it.  

Today, challenge yourself to define a new goal, keep it visible, and invite others to hold you accountable. You will be amazed at what you or your team will see in the future!

Do you agree? If so, how do you believe something in order to help make it happen?

Free Downloadable Coaching Cheatsheet There is nothing easy about coaching. So we put together a list of eight of the best coaching questions to help you. Download it for free here.

Have an opinion about the key leadership skills for emerging professionals? Help us with brand new research to help identify the critical leadership skills for young professionals to develop for John’s new book. Take 2 minutes to complete this quick survey to share your expertise and insight.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Create a Coaching Culture in Your Organization

Businessman coach in the auditorium

Getting managers and executives to act like coaches is a battle worth fighting.

A Manager, by definition, is a person responsible for controlling or administering all or part of a company or similar organization. If you felt a little uncomfortable reading that description, you aren’t alone. Just the thought of “controlling” or “administering all” of something, especially when it comes to people, feels all too “1950’s workplace” for me as well.

Grace Hopper said: “you manage things; you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership.” Not only is Hopper right, but you can’t control the growth and development of someone else.  

Most managers want to help grow the skills of others, but their lack of follow-through and coaching keeps this from happening. Instead, leaders embrace their responsibility in the growth process and inspire and coach others to meet their full potential. 

Leaders know they can’t control the growth of team members, but they can inspire and coach for it.

Coaching is a skill that anyone, regardless of role, can adopt and develop. I define coaching this way in the Coaching for Excellence Program, “coaching is improving the current and future performance of others to achieve higher levels of excellence.” 

Coaching is improving the current and future performance of others to achieve higher levels of excellence. 

By getting in the mindset to coach, bringing specific attributes in each interaction, and coaching team members differently based on where they are in their development, anyone can play a role in helping someone else achieve higher levels of excellence. 

Having a Coaching Culture Improves Performance

When one or two people are doing something positive, small changes happen. When the vast majority of people are doing something positive, transformation occurs. This is precisely what happens when organizations adopt a coaching culture. I defined culture in Building the Best as “The shared values and beliefs that guide thinking and behavior.” When everyone in an organization believes that part of their job is helping others improve, organizations thrive.  

Don’t just take my word for it. In one study, 51% of organizations with a strong coaching culture reported revenue above their industry peer group, and 62% of employees in those organizations rate themselves as highly engaged.

What Holds Companies Back From Adoption

Like many things, most people and organizations start with great intentions, and coaching is no different. But when immediate results aren’t realized, people default to their old way of leading. 

When immediate results aren’t realized, people default to their old way of leading. 

An ICF Global study in 2020 found the three top obstacles to building a strong coaching culture inside an organization are: Limited support from senior leaders (50%), inability to measure the impact of coaching (42%), and a lack of budget for coaching activities (38%).  

While each organization is a little different, the commitment to coaching separates those who adopt and sustain it versus those who do not.  

How to Create and Maintain a Coaching Culture 

If you or your organization is committed to creating a coaching culture, here are a few strategies to adopt.

1. Start with Coachable People

It is a lot easier to adopt a coaching culture when the talent in the organization is coachable. This requires starting at the beginning of the talent development lifecycle and hiring people excited to listen, learn and grow within their role and the organization. 

It’s easy for someone to say they are coachable, but I look for proof. A good barometer is when someone demonstrates their desire to get better and is willing to put in the work and effort. 

“Being coachable is how you show the world you desire to get better and are willing to listen while putting in the work and effort.”

Hiring coachable people is precisely where Human Resources and Hiring Managers get the opportunity to rise to the occasion. There are many methods to ensure you hire someone who is coachable, and looking at a resume isn’t one of them. The ticket is asking candidates tough situational questions;

  • Can you tell me about a time when someone challenged you in the past and how you responded?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you helped someone else improve?

2. Promote Managers and Executives Willing and Able to Coach

Nothing will hurt the development of a coaching culture more than executives at the top who aren’t coachable. When you have professionals at every level of an organization, from the CEO to interns, who are coachable, performance skyrockets.   

For decades professionals have been promoted because of success in previous roles, without thinking much about their leadership skills. Sir Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Airlines, evaluates both when promoting, “I like to take chances on people, and whenever possible, promote from within – it sends a great message to everyone in the company when someone demonstrates a passion for the job and leadership skills at every step along the way is rewarded with a leadership job.” 

“Individual contributor results are important, but they aren’t an indication of how someone is going to do in a position of leadership.”

Creating a coaching culture requires promoting people who remain coachable and are willing and able to teach and mentor others.  

3. Equip Them With Tools and Training 

Bob Nardelli said, “without a coach, people will never reach their maximum capability,” and I couldn’t agree more. While some people are wired with a better predisposition to coach, anyone who wants to be a more effective coach needs tools, methods, training, and experience to improve. This is precisely how you mold any skill.  

I believe that in just a few years, most thriving organization’s employee development strategy will have a coaching program or certification for managers and executives to refine their coaching skills.  

Closing

Each organization and its leaders are going to go about developing a coaching culture in slightly different ways. Whether they leverage external coaches, internal coaches, or elevating the coaching from managers, their people need help and support to achieve higher levels of excellence. 

Free Downloadable Coaching Cheatsheet There is nothing easy about coaching. So we put together a list of eight of the best coaching questions to help you. Download it for free here.

Coaching for Excellence Workshop Back by popular Demand, register for the Coaching for Excellence Workshop. Get the tools and models that some of the greatest coaches in the world leverage to help develop those around you.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Want to Improve Virtual Relationships? Try These Team Building Exercises

Woman working from home. Headache, stress

Virtual team building consists of several carefully designed strategies, games, and activities designed to bring more human interaction to the virtual work. Online team building will help your team understand each other better – it will help them feel like they are part of a community. And, of course, a happy team leads to an increase in the percentage of “employee retention.”

Difficulties in developing effective team building

The challenge in building good relationships with most remote teams is that your employees don’t have much time to plan different events. For these purposes, you should first take advantage of the Professional Employee Organization (PEO) Services, especially global PEOs, such as NHGlobal Partners that will allow you to transfer all of your human resources needs, allowing the service to collaborate with your employees. Another challenge you will have to face is that you and your employees can work in different time zones in most remote teams. For example, many activities and exercises can be accomplished by recording videos that you post in your workspace for each employee to see for hiring in Germany. 

We’ve prepared some team-building exercises and other fun activities that you can use to bring your virtual team closer together.

1. Look into each other’s houses

This virtual team-building exercise requires members of each team to virtually “open” their homes to each other, as in House Hunters.

Jesse Sussman of MuseumHack thinks this is a fun way to get to know your remote team members and their personalities. Each team member will make a short video showcasing their home and some of their favorite things. This exercise allows team members to get to know each other better based on their environment and leads to cohesion and camaraderie. The creation of a virtual team is an ongoing process of merging remote teams. This process will help your team develop closer connections within the group, creating a collaborative environment similar to an office environment!

2. Desert island scenario

In this virtual team-building game, party members are presented with a scenario in which they end up on an uninhabited island with seven objects – but they can only take three of them. Keep these objects as obscure and complex as possible so that your team members are forced to make the most of critical thinking and planning. Then divide the team into small groups and choose which items they want to take with them. As soon as all discussions are over, go to the general video chat and discuss the results.

3. A game of guessing personal facts

This game is a great way to discover the interests of your team members outside of work.

In the first step, the manager asks each team member to share some personal facts with him. These facts will then be compiled into a document to be shared with each person on the team. There is an empty column next to each personal fact in which each employee will have to guess which team member this fact belongs to! Not only can this game be fun, but it can also be a great way to develop team cohesion and camaraderie. After all the assumptions are ready, the correct answers are sent to check how well they know each other.

4. A wish list. Share your plans for the future

A dream list is a list of things you want to do or experience during your life.

Naturally, each person’s list says a lot about them. So what better way to get to know your team members than by sharing your wishlists? Assign one person each week to share your wishlist. You can specify the length of these lists and decide if goals that have already been completed should be included. Anyone who listens can spend some time discussing whether their lists are similar or just asking fun questions. Here you can also make use of a weekly schedule template where you will get to write the professional ambitions that inspire you to work even harder. 

By sharing your dreams, you will learn a lot and understand how similar you are to each other in a team.

Final thoughts 

Remember! The physical distance of teleworking can quickly turn into emotional distance, leading to isolation. When your employees feel isolated, they will become uncomfortable working with their teammates! That’s why it is crucial to create a comfortable team environment that remote workers can rely on.

Guest Post This was a guest post by Shaun Parker

Why Great Leaders Focus on Actions Not Intentions

Business concept for growth success process

Most managers and executives don’t intend to fail at leadership. While failing might not mean a demotion or losing a job, it almost certainly includes a disengaged team, poor results, and a high voluntary turnover rate.  

Research suggests that between 50% and 70% of executives fail within 18 months of taking on a role, landing somewhere between “failing spectacularly” or “quietly struggling.”

But not even the most narcissistic professionals set out to fail. Most leaders start with great intentions, but don’t back up those intentions with quality leadership actions.  

Good intentions without quality actions are meaningless in leadership.

Intentions Aren’t Enough in Leadership.

Anyone who has been married for any length of time has used the line “that wasn’t my intention” in an argument or disagreement. Which in turn is met with, “that doesn’t matter.” Maybe I am projecting my shortcomings there, but either way, intentions by themselves aren’t good enough in marriage, and they’re not good enough in leadership either.  

An intention is a person’s design, an aim, or a plan. It comes from the Latin word intention, which means “stretching, purpose.’  

It turns out we all have a set of intentions that we would like to achieve as a leader, but its action on that aim separates managers from leaders. Pablo Picasso famously said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” Not only is Picasso right, but team members and colleagues don’t want to hear about your intentions; they want to experience your actions.  

Team members don’t want to hear about a leader’s intentions, they want to experience quality actions. 

I wrote in Building the Best about a pattern I have observed in many great leaders that lead to their a growth mindset in life and the development of their leadership skills. It’s what I call iAOL; an acronym that stands for intentions, action, outcome, learning. As you can see below, many leaders start with good intentions, but don’t follow through with quality actions. Intentions alone will never lead to learning and development.

No alt text provided for this image

Following up and demonstrating leadership actions regularly isn’t easy. It’s tough because leadership by definition, is all about elevating other people, and the people you lead aren’t perfect and neither are you. 

Here are the four most popular areas where leaders start with good intentions but don’t follow up with quality actions. As you read through them, evaluate whether you have good intentions in these areas or you are backing up those intentions up with quality leadership actions.

Effective Communication

No leader sets out to be a poor communicator, but it’s an all too normal reality. The vast majority of professionals are in a consistent state of miscommunication with their boss or the organization. While this seems like an obvious misstep, team members fill the silence with their own story when leaders don’t communicate effectively.

Instead of allowing extended periods of silence, communicate what you know about the current situation or, at a minimum, the actions you are taking to figure it out.  

Aligned Expectations

Having clearly defined standards and expectations of behavior is at the center of every successful team. Unfortunately, most leaders are in constant disappointment because of the wide gap between their expectations and reality.  

Many leaders are in constant disappointment because of the wide gap between their expectations and reality.  

Instead of having misaligned standards and expectations, remove the invisible barrier. Set the expectations clearly, then do everything in your power to help your team meet and exceed them.  

Continuous Growth and Development

Teams see better results if the people on them are getting better every day. The way this happens is by leaders in a constant state of learning. Karl Popper famously said, “true ignorance is not the absence of knowledge but the refusal to acquire it.” In today’s modern internet, information is more readily available than at any time in history.   

That presentation of information is accompanied by the opportunity to comprehend it. Sometimes we can comprehend the information on our own, and other times we need a teacher, instructor, or expert to help us. Part of your job as a leader is to coach your team to deeper levels of understanding and wisdom.  

Instead of just hoping your people grow and develop, ensure you don’t leave them on an island on their own. Instead, invest in their development and coach them for growth daily.  

Honesty and Integrity

Last but certainly not least, is the mack daddy of them all. Being honest and leading with integrity has become the exception instead of the rule, and that’s beyond sad.

Being honest and leading with integrity has become the exception instead of the rule, and that’s beyond sad.

No one sets out to lie or consistently participate in acts of omission, but once it starts, it’s like an avalanche. Pretty soon, you do it so often it becomes second nature. Nothing will cause a leader to fail more than covering up the truth or lying. When the truth inevitably does come out, it will disintegrate trust, and without trust, you can’t lead.  

Closing

As someone who has failed as a leader, I can tell you first hand it wasn’t fun for me and I know it wasn’t fun for my team. The quicker you grasp the idea that “your intentions don’t make you a leader, your actions do,” the better your odds of success.

Do you agree?

Free Downloadable Coaching Cheatsheet There is nothing easy about coaching. So we put together a list of eight of the best coaching questions to help you. Download it for free here.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.