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

7 Skills You Should Develop to Be an Effective Leader

Multicoloured ladders on wall. Pastel tones. Concept for success and growth.

Skill development is a never-ending process. Not only do the great ones in any field recognize this, but they have a borderline obsession to develop and improve their skills daily.

Merriam Webster defines a skill as “the ability to use one’s knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance.” Skills are often divided into domain-general and domain-specific. For example, golf is a general skill; driving, putting, and chipping are specific skills that make someone an effective golfer.  

Leadership is a general skill; whereas, many domain-specific skills like coaching and empathy make a leader effective in performance. As a leader, you learn new skills every day. However, simply mastering a few skills isn’t enough to be a highly effective leader in today’s environment.

Just mastering a few skills isn’t enough to be a highly effective leader in today’s environment. 

As a ten-year veteran in the leadership coaching and speaking industry, I have been fortunate to have a front-row seat to many great leaders across various industries. If that wasn’t enough, the SkillsLoft Leadership Assessment has provided unbiased research of thousands of leaders. I want to share the seven leadership skills that are the most essential to your success.  

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Demonstrate Empathy

While many skills are essential in this new leadership era, empathy stands above the rest. Before you shake empathy off as a weak skill, let’s get clear on what it is, in the context of leadership. I have come to define it as how well you identify with others to understand their feelings and perceptions in order to guide your actions. I often describe it to coaching clients as “your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and act differently because of it.”  

The one thing that every professional wants is to be understood, especially by their boss. 

Empathy is a critical leadership skill because people want to be understood, especially by their boss.

Feelings aren’t always directly communicated, so understanding them can be difficult to do and it’s an art that requires practice. If you want to improve your empathy skills, take a few lessons from an earlier column

Be a Great Communicator  

Effective communication is at the heart of effective leadership. James Humes famously said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” Leaders of high-performing teams leverage the proper amount of communication and are clear, concise, and conclusive. 

Consistent communication is tough, even for good orators. So often, quality communication is a skill that leaders believe they possess; in actuality, it is one of their most significant weaknesses. 

When leaders don’t communicate effectively, team members fill the silence with their own story.

Developing your communication skills around storytelling, writing, and listening is a lifelong journey. 

Act Like a Coach

A leader separates themselves from a manager in today’s modern business environment by coaching their people. A coach, by definition, trains and instructs. The late great John Whitmore took the formal definition even further, saying:

“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential and helping them learn rather than teaching them.”

Leaders who coach their team members have never been more critical than they are today. If coaching is a skill, you want to improve, check out the new Coaching for Excellence Program here

Model Servant Leadership

It might seem odd to read that modeling something is a skill, but it’s not. We have all heard the saying, “talk is cheap”; it’s never been more true than in leadership. The best way to create more leaders is to model outstanding leadership in one’s actions and behaviors.  

“The best way to create more leaders is to model servant leadership in your actions and behaviors.”

How you exemplify the standards and behaviors you expect from your team is connected to how committed you are to living out your character and values. This is easy to write, but to do it well takes immense wisdom and self-discipline daily.

Have Great Focus

If there is one thing this Pandemic has taught us, it is how easily distracted we are. Staying focused and prioritizing is not only a skill, but it’s essential for leaders today. If you are anything like me, you suffer from “shiny penny syndrome,” and you act like a squirrel moving quickly from one thing to the next. 

Suzanne Anschutz, Regional VP and Director of Leadership Development at Cora Physical Therapy, said it well, “The leaders of today need to be able to be fully present. There is such a strong sense of urgency and moving quickly in today’s world, but we should not underestimate the power of taking the time to be present in the moment. Understanding what is happening “right now” will allow you to strategize for a better future.”

Unite People and Create Belonging

Making people feel like they belong and uniting team members is a leadership superpower. Look no further than the hit show Ted Lasso on Apple TV. The show portrays an American coaching a European Soccer club. Coach Lasso knows the team can’t and won’t succeed without the team members feeling like they belong, and are a part of something bigger than themselves.  

While Lasso does his coaching in person, most managers don’t have this luxury today when leading a remote team. For those teams that plan on staying 100% WFH, leaders must think about one or two in-person events a year, with its primary mission to create teamwork and belonging. 

Make Accountability an Obligation

Last but certainly not least is accountability. Accountability is one of these words that has been hijacked. I define it in Building the Best as; the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them and disclose the results in a transparent manner. 

It is the obligation of leaders to account for their actions and the actions of their people.  

Leaders are obligated to care for all their people equally and to serve their hearts, not their talents. 

 If you want to model how the best modern leaders leverage accountability, get comfortable with having difficult dialogues, which I wrote about here or join an upcoming Leverage Accountability Workshop.

Closing

There are many other key leadership skills that just missed the list like; decision-making, emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, and vision. Which of the 7 key skills do you believe are most important? Which skills are missing that deserve to be on the list? 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.

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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 Being Humble Makes You a Better Leader

chess board game concept for competition and strategy

There is something remarkable about humble leaders. It could be the way they make you feel when they communicate; it could be the fact that you feel drawn to going out of your way to be a part of what they’re doing; or it could be the way they model what you want to become.  

According to research in the Academy of Management Journal, humble leaders actually “embolden individuals to aspire to their highest potential and enables them to make the incremental improvements necessary to progress toward that potential.” 

Being a humble leader pays off in the performance category, but what’s most remarkable is the vast majority of humble leaders have every reason, because of their accomplishments to reject humility, but instead they embrace it. They don’t just talk about it, but it’s built into who they are and how they lead. It’s as if deep down, they understand that the path to effective leadership is paved with humility, not pride.  

Great leaders understand that the path to effective leadership is paved with humility, not pride.  

Most leaders grasp this concept because, before their achievements, they encountered strain in the form of failures, challenges, and or heartaches.  

What is Humility?

When you think of some famous recent leaders like Donald Trump, Elon Musk, or Jeff Bezos, humility is far from the first leadership trait that comes to mind. Whether you believe those leaders have humility or not, we often don’t think of humility in leaders because we don’t know what it is.

Websters defines it as; freedom from pride or arrogance, the quality or state of being humble. Being humble isn’t a lack of confidence or not believing in yourself. In fact, quite the opposite is true. To have freedom from pride and arrogance, it must start from a place of introspection.

C.S. Lewis said, “humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” 

In an article a few years ago, the Washington Post found: “True humility, scientists have learned, is when someone has an accurate assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the larger whole. He’s a part of something far greater than he. He knows he isn’t the center of the universe. And he’s both grounded and liberated by this knowledge. Recognizing his abilities, he asks how he can contribute. Recognizing his flaws, he asks how he can grow.”

So the natural question is, if you struggle with humility or want to be a more humble leader, how do you do it? It won’t be easy, but here’s how to get started.

Start with the Truth

I have written before, “all improvement starts with the truth.” When it comes to humility, being a humble leader also starts with the truth. Philadelphia 76ers basketball coach Doc Rivers said, “Average players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth.”  

The truth is every position that exists today will one day be held by someone else. The President of the United States, The Pope, and even your current role will one day be someone else’s seat. Allow this truth to sink into your soul.  

You have a significant role to play while you have it, and you should give everything you can to do meet your potential, but it can’t and shouldn’t be all about you. It has to be about elevating others and helping those around you become the best version of themselves.

Stay a Student

Some of the signs of an arrogant leader include; not listening, always wanting to be right, avoiding accountability, and thinking they know it all. A humble leader looks and feels much different. They admit when they make mistakes and are obsessed with learning.  

TD Jakes mentioned in his new book, Don’t Drop the Mic, “The world is a university, and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure you wake up and go to school your entire life learning from the good and the bad.”

It reminds me of when I interviewed Villanova’s head coach Jay Wright for an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast right after they had won the national championship. He heard a quote from Napoleon about leadership during the show, and I watched him grab a pen and write it down. After we had finished recording, he said, “I hadn’t heard that quote, and I want to use it with my team.”

Wright had every right to feel like he had learned it all because of his team’s success, but instead, he continued to embrace the mindset of staying a student, which you and I must do as well. If at any point you stop learning, you will be dying.  

Embrace Accountability

One of the most significant mistakes leaders in choosing pride over humility is avoiding accountability. Instead of inviting people in their lives to be feedback vehicles, they decide to go it alone. In the beginning, it isn’t a big deal. But as time goes on, the lies and thoughts in one’s head become their reality. Those thoughts then become engrained in their behavior, and it’s what other people experience. 

The vaccine for this situation is to embrace accountability. Put people around you who keep you grounded and are willing to have difficult dialogues when they recognize something is off. Then you keep an open mind and heart to the words they say without getting defensive or making excuses.  

I recognize this is easy to write but difficult to put into practice. But the best part, is when your team sees you embracing accountability, they will embrace it as well.

Closing

The best leaders indeed understand that the path to effective leadership is paved with humility and not pride. However, it doesn’t mean it’s easy, or it doesn’t mean you won’t have moments where pride or ego win you over. The key is to recognize these moments and get back on the humility path as quickly as possible. 

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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.Report

3 Proven Rules to Increase Accountability as a Leader

Red figure of the leader in the center of the circle of people

Accountability as a leadership skill is among the most difficult to be highly effective when you solely rely on instincts. Most leaders struggle with accountability not because they don’t have the talent to be effective but because they don’t know what it actually is. 

Accountability is one of these words that has lost its meaning because of overuse. I define it in Building the Best as; the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them and disclose the results in a transparent manner. It is the obligation of leaders to account for their actions and the actions of their people. Accountable leaders provide a path for personal improvement and team performance. 

Accountability is an advantage; make it your obligation.

In a best-case scenario, managers and executives have a lot of training and experience to learn, develop and mold their accountability skills. However, when business and HR executives expect individual contributors to be highly effective managers on day one after their promotion, it sets both parties up to be disappointed.   

What most managers do is rely on their instincts when it comes to accountability. While instincts can undoubtedly be good, just because you have them doesn’t mean they’re always right. 

Just because you have instincts as a leader doesn’t mean they are always right. 

Research for the SkillsLoft assessment has shown accountability is one of the top 4 weakest leadership competencies in managers, only behind listening, empathy and communication. So clearly, if you struggle with accountability as a leadership skill, you are not alone. So if you are ready to get better and take some steps to increase accountability in your leadership approach, follow these rules.  

Relationships Come First

Joe Maddon, a successful Major League Baseball manager and current skipper for the Los Angeles Angels, has a unique way of leveraging accountability. When one of his players violates a team rule or isn’t meeting a standard, he asked the player to purchase a nice bottle of wine, then they open it and have a glass or two in a one-on-one meeting. Thus he’s dedicating time to the player to have the disapproval dialogue while at the same time creating a deep sense of connection between himself and the player.

While this isn’t a strategy every leader can use, Maddon understands this critical leadership lesson regarding accountability. 

“Leaders must connect before they correct.”  

The reason this rule exists is that “rules before relationships lead to rebellion.” The stronger your relationship with team members, the more comfortable and more effective accountability can be. 

No Standards, No Accountability

One of the most significant mistakes leaders make is not setting clear standards or assuming people know them. By definition, standards define what good looks like. The way I want you to think about them is slightly different. The best leaders don’t define what good looks like; they define what great looks like. When you define what great looks like for your team and communicate it correctly, these standards will produce behaviors and habits that are vital to achieving results.  

They also become the foundation for what you hold your people accountable for. Without their presence, it’s nearly impossible to be an accountable leader and to have an accountable culture.  

Praise and Recognition Count as Well

Most people think of accountability in a negative way and believe because they are willing to have difficult dialogues or fire someone, they are good at it. The truth is, accountability isn’t only focused on the negative; firing someone is one of the weakest forms of it. To go a step further, accountability can be used to praise and recognize team members who meet and exceed the standards as well.  

When team members go above and beyond the standard, sharing praise and recognition released dopamine in the brain, making them feel good. Beyond that, dopamine has also been proven to create innovative thinking and promote problem-solving at work. Those small recognitions make people want to keep emulating the behavior that caused them to give it.  

An excellent way for you to think about this is what I call the Constructive Praise Meter, or “CPM.” Over the course of a month, a leader should balance between 40% and 60% of delivering constructive feedback and praise. If at any point that meter dips too much in one direction over an extended period, accountability gets out of balance.    

Closing 

The absolute best part about accountable cultures is that they produce great outcomes, and team members end up embracing them. But accountable cultures don’t happen by themselves. They are created by leaders who work hard at developing their accountability skills daily.

How do you raise the accountability level on your team or organization?

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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 Make Sure You Don’t Become a Bad Leader

Nobody starts out wanting to be a bad leader. Yet ego-driven, power-hungry, micromanaging, absent-minded managers and executives are prevalent in organizations. But don’t just take my word for it. In our research, more than 50% of respondents rated their leader as being below average.

What gives? 

Before I give you some ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader, it’s essential to provide the context of how I defined being a leader in Building the Best: Someone whose actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others.  

Why There Are So Many Bad Leaders

In most cases, bad leadership begins with either a lack of understanding about what good leadership is or assuming leadership is a job, instead of a mindset backed up by actions.

Leadership isn’t a job, it’s a mindset backed up by actions to elevate others.

Instead of debating all the reasons for the current lousy leader population, now is the time to become aware of ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader.

Know Your Core Values

I don’t care how old you are or what kind of role you have; there is one thing that is intimately important to ensure you are becoming the kind of leader you want to be, knowing your core values. 

Core values are simply the fundamental beliefs a person holds true. Once established with clarity, these guiding beliefs dictate behavior and help you decipher right from wrong. Here is why this is so important. Your current feelings and emotions win over your values if they aren’t clearly defined and intentionally set.  

When this happens, you will end up as a bad leader, justifying all those poor decisions. Don’t let this happen to you. Take the time to either define your core values or remind yourself of them.

If you want some help, download the Personal Core Values Blueprint here

Audit the Content Going to Your Mind

Tom Ziglar told me years ago, “What you feed your mind determines your appetite.” Which mimics his dad, Zig Ziglar’s famous quote:

“You are what you are and where you are, because of what’s gone into your mind. You can change what you are, and you can change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” 

If you want to protect yourself from becoming a lousy leader, regularly audit the content going into your mind (You’re off to a great start reading this blog). Unfortunately, it might mean not binge-watching the next hot show on Netflix in favor of listening to a podcast or a leadership book. 

While this might seem trivial, small decisions like these add up to significant results over time. 

Increase Personal Accountability

Often, bad leaders don’t have people in their lives to hold them accountable to a certain standard. Typically it’s because they believe they’re self-disciplined enough not to need it or feel they are above it.

Accountability doesn’t happen by accident.  

Here is the trick, accountability doesn’t happen by accident. It takes inviting people into your life to hold you accountable. This can come in the context of a professional coach, friend, colleague, spouse, or a growth group. Regardless of who it is or how you do it, continually increase the accountability year after year. 

Don’t Underestimate the Temptation of Power

Most people want the promotion because of the greater sense of power that comes with the position. While there is nothing wrong with power on its own, it isn’t something to take lightly. As Plato said, “The measure of a man is what he does with power.” Power can bring out the worst in people – micromanagement, control issues, inflated egos, or disrespect for others. 

One of the best ways to circumvent power is to give it away. Once you get to a leadership role, empower others to make decisions they can make. 

Closing

These are just a few ways to protect yourself from becoming a bad leader. Now it’s your job to ensure they are in place, or you risk becoming a statistic like the majority of leaders in our study. 

How do you handle working with or for a bad leader? Tell me in the comments section.

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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 Lead a High Performing Team

Innovation and creative idea concept

Traditionally, people were promoted into leadership positions because they were viewed as a top individual contributor, a type-A extrovert, and/or a supremely confident professional. This results from what’s called a “promote to retain” strategy implemented by many organizations. 

While retaining top talent is vitally important, it’s also critical for organizations to promote people into positions of leadership that can drive performance and make a positive impact on the people they get the opportunity to lead.

There is one predictor of leaders like this regardless if they were a top individual contributor or not, and it’s not where organizations have previously focused. Leaders who have a servant’s heart sustain positive business results and achieve high employee engagement scores.  

After studying so many leaders with a servant’s heart in all different industries, roles, and backgrounds, it turns out they are doing many things right to have a high performing team. It’s what I refer to as “The Great 8 to Lead Your Best.” These are a list of things which by themselves are important, but they tend to compound and build upon each other. Here they are with a brief description of each to help you leverage them with your team as well.

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Leadership Methodology

Over the last 30 years, methodologies have skyrocketed in popularity because they provide a backbone and structure to do any difficult job. From sales to research to project management and now leadership.  

Many of the best modern leaders we have studied either knowingly or unknowingly use a servant leadership methodology and use high levels of love and discipline in the way they lead. Robert Greenleaf said it well, “Servant leadership always empathizes, always accepts the person, but sometimes refuses to accept some of the person’s effort or performance as good enough.”

Relationships

The key to leadership is relationships because, without strong relationships, you can’t lead. High performing teams have bonds of mutual trust and respect. Where most leaders struggle is in understanding their responsibility to earn those two things. Long gone are the days of a title commanding respect. In today’s workplaces, a title should only be a reminder of your responsibility to your people.

While this seems obvious, many leaders skip relationship building and jump right into accountability to drive performance. This is a massive mistake because 

Rules without relationships lead to rebellion. 

Instead of assuming the relationships with your team members are strong, make time with each team member to ask this powerful question: “How are you and your family coping during the pandemic?”

Communication

Effective communication is at the heart of effective leadership. James Humes famously said, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” Leaders of high-performing teams not only leverage the proper amount of communication but also are clear, concise, and conclusive. 

Effective leaders are great communicators.

The best modern leaders are constantly looking to improve how they communicate by evaluating their verbal, written, and body language.  

Shared Purpose

People in organizations don’t get burned out because of their work; they get burned out because they forget WHY they do the work they do. Because of this, leaders of high-performing teams are constantly reminding their teams of the deeper purpose behind the work they do.  

One of the biggest mistakes managers make is believing it’s not their job to connect their team to a deeper purpose. Don’t fall into poor thinking. Embrace the responsibility that you are the connector of cause.  

Standards

For teams to keep getting better, leaders must raise the bar of what’s expected. The reason is that team members’ behaviors and habits are always going to default to the bar set. The best modern leaders embrace this by relying on standards. 

A standard is defined as “what good looks like.” If you want to leverage standards, don’t define what good looks like, but to go beyond that and define what great looks like.

Be crystal clear, concise, and focused. Limit yourself to as few standards as possible so they can be remembered and applied.

Execution

The teams that execute their strategy and plans to near perfection will always achieve more than teams who do not. George Patton famously said, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” As right as Patton is, it’s the leaders on a team who are responsible for removing barriers and putting people in the right positions to execute to the best of their abilities.  

Accountability 

Accountability is one of these words that has been hijacked. I define it in Building the Best as; the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them and disclose the results in a transparent manner. 

It is the obligation of leaders to account for their actions and the actions of their people.  

Leaders are obligated to care for all their people equally and to serve their hearts, not their talents. 

 If you want to model how the best modern leaders leverage accountability, get comfortable with having difficult dialogues, which I wrote about here.

Coaching

One way a leader separates themselves from being a manager in today’s modern business environment is by coaching their people. A coach, by definition, is one who trains and instructs. The late great John Whitmore took the formal definition even further, saying:

“Coaching is unlocking people’s potential and helping them learn rather than teaching them.”

Leaders who coach have never been more critical than they are today. A strong, dedicated leader plays an integral role in elevating people to new heights, exactly how John Whitmore envisioned it.  

Closing

Every leader began somewhere. Regardless of whether you were promoted to a leadership position because of a “promote and retain strategy” or for some other reason, now is the time to embrace responsibility and develop servant’s heart. Once these are in place, work hard to understand, master, and apply “The Great 8 to Lead Your Best” on an ongoing basis.

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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 Leverage Accountability Before Firing an Employee

Sad Bearded Businessman Fired from Work

The tough decision to let go of an employee is especially scary right now with so much uncertainty in the business world, but truth be told, it has always been intimidating. As someone who has done my fair share of firing professionals for the wrong reasons, I know all about the loss of sleep leaders experience over human capital decisions. 

The current Covid-19 pandemic has caused many organizations to reduce expenses and resulted in millions of people being laid off. While this is understandable, evidence suggests that the immediate savings from layoffs can be canceled out by the longer-term cost of lost talent and skills. Since each organization’s situation is different, a lack of revenue might leave leaders with no viable choice other than layoffs or furloughs.  

It’s the other kind of firing, I want to focus on today. Many leaders are using the pandemic to fast track a personnel decision they wanted to make for a while but couldn’t find the courage to make the move. 

An executive in a medium-sized manufacturing business, a student in the Ultimate Leadership Academy, said to me, “The pandemic has allowed me to make some personnel decisions, I should have made a long time ago.”

While being opportunistic is a quality I typically admire in leaders, it’s not something I admire when it comes to letting people go. This scenario isn’t unlike that of many other leaders who assume they embrace accountability because they aren’t afraid to fire someone. It couldn’t be further from the truth, because:

Firing someone is the lowest form of accountability.  

Leverage Correct Accountability First

Accountability is one of these words that has been hijacked. I define it in Building the Best as; the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them and disclose the results in a transparent manner. It is the obligation of leaders to account for their actions and the actions of their people.  Leaders are obligated to care for all their people equally and to serve their hearts, not their talents.  

If a team member struggles with performance or hurts the culture of your team, it’s time to turn up the correct accountability. Use these steps to help:

  1. Have a candid conversation about the current situation.  If they are falling short in a particular area, have a Direct Dialogue with them which I wrote about here. Share both the standards and evidence of the current situation and do it with courage.  
  2. Encourage and coach them to improve.  Nothing good will come of your candid conversation if you don’t follow it up with encouragement and coaching to help them grow. Dedicate time, energy, and effort to help them improve before making a final decision. 

The Lowest Form Doesn’t Mean It Might Not Be Required

There will always be people who choose not to meet the standard or aren’t in the right role to be successful. No amount of conversations, encouragement, or coaching will make the difference. If someone isn’t the right fit for your team or organization, and you keep them in a position, you not only hurt them, but you hurt the team.

If you get to this point and answer “yes,” to the question, “Have I done all I can to help them be successful?” Then it’s time to move on. While the news could hurt them in the short term, show that you care for them by finding their next job in another part of the company or outside of it. 

Closing

Deciding to fire someone isn’t to be taken lightly. These decisions can change the trajectory of companies, teams, lives, and families. But you wouldn’t be in your current position if you weren’t capable of making the decision to coach them up or move on.

Virtual Building the Best Leadership Workshop?  For the first time, we are offering the Building the Best Leadership Workshop virtually on July 28th-29th from 1:00-3:30 EST!  If you lead a team, we would love to have you as an active participant in the workshop, Register Here.

Download the Leading Remote Teams Toolkit for free Here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company making virtual training easy and effective. 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 and host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. He is currently scheduling virtual workshops and keynotes. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

How to Fix An Underperforming Team in No Time

Joey was an experienced manager at a mid-sized company. When his team missed its mark in the first year, he made a myriad of excuses. The next year didn’t get any better, so he blamed people on his team and even threw a teammate under the bus to save his job. 

While Joey’s responses weren’t unlike most leaders of underperforming teams, the reason things weren’t getting better was that Joey hadn’t come to grips with a hard truth; The responsibility is the leaders.  

Sure there are many possible factors that can cause a team to underperform. These are just a few: lack of talent, talented people not meeting their potential, changes in the market, or a lack of resources. Still, ultimately, one person is responsible, the leader.  

As the late Kobe Bryant said, “Leadership is Responsibility.”  

If you are leading an underperforming team or you want to take your current team to higher levels of performance, here’s what you can do.

Reinvest in your relationships

People work harder and push themselves to new levels of performance when they know their boss cares about them.  

Researchers at the University of Berkley studied what motivates productivity in professionals. When people felt recognized for the work they did, they were 23% more effective and productive. But what’s even more astonishing is that when people felt valued and cared for, their productivity and effectiveness experienced a 43% increase. While recognition is essential, there is an additional 20% jump in performance by showing your people you care for them. 

Make time for one-on-one meetings with team members to find out what’s important to them, what goals they want to achieve, and what current challenges they are facing in their life.  

Set higher standards

Anytime performance isn’t where you need or want it; it’s time to raise the standard. A standard is simply defining what good looks like. From all of our research in studying what the best leaders do in Building the Best, it’s clear;

Good leaders define what good looks like; Great leaders define what great looks like. 

Raise the bar on what expected to be a part of the team or organization. Start with the level of effort and commitment required moving forward. Ask yourself this question:

“What kind of behaviors and actions do we need from every member of our team to level up?” Then set standards based on what’s required.  

While this is simple to write, it’s difficult to put it into practice. For your people’s behavior to change, you have to be consistent in your message and in accountability, which leads us to the next point.

Accelerate with accountability

Many words make people uncomfortable; “accountability” is one of those words. Accountability is simply 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.

A mentor of mine always told me, “What you tolerate, you encourage.” It is your obligation to hold yourself and others accountable to the standards you set. Otherwise, you’re encouraging sub-standard behavior. To do this effectively, you have to have the courage and a proven model to have direct dialogues with your people when standards aren’t met. 

Remove the people who aren’t bought in

One of the fastest ways to improve performance isn’t by addition, but by reduction. If there are team members who aren’t bought in and they have been given multiple chances to get on board, it’s time to make a change.  

Not only does their continued participation hold others back, but there’s a good chance they are bringing negativity and doubt to the team. There is no bigger killer to performance than doubt and fear.  

Each of these strategies by themselves is challenging, but put together, they become even harder. Know this, you were not put in this position if you couldn’t rise to the occasion. If you believe in yourself, you will be surprised at what you are going to achieve as a team. 

Get the #1 Best New Management Book to Read by Book AuthorityBuilding the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

What’s Your Leadership Style? Join over 40k leaders and discover how well you are leveraging love and discipline as a leader and find out your current leadership style for free.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades

6 Leadership Trends to Know in 2020

People 2020

Becoming a great leader requires taking proactive steps to improve your leadership capabilities. But there’s more to it than that.

Engaged leaders need to stay on top of the current trends influencing their company, industry, employees and themselves. To ensure that you’re ready, focus on these five (plus a bonus) leadership trends in 2020:

1. Increase in Flexible Time 

The experimentation of a 4-day workweek has begun. Microsoft Japan’s 4 Day workweek improved performance by 40%, and Shake Shack’s 4-Day Manager workweek was a solution for labor costs. 

While there is no doubt about the financial advantages of shorter workweeks, employees are looking for more flexibility in their life. With 5G on the horizon and phones as powerful as computers used to be, there is no reason this trend won’t skyrocket in popularity. A recent study showed that 90% of employees said flexible arrangements would increase morale. 

Leaders not only need to be open to looking for ways to give their teams more flexibility, but they should be investing in technology that helps support them be productive whenever and wherever and they are working. 

2. Learning to Lead Remote Workers

The first trend is feeding the second trend because as flexible scheduling increases, so does the number of people who work remote. A recent Remote.co study reported 66% of companies to allow remote work, and 16% are fully remote. 

With the reduced cost for employers and reduced commute times for employees, this trend will continue to skyrocket. As beneficial as it can be, leading remote team members has unique challenges versus leading a team working in the same space every day.  

Here are a few of my favorite strategies from a recent episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast:

  • Remember remote team members are human
  • Build and maintain trust-based relationships
  • Set clear standards
  • Constantly communicate culture
  • Get them together face-to-face

3. More and More Accountability

Accountability and radical transparency are buzzwords right now because we need more of it in our organizations. As quickly as the news travels (thanks twitter), executive leaders can’t afford to hoard critical information from their employees. On the flip side, an increase in flexibility and remote work is ratcheting up the need for personal accountability in employees and managers. 

You will see more and more training and development opportunities for managers to improve their skills around accountability and having direct dialogues.  

4. Increase in female leaders

A global study of women in management by Catalyst in 2019 showed that the number of women in senior roles globally is increasing incrementally. However, 29% of senior management roles are held by women, the highest number ever on record.

A report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics found a direct correlation between female leadership and profitability. According to the report, “A profitable firm at which 30 percent of leaders are women could expect to add more than 1 percentage point to its net margin compared with an otherwise similar firm with no female leaders.”

Women are effective and productive in positions of leadership. The challenge to Human Resource departments and organizations is helping develop their leadership skills so they can promote women leaders from within. In our business at LearnLoft, we have seen a significant increase in educational opportunities for women, which we expect to continue. It also doesn’t hurt to have some incredible role models such as Rachel Hollis, Sarah Blakely, and Arianna Huffington, to name a few.  

5. Employees Developing New Skills

As quickly as AI and Bots are progressing, many jobs will continue to evaporate. As I wrote in Building the Best, “We live in a world that’s constantly evolving, and as people grow or roles morph, people need to acquire new skills.”

Instead of chalking up massive layoffs to employees, leaders will need to help develop new skills in these people. Peyton Manning famously said, “the most valuable player is the one who makes the most players valuable.” While leaders can’t make people develop new skills, they must influence and challenge them to take the necessary steps.

 Large organizations will eventually look like current universities, and they will train workers out of high school instead of them going to college. In the meantime, we need leaders to have their coaching and development hat on at all times.  

6. Human Resources for the Win

Human Resources professionals will continue their climb to being more strategic and important in organizations. Instead of simply being called in for hiring and firing decisions, they will play a major role in business decisions and making organizations more authentic and human.

Are you poised to lead your team in the right direction in 2020? As you learn more about current trends and apply them appropriately to your leadership or company, you can have confidence in the course of you’re on.

What leadership trends are you seeing that I might have missed?

Ultimate Leadership Academy: Join the 8-week virtual leadership development academy to elevate the way you lead. Learn more here.

Elevate the Way You LeadBuilding the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is published by McGraw-Hill. It was named the #1 Best New Management Books to Read by Book Authority. Learn the stories, principles, and tools to help elevate the way you lead others.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. He is currently booking events and speaking engagements for 2020. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Leveraging Accountability In Order to Build the Best

One burning match between spoiled ones on black

In season 23 episode 2, John Eades digs into the background of where Building the Best started, what accountability really means, and how to leverage the Acts of Accountability Model to help you.  


Specific concepts John covers:

  • The definition of accountability
  • What’s the best way to leverage accountability as a leader
  • How the best leaders utilize the Acts of Accountability model
  • Where the idea for Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success came from
  • How you can build the best team

Order the Book: Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success is being published by McGraw-Hill and is now available.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company that exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on Instagram @johngeades.