Why the Best Leaders Always Stay on Mission

Mission, Vision and Core Value blocks

There are many things that leaders must have wisdom in to create a meaningful impact in the workplace.  Authenticity has proven to be a precious commodity, coaching unlocks others’ potential, and communication allows meaningful connection with team members. 

But among these many attributes, the value of being on mission and staying on the mission seems to be consistently overlooked.  

The value of being on and staying on the mission is constantly overlooked by bad leaders.

Part of it is due to the common misconceptions about what being a mission-driven leader means. In reality, however, being mission-driven is one quality that no leader should overlook.  

Unfortunately, many leaders aren’t interested in being mission-driven because it feels “soft” or even “dumb.” The most common response I get from these leaders is, “This mission stuff is fluffy. We are here to make money.” Others flat out say, “we don’t need it.” So while I can understand why people would say these things, they could not be more wrong.  

What’s Being and Staying on Mission?

The word mission is traditionally defined in leadership as an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation. While the definition makes sense and would be hard to argue that it’s not essential in the world of leadership, some great leaders take it further. 

On a recent episode of the 3 Things podcast, Host and CEO of Red Ventures, Ric Elias, asked CEO of Movement Mortgage, Casey Crawful, “What advice would you give to someone to have a purposeful and joyful life?” Crawford’s answer spoke to me.

“Go on a mission in life, and run hard after doing something meaningful and impactful that you can look back on be proud about.” He continued, “If you do meaningful work with people you love, it’s been a formula that has brought a lot of joy to my life.”  

“Go on a mission in life and run hard after doing things meaningful and impactful” – Casey Crawford

If you look beyond Crawford’s wise words, no military operation is set in motion without a clear mission. For example, Seal Team Six, which killed Osama Bin Laden, was put in harm’s way to carry out a specific mission: take out the world’s most dangerous man. 

You can look at both of these examples in many ways, but what I want you to remember is this:

Mission Makes Meaning

In other words, when you are on mission, you have meaning in your work. The best leaders know having meaning behind your work is a key ingredient to success and purposeful achievement. 

How to Be Mission Driven

I come from the school of thought that we can have a personal mission, a team mission, and a company mission. While all three are independently essential, I get fired up most about a team on a mission. 

Take Sarah, a team manager in a mortgage company, as an example. Her group was responsible for preparing final loan documents for closing appointments for all parties to sign before the transfer of the deed. It’s tedious and stressful work without a lot of genuine excitement. 

Sarah saw an opportunity to create a deeper connection to the purpose of her team’s work every day. She asked the companies loan officers who received her team’s final documents to send pictures of clients executing the final paperwork at closing. 

Soon after, a photograph of a single mother with her young daughter arrived. Both beamed with pride as the mother signed the paperwork solidifying the purchase of their very first home. Photographs like this one continued to roll in. Sarah’s team better understood their mission of helping families become homeowners as they did. 

If you lead a team, do not go another year without being clear on why your does what it does and its mission. It’s easy for professionals to get lost in the monotony of their work without even considering how their work truly impacts lives.

It’s easy for professionals to get lost in the monotony of their work without even considering how their work truly impacts lives.

Creating or reinforcing a team mission statement immediately raises the ceiling of what’s possible and improves your odds of having highly engaged employees. If you need help, try this formula from Building the Best:

We do X in order to achieve Y for Z. 

For the mortgage team responsible for preparing final loan documents, the mission could be something like this: “We rapidly compile and complete closing documents for families so they can be “home” as soon as possible.”

Closing

Whether you have previously considered yourself mission-driven or not, now is the time to remember never to stray far from the mission. Leaders who are mission-driven will not only be more successful long-term versus those who aren’t, but it’s a requirement in today’s leadership landscape. 

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.

John’s New Book. John is finishing a brand new fable story about leadership and looking for volunteers to read or listen to the first four chapters and provide feedback.  By doing so, you will be entered to win a free signed it’s when it’s released.  If you are open to help, sign up here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft. 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 Communicate Like a Great Leader

communication

Leadership, like life, is a journey and not a destination.  

Now I must emphasize one point before you start reading this column that will attempt to make you a better leader. Writing and doing are two different things. Yes, I have spent the last 10+ years of my career studying what the best and worst leaders do, then transferring those lessons to myself and others, but I have struggled mightily to apply many of these lessons daily. Instead of crushing my soul and believing I am not meant to be a great leader, it’s convicted me to constantly look at the journey of becoming a better leader rather than just arriving as one.  

I have learned that the closer you get to being a truly authentic leader, the less you feel like one.  

The closer you get to being a truly authentic leader, the less your feel like one. 

In many things, ignorance can be bliss, but not in leadership. There is nothing worse than a manager who isn’t self-aware of their shortcomings as a leader. It’s caused more professionals to leave a company or a profession altogether than any other factor. Don’t believe me? A recent study found a staggering 79% of employees will quit after receiving inadequate appreciation from their managers.

Many Leadership Skills Matter

There are many talents and skills leaders must develop and demonstrate to be effective over time. Our research indicates building trust, having empathy, establishing a vision, giving recognition, and coaching others are essential. However, communicating effectively is at the top of the list. 

It could be as simple as writing an email, giving a presentation, sending a text, or turning on your listening ears. Regardless of the type of communication, the key is that you’re effective at it. I like to think of it as the essential rule of leadership. “If you struggle with communication, you will never reach your potential as a leader.”  

If you struggle with communication, you will never reach your potential as a leader.

As I wrote in Building the Best, the key to successful leadership today is elevating others. So the problem with not reaching your potential as a leader is you won’t be helping others achieve theirs.  

The Big Communication Mistake

There are a lot of gifted orators with silver tongues and unmistakable mannerisms. At the same time, many professionals clam at the thought of delivering a presentation. Regardless of the camp you are in, or somewhere in between, there is one communication mistake anyone is susceptible to make, and that is demanding and downloading, not inspiring.  

Too many leaders demand and download instead of inspire when communicating.

This doesn’t mean every email or conversation must have your audience ready to run through a wall, but it does mean you have to be more concerned with the audience than the person doing the communicating. The word inspire means “to breathe life into.” You can’t breathe life into someone or get someone else to take any action they wouldn’t otherwise take if you don’t get past their mind and into their heart.  

Communication improves when leaders get to the employees’ hearts, not just their minds.

I was reminded of this truth in a conversation with a talented therapist named Kimberly Mengel. She said, “the heart is the wellspring of life.” It’s stuck with me for some time now because I have repeatedly seen when leaders fail in their communication, they never get to their people’s hearts.  

How to Improve Your Communication

There are all kinds of tactics and strategies to become a more effective communicator. Instead of going into the depths of storytelling or the three C’s of successful communication, I want you to turn your attention to two things; how much you speak and being more transparent.  

1.How Much You Speak – Being an exceptional listener is key to being a great communicator. Not only is this true, but Simon Sinek took it a step further in a keynote some years ago, when he spoke about “being the last to speak.” You can watch the short clip here

As brilliant as this idea is, I know it’s not always possible. Instead, turn your attention to “how much you speak.” Your goal as a leader shouldn’t be to tell people what to do. It should be to help them determine what to do and what can be done to implement it. This means speaking less and asking better questions.

2. Be More Transparent – All too often, when there are things leaders must say to people, they avoid the topic or sugarcoat it in a way the truth never comes out. Instead, I want you to opt for more transparency in your communication. The reason is transparency implies openness and accountability. 

I asked Robert Quesnel, a seasoned executive and phenomenal leader at American Family Insurance, why leaders aren’t transparent, and what he said moved me. “Many leaders aren’t transparent because they are insecure narcissists and lack confidence in themselves.” Not only is Quesnel right, but too many leaders hide behind the shield their title provides instead of being transparent and telling the truth. 

Too many leaders hide behind the shield their title provides instead of being transparent and telling the truth.

Closing

The best part of communication is you get endless opportunities every day to work on improving. I hope some of these ideas inspire you to evaluate how much you speak and how transparent you are in and effort to apply them on your leadership journey.

Tell me in the comments Do you agree and what tactics or strategies do you or others leaders leverage to be effective communicators?

Effective Leadership Communication Ready to improve your communication skills? Register for the virtual workshop.

John’s New Book. John is finishing a brand new fable story about leadership and looking for volunteers to read or listen to the first four chapters and provide feedback.  By doing so, you will be entered to win a free signed copy when it’s released.  If you are open to help, sign up here.

About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft and VP of Thought Leadership at Peoplebox. 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

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 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.

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.

Simple Phrases Great Leaders Say to Their Team

communication

Managers are constantly communicating with their employees to transfer knowledge and information. This communication is crucial to the success of any team or organization; but, only if it is performed appropriately. Barking orders, giving directives, inserting negative comments, and providing unempathetic feedback are also communication methods, but they won’t give you the same success rate.  

Anyone is susceptible to getting caught up in the daily hustle and forget the weight and consequences of the words they use, neglect to use, or how they affect other people.  

Great leaders don’t lose sight of the power of their words, even long after they have said them.

John Eades

Early in my career leading a business division, I had yet to grasp this important concept. At the end of a one-on-one performance review, a team member asked if they could provide feedback to me after I finished her review. My team member said, “Recently, your attitude and words have taken a pessimistic and negative turn with myself and others. It seems you are highlighting everything the group is doing wrong versus the things we are doing right. While I know you are a positive person, this has become a pattern, and it’s wearing on the team and me.”  

My first reaction was to get defensive and make excuses. Instead, I thanked her for her courage and agreed to do some self-reflection. Over the next few days, I evaluated her specific examples and concluded she was speaking the truth. She told me because she cared and wanted me to improve. 

It taught me an important lesson that I have since seen in many of the great leaders I have studied:

Leaders don’t take things personally; they seek the truth because all improvement starts with it.  

While no leader is a perfect communicator, there are phrases the best leaders say consistently to their team members that make them more effective.   

1. “I’m not going to be perfect, and I don’t expect you to be either.”

It’s easy for professionals to look up to someone in a leadership position and fool themselves into believing they are perfect. For a leader to put the truth on the table and say, “I’m not going to be perfect, and I don’t expect you to be either,” creates a foundation of empathy and forgiveness. It expresses to your people that you are human and you know that they are human. Together you are allowed to make mistakes.

When those mistakes happen, we will admit the mistake, learn from it, and then work to not make the same ones in the future. As I wrote in Building the Best, “Failure is not final, failure is feedback.”

2. “Thank you.”

Saying “thank you” is simple, and it must be done often because it means a lot to your team. Those two little words are magical; people desperately want to be acknowledged for the work they do.  

Don’t just take my words for it. A recent study by US psychologists in the journal Psychological Science provides clinical proof of what many of us already knew: Saying “thank you” can positively transform your relationship with others. 

3. “What Have You Done Today to Help Yourself Tomorrow?”

The best leaders are obsessed with helping others reach their potential. Even with this obsession, they know they can’t do it all for their team. Each person has to make the daily decisions and self-disciplined choices to get a little better today than they were yesterday.  

The best leaders are obsessed with helping others reach their potential

By using a phrase like, “what have you done today to help yourself tomorrow,” challenges your team to not only think but act differently. I share a great story on the topic of a grasshopper and the ant in a video on LinkedIn that’s worth your time. Maybe you will share the story with your team when you ask them the question.

4. “Tell Me More.”

One way a leader separates themselves from being a manager is the mindset they take to coaching others. A coach, by definition, is one who trains and instructs. Coaching comes from the word “carriage,” meaning to take someone from point A to point B.  

In our Coaching for Excellence workshops, I teach leaders to leverage questions and statements to help their team solve their own problems. A simple statement like “tell me more” is a fantastic coaching technique to allow others to get their entire point across before a leader swoops in to solve it for them.  

Leaders withhold answers as long as possible to give people the space to solve their own problems first.  

Reject your instincts to interject your insight and opinions by using “tell me more” daily. Often people will answer their own questions without you having to be the hero. 

5. “What can I do to help you?”

There are many forms of leadership, but the concept of servant leadership has emerged as an effective leadership style. The concept behind servant leadership is to flip the traditional hierarchical management model on its head. Instead of your team working for you, you work for them.  

Gary Vaynerchuck shared this LinkedIn post recently that describes it perfectly, “Do for them, not what can they do for you! Good workers come from great bosses.”

6. “What are your personal goals?”

Work and careers have changed dramatically in the last 30 years. It was typical for someone to stay with one company for 30+ years, which is now an anomaly. Professionals have embraced the idea of movement and side hustles to achieve their professional goals. 

While most managers put their heads in the sand or reject this reality, the best leaders do the opposite. They embrace this shift and participate in helping their people achieve their personal goals.  

One of the most powerful questions any leader can ask their team is, “what are your personal goals?” If you want to take it a step further, at the beginning of every year, ask each team member, “What are your goals for this year?” this will help you align your activities and coaching to ensure they achieve them.  

Coaching for Excellence: The development of your coaching skills will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join me for the next Coaching for Excellence Workshop. Sign up and get “8 Questions to Leverage to Be a Better Coach” for free today! https://bit.ly/3goZLv2

Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 55k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

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.

The One Kind of Goal Great Leaders Set Each Year

Change Your Mindset, business motivational inspirational, goals

Maybe it’s to increase revenue, improve profitability, or to reduce voluntary turnover. Whatever the goal is, it matters because you have taken the time and energy to define your team’s new performance goals to achieve in 2021.

Research suggests that goal-driven leaders outperform those that are not. So if you’re not a goal-setting kind of person, maybe it’s time to rethink your approach at the beginning of the year.  

However, as a leadership consultant and coach, the vast majority of leaders I work with don’t struggle with the idea of setting goals. Whether they learned “setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to the visible” from Tony Robbins, or they have seen the positive impact of goal-setting in their career, convincing them isn’t the problem. 

The issue arises when they only think of one kind of goal, performance goals.  

Two Kinds of Goals

The vast majority of leaders are measured in their company by performance metrics (E.g., revenue targets, profitability, customer satisfaction, or on-time delivery.) While these are key metrics to measure and set correlating goals around, there is another kind of goal leaders must consider, what I call Impact Goals.  

An impact goal is having a strong effect on others as the desired result. 

It’s impact goals where the difference between a manager and a leader becomes clear. For most managers, measuring themselves or their team based on the positive impact they have on others is minimal. There might be times or seasons where they consider it more than others, but rarely do they think about their lasting legacy.  

Managers measure themselves based on performance alone. Leaders measure themselves based on performance plus impact.

Leaders think and act differently. Not only do they set clear performance goals, but they also think about their legacy and the long-term impact they want to have on other people. 

What’s the difference between Performance vs. Impact Goals?

No alt text provided for this image

How to Set Impact Goals

There are a million and one goal-setting techniques out there. Instead of sharing the one we teach in Building the Best, there is a good chance you already have one that works for you. So take your formula and add a column titled “Impact.” Start by identifying the positive impact you want to have on others this year by writing down a measurable number. 

Take Martha as an example. She is a regional manager at a large hotel organization. She has 10 General Managers underneath her and thousands of employees underneath her General Managers. This year she set some ambitious performance goals for her region, but she also set an ambitious impact goal for herself and her General Managers.  

Impact Goal: Advance the careers of 50 team members to higher-paying positions by the end of 2021.  

By Martha setting both performance and impact goals, her team will work hard to make both the numbers and the development of people.  

Why Impact Goals Are Important

To provide context on why impact goals are essential, I want to turn your attention to marathon running. What I have learned is when most people run their first marathon, they go along pretty well for the first 10 to 20 miles. Then they hit a wall, both mentally and physically. The first thing they ask themselves at this wall is, “I don’t know If I can finish.” But then they ask themselves the ultimate question, “why does it matter if I finish?”

If a runner isn’t connected to the positive impact of finishing the race, they will give up or settle for what they accomplished (which would be mile 18, where most people give up.)  

Our impact on other people most inspires us.

What I have found is our impact on other people most inspires us. You work harder, more effectively, and more productively when you know that your efforts positively impact someone else.

Closing

Since it’s the end of the year and the start of a new year, I hope you set performance goals and impact goals.

The best part is not only will you make a more significant difference in other people’s lives, but you will be teaching your team the value of achieving things that go beyond performance.  

How to Set Personal Goals That Work: Goal setting is an effective way to achieve more in 2021. Last Week’s Exclusive Weekly Leadership lesson was “How to Set Personal Goals.” While I am thrilled members of the Ultimate Leadership Academy have access to this lesson, I wanted you to learn from it as well.  To access the lesson just click here.  Once there, just create an account and click on “Free Preview.”

7 Best Practices for Developing Leaders In Your Organization Download the free whitepaper here.

Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 50k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

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.

The 1 Minute Leadership Technique to Show Employees You Care

Planning, risk and strategy deadline time in business

When you choose the responsibility of leading others, relationships form. That’s just part of any hierarchical leadership role. The quality of that relationship is up to you. You determine if you have an excellent, good, average, bad, or toxic relationship with each person on your team.

As anyone who has had a boss knows, this relationship can be the catalyst for an engaged or a disengaged employee. As Marcus Buckingham said, “People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” Research supports this; a recent Gallup study found that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. 

Leaders don’t have to be friends with employees, but they do have to care.

Unfortunately, many managers get this simple lesson wrong. They make the mistake of acting like they are on a different team with their people instead of the same team. The best leaders do the opposite. They know their job is to be their team members ally and care about them enough to build a bond of mutual trust. Part of that trust is knowing an employee is cared for or even loved by their boss. Yes, I used the word love, but not in any HR violation kind of way. Love is a component to elevate other people, which is critical to be a successful leader today. I define love in Building the Best as “to contribute to someone’s long-term success and well being.”

Don’t just take my word for it. 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. 

How to Show You Care in the First Minute

As you may have guessed, there is no hack or shortcut to caring about your team. If you don’t care, maybe now is the time to look for a position other than leadership. But where most leaders struggle is demonstrating that they care about others through their actions.  

Leaders get the opportunity to demonstrate how much they care about their team in many different ways. Whether it be an annual performance review, a weekly one-on-one meeting, or a daily zoom call, each interaction provides an opportunity to show you care.  

One of the easiest ways to show you care is by implementing this simple technique within the first minute of every interaction you have; it’s what I call the “One-Minute Rule”: 

Within the first minute, decide to care by giving your undivided attention and showing genuine curiosity in the other person.

While this might seem obvious, most leaders don’t have difficulty caring; it’s starting to care. Leaders are busy and have many things on their mind, so getting in the correct mindset of care in each interaction can be easily forgotten.  

Not Just Any Curiosity

Curiosity is defined as the strong desire to learn or know something. Many managers start their interactions with a curiosity that isn’t effective. Typical questions include: “How was your weekend?” “How are you doing?” or “What’s going on?” While there is nothing wrong with these questions, they are habitual questions that don’t demonstrate any real care in the other person.  

Instead of these overused questions, ask “recall questions.” These are follow up questions that position your previous knowledge of the other person. They recall something you saw or heard in the past that was going on in their lives or careers. The difference would look like this:

Habitual question:

“We didn’t catch up on Monday, how did your day go?” 

Recall question demonstrating genuine curiosity:

“You mentioned your daughter started going back to in-person school on Monday after doing remote school for 8 months, how did she do?”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how much more powerful the recall question is over the habitual question. However, without paying attention to previous conversations, you have no way to create recall questions. It is impossible to truly listen to someone if your mind or heart is somewhere else. Anchor yourself into those interactions like the other person is the only person in the world.  

It is impossible to truly listen to someone if your mind or heart is somewhere else. 

If, for some reason, your attention is elsewhere at a particular moment, do the right thing and tell them, “I am in the middle of something, and I want to give you my undivided attention. Can we talk when I finish?”

Closing

Very few things in leadership are easy but showing people you care isn’t one of them. Try the “One Minute Rule” in every single interaction with your team. First, give them your undivided attention, then ask a recall question to demonstrate genuine curiosity. The best part, whether they ever tell you or not, deep down, they will know you care about them.

What are other ways you demonstrate you care that others could learn from?

Become a Member of the Ultimate Leadership Academy. Now is the time to lead your best. Starting today through Black Friday you can become a member of the Ultimate Leadership Academy for $99, 50% off! A few of the latest exclusive leadership lessons include:

  • Goal Setting for Teams
  • Be a Great Active Listener
  • How to Inspire Others with Storytelling
  • Improve Your Emotional Intelligence
  • How to Improve Your Presentations and Speeches
  • How to Lead with Purpose

Take the Free Leadership Style Quiz? Join over 50k leaders and discover your current leadership style for free.

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 the Best Leaders Refuse to Tolerate

Top view on plastic forks on violet background

The culture of tolerance is here. In every aspect of life, we are now asked to accept every person’s choices and decisions. It’s one thing to be liberal with your endurance of others; but, that same tolerance will hinder your abilities as a leader.

Take Amy a division manager, at a large manufacturing company, as an example. She was handpicked to lead a team going through extensive change. One of her team members named Ron had been at the company for over 20 years. He was passed over for the promotion Amy received. Ron took every opportunity to undermine Amy in team meetings, threw her under the bus to upper management, and challenged every decision she made. Instead of making the difficult decision to move Ron to another company’s division or terminate him, Amy tolerated his questionable choices and bad behavior.  

Amy’s success hinged upon a key leadership lesson: 

What you tolerate, you encourage. 

You and I are just like Amy. To reach our full leadership potential, we must be intolerant of people’s actions, choices, and behaviors that clearly are in the wrong. 

In my research studying some of the best leaders on the planet for Building the Best, it was evident these leaders learned early on that they couldn’t make every person happy. They first developed a set of beliefs about what drives performance and helps improve their team members as human beings. Then they refused to accept anything that threatened or contradicted those beliefs.  

Before we get off track about what leaders should tolerate, it’s important to understand exactly what the word means. Toleration is defined as allowing, permitting, or acceptance of an action, idea, object, or person which one dislikes or disagrees with. So the natural question is, “What should you tolerate, and what should you not?”

What to Embrace

There is no doubt that every leader should not only be tolerant but embrace people who are of a different gender, race, religion, or nationality. If every person’s moral code being equal wasn’t enough, having a diverse team both in makeup and in thought is a competitive advantage.   

Research shows leaders who embrace new ideas, and different ways of thinking stay ahead in today’s rapidly changing business world. It’s simply impossible to achieve this without having different kinds of people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. 

What Not to Tolerate

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, there is a right and wrong in many situations.  

Too often leaders tolerate things that aren’t right in fear of backlash or judgment.  

While this seems like a sound strategy on the surface, it contradicts what the best leaders do. Great leaders aren’t afraid to stand up for what is right and for what they believe in. If you are looking for some ideas for where to draw the line with employees, here are some of my favorites:

Team Members Who Are Only In It For The Paycheck

Getting paid for the work a professional does is an essential part of any job. But being connected to the deeper purpose behind the work that is done is essential. The best leaders don’t tolerate employees who are only there to collect the paycheck. Check out this story from an exceptional woman and leader and why she doesn’t tolerate “paycheck collectors.”

Team Members Who Don’t Want to Get Better

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” You’re probably familiar with this John Maxwell quote. It simply means if you don’t have a growth mindset and aren’t growing as a leader, you limit the potential of your team.  

The same should be expected of every member of a team. Each person is responsible for their own growth and development. The moment a person believes they are a finished product, it doesn’t just hurt them, it hurts the team too. One of the best ways to determine is for leaders is to introduce learning opportunities to team members and see how they engage and respond. 

Team Members Who Hurt The Culture

I define culture in the Ultimate Leadership Academy as, “The shared beliefs and values that guide thinking and behavior.” If a team member is sabotaging these shared beliefs and values, and it’s hurting the culture of your team, it’s time to move on.  

Many managers know when someone is hurting their culture but choose to tolerate it because they are a top performer. This is a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset. There are so many talented people in the workforce; don’t fall for the myth that someone can’t be replaced. In fact, a compelling argument can be made that there is addition by subtraction. Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes; but only in short-term decision making.   

Closing

Team members who are only in it for the paycheck, don’t want to get better, or who hurt your culture just begins to scratch the surface of what you shouldn’t tolerate.  

Like many things in life, people deserve second chances, so your intolerance should be wrapped up in communication, candor, and care. But if the choices, actions, and behaviors don’t change, it’s time to make a change.

Sign Up for the Ultimate Leadership Academy. Leadership is a journey and not a destination. To help you lead your best, we just opened the Ultimate Leadership Academy, A virtual leadership development program that actually works. By joining today get a complimentary ticket to the live virtual workshop on October 6-7th. Get Access.

Download the Leading Remote Teams Toolkit for free Here.

About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping improve the performance of struggling managers. 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.